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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Indoctrinating the Good news

Indoctrination and evangelism are not synonymous terms, though many critics of Christianity insist that they are. All enlightened people would agree that we should not "force" our positions on others who are unconvinced. That's a politically incorrect thing to do. Unfortunately when the rubber meets the road, as history attests, humans (whether they be Christians, Muslims, atheists, social Darwinists, dialectical materialists, frog worshippers, etc.) have consistently failed to be sensitive and liberal - especially so in the case of sensitive liberals - about imposing orthodoxy on the recalcitrant.

Thus it is inevitably a fact of life that the dogmas of the ruling orthodoxy are indeed forced upon those "less enlightened" members of society, because, to not accept these "truths", means that one is either "ignorant, stupid or insane or wicked". Thus any methods of "indoctrination" are acceptable to use on people, as long as it is justified as being "for their own good".

This whole issue of indoctrination as the passing on of traditional cultural and religious wisdom, beliefs and values to the young is a complex issue in the postmodern world. Thus the modern sensitive liberal is all for the preserving and transmission of traditional beliefs to the young of aboriginal cultures. But, he is vehemently opposed to Christian parents and communities passing on the values and beliefs of Christianity to their young people. Religion is good according to the modern liberal if it is practiced in some nativist context by a shaman or "wise woman" but bad if it is practiced in the midst of a western city by a pastor or preacher; good if it involves worshipping frogs, or trees or nature but bad if it worships a creator God who holds everyone responsible for their actions in this life.

The same compassionate liberal gladly upholds the distinctive cultural practices of societies "over there" - as long as they don't offend Western liberal sensitivities by practicing such yucky things like female circumcision or the subjugation of women. In such cases, for their own good, these offensive practices must be condemned and outlawed forthwith.

This kind of liberal hypocrisy is rampant, indeed is emblematic of the PC society. Despite what those on the left claim, the ruling elite that controls society through academia, the mass media and the social engineering bureaucracy of education is no different from any other orthodoxy that has held sway throughout history. Cultural imperialism is as alive today as it was during the "bad old days" of nineteenth century European capitalistic expansionism and colonialism. Liberals just think that they are more caring, sensitive and tolerant, when in fact they are all the more culpably dictatorial, oppressive and intolerant of dissent precisely because of this pretense to enlightenment.

In the debate over evolution and creation the orthodox are the Neo-Darwinians and the heterodox are the creationists. Thus the self-proclaimed enlightened ones, as they always have, seek to crush any dissent from the party line - for the people's own good, of course. True, Darwinian orthodoxy does not use the rack and the iron maiden (we have made some progress, after all) but it still acts an awful lot like this year's new improved model of the Inquisition or a witch hunt.

On the other hand...

The term evangelist comes from EUANGELION which is a transliteration of the Greek term that is usually rendered into English as "gospel" or "good news". Thus an evangelist is one who brings a message of good news or glad tidings. He or she is a proclaimer of the gospel - a Christian missionary who preaches the good news of Christ to those who had never heard it before. Both the terms "good news" and "evangelist" originated in reference to the person and work of Jesus.

The term is unknown in Classical Greek or anywhere else. Using the term in a non-Christian context is technically a faux pas but as Biblical language and images have so seeped into every aspect of our culture no one really notices, even when the term is applied to the exact opposite of the proclamation of the Christian gospel. Thus we now have evangelists for just about anything. There are books like Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force to help the businessman sell his product; we have "hockey evangelists"; in computing there are "Java technology evangelists who are casting their own creative light on the meaning of the technology"; the Net has introduced are to the world of militant evangelistic atheists. And every organization on earth now has a "mission statement".

In fact any kind of evangelism has become OK, except the only kind that really counts, the proclaiming of the Christian message. One skeptic I dialogued with was particularly incensed that Christians should have the nerve to "exuberantly and persistently" preach their message. Huh?! That is what an "announcer of good news" does. i.e. that is how an evangelist by definition "behaves". Love 'em or hate 'em that's just the way it is.

There have been evangelists for 2000 years and they will not stop now just because it is politically incorrect to point to Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. And as has been the case for the last 2000 years there will certainly be those who want to turn the good news into opportunity for financial, political and social advantage. There will always be rivals and opponents, with their own barrow to push, though to call them "evangelists" or to describe them as engaging in "evangelism" is stretching it a bit especially as they have no rival good news to proclaim. The most pitiful of these new "evangelists" are the militant atheists whose exuberantconsists of the exuberent and persistent proclamation of "blind pitiless indifference" in an "uncaring universe" as joyful tidings for the human spirit.

11:28:00 pm