Christians: The Despised Secret-Keepers
The new issue of Credo Magazine focuses on the trinity. The following is an excerpt from one of the issue’s book reviews by Grace Sutton.
The Christian today must be the outdated nerd in the back of the room instead of the most educated lawyer or doctor. Modern society automatically assumes faith in God resigns a person to the lower class of blue-collar workers with conservative prejudices, the country of farmers with rosy-glassed views of life, or misogynistic marriages and families. No longer are Christ’s followers dignified ambassadors of an eternal kingdom, a community embodying a holy temple, indwelled by a Spirit more powerful than Satan and death—because there are no such things. There are no kingdoms beyond this earth, supernatural realities, or even death. Why? Because society knows better. But what does it really know? This is the query Gene Edward Veith seeks to answer in his recent book, Post-Christian: A Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture (Crossway). Published recently enough to include thoughts on the legalization of same-sex marriage, #MeToo movement, transgenderism, and Donald Trump’s presidency, Veith embarks on a study of “what we are left with when we try to abandon the Christian worldview” (18). He does not systematize, but rather overviews the various ways a “post-Christian” culture has constructed its own definition of reality, the body, society, and religion (18). This leads him to a frightening world, but not one without hope. In Part I of his book, Veith examines the way our post-Christian world defines reality according to the self. He traces this view of reality back to Emmanuel Kant, the father of the enlightenment and constructivism, who believed we could not “know anything outside of ourselves certainly and directly” (30-31). Veith believes his work led to our present-day “social constructivism and personal constructivism,” where reality, oppression, and moral imperatives are ruled by individual groups and people (35). The post-Christian world is devoid of objective, communal ethics. There is only the monster of contemporary activism and modern-day partisan politics grouped around whatever someone deems right.
Veith also delves into the progress of modern science, but even its wholesome wonders are tainted by self-orientation. “Nature is void of meaning; the self can bestow meaning,” he writes. “Nature knows nothing of good and evil, beauty, joy, purpose, or spirituality. Those can be found only in terms of the self” (39). Virtual worlds serve as one technological vehicle for such self-advancement. Veith attributes the problem of “conflicting personalities and identities” to the dark sides of social media, entertainment, and video games (71). Our technological identities are ruled by none other than the self, which reigns supreme.The post-Christian world is devoid of objective, communal ethics. There is only the monster of contemporary activism and modern-day partisan politics grouped around whatever someone deems right. Click To Tweet
In Part II, Veith observes the body is also oriented around the self, as evidenced by the fourteen “genders” listed in the Gender Master List (133-134). But this vein of post-Christian thought is pervaded by multiple levels of motivation, selfish power-grasping being the most prominent (19-20). The sexual abuse of women, brought to the light by the #MeToo movement, is an assertion of male power over the female body (141-142). And if some are not inclined to commit the real crime, sex robots give the man an allusion of the sexual power he could have over a real woman (112). Reproductive technology give both men and women the illusion of power over their offspring (117-124). Feminists rise up and demand society give them power, but they then justify the murder of their helpless babies by the inherent virtue of their will (once again, asserting their power over other human beings—their own children) (20).
All these social issues are fueled by an unfettered appetite for sex, and the unfettered appetites have run their course with disastrous effects, Veith concludes (167). Children birthed by reproductive technologies feel estranged from their biological parents, and reproductive technologies leave us with the frightful possibility of incest (150-153). Fear of romantic complexities in human relationships can lead to extended singleness and isolation, evidenced by the creepy “incels” (146). The divorce rate has skyrocketed through the roof (156). Transgenderism leaves men and women swimming in the plethora of identities to discover within themselves. In the name of “freedom,” the sexual revolution has left us nowhere (99). We are lost. As Veith argues, “sex for human beings gives us culture: marriage, parenthood, the family; and thus communities, economics, and governments” (97). So if sex has been lost, society is ultimately lost, too.
In Part III, Veith next turns away from the sexual revolution’s effect on society to examine society as a whole in post-Christianity. He largely commentates on its extreme isolation, due to the rise of the internet and lack of common, objective truth. Veith compares the internet to a gossipy, small town, where everyone simultaneously knows about each other and hates each other (175, 193). This translates into the vicious “sectioning” of our society into various oppressed groups, who oppress other groups, but claim to unite under the umbrella of “intersectionality” (203). All who refuse to get under the umbrella get drenched, including Christians and conservative politicians.
One result from this kind of society is the present, lower-class white communities. Veith uses “rust-belt cities and small-town America” (such as the ones described in J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy) as the ultimate examples of post-Christian communities (185). They are assumed to be cloaked in good, old-fashioned morals and ethics, but they are the most withdrawn from churches and family structures and retreat to drug use for consolation (187).The answer to the pain and abuse caused by the sexual revolution is not a new wave of sexual freedom, but the old paths of the Christian sexual ethic. Click To Tweet
Lastly, in Part IV, Veith overviews the post-Christian approach to religion, which isn’t so anti-religious after all (235). Many believe in demonic possession, embrace forms of primitive spirituality, and atheists have their own church gatherings. Even the activist movements and “intersectionality” umbrella sound religious (255). They have created their own orthodoxy for what is right and wrong. Technological advancements appear religious, too, as many serve an invisible God of “singularity,” the promise of our consciousness downloaded to cyberspace, creating human omniscience (259, 262).
Instead of leaving us in the bleak, post-Christian world, Veith sprinkles solutions to post-Christian problems throughout his book. In answer to its self-oriented reality, Veith offers J.G. Haman as a response. J.G. Haman, a contemporary of Kant, “launched what today has been called the most philosophically sophisticated critique of the enlightenment” (81). Veith draws upon his writings to offer faith as the source of reason and the eternal Logos as the standard of truth. Both faith and God’s eternal word offer stabilizing, Christian pillars in reality, opposed to the near meaninglessness of post-Christian reality. To the post-Christian view of the body, Veith calls for a revival of sacrifice, dying to self, and a return to the created order (164-168). The answer to the pain and abuse caused by the sexual revolution is not a new wave of sexual freedom, but the old paths of the Christian sexual ethic.
**Read the remainder of Grace Sutton’s review in the latest issue of Credo Magazine.