Thursday 7 July 2016

The culture war is not the same as spiritual warfare - by winning the first, the Enemy may lose the second

Because it is visible, measurable, shared - the culture war is easy to discuss - and Christians have lost the culture war. Christianity is not just excluded from the public realm - it is under prolonged siege.

But that is not the crux - it is the spiritual war which matter. Christians are losing that too - so far as can be measured; but it is much harder for the Enemy to win the spiritual war than the culture war. The reason is that if the culture war becomes to obvious, then the spiritual war will re-ignite.

If the culture war leads to a more primal, direct form of human experience; if people are brought face to face with the human condition (instead of experiencing it mainly via the mass media); if conflict becomes genuine rather than sham, manipulated; if dissent and protest becomes heart-felt rather than media-generated, AstroTurf-contrived, and a lifestyle expression... any and all such things will bring the spiritual war into the open - and the position of the Enemy will be exposed.

The Enemy does not merely want to make people miserable; the intention is to induce people to actively to reject salvation and chose damnation. So far, in this virtual world of sullen comfort, they are winning - and have probably gone further towards victory than at any time in human history.

But if the Enemy goes too far, or too fast, or comes into the open - then they will lose ground.

In winning the culture war, they may lose the spiritual war.

Whatever has happened in culture; we must keep fighting the spiritual war; and be ready to counter attack. 


William Wildblood said...

That's a very good distinction to make, Bruce. Of course the two are linked but they're not the same. The first, as you say, has been lost, for the time being anyway, but the second is waged inside each one of us and so it's up to us who has the victory. Of course, in an absolute sense, the spiritual war cannot be lost but we want to make sure we put ourselves on the right side.

Anonymous said...

Your saying, "the intention is to induce people to actively to reject salvation and chose damnation" reminds me of a quotation I have seen attributed to 'Theodore Dalrymple':

"In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control."

The early (and centuries-long) Christian social praxis might be summarized as evasion combined with discreet or circumspect Evangelization, with martyrdom - in the sense of both public profession and verbal witness and torture and death - when and where evasion proved impossible.

How much of the hostile human goal then as in the Twentieth century and up to the present is 'atomically' to isolate - to separate children from families, from (to apply Lewis) 'initiation into the mystery of humanity which over-arches young neophyte and older initiators alike', to make it as far as possible a case of each and everyone having to 'reinvent the (spiritual) wheel' existentially alone, if at all?

The variously thoughtful but de-Christianized Aldous Huxley and George Orwell imagine attempts variously crushed in Brave New World and 1984 (though the fuller stories of the lives and thought of each are more complex!). But what of The Abolition of Man? How bad did Lewis soberly think it could get, for concrete human persons in their irreducible creaturely distinction as well as in society?

David Llewellyn Dodds

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - 'Theodore Dalrymple' is correct, I'm sure - so far as it goes.

The danger is that in a materialistic society, in fact a non-Christian society, lacking the possibility-of and belief-in repentance and divine forgiveness, it goes 'all the way' to death and beyond.

Without repentance, when a person has been humiliated into lying and obedience to evil they may regard themselves as irrevocably lost, and won't just give-up but will actively embrace their own fallen state. I seem to see this all too often - perhaps esepcially among people in the public eye and those who have the highest status and greatest power.

So far as know, only Christ has ever promised to wipe the slate clean, whatever we have done - so that nobody is ever lost unless they choose to remain lost.

Crystal clarity on this matter is a great and precious gift of the 'evangelical' Christian movement over the past couple of centuries - and a reason why it still continues to be vigorous even in The West.

(I and my family attend a Conservative evangelical Anglican church - and I am very pleased - as a Mere Christian - to support its work, despite my many theological and ritual differences.)