Wednesday 29 November 2023

Christians (and, even more so, Christian Churches) need a clean break from doing worldly good

I would say that there are no Christian duties in this world relating to matters such as feeding the poor, promoting peace, preserving the earth - and suchlike social work.

This applies even when such 'charitable' activity is genuine, as it usually is not: when the poor being fed really are poor; when genuine peace is being promoted rather than, in fact, war supported; when it is nature genuinely is being protected, rather than than funding multinational fake-sustainable technologies, etc.

I mean that Christians ought to stop trying to help people physically, materially; to cease aiming at a happier and healthier world; to give-up on plans to diminish here-and-now human suffering caused by social problems and injustices. 

We have reached a situation from which Christianity must detach itself entirely from all such worldly generic duties, projects etc. - because these will be used against Christianity by Antichrist powers, and will always be expanded to crowd-out the genuine spiritual and next-wordly orientated duties. 

This-world and the here-and-now will always - and esepcially to the typical modern mind - seem primary, urgent and imperative; compared with the easy way that next-word and eternal requirements can be delayed, postponed, and made secondary. 

From where we now are, with the priorities and motivations and pressures that we now have; Christians should not acknowledge that any worldly actions are specifically Christian and mandatory to Christians. 

Of course, we will all continue personally to do specific acts as a matter of our personal love, sense of duty etc - but these cannot be allowed to be imperative as abstract generalizations

Churches need to do the same; and ought to focus primarily on whatever they regard as spiritual imperatives; or else we will continually repeat the 2020 situation in which the major churches all ceased to offer their spiritual services, while continuing their social services. 

As one representative example:

In April of 2020 during the birdemic lockdowns; The Church of England's churches were allowed (by the Bishops' instructions!) to open and be used for use as food banks and "peck" centres, while all sacramental activity in the same buildings was forbidden. Analogous actions were taken by all major "Christian" churches - revealing their true priorities were almost exclusively material, expedient, and totalitarian-compatible. 

The only way out and forward from burial beneath the vast complex of wrong motivations and false priorities and confused intentions that led to such appalling practices (in so many churches): is a clean break.

Only from a Ground Zero position of complete spiritual freedom from the currently suffocating network of worldly-entanglements and social-responsibilities; can properly Christian motivations be rediscovered and renewed. 

Only after we have solidly established the priority of the spiritual, may we then choose to rebuild a selective and effective concern with the material. 

(Adapted from a comment on Francis Berger's blog.) 


William Wildblood said...

Jesus fed the 5,000 but as far as we know he only did it once. Presumably he could have done it every day but he didn't. This should tell us that worldly do-goodery is fine as far as it goes but it is not the point of the Christian life. In. fact, if it becomes too important then it actually damages the true Christian life

Luke said...

Would you say the same applies to helping poor Christians because their Christians? It seems to me that an explicit, specific, particular love for other Christians, even embodied in charitable works, is vital to a spiritual revival.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Luke - In the early church, this was apparently how things worked. The fact it now works the opposite way around (pretty much) and "Christian charity" now goes almost entirely to the physical welfare of non-Christians and anti-Christians.

But, as I say; I don't think modern people do nuance. If there is a loophole whereby helping poverty is regarded as a duty, it will become primary - and it will not be directed at Christians.

Only individuals voluntarily doing specific things to help specific (known) people would be likely to succeed in any way; but even then I suspect it would soon take over from what people ought to be doing.

@William - Quite. My understanding is that Jesus's miracles were always primarily directed at revelation of his divinity, and teaching - and not at 'doing good' per se. It would have been easy (and socially approved) if Jesus had 'helped people' 24/7 and never taught a thing - but that was not what he actually did.

Jeffrey Cantrell said...

Another winner here, thanks! As an observation, just as with alcoholics, you cannot help anyone unless they want to help themselves. After all, doesn't God help those who help themselves, seek and ye shall fine. I am not advocating turning a callous eye to those who are in need and to whom you wish to provide help, just that you cannot help those who are not willing to help themselves. CS Lewis says something similar in Mere Christianity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JC - I think the problem is when abstract principles arise and we try to live by rules. If we judge case by case, person by person, I think we are much more likely to know properly when and how to act.

Jeffrey Cantrell said...


Francis Berger said...

Bruce, the last three paragraphs really hit it home.

And doing worldly good by conventional means is just the tip of the iceberg here. The worldly good churches supposedly engage in today serve as a clear indication of where their values lie, and where there values demonstrates what they have committed to and what they really believe deep down.

This isn't merely a case of church leaderships being "human", "sinful", or "fallen". It's far deeper than that. The supposed worldly good churches involve themselves in today is a direct reflection of their core metaphysical assumptions.