Christians welded to a total biblical world-and-life view must resist and oppose at all costs both cosmic insurrection and cosmic withdrawal.
Dear friends and supporters:
Among the most pronounced responses to Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s widely discussed refusal or inability to define a woman were two almost directly contradictory: (1) it’s nonsensical silliness and (2) it’s “scientifically sound.”
These blatantly irreconcilable differences don’t result only from divergent ideologies. More fundamentally, they reflect differences on the kind of existence that man (woman? person?) experiences in the world. If you believe persons are born into a world with already existing ontological realities, that is, the world is structured in a fixed, immutable way, you’ll find the idea that woman can’t be defined by obvious visual and anatomical factors to be just plain gibberish.
On the other hand, if you believe that what have traditionally been considered fix, external realities in the world — for example, that there are only two human sexes, male and female, and no more or less — are actually just infinitely malleable social constructions, you’ll be heartened by Jackson’s answer.
This increasingly popular “progressive” anthropology (view of the person) is the ancient but perpetual Gnostic heresy that man lives as a “stranger” in God’s creation (Augusto Del Noce). Man is an alien in the created world, in all of its creational norms, including in its obvious distinctions between male and female. The program of the Gnostic rebel, therefore, is to make these obvious cosmic rules not obvious but, rather, man–made constructions.
It’s akin to attacking the law of gravity on the grounds that it was devised to de-privilege aspiring space travelers. This has long been the tack of Marxism. What human societies have traditionally believed as universal law, whether scriptural, or natural, are nothing more than human inventions designed to protect the status quo of the ruling class. There is no universal law, only the universal desire to impose universals on everybody else.
The world (including man) is malleable. Anything’s possible if we have sufficient courage and knowledge.
Since the world as God created it is materially and morally alien to the imagination of rebel Gnostics, they’ve developed the ingenious plan of social terraforming: re-creating the world’s social environment to make it hospitable to their depraved imagination: “We don’t like God’s cosmic laws, so we’ll change them. We don’t like the human body, so we’ll change it. We’ll recreate the world and do it right this time.”
In Romans chapter 1, Paul refers to homosexuality and lesbianism as sins “against nature” (vv. 26–27). Paul presupposes a stable, God-created reality, both physical and moral. A central aspect of that reality is sexual reality. Attacks on this reality are assaults on the very structure of human existence. They are cosmic insurrection.
Today this insurrection is palpable almost everywhere: the normalization of homosexuality and androgyny; the championing of “transgender” rights; the interchangeability of male and female; the emergence of “gender-affirmation surgery”; and children’s “gender transitioning” employing puberty blockers and other injurious drugs.
De- and Re-Normalization
The fact that so many conservative Christians and other American conservatives find this practice not merely distasteful but also unbelievable, a shiny new Leftist trend that will surely soon run its course, demonstrates a naïveté about the “progressive” mentality. One of the great goals of progressivism is to re-shape normality. Heteronormativity must be overcome. Homosexuality and the non-binary must be normal. The transition from male to female or female to male or from either to a “higher” gender must be normal. Resisting these life-destroying changes must be considered abnormal — and perhaps criminalized.
Since the Gnostic insurrectionists consider themselves strangers in God’s world, they must terraform God’s moral world to fashion their depraved cosmic order.
Recovering Regal Soteriology
Deeply entrenched ideas die hard, and this includes bad ideas, even (perhaps especially) bad ideas in Christian history. Examples abound, but one of the most prominent is the gradual shift from the cosmic soteriology (Jesus died and rose to redeem all creation) of the Bible to the individualized soteriology (Jesus died to save sinners) of the late patristic (early post-apostolic) church. In this way, it appropriated aspects of the Gnostic heresy that it formally condemned.
The Reformation recovered the biblical doctrine of grace alone in salvation, but it did not fully return to the Bible’s cosmic soteriology. It basically substituted accent on justification by faith alone for preoccupation with the sacraments as the means of salvation, but both sacraments and justification were interpreted in a highly individualized way.
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If secular “progressives” are devoted to cosmic insurrection, Christian pietists are committed to cosmic withdrawal. By pietists, I mean believers who limit the application of the Faith largely to their personal family and church lives. See my comments on “Why Pietism is Destroying America.”
Like the progressives, they see themselves as strangers in the world, but the world in which they find themselves strangers they define differently from the way progressives do.
The pietists define “world” almost exclusively as John often (though not always) defines it negatively: do not love the world, or the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15–17). This is a valid, and vital, definition of world in the Bible. But it’s not the only one. The Bible also teaches that God so loved the world that he sent his Son to die for it (John 3:16). God made the world (Acts 17:24). Obviously these last two usages are not John’s in other contexts.
John says that we are not to love the world, and by this he means the world system under the sway of Satan and his rebellion. John is not referring to the created world, or to the population of the world. We are called to love the created world, which God defined as “very good” (Genesis 1:31), and we are called to love the population, which God loves (Luke 6:31–38).
The error of the cosmic retreatists is to merge John’s negative definition of the world with the world as a creational reality. Therefore, the physical world as well as its cultural structures — politics, education, music, art, technology — are almost inherently sinful or, at least, will tend to lead Christians away from God. The Satanic “world” has so enveloped God’s good creational world that our only hope is separation from it with an eye toward eventual escape.
For this reason, the cosmic retreatists share with the cosmic insurrectionists an alienation from the world; each simply defines “world” in a different way.
The Biblical Meaning of “Stranger,” “Pilgrim,” or “Alien”
The cultural retreatists tend to rely on a mistaken notion of biblical terms like “stranger,” “pilgrim,” or “alien.” They interpret these words as implying that the created world is alien to the Christian, that he’s just a’passin’ through, waiting to “get on home” to heaven.
But in the Bible, these terms refer to an individual temporarily sojourning among people unrelated or unknown to him. When Hebrews 11:8–16 tells us that the Jewish patriarchs were looking forward to a “heavenly country,” it means a country governed by heavenly truth, and not by the Satanic world’s truth. The patriarchs will reside with us Christians in a new heaven and new earth, a very physical reality, in which the resurrected heaven and earth merge (Revelation 21:1–5). This physical reality, truly heaven on earth, is one that all of God’s people anticipate, and have anticipated since at least the time of patriarchs. They were not committed to what we today might call “pilgrim theology”:
Astronaut Christians on Earth
The most effective metaphor for cosmic retreatism I’ve ever heard was offered in a sermon preached by a noted fundamentalist college executive. He says Christians on this planet are akin to astronauts from another planet (heaven), equipped with space suits and an oxygen supply extending billions of miles through space. The spacesuit and oxygen supply are prayer and the word of God, which keep us tethered to our true home, heaven, while we live as strangers in an alien world. Ours is an exfiltration operation: getting sinners out of this present created world and prepared to escape to heaven. The world is alien, and we are strangers in it.
That view is contra-Christian at its core, but it’s an accurate depiction of the cosmic retreatist view.
Christians welded to a total biblical world-and-life view must resist and oppose at all costs both cosmic insurrection and cosmic withdrawal. We must never surrender an inch to the social terraformers who wish to remake reality in the image of their depraved, rebellious imagination.
We must equally resist and expose a pietstic withdrawal that looks on the present world as an ethical dumpster to be avoided and to escape. Ours is a good created world under the curse of sin, and Jesus came to reverse and eventually purge that curse.
Our fight is for this good world, because redeeming all creation is the goal of the Cross:
He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:15–20)
Sharon and I just returned from a quick trip to the California Central Coast to visit friends.
I’m finalizing my talks for the Common Slaves Conference in Crosby, Minnesota, Saturday, April 23. I’m addressing “God’s Will for Your Life: You Can’t Improve on Creation,” “Extraordinary Christianity or the Ordinary Means of Grace?”, and “Dare to Be a Daniel in Prayer.”
You can learn more here.
I’m excited about Failed Church: Restoring a Vision of Ecclesial Victory. It’s being edited and proofed right now. It will show how and why the church failed on Covid, the race riots, and Critical Race Theory. The release of my book Creational Marriage: Issues and Controversies is set to coincide with our 40th wedding anniversary in August. This fall we hope to release Professor John M. Frame’s collected sermons Widen Your Hearts.
I’ll have more links to podcast interviews next week.
If you benefitted from this newsletter and believe others would be helped, please share it.
Thank you for your kind friendship.
Yours for the cosmic King,
Founder & President, Center for Cultural Leadership
Join Me This Summer at the Runner Academy
I’m addressing the H. Evan Runner Academy for Cultural Leadership (Dr. Joseph Boot, director) in spectacular Golden, British Columbia, June 5th - 15th, 2022, CCL’s training program for young adults ages 18–39. I’ll also be meeting with students extensively, and CCL’s Brian Mattson will also be a speaker.
This is a premier training program for Christian worldview, uniquely blending reverent, Spirit-filled worship; vibrant community with others of like faith; and high-octane, theoretical and practical education for life. This is a transformational experience set in one of the most scenic locations in North America.
H. Evan Runner International Academy delegates are students and young professionals in fields such as politics, medicine, law, education, theology, philosophy, business, science and technology and the various arts. It is in these areas that the cultural struggle is most vividly brought to light.
Delegates will live, work, eat, pray, study and discuss the topics together throughout the program. Each day consists of morning prayer and worship, lectures, group discussion, communal meals, free time or leisure activities and space for quiet reading and reflection.
By providing training in a thoroughly biblical worldview, the H. Evan Runner International Academy will help to prepare the next generation of Christian leaders to formulate, articulate and credibly defend a truly scriptural view of life as the sole source of truth, freedom and beauty, shaping the future to the glory of God.
Here are the student accommodations:
Please be thinking of attending or whom you can encourage or underwrite to attend — your children, grandchildren, or friends. Enroll here.
Scholarships are available. Please contact me privately: sandlin[at]saber[dot]net.
More great stuff:
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