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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Where Does The American Conservative Church Fit In Here?



In the above video, Noam Chomsky emphasizes how, in elite-centered governments whether they be modeled after Lenin's rule or that of State Capitalism, public opinion must be controlled. The general public, especially in a democracy, must be put into a state of 'apathy and obedience' so that it does not interfere with those with power. 

When the general public is not apathetic and obedient, Chomsky goes on to say, there exists a problem with democracy. The problem with Democracy, however, is a vexation only for those with power because the problem with Democracy is that power is more equitably shared. And it often accompanies turbulent times where people experience a sense of urgency to 'press their own demands.'

Thus, some view the job of institutions is to nip the problem of democracy in the bud: that is to return the general public to being apathetic and obedient. Those with power will present and even see themselves as having to do this for the public's good because the public does not know what is good for them while the ruling elites do.

So where does the American Conservative Church fit in here? We might say that concern over personal sin plays a similar role in the American Conservative Church that our economic system does for most of America in controlling people for the sake of the ruling elites. For just as many Americans have neither the time nor the energy to pay attention to what our political and economic leaders do because they are too busy trying to earn a living, so focusing on personal sins has so preoccupied many American Conservative Christians that they are unable or unwilling to follow and then analyze what our leaders are doing. 

An illustration of the focus that the American Conservative Church has put on personal sins can be seen in how it has reacted to the same-sex marriage issue. For whether one goes to Conservative Christian blogs such as the First Things blog (click here), the blogs associated with the Gospel Coalition website (click here), or Denny Burk's blog (click here), or whether one goes to the publications of conservative denominations like that of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (see here), interaction with society is largely reduced to trying to control its sexual mores. Thus, our exploitive economic system, our current destruction of the environment, and our bend toward war and militarism all fly under the radar of concerns for many American Conservative Christians. 

But it isn't just the personal sins of others that cause us to be too fatigued to resist societal and system sins, it is our own personal sins and how they interfere with our quest for holiness that rob us of the energy or desire to pay attention the sins practiced by the groups we belong to and by many with wealth and power. And that is regardless of the fact that society and our nation often violates the Biblical prohibitions against murder and theft when it practices injustice against others. Somehow, we don't see some sins when favorite groups practice them as we see them when individuals do.

As a result, our hyper-concern with personal sin, whether that be the sins of others or ourselves, can cause us to be numb to respond to societal or system injustices forced on ourselves or our neighbors. And all of that is enabled by most American Conservative Christian churches.

But we also must count the silence practiced by the American Conservative Church regarding economic exploitation, environmental destruction, and war and militarism as a passive way by which the American Conservative Church encourages its members to remain apathetic and obedient to those who abuse power. Expressing too much concern over group social sins will cause many American Conservative Christians to accuse one of following the 'heresy' of the social gospel. And what many American Conservative Christians who make such accusations seem unaware of is that to neglect to express these concerns at all ignores the injunction of Romans 12:2 where we are told not to conform to the world. If we don't resist the sins of those with wealth and power, we become complicit, if not worse, in their sins.

One of the many tragedies coming from the American Conservative Church practice of creating apathetic and obedient  subjects to power is that its reluctance to preach truth to power gives many unbelievers reasons not to listen to the Gospel.

For as much as the American Conservative Christian Church enables its members to be apathetic to working for social change, the more this Church serves power and wealth; the more it serves the interests of ruling elites. Thus, the American Conservative Church seems to have fallen into a state that it claimed to fear the most: the state of being regulated, however informally, by and ruled over by either the State or elite private sector power.

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