Thursday, March 21, 2013

The True Culture War


I have written, and published, about the false structures of a “two-storey” universe. It is an image I use to think about the effects of living within a secularized culture and the temptations of a secularized Christianity. But all of the structures of a two-storey world exist in the imaginations of modern believers. God is everywhere present or He is nowhere at all.
Secularism is an intellectual construct. It has its own history – dating largely to the centuries of the early Reformation. Its assumptions are that the universe exists in a “neutral” zone. Things are just things with no particular religious significance in themselves. Religion is a matter of personal belief, but not a description of the material order.
Along with this comes a secularization of the sacraments. The significance of the Bread and Wine in the Eucharist is “spiritual,” affecting no material change in the Bread and Wine (note that the word “spiritual” is coming to mean “not having to do with everyday things”). “Freedom of religion” means “freedom of belief” since religion is simply a matter of belief (i.e. it’s intellectual).
Life lived in the “neutral zone” comes to be seen and understood as “normal life.” Today it even becomes synonymous with the “real world.” Religious practices that are publicly displayed tend to jar the neutrality of the real world. The sensibilities of the mainstream are often offended by such uninvited and unwelcome intrusions. The public square is not a religious square...

The culture war that rages within the believer is born of a double loyalty. How can Jesus be Lord of all and yet be Lord of nothing in the world around us? Some solve the contradiction by postponing Christ’s Lordship to the future. He will be Lord when He gets back. There are a variety of arrangements on this theme, but it is perhaps the dominant solution to the two-storey problem.
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