Christians Without Christ

Nicolás Gómez Dávila savaged the liberal Christianity of his day, and much of what he says still applies to the politically, socially, and culturally progressive church:

In their childish and vain attempt to attract the people, the modern clergy give socialist programs the function of being schemes for putting the Beatitudes into effect.

The trick behind it consists in reducing to a collective structure external to the individual an ethical behavior that, unless it is individual and internal, is nothing.

The modern clergy preach, in other words, that there is a social reform capable of wiping out the consequences of sin. From which one can deduce the pointlessness of redemption through Christ.

Of course, this is little different than H. Richard Niebuhr’s famous quote:

A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.

The liberal church is not the only church that struggles with this, however. Conservative Christians also have problems with wanting to wipe out the consequence of sin. This is what happens when sin — be it abortion and homosexuality or racism and inequality — is primarily someone else’s problem, resides outside ourselves (though liberals are more guilt ridden about this than conservatives, and tend to embrace those sins), and thus nothing the individual Christian believer actually needs to repent of. What the world really needs in this scheme is not repentance, but correction and reordering, so that sin can be eliminated.

This never works.

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5 thoughts on “Christians Without Christ

  1. “Social reform capable of wiping out the consequence of sin…”. Actually the reform is in redifining sin so that people can bypass guilt. No need of salvation if sin is a myth.
    Actually schemes to alleviate suffering are good and display a generic concept of mercy but God allows suffering to shake people out of complacency and pride. Without pointers back to the Gospel, the State takes the credit. Liberals obliterate the meaning if incarnation as Christ assuming our nature is no longer for destroying sin & death but for re-educating the State not to oppress the masses.

    Ultra-conservatives seem more intent on propping up their systematic theologies and falling into hypocrisy.

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    1. Well, in the West, there has been what I would call “a humanist dream” ever since the Renaissance — to compassionately bear the burdens of others *and* at the same time create a community in which no bearing of burdens is necessary. To set into motion machinery that “cares” for people so that the individual believer no longer has to. It’s this second part I object to. It is not the mere improving of human material conditions; it is an attempt to create a world in which everyone is automatically cared for so that no one need to care. This is still a powerful progressive dream, and it has given us much of the murderous infrastructure of the state so manifest in the ways the state cares.

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  2. I agree and it is the “backend” theologies, prevalent in the West, that help perpetuate that dream. That is, other than the “liberal” type. The failure to build on incarnational and patristic thought, a sharp focus on imputed righteousness rather than imparted righteousness ( there’s no need to improve on ourselves), a high guilt focus causing a feeling of worthless debilitation ( sorry Augustine lovers), and the prosperity/ DYI gospel, all feed into this societal dream.

    On the Catholic side, maybe their inability to challenge a mass nominalism and inability to engage their laity and counter the liberal theology already peppered through their congregations, would perpetuate societal norms.

    Cheers

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