Not Good Enough.
Christian Brain Fog. (Opinion Piece)
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”Michelangelo Buonarroti
Although, it is worth noting that the field of Christian apologetics is diverse, the current state of Christian apologetics falls short of its potential, often focusing on trendy topics and repetitively using outdated arguments. This phenomenon, which the author refers to as “Pop-Apologetics,” is marked by an excessive preoccupation with engaging with movements like Neo-Atheism, resulting in unproductive debates. Furthermore, it is accompanied by a reliance on tired and formulaic arguments that fail to breathe new life into meaningful discussions. This shallow approach to apologetics is often intertwined with a strain of what the Author calls “Prosperity Apologetics”, a term that should be self explanatory.
These superficial trends do not effectively showcase the relevance of the Christian worldview to the complexities of the contemporary world. Instead, they hinder the demonstration of Christianity’s ability to provide profound answers and hope amidst the challenges of our time.
When Christians are immersed primarily in like-minded communities or epistemic bubbles and echo chambers, they risk reinforcing existing beliefs without engaging in meaningful dialogue or encountering differing perspectives and intellectual growth becomes diminished as a result.
Examining perennial inquiries regarding the existence of God, the nature of morality, the reliability of the Bible, and the historical evidence for Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, constitutes subject matter that ought to be thoroughly comprehended by any adherent of the Christian faith. Moreover, accentuating the foundational convictions and teachings of Christianity that possess an abiding significance and pertinence serves to advocate the fundamental truths, inherent within the Christian belief system. These immutable principles, establish a robust framework for engaging with a wide array of queries and objections. The knowledge of and dexterity in the application of these immutable principles, signify an elevated level of spiritual maturity, that should not be regarded as the exclusive domain of apologists, but rather cherished and embraced by all.
The Lord Jesus Christ became angry with the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew 16 because they were unable to discern the sign of the times. Christians today are also failing to see these signs. “And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3 [NASB])
The phrase “sign of the times” typically refers to indicators, events, or cultural shifts that are seen as significant in relation to prophetic or apocalyptic expectations. It involves recognizing and interpreting signs, events, or cultural phenomena that are believed to reflect the present state of the world in light of prophetic perspectives. This process combines religious, theological, and philosophical insights with an analysis of historical and contemporary events.
Within Christian eschatology, the New Testament contains references to signs that are considered to be precursors of the end times. These signs may include wars, natural disasters, moral decline, the proliferation of false teachings, or the restoration of Israel. Understanding the sign of the times also involves examining the historical context and contemporary occurrences to discern potential connections or fulfillments of these prophetic expectations.
Moreover, the concept of the sign of the times extends beyond religious contexts. Philosophical and secular perspectives also consider the signs and trends of the times as indicators of societal, cultural, or historical shifts. These perspectives may focus on political, economic, technological, or environmental factors to analyze and predict the trajectory of human history. Some Christians may be unwilling to adopt these parameters into their definition, restricting the concept of the “signs of the times” into a more theologically exclusive one.
The author posits the recommendation of adopting a comprehensive perspective when examining the signs of the times, encompassing a broader definition and adopting a generational viewpoint rather than solely relying on an eschatological one. Over time, societal signs and challenges undergo transformations, and each succeeding generation confronts distinct heresies, false teachings, and cultural shifts that possess the potential to distort or undermine the foundational tenets of the Christian faith.
The primary objective of apologists is not focused on a comprehension of eschatology. While there may be overarching eschatological themes that remain constant, the unique challenges faced by each generation necessitate a tailored response. It urges apologists to continuously evaluate the signs of the times, adapting their arguments and strategies to effectively confront prevailing heresies and cultural ideologies and contemporary manifestations of false teachings that may undermine the Christian worldview. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (Matthew 5:13 [NASB]).
Christian Apologists have demonstrated a fundamental deficiency in fulfilling their duty of diligently scrutinizing and interpreting the “signs of the times.” This responsibility has largely fallen into the hands of secular scholars, who seem to be more acutely aware of them. Establishing a correlation between the manifestation of these “signs of the times” and the activities of individuals described as “the sons of disobedience” allows for an understanding of the driving force behind events that are currently unfolding. These individuals purposefully and consciously adhere to “the course of this world, influenced by the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit ” that governs them. They rationalize their capitulation to the “carnal desires of the flesh and mind”, as indicated in Ephesians 2:1-3 [NASB] and wilfully reject God according to Romans 1:21.
Irenaeus reminds us:
Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself.1 Irenaeus, Against the Heresies 1.1.2 (ANF 1:315).Irenaeus of Lyons
In this passage, Irenaeus is depicted as cautioning Christians about the Gnostics. Many individuals today tend to disregard this warning, considering it irrelevant due to its association with the period of late antiquity.
However, Reed and Weinman illustrate, how gaining a profound understanding of Gnosticism enables us to redefine how we interpret the decline of the Enlightenment endeavor and the precariousness of liberal internationalism. Within Gnosticism, lies the intrinsic rationale behind a “redemptive revolt” that renounces the liberal-democratic-capitalist system as not only deceptive but also fundamentally wicked. This rebellion arises from discontentment, a deep sense of purposelessness, and the system’s failure to provide individuals with a clear understanding of their “place in the cosmos and their significance within it”. (Fall 2022).
In the present Western context, it becomes essential for a Christian observer to discern the operative mechanisms influencing unfolding events. The dynamics at play are indicative of systemic forces that precipitate profound shifts within established societal structures, encompassing multiple spheres. These spheres encompass the domains of ideology, spirituality, and the operational system responsible for effecting transformative changes. It is important to recognize that these forces are propagated by individuals that are characterized as the “sons of disobedience” mentioned above.
If we trace a trajectory from the Enlightenment to the present day, we can observe the influence of Marxist ideology, which can be understood as a manifestation of a Hegelian faith grounded in a dialectical method inherent in the “System der Wissenschaft” or System of Science. Marxism has undergone successive iterations through the application of the dialectical method, transitioning from a materialist perspective to cultural and eventually critical frameworks. It is a Hegelian faith, that after many iterations is the driving force behind what is now described as critical “fill in the blank”. This is the system behind the ideological transformations.
The “System der Wissenschaft” has ironically allowed itself to be hijacked and redefined:
Science is a functionally differentiated subsystem of modern society [→Differ-entiation of Society], which uses the communication medium→truth for its own reproduction. The function of the scientific system is to construct and obtain new knowledge. Scientific truth is not understood as the equivalent of the real world, but rather as a→symbolically generalized medium. To produce operations, truth refers to the coding of the difference between true and untrue:both values mark a communication as scientific, which becomes observable through these values. As such, scientifically untrue knowledge must also be treated as scientific.2Baraldi, Claudio, Corsi, Giancarlo and Esposito, Elena. “Scientific System (Wissenschaftssystem)”. Unlocking Luhmann: A Keyword Introduction to Systems Theory, Bielefeld: Bielefeld University Press, 2021, pp. 205-208. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783839456743-054Baraldi, C., Corsi, G. and Esposito, E. 2021. Scientific System (Wissenschaftssystem).
The author contends that Marxism embodies the essence of Gnosticism, a spiritual and philosophical movement, while employing a methodology rooted in a “totalitarian alchemical synthesis” to propagate its ideological tenets. Changes are made “by the book” signifying adherence to specific texts that serve as influential sources. In this context, the author alludes to George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” where the concept of Newspeak, a controlled language, has already been implemented. Additionally, the reference to Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” depicts a society where the masses have been pacified through the use of mind-altering substances.
Amidst the active engagement of the World Economic Forum (WEF) members and United Nations (UN) leaders in initiatives such as the “Great Reset,” the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the “Shared Economy,” it is imperative for the Christians to critically examine the underlying intentions and implications of these endeavors.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.(II Corinthians 13:14 [ASV])
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Baraldi, Claudio, Corsi, Giancarlo and Esposito, Elena. Unlocking Luhmann: A Keyword Introduction to Systems Theory, Bielefeld: Bielefeld University Press, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783839456743
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- 1Irenaeus, Against the Heresies 1.1.2 (ANF 1:315).
- 2Baraldi, Claudio, Corsi, Giancarlo and Esposito, Elena. “Scientific System (Wissenschaftssystem)”. Unlocking Luhmann: A Keyword Introduction to Systems Theory, Bielefeld: Bielefeld University Press, 2021, pp. 205-208. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783839456743-054