Photo : Hannes Britz
The Namib Desert during the "rainy season"

Thursday, June 5, 2014

SAVING NAMIBIAN CHRISTIANS FROM THE WORST OF WESTERN CULTURE

Please note:  This article is not an attack on western people. I myself am a product of  European Western culture.  There are however many aspects about modern western culture that are deeply subversive to the Christian faith. They must be named ,  they must  be warned against and  they must be avoided.

We must admit that western   culture has a winsome flavour.  Everything,  from TV programs and movies,  from to fashion to food, and  from  western Christmas celebrations   to   western  Christian wedding rites  is being exported into all the world. The  West  has become the pacesetter  in many things . The world desperately seeks to imitate the West.   India can come up with nothing better than calling its growing movie industry ‘Bollywood’! 
Christian Dior, Mercedes Benz , Coca Cola , Kentucky Fried Chicken and Mc Donald’s are house brands in every part of the world. Truly, it seems as if western civilization has subdued the modern earth and…  Namibia.  

Do we want Western  Democracy and Capitalism ?

Most political  systems (except those  guided by an explicit atheism)   will work provided  that God fearing men  are behind it. 
There is the problem … the lack of God fearing men in western democratic and  capitalistic  thinking!  But capitalism   without Christ  is catastrophic! Democracy without  Deity  is dangerous!  Man’s pursuit  of  life  without God as the final  reference point  is  self –destructive!

Many seem to think  that   western    economic systems are biblically   sanctioned. After all, they appear to be successful on the surface of things. Are  we  saying  that  democracy  or capitalism  is  God’s truth per se because we perceive it  to be  successful? Health, wealth and prosperity teachers seem to think so, but the biblically saturated mind can come to no such conclusion. The parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21)  teaches us that  wealth is  a deceptive measurement for success.

Western culture is not presently influenced by a God-centered worldview. If the truth be  told  modern   western culture is  strongly  influenced by ‘secular humanism’,  a man centered worldview.  We must never  forget  that  the present  form  of western  humanism  was  conceived during  the  French Revolution   in 1789, when  the  “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”  was formulated.  Now to be  fair, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”    was  formulated  against the background of severe political and spiritual abuses by the French monarchy which was  then  in cahoots with the Roman Catholic Church. 

The authors of the humanist declaration rightly  rejected the   concept of the “divine right of kings“ and they  rightly rejected the false authority of the Roman Catholic church, but they made a huge mistake  by excluding God and His Word  from their manifesto, which was  based on what they called, “natural law”.  This secular document  succeeded  to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and it has managed  to   dispose  of God centered thinking  in terms  of  politics,  economics, science, education   etc. , giving  rise to the thought of the ‘secular state’ – an ideal also enshrined in the “Preamble of the Namibian Constitution” !  

In tandem  with  this  concept of  “natural law”  the  theory of evolution , the brainchild of Charles Darwin  (1809 – 1882)  was  conceived and   born into  the framework  of  western  thinking  in the 19th century.  The ‘theory of evolution’ became the replacement for the biblical account of creation. This secular doctrine of creation provided an alternative viewpoint to the  biblical  view  of  “creatio ex nihilo”  by a Sovereign Creator,  and it helped the secular humanists to do away with the thought of God.  

Western Culture   as the Primary Exporter of Immorality

While the western world cannot be held solely responsible for the degree of moral decay in the world  (for clearly every  human heart  without Christ  is  a fallen heart – Romans 3:23 ), we do know that the   present western world has been the leader  and  prime exporter of    perverse sexuality. Apart from the dissemination   and legalizing of pornography in   so called ‘western liberal societies’, many forms of deviant sexual expression have come to the world through the western door.   The west leads the world in presenting homosexuality as ‘normal’ sexual behaviour.  From a biblical worldview[1]   this clearly clashes with Scripture and with nature.  Can the Anglican Church in Africa   with good conscience look to the mother church in the UK for an unflinching commitment   to the authority of Scripture?    Thank God that African Anglicans are taking a strong stance against the homosexual agenda of the western liberals!

The West also leads the agenda on gender equality, maintaining that there is no functional difference between male and female. [2]  In this regard we   are made aware of some   bizarre stories, like the Canadian couple in Toronto raising their 4-month-old without identifying the child as a boy or a girl. This, as you might imagine created a media firestorm in Canada:

Kathy Witterick, 38, and David Stocker, 39, are raising their third child, Storm, to be free of societal norms regarding gender. Is Storm male or female? The parents won't say, so no one knows except Storm's older brothers, Jazz and Kio, as well as a close family friend and two midwives who helped deliver the baby, according to the Toronto Star.” (Fox News:  24th May 2011).

A BBC report of the 7th July 2011 reports that Sweden has opened its first gender neutral school! Where is this happening? Not in Namibia – not in Africa! This is happening in the so called western world!

Do we really want to look to the church in the western world as our definitive guide for life and faith in these challenging days?

The liberal theology   of the 18th  century  which   has  so profoundly undermined  the historic Christian faith   came as a reaction to the 16th century  theology of the Reformers, and it  has been much more insidious  and  subversive  and  devastating  in terms of  its effects,  than the Roman Catholic “Counter Reformation” of the 16th century.

Whereas  the  theologians  of the Reformation  affirmed the  SOLA SCRIPTURA principle – namely  that the  Bible  was  the Word of God , and as such  they affirmed  that  it  was  authoritative  and sufficient, Liberal theology (one of the horrible  children  begotten  of humanism), “made in 18th Century Germany”[3]  did exactly the opposite. It dismantled the Scriptures and rendered them “unbelievable“ and thus essentially useless!
Human opinion triumphed and was declared sovereign.   The venerable, God fearing evangelical  Dr. Martin Luther would turn in his grave if he  knew how neo- Lutheranism has infected an overwhelmingly large number of Lutherans with this liberal virus.

This liberal virus had affected every Protestant denomination.  My own Baptist denomination  were not immune from this cancer.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon a prominent Reformed Baptist of the 19th century battled the forces of the German led “Higher Criticism movement” which was undermining the English Baptists’ historically solid view of the authority of Scripture.  He was eventually excommunicated from the fellowship of English Baptist churches, because he dared to challenge the liberalism of the 19th century church.

Liberalism and the 20th century Western Charismatic Phenomenon

Theological liberalism is a destroyer of the Word of God and thus it is a destroyer of  the biblical church.  But it has a surprising ally, which came to us from the American   West: the Pentecostal  and Charismatic movement!

I know that many would like to make a distinction between the two, and there are always exceptions,   but it must be said that Pentecostalism is the seed bed for the later charismatic movement. 
This movement  rooted in the “1906 Azusa  Street  revival” , a spin off  from  the 1904 Welsh revival began to make more of signs , wonders and ecstatic phenomena  than of  the  plain revelation  of the Word of God. The results are now clearly seen.  American neo-Pentecostals  having dismantled the  SOLA SCRIPTURA principle  now have the world eating out of their  hands.  They are now the prime exporters of the new health, wealth and prosperity message.  It is amazing to see how Africans have bought into  Americans T.V. preachers like  Benny Hinn, Fred Price, Joyce Meyer, and Myles Munroe etc. . . .  These  western figures  have become celebrity figures in Africa! 

Apart from this the western world in America has become the prime exporter of cults and sects into the world! Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, Scientology, Seventh Day Adventism etc. . . . .  These weren’t born in Africa, they were born in America - but they flourish here!
The 20th century Pentecostal and Charismatic movements (which were born in the west)   have continued to dismantle the  authority of the Scriptures  as they generally have relied  more on  their prophets, healers and tongue speakers  than on the  Word of  God.

The result is that we are now speaking about a post Christian world – a term that, I believe may have been coined by the eminent  American-Swiss theologian, Dr. Francis Schaeffer.  Dr. Schaeffer once observed that   western culture has continued to flourish for a while on the residual moral principles taught by Christianity; on what the Christian philosopher Henry Van Til called “borrowed capital”. The sun of the gospel which once shone so brightly in the west is setting at an alarming rate!

My question is  this: Does the African church  at large wish to continue borrowing from the morally and spiritually bankrupt West?  I know that there are wonderful exceptions  in the West, but it cannot be denied  that  the African church by and large feeds  on the West.  

When will  Africa  choose  to obey  the Word of God rather than the  enticing  and corrupt  values of  the West?





[1] Romans 1:18-32
[2] Gen 1:27 ; Eph 5 :22-33
[3] The Higher criticism movement  led by the likes of Graf Julius von Wellhausen  led the charge  to destroy the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

2 comments:

Don Pagdin said...

What comes to the forefront by your question is this; namely to distinguish between what battles were won theologically, but which were lost culturally in the West.

The trend of fallen human nature (especially when it is dominant in any given culture) is always towards selfishness, only differing across the centuries by which justification is in the ascendency. It was advanced in the mid-1800s by Darwinism and late 1800s by liberalism. Today it is humanism coupled to Post-modernism. The theological struggle to retain orthodoxy in the west still continues, although with ever weakening impact on the Church at large and on the culture.

For example, Darwinism offered no science (or mechanism) for species modifications. DNA wasn’t discovered until 1952 and so the church had no scientific refutation of Darwinism. (How could a horse with 64 chromosomes or an elephant with 56 evolve into a giraffe with 62 chromosomes by reaching for higher leaves on a tree?) Only believers in Biblical inerrancy withstood the assault. Many mainline churches began to compromise about the 6 days of creation in order to remain credible with their “enlightened” culture. Compromise gained momentum with Liberalism, an easy gospel, and heresy, but theologically was defeated by Spurgeon (The Forgotten Spurgeon, Ian Murray, Banner of Truth Trust, 1966). Theologically, Liberalism was defeated definitively by J. Gresham Machen (Christianity and Liberalism, 1923, Eerdmans 2001).

This is what the West should first embrace and then export: sound theology that exalts sovereign Grace, and the record of saints that have already fought and won these battles.

Rev 4:11 Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created;
Rev 5:12 saying with a great voice, Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might and honor, and glory, and blessing.


When those who have the national and/or international platform can pander to untaught people through easy-believe-ism or health-and-wealth or getting empowerment, they can gain great “successes” and yet leave those same “converts” without hardly any growth in their spiritual understanding. The obvious need is to inform the understanding of Truth, in the West and throughout the world.

Joachim Rieck said...

Thank you , Don Pagdin for somewhat restoring the honour of the West :-)