3 Jan 2022

Over this break that seems to happen, at least in Southern Climes, around the new year the press are talking about how this is the new normal. Those who preach the gospel and are of Christ are suspect, because they do not meet the loyalty tests and question the instructions given to us. This is a good thing to do. Mr Neale, who has more theology than I, considers his position around this time of the year and writes thusly about being a reactionary and Tory.

In this sense it means someone who looks back to the social, civil, and religious order of Christendom, the civilization that preceded Modern Western Civilization, and rather than finding there darkness from which he thanks Modernity for rescuing us, finds goodness and light and a solid place to cast his anchor so as to keep from being tossed adrift on the stormy seas of Modernity and Postmodernity. A reactionary then is very different from a conservative. The latter is usually someone who values Western Civilization only for the achievements of Modernity, distinguishing himself from progressives merely by the fact that the strain of Modernity he prefers, is the older, somewhat saner, form of liberalism, rather than that of the increasingly looney left.

From what I have just said about being a reactionary, it should already be clear that when I describe myself as a Tory I don’t mean a small-c conservative, although I usually agree with small-c conservatives in their disputes with progressives, much less a big-C Conservative. I mean it in the sense of Dr. Johnson’s famous definition as “one who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolic hierarchy of the church of England, opposed to a whig” and of T. S. Eliot’s description of himself, which reads like an update of Dr. Johnson’s definition, and goes ” an Anglo-Catholic in religion, a classicist in literature and a royalist in politics.”

I am not that kind of reactionary. I think, as MacIntyre thought, that there is a lot that modernists blinded themselves to, but unlike MacIntyre, I don’t see this as a series of paradigms or narratives that one can nicely choose between. I think instead that we have to work on what is reality.

I am not a follower of Lysenko, believing that correct ideology will lead to anti natural results. Instead we have to work with the nature or world that we have, knowing it is imperfect.

My thinking was formed by an odd troika: Solzinitsyn, Tolkien and Schaeffer. Though I have sympathy to the Tory, and agree with all those who say that modernization of services is an error, I don’t think we can go back to the system we had before the enlightenment broke the social contract so we can be woke.

The king is supposed to keep the strangers out and punish the wicked. So that those tempted to felonious actions will hesitate. So we can live in quietness and peace.
That is not happening in our fallen, post modern nations.

But this kind of tyranny is not new. The wicked will generally succeed. But there is more peace in righteousness than in the vanities of this converged world.

Psalms 37:1-18

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
7 Or Be still Rest in the Lord and wait Or longinglypatiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
9 For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
11 But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
12 The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow
To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
To slay those who are upright in conduct.
15 Their sword will enter their own heart,
And their bows will be broken.
16 Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
But the Lord sustains the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.

Matthew 23:13-26

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ 17 You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ 19 You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

If the comments above were a little theorectical, here is the test . If you see a bloke who is clearly going through troubles — homeless, infoxicated, in despair, will you let him into your worship?

Or will you leave him aside?

Will you require a character reference, indentification, a passport?

Do you want him to have a shower and shine his shoes?

Because in this there is virtue signalling. We are trying to say we are purere than those outside. We are righteous. We are not part of the system, not part of the world.

But that was the position of the Pharisees.

It is better to see in that same man or woman, ourselves.

Because before God our best work does not smell that sweet.

Mistrust those who trust in their own credentials and righteousness.

Instead, turn to God. He thinks we are fools, far too often, with our theological niceties. He wants us instead to repent, and trust in his provision for our wrongdoing. That is final and complete.

But to do that we must give up any pretense that we earned it. And that, those who seek the appearance of virtue cannot do.

Do not be them. Do not be like them.

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19 days ago

I once had a conversation with a pastor of a church along these same lines. I asked him, what is wrong if a person shows up, needing a bath, or has torn trousers, or a button missing from his shirt? At least he is here, at church……seeking salvation.

The pastors response was something like “well, a person at least needs to make an effort to look appropriate when coming to church”…….I turned on my heel, walked out mid-conversation and never looked back.

Years later we crossed paths. He told me he had lost his church, divorced his wife, never saw his children or grand children. I asked him if he would like to pray together……he refused. It has been many more years since, and I have no idea if this man lives or has died. Whenever I do think of him all I can say is “Pride goeth, before the fall”.

John Wilder
23 days ago

Good advice for a year that’s going to see many, many changes.