Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
Godlessness is the absence of God and godly values, even a confusion in them (e.g. calling good evil and evil good). It is thinking yourself God and thereby determininig right and wrong).
In Genesis we see the origin of many things. Particularly we see how a close relationship with God produces godliness whereas a separation and distance from God produces godlessness.
*A relationship conveys saving knowledge/grace and a proximity conveys common grace/general benefits.
We were created to worship and serve the Lord in love/humility and obedience in accordance with His Word (blessing and life). This is godliness. Godlessness is pride and rebellion (curse and death).
We see this pattern unfold in Genesis. Adam and Eve succumbed to the Serpent’s temptation and fell from grace. Cain didn’t stay close to God and so his descendant, Lamech, was even more wicked than Cain (and society sunk to new depths in Gen 6). Noah’s son Ham uncovered his father’s nakedness, his offspring—Nimrod—likely was involved in Babel, and the Canaanites epitomized godlessness with their evil ways. We see this amongst God’s people too. In the time of the Judges ‘everyone did what was right in their own eyes’ resulting in sin. A good King was sometimes followed by a mediocre son and then a wicked grandson. When David wasn’t after God’s own heart he strayed.
Think of the ungodliness produced by godlessness in cultures throughout the ages. There is a reason the light of the Gospel lifted untold millions around the world (even merely culturally speaking) from darkness and into civilization. The West often baulks at the present blessings we enjoy (c.f. the cut flower society) yet those blessings derive from our Christian heritage. The Gospel has always been salt and light in a culture as it is in individual lives. The West foolishly thinks it can cast off its Christian roots without dire societal consequences. Christianity is the immune system of the West. Destroy the immune system and instead of life you will have death.
I heard a story recently of a great-grandfather who was a Christian, grand parents who were Chreasters (they attended church at Christmas and Easter), grand-children who were atheists and a great grandchild who attacked his grand-mother for drug money. While not all athiests are so ungodly without God godlessness will increasingly prevail.
What is the solution to the great and present ungodliness? No matter how far from God we are (or are in our walk with Him if we savingly know Him) we are called to turn and trust. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (Ja 4:8). Repent of sin that causes death and trust in/follow Jesus who gives us life, who enables us by His death, Resurrection and Spirit to live godly lives; not only us but whole cultures.
Woke means ‘awake.’ It is taken from the Civil Rights Movement where is spoke of being awake to racial injustices.
What should we be awake to: perceived injustices, the oppressed and the oppressor(s).
Traditionally this language was used by Marx in Communism to speak of class. With its epic failure in the 20th C, where did all of those Western communists go? They rebranded and found refuge in the humanities departments of our universities. As they reflected upon their loss they had to rebrand communism to make it more palatable. As such they expanded the list of oppression from class to a whole host of perceived social injustices. Hence they are known as Social Marxists.
Central to their belief is that all people operate on the basis of power. We all are trying to oppress each other. As such we must liberate people from the oppressors. When this has been accomplished there will be utopia. Their idea of oppression is called intersectionality (think intersection). The more roads of oppression are at your intersection the more power/privilege you have in society as the victim to rise up and liberate yourself/group (like the voice of the worker in communism). For example, if you are a woman you are obviously oppressed. But if you are a woman of an ethnic minority, who is poor, who is disabled, who is lesbian, etc, then your intersectionality has grown exponentially and you have power as the victim to speak against oppression. You have the right to be liberated and live in accordance with your identity.
If you remember or have studied the ills of communism the parallels are eerily uncanny:
Ironically in both instances the oppressed end up becoming the oppressors.
Lies and control really do place Wokeism in the category of the Satanic; who is the father of lies and oppressor of the world.
This spiritual battle is also why Marxism is hostile to religion generally and Christianity specifically. Christianity stands for truth and freedom, humility vs. pride, for the individual and responsibility, for accountability to a higher power, Jesus Christ. All of this stands against the ethos of Marxism. There is a reason communism failed in the West, Christianity. There is a reason the Woke have targets Christianity and Christian morals through the decades, it is the obstacle to securing power.
What does Wokeism produce?
Wokeism produces people who are angry (because they are taught they are the victim; people who are irresponsible/entitled (because their situation is someone else’s fault); and people who are anxious and depressed (because in a world of power no one can be trusted). This sounds just like our culture.
Little Common ground between Christianity and Wokeism
While Christianity has and does stand against real injustices there is much that separates it from the Woke. Specifically a different view on human nature (good/bad) and liberation (from perceived oppression or from sin). Really the difference comes down to pride and humility.
A Christian Response
It is easy to use descend to Woke tactics, but we must resist. Jesus teaches us a better way. We must courageously stand for truth in grace. We must have compassion upon the lost and focus on love, joy and hope.
The Woke and the Gospel
The truth is, like Communists, the Woke need Jesus. They need the Gospel.
Jesus enabled our liberation from the power of sin, by becoming a real victim. Through His death and Resurrection the victim became the victor for all who believe.
As March dawns I admit that I am itching to get back out into the garden. Flowers are such a delightful pleasure of God’s creation, a true gift of colour and joy. During the winter we can enjoy cut flowers, however, their beauty is temporary and fleeting. They only last so long. By contrast real flowers continue long in bloom and perennials return every year afresh to bless us once more.
There are many in our contemporary Canadian culture (itself being refashioned as we speak) who believe that our Christian past is a total blight and embarrassment to our national identity. It is a something to be reinvented and forgot rather than cherished and preserved. Recent studies show an increasing majority of Canadians see religion as a negative force, with only some 34% seeing Christianity as a positive element of society. There are some who even champion the idea that we must finally cut ourselves off from our Christian past to secure the bright dawn of a progressive future.
C.S. Lewis suggested that when one had gone down the wrong path the most progressive thing to do was to reverse and then progress down the true path (c.f. Jer 6:16–17). As Canada has become, and continues to become, more post-Christian, some non-Christian leaders have urged restraint in jettisoning our heritage because they recognize the immense value it has and that our country couldn’t existentially be what it is without it.
This is wise wisdom because Christianity gave us the very essence of what has made Canada such a glorious land. As we’ve slipped and then rushed away from this heritage we risk, well, everything. We are, you might say, living on borrowed time. To put it another way, the present generation is very much living off the merits of past generations. We still have some semblance of life but we are losing our bloom as we die a slow death. We are a cut flower society. We are cut off from the very roots that gave us life.
Consider what Christianity gave us and what it might look like without these values:
May society repent and see the worth of Christian values and the Lord who stands behind them ready to forgive and renew (Acts 3:19).
May the faithful remnant of Canadian Christians have a preserving and savoury effect as the salt of this land (Mt 5:13).
In a recent blog I noted statistics regarding the visible decline of Christianity in Canada. This raises the question, ‘What Happened to Christian Canada?’
In a book by this title historian Mark Noll reached the conclusion that we exchanged a Christian vision of Canada for a multi-cultural one. This is true. Canada was a bi-lingual, Anglo-European, Protestant-Catholic nation. Our identity, while different (and sometimes divided), was also one in heritage. While multi-culturalism (language, ethnicity, religion, etc) is not all of itself wrong, this new vision for Canada was an intentional subversion of the existing Christian vision by cultural Marxism (e.g. the thoughts of Antonio Gramsci [1891–1937]). Christian values were assaulted and a Christian vision was replaced by a vision that divided, and accelerated by individualism, made Canada far easier to control to ideological ends.
While Noll is correct, his social theory is not the whole story as he alludes in his conclusion.
One must recognize that even at its height all of Canada was never truly Christian, there was much nominalism, of people buying into the Christian vision or attending church culturally but not truly and spiritually. One must believe the Gospel to be a Christian.
Still, many denominations faithfully preached the Gospel and so it could be assumed that many Canadians truly were Christian. However, with the arrival of theological liberalism in Canada (which accelerated in the 1920s), countless Canadian denominations, pulpits and churches became arid wastelands that gave the appearance of Christianity yet without Christ. Long before an assault from without can an attack from within. William Booth of the Salvation Army foresaw this shift in the 1800s when he said of the 20th Century:
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”
If truth is not presented it cannot be trusted and it therefore does not transform.
There is nothing less attractive than nominal Christianity, no meaning, no joy, no fruit of faith, no substance. As more and more Canadians became nominal Christians is it any wonder ‘Christianity’ was spit out? Like the story of the Return of the Unclean Spirit in Mt 12:43–45 Canadians spit out nominal Christianity only to embrace other isms far worse than the first.
People began to look to the old worldly isms of materialism, commercialism and individualism in increasing degrees. (A corporatism in Christian Canada gave way to the extreme individualism of today).
Christianity was also beset by other isms such as Darwinism, Communism, atheism, the Sexual Revolution and post-Modernism. (It is interesting to note how a decline in the number of children necessitated an immigration policy that supported multi-culturalism).
While the full answer is even more complex than this some major contributors to the decline of Christian Canada were recasting our identity (cultural-Marxism), liberalism, nominalism along with various other isms.
No doubt some genuine Christians of the past bear spiritual and social responsibility for allowing us to drift away from orthodoxy and slip into nominalism as a nation, thus allowing this shift to take place (a giant can only be toppled if it blindly believes itself unstoppable).
The faithful remnant in Canada (e.g. the Church), now often bolstered by new Canadians who are already Christian, must rise to be the vanguard of society’s wellbeing (salt and light, Mt 5), do honour to our Christian heritage and offer a bright hope and alternative vision for the future. However, this will not be done through worldly means (2 Cor 10:4) but by the faithful preaching of the Gospel and lives lived to the glory of Christ. This is how the early Church began and transformed the Roman and European landscape. This is how we must win Canada today; one soul at a time.
Christmas of 2022 was unusual for many congregations, we had a blizzard that closed roads and forced many churches to suspend their Christmas Day services. The second thing that was unusual was that Christmas Day and the Lord’s Day coincided, something that only happens every few years.
For our culture Christmas (without the Christ) is the high holy day of the year. On Christmas even the shops are closed, family is a focus (which in itself is good), the pagan myths are brought out and of course there is the worship of self through materialism. For our culture Christmas is paramount.
For Christians, it is not wrong to remember the Incarnation, but our high holy day, a New Testament ordinance, is the Lord’s Day. It is the day we remember the Resurrection. It is the day we express our dependence upon the Lord, and that our lives revolve around Him. It is His day through which we honour and worship Him in a special way. It is the day on which the church gathers. Every Sunday, including when it is Christmas Day, we do not neglect to meet together (Heb 10:25). This is because Christians believe God’s will for the church is set forth in the New Testament. We do not get to choose how to live and worship, He does.
We live in a changing culture. It isn’t changing from Christian to post-Christian (that change occurred in the 1960s–80s). We’re changing from a post-Christian culture into an eddy of the unknown.
Now as the under-dog (yet with an Almighty Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ), how do we as Christian churches engage with our culture?
At a recent conference a non-Christian and Christian help was offered to answer this question. I thought it was worth restating with some of my own commentary.
The Christian faith used to be the worldview and moral code of Canada. People would ask: does this honour and glorify God; what does God think about this; what does the Bible say; is this good or bad; does it love God and love others, etc…?
As people came to hold the Christian faith nominally these questions were asked, not through reason, but through intuition: that is, because of what we’ve received, I don’t feel comfortable with X, Y, or Z.
Today, most people still do not use reason to inform their worldview, rather they subjectively rely on intuition.
Because of this shift Christianity went from being celebrated, tolerated or viewed as quaint to now being seen as increasingly dangerous.
In “Righteous Mind: Moral Intuitions are Different,” social psychologist explains what our culture’s new moral intuitions are:
If we simply speak louder (like in so many language quandaries) we don’t actually facilitate understanding. If we simply give a straight up yes or no answer, our view will likely clash with theirs.
While sometimes we’re left with no other option than providing a straight up answer without an explanation (and know that God will use such faithfulness), we need to learn to be better listeners:
If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame. (Prov 18:13)
The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water,
but a man of understanding will draw it out. (Prov 20:5)
When pressed for a yes or no answer on any moral or theological question we might respond, “I think your question deserves more than a one syllable answer.” Ask questions. Attempt to figure out what ethic (see above) they’re operating from. Build trust through listening. Where have they come from that has led them to this place? Finally help them understand why something is right or wrong (harmful, oppressive and unjust) and tell the better story of how Jesus’ way is better, freeing and just.
In apologetics and evangelism we must learn to speak the truth in love or blend grace and truth as the Bible teaches.
Like many people in Ontario (and North America) I celebrated Halloween when I was growing up, giving little thought to this secular holiday. Most of it was naively innocent, it was a time for candy, dressing up and visiting, in my case, predominantly friends, family and neighbours. It was fun. Beginning in my early adult life, however, I began to become uneasy with Halloween as a Christian. During our time in the UK, where Halloween has been a recent North American commercial import, its newness and foreignness gave me opportunity to pause and reflect further upon a holiday so many celebrate (including Christians)
Rather than an innocent event the origins of Halloween are quite dark, not to mention aspects of how it was traditionally and is now celebrated. Is Halloween “Happy” as folks wish? No, it is more a trick than a treat.
Modern Halloween is an amalgam of old and new traditions:
Christians who participate in Halloween embrace, often naively, something that is actually dark. They’d do better to practice goodness and celebrate what God has actually commanded.
While I sympathize with those Christians who seek to use Halloween as an opportunity to witness by giving candy-Gospel-tracts or hosting alternative light parties, in my opinion it would be better to simply not engage remembering verses like:
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Eph 5:11)
“Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” (Romans 12:9b)
“Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Recently I took my Historical Theology class to Black Creek Pioneer Village, Toronto. It was a wonderful fall outing. We used the old Edgeley Mennonite Meeting House (b. 1824- the oldest remaining log meeting house in the province) as the backdrop for the day’s lectures. (The meeting house would have been nearly identical in simplicity to early Baptist meeting houses). It was the first time I’d lectured with a toque on and the poor lighting made me appreciate the convenience of electricity as I sought to read my lecture notes!
Historical Theology is “the study of how the church past interpreted Scripture and formulated its doctrines and practice.” As such, we had one lecture period where students were able to explore the Village with this question, “from your exploration, what can we learn about what these pioneers believed” (in 1860, the era of the Village, culture was generally Christian).
When we debriefed their visit to the village a number of interesting observations were made:
What about today? If you think about our community and culture, what do they believe? What do you believe? How might this knowledge help you influence them for Christ?
Have you ever met someone who is a Posivitist? What is a positivist? Someone who will only allow positive thinking (c.f. mindfulness), affirmations, self-empowerment, promotes a “positive space,” displays or writes positive plagues or mantras, advocates acts of kindness, feels and uses ‘energies’ and never accepts critique or realism. This is a positivist and positivism is positively growing in our society!
When I first encountered a positivist I was—frankly—confused. Where is this coming from? What does this person believe? How widespread is this and what effect is this having on our culture? Without knowing more I was unequipped to deal with it as a Christian.
Where does such thinking come from?
There are a number of possible sources by which some might arrive at this way of thinking:
Simply put Positivist believe that fostering “a positive mental attitude, supported by affirmations, will achieve success in anything.” How one thinks is central to tapping into the spiritual universe to bend it to your will. Spirituality is impersonal and self-focused.
What affect is it having on our culture?
In a culture that desires to appear spiritual and fix their problems themselves Positivism offers a lot of perceived benefits (chiefly feeling spiritual without God). If you look around it has worked its way into self-help workshops, schools, counselling, stress management, corporate practice, preaching, etc. You might say it is ‘everywhere’ and its way of thinking is so prevalent bits of it can be absorbed into our way of thinking often without even realizing it.
A Biblical Critique/Alternative
Now certainly the Bible would have much to say against ‘impossibility thinkers’ as it related to faith and hope in the God of the impossible; yet the Bible is also a realistic book (we call this truth) and often speaks in the negative concerning sin or lies (“thou shalt not”), while positively endorsing what is right and true (“Honour your father and mother”).
On key questions that religions and worldviews address, Christianity and Positivism are more often than not at complete odds:
How can we share the Gospel with a Positivist we may know or love? Certainly there are inconsistencies, certainly upon what objective truth one basis their belief needs to be considered; yet ultimately we share the Gospel with gentleness, respect and conviction and let it reverberate against their worldview. They are looking for someone; it’s Jesus. Point them to him as the answer to their spiritual quest.
However, if you profess to be a Christian but still haven’t come back to church now is the time to seriously consider coming back because the disadvantages far outweigh the perceived advantages.
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