Friday, 4 January 2013

We are dying from abstraction

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Our culture is dying, is killing itself, from abstraction.

We take abstract concepts like equality, freedom, justice; concepts which nobody understands - and we use these remote and un-understood abstractions to 'problematize' - to challenge, question, subvert, invert and destroy - perfectly obvious and commonsensical realities such as men and women, marriage and families, love and hate.

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We denigrate obvious realities, comprehensible to everybody; and subordinate them to un-understood abstractions, comprehensible to nobody.

We replace sex-differences between males and females which are understood even by very young children; with 'gender', which is an abstraction that means nothing or anything (amounting to the same thing).

We take the idea of Father and Mother, which are spontaneously known by small children - and render them taboo, render them evil and unusable in public discourse - and replace them with... what? Abstract gibberish about 'equality' (a concept that nobody can define operationally, and never has).

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As Christians, we must escape these nets of abstraction; we must bring our explanations back to that which is common sense and comprehensible to a child.

Christianity is a story, with characters; and behind it is God who is a character, a person, who participates in the story - and if we don't think of God as a person, then he might as well be nothing, for all the good it will do us.

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Christianity began to lose its grip on the human imagination when it began to ridicule and subvert God as an old man (perhaps with a beard) in a place called Heaven, who is our loving Father, and we his children.

Yet that is about as much as we can understand about God, and certainly our true understanding is of this kind; and if we replace this kind of understanding with something abstract about omnipotence, omniscience, unchanging eternity and the rest of it - then we simply remove God from our life.

The abstract God becomes something like gravity or magnetism or 'evolution' - all the qualities that might make us love and willingly obey God are dissolved away.

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Christians must be bold to be simple-minded and simple in expression and simple in explanation; and humble to acknowledge that that is all that we can truly comprehend and live-by.

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Abstractions are not more true, because we cannot handle abstractions in the way that we quite naturally handle stories about people. Indeed, it is doubtful whether humans can handle abstractions at all - except briefly, in very specific spatio-temporal and subject-limited ways (e.g brief eras of mathematical and scientific genius).

Christians must therefore never answer a concrete question about God with an abstraction - must never pretend to clarify a comprehensible problem with an incomprehensible solution.

(The questioner may be silenced, but they will never be satisfied. And it will inculcate a habit that is not just bad, but potentially lethal to salvation.)

If we do not understand life - including salvation - 'anthropomorphically', as a story about of the motivations and relationships of people, then we have eschewed understanding of life.

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To sweep aside God our perfect loving Father in favour of a God of abstract attributes operating in a universe of matter and forces, is not only to break the wholeness of this world and sever our relation to it; it is to open the gate to infinite error and uncorrectable sin.

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