Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Great Evangelical Disaster

Time was, lives were forged by fire. Pltypus understood that (even though none of the SIN folks can ever hope to understand that). It was the same for J. Gresham Machen. It is the same with Francis Schaeffer. These two fought and bled in their time. They thought big thoughts and saw the end of reason. They ranted in intellectual circles and struggled for reality on their knees.

Machen fought for authenticity in his time. His religion was a deeply supernatural one. He didn't think that a nostalgic affection for grandmother and apple pie was what was needed. He saw through the haze of fundamentalist zeal and saw only nostalgia and an inability to tackle the challenges of the Liberals head-on. Machen, in fact, identified more with the passion of the Liberals than the no-brained militancy of the fundamentalists - he especially abhorred the eschatologically minded shitheads with their charts and tables. Machen was tireless. He spoke on radio and I had the privilege of reading his radio-transcripts recently. The tiny book recording those talks burned in my mind. His God was holy and powerful. His God did not bow before movements, human opinion or science. His God did not need self-appointed "defenders" employing Kantian logic. His God did not need self-appointed "contenders for the faith" defending the sanctity of Holy Writ. His God was the thunderer who is awesome and majestic. Machen preached the same thing everywhere he went. He travelled by train and his sidekick Ned B. Stonehouse. On his last journey, he was still planning to preach in the next church. But he was exhausted and was dying in the train. He told Stonehouse, "Isn't the Reformed Faith grand?" His religion was grand because he believed and served a Great God. Time was when, men who lived through the fire aspired to greatness and grandeur...

Today, Machen is paraded around and prostituted by the descendents of the same fundamentalists that he abhorred during his lifetime. They used him as a weapon against the liberals, against the emergents and against anyone that they disagree with - anyone who threatens their grandmother-and-apple-pie religious habits. They see zeal in Machen and they missed out on his cool-headedness. They try their utmost best to remake Machen into their image. They did not understand his studies across many disciplines - history, psychology, linguistics, etc. They wanted a hellfire-and-brimstone preacher and they turned Machen into one. One particularly narrow-minded SIN fundamentalist recently wrote a piece on Machen to support cock-sure theology masquerading as objective-certainty. Machen was never interested in objective-certainty per se. He was interested in the supernatural origins behind the objective truths. He was not interested so much in "The Theology of St. Paul" as he was in the GOD who was behind the same Pauline theology. He was not defending "The Virgin Birth of Christ" because it fitted with the grandmother-and-apple-pie religion that he was brought up in. He was preaching "The Virgin Birth of Christ" because the supernatural birth of the messiah spoke of the supernatural origins of Christianity that is far above the normal reasoning of tiny minds. He was sold out to this God and enraptured in His presence and power. He echoed Schaeffer's concerns in "Escape From Reason". He understood Spurgeon's quip - "Defend the Bible? I'd sooner defend a lion!" He wasn't an apologist. He was a preacher who preached about a Great God. Today, tiny minds set up blogs with audacious dedications to the name of Jesus Christ, thinking that they are defending the faith with their insipid meditations and powerless anathemas (mostly against people that they don't even understand in the first place). When the gods and heroes have exited the scene, the clowns come out to play...

Francis Schaeffer began life as a fundamentalist within the narrowest camp of the Bible-Presbyterians. He wrote his books (see the post before this one for Pltypus' intro to them) and taught his L'Abri students. In his time, he engaged the most challenging thoughts of his time and triumphed over them by his unshaking faith in his Great God. He did not dismiss views that he disagreed with. He faced them head on and with candour, wit, humility and respect. He did not fight caricatures of Heidegger, Camus and Kierkegaard. He faced them each as they really are (in other words, he read their works and considered their views - unlike the SIN morons who only read the caricatures in their Van Til/Clark handbooks!). At the end of his life, Schaeffer could no longer endure the suffocating crap of fundamental-evangelicalism. He actually found the spirituality and religious atmosphere of the Orthodox and Catholics far more appealing. Fundamentalism-evangelicalism had devolved into a ghetto, a disaster, an elitist club of handbook-quoting, gay-bashing nonsense. He wrote "The Great Evangelical Disaster" and spent his last days in a Catholic hospital. He struggled. He fought. He lived through fire.

Today, like Machen, Schaeffer is prostituted and paraded by fundamentalists as "apologetics". They use his books as a gun and quotes from his writings as bullets to fight the liberals, the emergents, the existentialists, the absurdists, etc. They knew nothing of the fire in his bones. They knew nothing of his sleepless nights struggling against the great minds that he held in respect - but had to respectfully disagree. They quote his works with a devillish glee and a disdain for their foes that Schaeffer would not have identified with. They fight caricatures as they themselves have become caricatures. Schaeffer was a giant who fought other giants. It is still true what Nietzsche said - "The errors of great men are far greater than the achievements of little men!" The little men are ruling the blogosphere today with their handbooks and their abject fear of "wrong thoughts, wrong beliefs". It's ok to be tiny - as long as you subscribe to the "right beliefs" (meaning: you buy the accepted handbooks and regurgitate them).

[Listen to Frank Schaeffer describing his father, Francis Schaeffer's turn against the fundamentalist ghetto towards the end of his life.]


Anonymous said...

You misunderstood Schaeffer completely. It was the moral and doctrinal relativism of Evangelicalism that he was against. This was the relativism that later gave birth to the Emergent Movement and pro-Abortion/pro-Gay Movements of today.

Schaeffer was not comfortable with such relativism having spent an entire life defending moral and doctrinal objectivism. Furthermore, Schaeffer himself viewed himself very much as an apologist. It wasn't an invention of latter-day Evangelicals.

Alfred Chua

Anonymous said...

Such is the hypocrisy of Screwtape and his cohorts. They pretend to be on the same side as Mr. Valiant-For-Truth Machen and the late Francis Schaeffer while taking their stand against moral and doctrinal objectivism.

Edmund was a double-tongued liar from the first and he's still up to his old tricks. So, there's a new Jeremiah Blues but the contents do not differ from the abominable original. He and his friends (like the creep, Pltypus) are still Emergents pretending to be orthodox.

H*artlss Ch*ckn

Anonymous said...

I rest my case.

Alfred Chua

Anonymous said...

And only the elite intellectuals believe God is dictatorial. Our brains cannot comprehend the fact that there exist simultaneously free will and a God who knows everything. Atheist see the Christian God and say "impossible, I can't do that so neither can He"

Texas Wells

Anonymous said...

Remember the time we went all the way to Lebuh Ampang Evangel bookstore to look for the 5 volumes Schaeffer? All the way there and the late great Evangel bookstore was gone. Closed.

I remembered the one time I saw the 5 volumes at SKS and couldn't afford it.

Then there was a period I went to this church every Sunday and Friday where the library was open to read the 5 volumes.

Time was, we read. With a heart burdened, we read. Sleepless night, we read. Without a B.Sc (hons) but we read! No money for further education, but we read anyway. No wanted by the church but we read anyway. Not welcomed by the pastors but we read anyway.

Time now, we still read. Thats not a bad thing. You remember me time ago, saying I read to stay alive? You too? Read on!

The Deer Hunter
"You stay with me. Hear me? Stay with me. This is MY conversation with YOU. NO ONE ELSE MATTERS. No one asked them to come in. I am talking to you. Ignore the voices in your head. You talk to me. Stay alive. Listen to MIKE Deerhunter. We will survive this. They don't matter. You do. Hear me? You respond to me only."

Ha Ha Ha Ha! The Ignorant Puss-y B.Sc (Hons), is that his best shot? Come on! Hey, if you really want to go to all the trouble to find Edmund and waste your time-then the world thank you. Thank you for your precious half-bake testimony that even as I write, half the web community in Vietnam, Thailand, Manila, Chongqing and Bolivia are already seeing the true colors of "the one who exegete with his mouth and with the same mouth seek to condemn, to destroy to hate the struggling and the weak". Jesus did not just come for the those with B.Sc (Hons). Jesus came for those who are condemn. Jesus came for those who had to climb trees to catch a precious glimpse of the Savior. Jesus came for those who had to be carried into the temple. Jesus came for the lost. If you so condemn Edmund as one, then let Jesus do HIS job! No one ask you to be the Christ!

All my brothers and I have seen YOU for who you are. This is the world wide web dumbo. That means even as you come here uninvited, you are being watched. You are right. I am creepy. You know nothing about me. I know everything about you. Now, the rest of the world have seen you too. We will not be deceived by your glorious exegesis. Now begone! Go back to your word study and seek the truth. Stop behaving like a dog. Like a dog going back to its vomit.

Hey Mundo, This comment is simultaneously read by web comunities activated by yours truly. So much for cut n paste!

name: MIKE
"enemy of none unless you provoke me."

Anonymous said...

Alfred Chua never really read Schaeffer. He's another fraud. He certainly can afford to buy all the Schaeffer he wants and in SIN it is not difficult to find Schaeffer, but Alfred is too damn lazy to be a real student of the struggle.

It 5 volumes kiddo. Which pamphlet of schaeffer did you read? Stop conning, start reading boy.

No one ask you to come.

name: MIKE

Cikgu Screwtape said...

I'm having the time of my life. Even more than James Cameron when he got the Oscar for "Titanic" - "I'm the King of the World". Ok. I never saw "Titanic" and probably never will. But you get the point.

Schaeffer, to me, is an inspiration. So is Machen. It's unfortunate that many chose to use their writings as bullets, as "apologetics" against the oh-so-dangerous liberals and oh-so-threatening emergents.

The reason these SIN fundies are so threatened is because they've got something to lose. Their oh-so-fragile faith. Their oh-so-tender consciences. Me? I've survived 30+ years in a Madhouse that I call "home". You think you're getting to me?

Christianity is an odd thing to me. At this point, I have little beliefs left. I have little joy and peace. I have some cheer and some inspiration (from men like Schaeffer and Machen).

I'm a hypocrite? Aren't we all. :-)

~ Edmund

p/s - Reading Susi Rajah's "Heaven" and listening to Kompilasi Terbaik SEARCH...