Thursday, July 28, 2016

the guys at Mere Orthodoxy discuss populism in the US and UK, here's a proposal that American evangelicalism might need to abandon older forms of dispensationalism to embrace the long-road approach Anderson advocates

It's about 41 minutes and there's not a ton to add as to the content on the podcast itself except to say that Andrew's garbled again, and the content is fairly self-explanatory if you listen to it.

A couple of thoughts in response.

One of the things we've been coming back to over and over this year is Jacques Ellul's writing about propaganda in the technological society.  Agitating populists like Trump and Sanders are able to attain their respective roles because of mass media and social media.  What Ellul could not have anticipated was that what he called horizontal propaganda (intra-group peer-generated propaganda) and sociological propaganda (propaganda saturated into the daily lives of participants of a society) has become a daily routine thanks to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.  Big Brother hardly needs lift a finger to generate that sort of propaganda now, we make all of that ourselves and congratulate ourselves and/or each other on the cleverness of the political meme we link to on Facebook showing the stupidity and/or hypocrisy of the enemy teams.  Big Brother doesn't need to make you do what you gladly volunteer to do at your own time and expense. 

Something that was mentioned about evangelicalism in the US was how it seems averse to carefully thought through long-term political reasoning.  I have an idea abou tthat, being the ex-Pentecostal that I am.  Over the course of the last century American Christianity (perhaps across the board but most obviously in Protestantism) shifted from a 19th century postmillennialist optimism to premillenialist dispensational apocalypticism.  If the 19th century postmillennialist was gladly anticipating the realization of a Manifest Destiny, the dispensationalist in the 20th century began to view everything as signs of the times.

The recent death of Tim LaHaye should just make this easier for Christians  in the United States to remember what a more-than-cottage industry books on eschatology have been in popular imagination.  When you have American Christians formulating political discourse in the most apocalyptic terms imaginable it's not a big leap to infer from this that taking the long-term road Matthew Lee Anderson hopes social conservatives can take is not going to be on the table.  If we're all waiting for the next revival to make America a Christian nation again then there's not going to e a lot of work or thought put into imagining what it might like to live not as Christians in a post-Christian America but to formulate a life of faith that can be a form of post-American Christianity.  If I'm getting a sense of what Dreher is up to in writing about the Benedict Option that seems like one of the range of meanings in the term.

Alastair Robertt has already written about evangelicalism's poor form so there's hardly anything to add to that.  I just fel t obliged to suggest that eschatological schools of thought are important to consider as we look at how evangelicalism grapples with things.  If there was a thing a certain preacher in Seattle did I still respect it was refusing to endorse either premillenialist dispensationalism on the one hand or the postmillennialist theonomies on the other.  He didn't have the nerve to embrace or endrose an alternative like historicism or amillenialism but he was at least anxious to say what he didn't endorse and part of that was seeing how unsuitable such views are for formulating long-term cultural enterprises.  You can't influence the region if you're anxious abou the potential return of Jesus in three weeks based on stuff Jack and Rexella said on TV last night.

1 comment:

chris e said...

Agree with your comment about dispensationalism turning up the rhetorical temperature. At this point I'm likely to get more on this topic by reading The Baffler than listening to the podcast, I think they lack reasonable push back.