Saturday, January 30, 2016
Matthew MacWilliams claims that the common characteristic of Trump supporters is authoritarianism.
That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.
While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.
It is time for those who would appeal to our better angels to take his insurgency seriously and stop dismissing his supporters as a small band of the dispossessed. Trump support is firmly rooted in American authoritarianism and, once awakened, it is a force to be reckoned with.Authoritarianism has always been a strong force in the US, but it can be very dangerous.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
In his book The Great Heresies Hilaire Belloc explains that Islam spread because the social conditions were right.
Both in the world of Hither Asia and in the Graeco-Roman world of the Mediterranean, but especially in the latter, society had fallen, much as our society has today, into a tangle wherein the bulk of men were disappointed and angry and seeking for a solution to the whole group of social strains. There was indebtedness everywhere; the power of money and consequent usury. There was slavery everywhere. Society reposed upon it, as ours reposes upon wage slavery today. There was weariness and discontent with theological debate, which, for all its intensity, had grown out of touch with the masses. There lay upon the freemen, already tortured with debt, a heavy burden of imperial taxation; and there was the irritant of existing central government interfering with men’s lives; there was the tyranny of the lawyers and their charges.
To all this, Islam came as a vast relief and a solution of strain. The slave who admitted that Mohammed was the prophet of God and that the new teaching had, therefore, divine authority, ceased to be a slave. The slave who adopted Islam was henceforward free. The debtor who “accepted” was rid of his debts. Usury was forbidden. The small farmer was relieved not only of his debts but of his crushing taxation. Above all, justice could be had without buying it from lawyers... All this in theory. The practice was not nearly so complete. Many a convert remained a debtor, many were still slaves. But wherever Islam conquered there was a new spirit of freedom and relaxation.
It was the combination of all these things, the attractive simplicity of the doctrine, the sweeping away of clerical and imperial discipline, the huge immediate practical advantage of freedom for the slave and riddance of anxiety for the debtor, the crowning advantage of free justice under few and simple new laws easily understood— that formed the driving force behind the astonishing Mohammedan social victory. The courts were everywhere accessible to all without payment and giving verdicts which all could understand.
But there was another— and it is the most important cause. The fiscal cause: the overwhelming wealth of the early Mohammedan Caliphate. The merchant and the tiller of the land, the owner of property and the negotiator, were everywhere relieved by the Mohammedan conquest; for a mass of usury was swept away, as was an intricate system of taxation which had become clogged, ruining the taxpayer without corresponding results for the government.
The success of Mohammedanism had not been due to its offering something more satisfactory in the way of philosophy and morals, but, as I have said, to the opportunity it afforded of freedom to the slave and debtor, and an extreme simplicity which pleased the unintelligent masses.Many Christians in America are scared of a take over by Islam. They assume that it will succeed by force. What they do not understand, is that if society continues in its current direction, Islam might be welcomed by people who have forgotten Christianity. Many of the conditions that Belloc described, already exist in the Western world.
- Justice is very expensive and only available to the wealthy.
- Many people are in bondage to debt.
- The precariat are slaves to zero-hour uncertain contracts.
- Taxation is excessive for everyone.
- Theological arguments seem distracting and pointless.
- Many Christians in America are more committed to military force and the right to bear arms than to the the incarnation and the Trinity.
Labels: Hilaire Belloc
Friday, January 22, 2016
Although born in France, Hilaire Belloc was was a prolific writer in England during the early twentieth century. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. One of his most important works was the The Great Heresies, published in 1938. One of the heresies that he discusses is Islam. His unique perspective was seeing Islam as a Christian heresy.
Mohammedanism was a heresy: that is the essential point to grasp before going any further. It began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. Its vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was— not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing.Belloc suggests that Islam teaches the main Christian doctrines in an oversimplified form.
The very foundation of his teaching was that prime Christine doctrine, the unity and omnipotence of God. The attributes of God he also took over in the main from Christine doctrine: the personal nature, the all-goodness, the timelessness, the providence of God, His creative power as the origin of all things, and His sustenance of all things by His power alone. The world of good spirits and angels and of evil spirits in rebellion against God was a part of the teaching, with a chief evil spirit, such as Christendom had recognized. Mohammed preached with insistence that prime Christian doctrine, on the human side— the immortality of the soul and its responsibility for actions in this life, coupled with the consequent doctrine of punishment and reward after death.Mohammed never dealt with the inconsistencies that this produced.
He gave to Our Lord the highest reverence. On the day of judgment, it was Our Lord, according to Mohammed, who would be the judge of mankind, not he, Mohammed. But the central point where this new heresy struck home with a mortal blow against Christian tradition was a full denial of the Incarnation. Mohammed did not merely take the first steps toward that denial, as the Arians and their followers had done; he advanced a clear affirmation, full and complete, against the whole doctrine of an incarnate God. He taught that Our Lord was the greatest of all the prophets, but still only a prophet: a man like other men. He eliminated the Trinity altogether.
Mohammed’s teaching never developed among the mass of his followers, or in his own mind, a detailed theology. Simplicity was the note of the whole affair. But the resemblance to Christianity was one of the reasons for its success.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Prophecy must be delivered in the right attitude. We must speak the truth in love. A wrong attitude nullifies the truth of the word. Many true prophecies have been made false, because they have been spoken in a harsh or critical attitude.
All prophets should note God’s response when he saw the sins of the people who lived during the time of Noah.
The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain (Gen 6:6).God’s heart was “filled with pain”. A prophet cannot represent God during a time of judgement unless his heart is filled with pain.
Some Christians say, “A prophet’s job is to say what God says”. This is correct, but it is only part of the truth. A prophet’s job is to say what God says in the right spirit. Many prophets have spoken a true word without it being heard. Sometimes the true word was not received because the listener’s heart was hard, but more often it was not heard, because the spirit of the prophet was warped.
I remember a woman who was really upset, because her pastor had not received a word that she and a friend had given to him. She could not understand why this had happened, because the word was true. Her word rung true to me too, but I could tell from the tone of her voice why she was not heard. She oozed bitterness, hurt and frustration.
The hard truth for prophets to accept is that being correct is not enough. A true word from God can be nullified by a wrong spirit. In the spiritual dimension, a true word spoken wrongly is exactly the same as a false word. When God’s heart is “filled with pain” (Gen 6:6), he cannot be represented by just the truth. Jeremiah was a powerful prophet, because he felt the pain on God’s heart.
Labels: Prophetic Ministry
Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Prophets can minister at different levels.
Some prophets specialise in speaking to individual people. Personal prophecy provides:
Other prophets speak primarily to their church. Prophets provide a church with:
3. The Nations
Some Christians will be called to be a prophet to their nation. They may also develop the ability to speak to other nations. A prophet to a nation provides:
- advice to rulers
- interpretation of God’s law
- warning of judgement
Labels: Prophetic Ministry
Sunday, January 03, 2016
When I wrote Kingdom Authority, I realised that some of the spiritual powers of evil were locked up following the flood (1 Pet 318-19; 2 Pet 4-5). But I did not understand why was God able to do this after the flood, when he could not do it before the flood? The penny has now dropped.
The reason is as follows. God gave authority over the earth to humans. They had authority on earth and over the earth, but they did not have authority over the depths of the earth and the structure of the planet. God retained control of the planet itself.
When Adam rejected God, and submitted to the tempter, he placed himself under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil. They gained authority over the earth. The powers of evil had authority to be there, so provided they remained in contact with the earth, God could not touch them. If they had attacked the spiritual realms where God dwells, they would have been defeated in a minute. As long as they worked upon the earth, they were safe.
At the time of the flood, some of the spiritual powers attacked the depths of the earth and broke them up.
On that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up (Gen 7:11).When some of the spiritual powers of evil attacked the great depths of the earth, they moved away from the place where they had authority upon the earth. God was able to send a host of angels and take them captive, so that they could not work on earth any more. God had authority to do this, because they had moved to a place where they did not have authority.
Saturday, January 02, 2016
The story of Noah is wonderful. He demonstrated great faith, and God completed an amazing work through him. However, his life has a very disappointing end. Noah got drunk and cursed one of his sons.
If we understood the nature of spiritual warfare, the reason for Noah’s failure would be obvious.
Where were the spiritual powers of evil before the flood?
They were spread out across the world causing the people to sin and do evil.
Where were they after the flood?
Some had been captured and were bound, but the rest joined together to attack Noah. Under such a staunch spiritual attack, he did not stand a chance, as he was totally outnumbered. We should not judge him for his failure.
God waited for another opportunity. By the time of Abraham, the population of the world had massively increased, so the spiritual powers of evil had to spread themselves out across the world. God called Terah and Abraham his son. Because they were moving away from the centre of political power in Ur, they were not noticed by the powers of evil.
Labels: Spiritual Power