quarta-feira, 12 de setembro de 2012

Activism or Awareness? A False Choice

By Dr. Joel McDurmon

I agree with and appreciate about 99% of Jerry Robinson’s book, The Bankruptcy of Our Nation (New Leaf Press, 2009). My great problem comes with this: the 1% of it that I disagree with is so regretful it nearly negates the value of the rest of the book. Robinson’s otherwise insightful and well-researched exposé of American economic sins sags under the weight of his Lindsey-LeHaye style end-times madness.
As a result of his pessimillennialism, Robinson disavows and discourages involvement in attempts to reform economic or fiscal policy, rather relegating these areas to the broad array of “the world’s” naughtiness that shall be “destroyed by fire at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[1] Lest we think that his dispensationalism is not extreme, Robinson repeats that most myopic of anti-Biblical end-times images of an irredeemable society: “only a fool would rearrange the furniture on the sinking Titanic.”[2] As a result, Robinson presents Christians with the choice between a stark dichotomy of “activism” (Christian involvement in political affairs) and “awareness” (which, considering the allegedly problematic alternative of “activism,” one is tempted to more candidly label as “inactivism” — the American Christian’s real dream).
This false choice has crossed my desk unfortunately too late to make entry into my book on Biblical Logic when I was writing it, else I would surely have ushered it into a prominent spot. The thoughtful — perhaps even the simple-minded — Christian must be tempted to confront Robinson’s “activism or awareness” fallacy with the obvious question, “Why Not Both?” Nevertheless, before I get ahead of myself, here is Robinson’s presentation of the problem as he wishes us to see it, along with my intermittent criticism [in brackets, thusly]:
The activists are biblically aware but politically motivated.
In contrast, the aware are politically aware but biblically motivated.
[What? Is it impossible that biblical motivation might spur—even intend—social and political change? Robinson has simply used a false “present evil world versus future-only Kingdom of God” in order to condemn political involvement with the epithet “activism.” Again: this is a false choice.]
The activists insist that by getting the right political party into office we can “take back America for God.”
In contrast, the aware realize that no matter which political party gets elected, nothing can slow man’s sin problem. They avoid political games, knowing their futility.
[If he defines activism in this way, then I must agree. However, I know no Christian involved in political, economic, or social action who actually holds this reductionistic view. In order to sustain his false dichotomy here Robinson has erected a Straw Man. Real activists do, however, believe that among the many things advancing God’s kingdom includes, having faithful decision-makers in office has at least some importance, as common sense would dictate. Where’s the evil in this? Furthermore, the claim that “nothing” can slow man’s sin problem is the height of unbiblical pessimism. What ever happened to the Holy Spirit?]
The activists think that getting prayer back into America’s schools will change the nation.
The aware pray with their children at home and do not expect government-controlled institutions to teach their children spiritual values.
[This is a perfectly valid point, yet also plays with loading the term “activists.” Most politically and socially active Christians I know are the strongest supporters of home schooling. None of them expect prayer to exist in godless public schools. Standing in the great tradition of the politico-social preaching of R. J. Rushdoony, who also almost single-handedly pioneered the modern Christian home-schooling movement, I personally find Robinson’s insightfulness especially lacking here.]
The activists extol the virtues of man’s kingdoms (political platforms) and follow them with a religious fervor.
The aware endure man’s kingdoms, all the while praying and longing for God’s Kingdom.
[This is the type of vagueness that writers use to drive home a point without actually saying anything of substance. Who exactly, among those of us who embrace social and political action, extols “man’s kingdoms” as opposed to God’s? We endure sinful politics, etc., just as much as Robinson does. The difference is that we bring a prophetic denunciation against wickedness in high places now, because we believe God’s Kingdom has already been inaugurated, and is gradually advancing here and now as many Scripture passages make clear (Ps. 110, Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 2:33–36; 1 Cor. 15:23–26; Heb. 1:1–4, 13; 10:11–13; Rev. 1:5–6). With the King of kings currently enthrone “in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18), we believe that, for example, the imprecatory psalms actually work.]
The activists demand “Merry Christmas” be spoken — even in secular settings. The phrase “Happy Holidays” is viewed as religious persecution.
The aware do not expect non-Christians to promote Christ.
[This point is, admittedly, trivial to an extent. The “Happy Holidays” phenomenon, however, bothers the pessimillennialist less that the “activist” because he sees it as a confirmation of his pessimism — the anticipated decline of Christian influence. In fact, such a believer likely secretly revels in it. Either way he only compounds the problem by bravely fleeing from it. Christian pessimism and Christian withdrawal from society are vicious twins dancing in a vicious circle.]
The activists want “In God We Trust” to remain plastered on the U.S. fiat currency.
The aware realize that fiat currency systems, such as the U.S. dollar, are “unjust weights and balances” and therefore are “abominable” to God.
[On the evil of fiat money I could not agree more. That those Christians who engage in social and political action “remain plastered” to such a currency is, therefore, obviously untrue. Again, the problem here is that we wish to reform and replace fiat currency with honest weights and measures (per God’s Word), while Robinson and his group only decry the problem and run. Again, this indicates that they secretly revel in the problem as a confirmation of their end-times beliefs. I will go out on a limb here and assert that if I must be subjected to a fiat money system, I absolutely intend to Trust In God all the more because of that evil!]
The activists take their cues from, and measure themselves by, their culture.
The aware know that God will never judge anyone based upon their culture, only based upon God’s Word, the Bible.[3]
[Again, this is false. Many of us Christians engage in social action because we measure ourselves and culture by God’s Word, the Bible. Once again, also, this is conveniently vague. I would like to hear exactly whom Robinson is targeting here.]
Well, there you have it, my critique of Robinson’s false dichotomy. It should grow apparent pretty quickly that one has to overlook many facts and ignore much of what we “activists” have actually written and done if they, following Robinson, wish to maintain the imposition of such a false choice on the Christian public. Instead of arguing for his position, Robinson has created a series of fallacies to cover its weakness. I half believe he knows it and expects to be called out for it. So he tries to squelch criticism by ad hominem:
However, those who favor activism will always have the loudest voices. They are quickly recognized as the ones who [and here we go again!] insist on re-arranging the furniture on the sinking Titanic.[4]
The ultimate problem here is that the presupposition of his end-times views trumps all else that he does. No matter how good his journalism or applications of biblical criticism to society are, his pessimism will always rule the day. From this position — no matter how keen his insights into world problems — the only practical solution he can offer is to withdraw from the world and wait for Jesus to come burn it.
This interplay of insight and pessimism results in classic theological dichotomies of its own. Due to this mixture of expert insight to modern financial problems, a fairly well-demonstrated understanding of the Biblical guidelines that condemn modern fiat finance and debt, solid advice on surviving the financial times, and yet floundering fear of “activism” in politics and economics, Robinson’s book displays the most vehement of schizophrenias. For example, he offers the following condemnation of “the world”: “The world’s leaders, its politics, bureaucracies, organizations, religions, pleasures, and philosophies are all going to be destroyed by fire at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ![4] And what is his advice for dealing with such a future? He asserts, “Our response should be twofold: (1) awareness and (2) extraction.”[5] This is the “learn and hide,” or “learn and run” school of Christianity.
But then on the very next turn of the page he advises us to learn more about money management and economics. Particularly, he advises, “Check with your local community college for a beginner’s course on economics or money management.”[7] But why learn so much about handling money if tomorrow it (along with your local community college, by the way) shall all burn tomorrow? He opines that “every high school student should have to pass an economic and money management test before obtaining his or her diploma,” and he laments, “It is simply amazing how little real world training goes on in most of our public schools.”[8] Is this not the same writer who two minutes ago condemned the expectation of prayer in schools, and dryly taught us that “The aware . . . do not expect government-controlled institutions to teach their children spiritual values.” And exactly why should we expect government schools—funded by fiat currency systems and forced taxation—to teach us the truth about its own “abominable… unjust weights and measures.” Is not this part of the same “real world” that shall tomorrow burn? Why even care at this point? Why not instead embrace “awareness” and “extraction” on these issues?
Instead, the optimistic, law-preaching, home-schooling, future-oriented, dominion-oriented way of Christian life avoids these inconsistencies. In honesty I think Robinson is half-way to this position. Could he only shed the bad eschatology, he would join us. I invite him to do so. It’s a lot less painful of a step than his false choice makes it seem.
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Jerry Robinson, The Bankruptcy of Our Nation: 12 Key Strategies for Protecting Your Finances in These Uncertain Times (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 2009), 251.
[2] Jerry Robinson, 270.
[3] Robinson, 238–9
[4] Robinson, 238.
Robinson, 251.
Robinson, 251.
[7] Robinson, 253.
Robinson, 253.
Article posted July 24, 2009

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