The Gospel As A Manifesto?

ac·tiv·ism

–noun

1. the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

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The Covenant People are not politically or socially oriented as liberators, nor as purveyors of a distinct cultural export. Liberation and cultural patronage are the activities, realm and purview of the common man. Entrance into and continued membership in the Covenant Kingdom of God is not based upon a persons economic, intellectual, or social “situatedness”, rather, it is confessionally oriented. No, politics and cultural pursuits do not fall within the paradigm of the pilgrimage of God’s people through this age. The People of God exist in a different covenantal orientation then the common man that he co-habitats with in the creation, the one in grace the other still ruled exclusively by law, united only in their natural occupation as image bearers. The Christian is required to passively resist those within and intrusions by hostile forces into the Church whereas the pagan has no such mandate of pacifism. What is more, the Christian also has no such mandate of pacifism when it touches the city of man rather than the city of God. Because, if the kingdom of heaven is not possessed of present earthly permanence, then it may be reasoned, if man would truly render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, a dual citizenship must then be part of the nature of the Christian in the present age. The Christian is one who lives concurrently under the authority of the divine and the magistrate, being beholden to both, to the one functioning as one created in the image of God and affirming the solidarity of the human race and to the former as one in covenant with God who has redeemed and reconciled him to himself through the work of the cross. And activism, if left solely to the pursuit of the betterment of man is perfectly acceptable, but it is when the Gospel is cannibalized in order to justify the relevance of the Church and her Gospel to the culture that it sojourns in that activism becomes syncretism.

Thus, there is nothing inherently Christian about activism, yet that does not disqualify Christians from being activists. The essential element, though, which defends against the Gospel from being used as a resource for political action and manifesto, is motivation. The minute that we seek to act in the public arena because we are Christians with the express intent of spreading the Good News of The Gospel in order to christianize or transform the culture we have confused the two kingdoms and abandoned our role as pilgrims; intent on bringing heaven down now through the “sweat of our brow and the strength of our back”. We must recall that Christendom is a failed project; it resulted either in attempted genocide and or the forceful acquisition of land and their people under the auspices of “manifest destiny” while wearing the guise of “converting the savages”, which is neither ethically, morally, or theologically defensible. So, when the Gospel is placed within the shell of activism, what is distinctly Christian begins to be transformed into something which is practiced, while taking what is secular(see culture) and making it the concern of that which is sacred, twisting the message to fit the intent of the activist. Activism in the Church flattens out any distinction between the two kingdoms to eventually politicize and moralize Christianity, leaving it as a rationalistic methodology that speaks the hollow rhetoric of religious connotation; always looking for the meaning the words affect rather than the meaning the words represent. It devours Christianity to leave it stripped of an object yet nonetheless attempting to maintain the illusion of a transcendent goal. But in the end it will become a race that cannot be won, a faith that cannot be had in a messiah who shall never return.

Furthermore, when the the Church becomes primarily a shelter for the less fortunate of society, it has jettisoned the otherworldliness of the Gospel for the historical Jesus of Liberal theology. And although I don’t think that they all actively set out to deny the message of the cross, the certainly deny its purpose by harnessing the resources of the Church for social activism rather than the care of the congregation and the evangelization of the community because they interpret the transcendent through their navel. But then again, this is why the social Gospel is so appealing, it offers the kingdom now with no cost, being already in line with the natural tendencies of man rather than declaring the Gospel over and against the natural inclinations of mankind; offering not what is attractive and desired but what is irreducibly necessary.

The meta-narrative becomes lost in a Kantian induced postmodern miasma where nothing is true yet all receive affirmation and validation, the ultimate concern being to justify Dionysian hedonism as the prevailing ethic, because man simply wants to do what he wants to do. Yet the conscience(the Law) stands in the way of that, with the Gospel offering absolution and an end to the accusations of the Law, but man would rather choose a third way, which is really no way at all, the way of narcissism. But I don’t mean a narcissism of the individual precisely, but one of the collective race of man, one that sets man not only above the rest of creation but above God himself as the source of that which is good and right in the world, in which the breaking of the covenant in Eden is seen as liberation from the oppression of “primitive myths” to finally be human. For them the Gospel, if it is good news at all, must be dealt with solely on the mortal plane, conflating any vertical activity into the horizontal as mere myth intended to justify militant social activism, moral/ethical improvement and to explain the common phenomena of the conscience.

In the end, the passivity of the Christian Pilgrimage is simply at odds with the activist inclinations and sympathies of man in the natural realm. Man naturally wants to do to cause or affect change. But that is to practice dominion, to homestead, and it is certainly not the image of a pilgrim sojourning for a time in the midst of his journey.

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