“Christianity is dead” is an extreme categorical statement with which one can quibble, but one cannot deny that Christianity has lost whatever power it once possessed to guide civilization. As a political force, it is non-existent. It is even less powerful than that ancient gathering of a few dissident Jews in Palestine. At least they had potential force.
Reactionaries who think they can “revive” the religion of their ancestors, who think they can “restore” their throne and altar, are forgetting the core neoreactionary insight: the degenerative ratchet. Once something embarks on leftward movement (as Christianity has done since, at least, the Reformation), there can be no stopping its leftward movement. One cannot go back along the same leftward path. The way out of the degenerative ratchet cannot be the way in.
Ultimately, those who use the language of “return” or “regeneration” or “restoration” seek only one thing: to turn back the clock on Christianity. Back to the 1950s. Back to the 1850s. Back before that drunken German monk ruined everything. It doesn’t matter when. Volver. The idea is to move backward along the leftward path, to move rightward once again, to return, to go back to some point in the past before the leftward movement became so extreme. The idea is to get out the way we came in. Which is impossible.
The only way to stop the leftward movement—the degenerative ratchet—of Christianity is . . . catastrophe.
A degenerative ratchet can only progress, until it cannot go on, and it stops. What happens next is something else—it’s Outside. Moldbug calls it a reboot. History can tell us to expect it, but not what we are to expect.
. . . This is why NRx is dark. The only way out of a degenerative ratchet is catastrophe.
Does the Bible itself not bear this out? God does not return His people peacefully to Eden. God reboots. God resets. Catastrophically. When He saw that all of mankind had fallen into utter degeneracy, he sent a world-destroying Flood, rebooted the earth, and began a completely new covenant with Noah. Whenever Israel misbehaves in the Bible, God scatters it. And what else is Jesus’ Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection but the complete turning-on-its-head of everything Israel had expected? What else is the Gospel but a complete reset of the “kingly” Messianic expectation? God does not return things to a golden age of the past. He lets things fester until He decides they can’t fester any longer, then He washes everything clean in a divine catastrophe.
There can be no “return” for Christianity. There can be no “restoration” of some imagined pagan past. The degenerative ratchet has done its work, and we can’t look behind us down that already-traveled road. Better to look forward to the generative catastrophe ahead.
Whenever I bad-mouth Christianity, I find myself returning, for penance, to those Christian authors whom I respect immensely. While re-reading The Screwtape Letters this evening, I came across this gem from C.S. Lewis.
Democracy is connected with the political ideal that men should be treated equally. You then make a stealthy transition in people’s minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction in people’s thoughts the most degrading of all human feelings . . .
The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say, “I’m as good as you.”
The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good, solid, resounding lie. I don’t mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty, and good sense than in height or waist measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says “I’m as good as you” believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only be those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept. And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation.
Now, this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it–make it respectable and even laudable–by the incantatory use of the word democratic. Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level.
Via Age of Treason, some open letters from Asian Christians, who cunningly display their watered-down, strategic ethno-solidarity (“Asian” means nothing unless you’re outside Asia) using the language of Christianity.
If U.S. evangelical Protestant churches – now 81 percent white, according to 2012 Pew research – hope to become a more diverse representation of all the people of God, they must respond more positively to constructive criticism like that in the recent open letter.
It is the conceit of religious white racism to presume that one’s evangelicalism transcends racial and cultural identities, making such “worldly” labels no longer important. The letter reminds church leaders that those identities still matter. White evangelical Christians must stop clinging to an alibi of color-blindness and recognize that vibrant growth within “their” churches has much to do with nonwhite members’ views of them.
The evangelical church in America needs a reality check to honestly assess how it relates with its Asian American family members.
And the money shot:
We highly value the concept of family, and it deeply distresses us when our non-Asian brothers and sisters do not seem to recognize or embrace that we are called to be one united body. We are in your churches, your communities, your workplaces. Whenever you marginalize, ostracize, or demean us through carelessness and ignorance in print, video, or any other medium, you are doing more than just rufﬂing the feathers of a small group of online activists. You are damaging the very cause of Christ, by maintaining and increasing ﬁssures within the church.
. . . We would ask those who have inﬂuence in evangelical circles to consider the following speciﬁc action items:
– Examining hiring practices in Christian organizations, particularly in the areas of media and publishing, to see if there are systemic issues preventing Asian Americans from having a presence and a voice in the evangelical world
In other words: we are called to be one unified body, without division . . . so you’d better accept us, put us into positions of power, and acquiesce to our demands. In Christ’s name, amen.
A comment from a NY Times reader not afraid to say what’s really going on:
As a 4th generation Asian Christian, I have been told & lectured to many times over the years by whites in and out of church circles with a “Get with the program” attitude. These are admonishments to do things the “white” way. However, it is increasingly apparent that the program known as the USA is changing. Also, the center of gravity of the program known as evangelicalism is shifting away from whites towards Asians and Central & South Americans. It is high time the white Christians establishment realize, accept, and even embrace these changes which are happening under the Sovereign Will of God. In other words, it is the turn for white Christians to “Get with the new program!”
Just more evidence for my general thesis: Christianity died long ago and is now used only as a source of rhetorical energy for ethnic factions, victim groups, status whores, and the upper-class white leftists who enable all of them.
(I must admit that I cringe to see Asian Americans write like this. I have such high hopes for the world dominated by the Chinese, but things like this make me wonder. It would be much better if they just said, “Hey, whitey, you fucked up and gave up on your own civilization. Step aside and let us take over, because you’re clearly no longer competent to steer the globe into the future.” That kind of attitude, I can get behind.)
Our New Testament reading today comes from the tenth chapter of Romans, verses nine through thirteen:
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
My sermon today comes from the twelfth verse. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.
(This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.)
You may be seated.
David P. Goldman tells us that ethno-nationalism is the “snake” in the garden of Christianity. Jew and Gentile are, in their sinfulness, alike in God’s eyes, but from each He demands something different. The gospel of Christ proclaims that although God has already chosen a People, He has invited the rest of the world to be grafted on to the Tree of Life so long as they serve Christ first and foremost, lowering their earthly masters and loyalties to secondary status. The Church—understood as that invisible and glorious entity unfurled across time and space—is the one true nation to which all Christians belong. “King first, God after” or “Ethnicity first, God after” is to be completely inverted. Goldman quotes Orthodox theologian Michael Wyschogrod to help us understand this inversion:
As understood by Christianity, a model of dual loyalty develops. The individual belongs both to a nation and to a religion. He is a Frenchman and a Christian or a German and a Christian. As Frenchman or German, he is a member of a national community with territorial and linguistic boundaries. But he is also a member of the supra-national church which has no national boundaries. … The church is a spiritual fellowship into which men bring their national identities because they possess these identities but not because such identities play a role in the church. The church thus understands itself as having universalized the national election of Israel by opening it to all men who, in entering the church, enter a spiritualized, universalized new Israel.
Jews, the called and elected People of God in the Flesh, are the only people who possess a Divine Right to serve both religion and nation, religion and ethnicity equally. To everyone else, the salvation of God is offered through Christ, but only on condition of ethnic, cultural, and national abnegation. Perhaps not abnegation; rather, subjugation. Ethnic, cultural, or national identity that exists prior to or apart from the convert’s Christian identity is to be rendered less important. A Christian’s true master is Christ. It is heresy to serve Christ and _______.
Give unto Caesar what is Ceasar’s. But you cannot serve both God and national currency. A choice must be made. Leo Tolstoy provides the quintessentially neopuritan exegesis of Matthew 22:21:
Not only the complete misunderstanding of Christ’s teaching, but also a complete unwillingness to understand it could have admitted that striking misinterpretation, according to which the words, “To Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s,” signify the necessity of obeying Cæsar. In the first place, there is no mention there of obedience; in the second place, if Christ recognized the obligatoriness of paying tribute, and so of obedience, He would have said directly, “Yes, it should be paid;” but He says, “Give to Cæsar what is his, that is, the money, and give your life to God,” and with these latter words He not only does not encourage any obedience to power, but, on the contrary, points out that in everything which belongs to God it is not right to obey Cæsar.
To be Christian is to cease being pagan—that is, to be Christian means no longer identifying as Roman or Greek or any other ethno-nationality, at least as regards “everything which belongs to God,” that is, as regards everything. Gender included. Galations 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The New Testament creates a hierarchy of loyalties for Christians, with Christ at the top, family second, and everything else (such as nationality) a very, very distant third. Goldman writes that the greatest sins of the Christian world have been committed by people attempting to serve both Christ and ethnicity or nation equally, a fleshly privilege granted only to the Jews. In other words, there can be no question of a Christian nationalism or a Christian nation because such a political structure is implicitly forbidden in the New Testament. The Church is the only Christian nation, and she is wonderfully universal, gloriously supra-national, blessedly diverse.
It is our commission as Christians to preach the Good News of Christ, to make Christians of all nations, that is, to get rid of nations in exchange for the Church, united under Christ . . .
Or, if we decide, as most of us do today, that Christ was in fact a mortal man, and that God is nothing more than a state of mind or an ecstatic oneness with creation, we nevertheless must continue to fulfill the Great Commission. We must strive to make people serve, above all else, if not Christ, then a de-Christianized Christian morality, subjugating their national or ethnic interests to the worship of this morality. And because we know that Christ was a mortal man and the New Testament a culturally situated document, we can freely tweak our de-Christianized Christian morality as we spread its good news, amplifying certain elements and removing others altogether. It all depends on what tactics will make people give up their national or tribal identities (even if those tactics might backfire).
Switching out of True Believer mode, I can point out the obvious flaw in this Spengler-inspired exegesis: the idealistic exhortation to “put on Christ” at the expense of all racial, ethnic, or gendered interests was simply that: an idealistic exhortation. From the very beginning, Christian converts did not cease being _______ in order to become Christians. They remained Greek Christians, Roman Christians, Berber Christians, Ottoman Christians, Russian Christians . . . . so on and so forth. The history of Christianity is the history of peoples refusing to cease being peoples for the sake of becoming the Church. Medieval Europe under Rome was as close as this world ever came to a political structure that regularly subjugated ethnic or national concerns (nominally) to a greater Christian loyalty.
We shall never see such a structure again. We shall not see it because people no longer believe in Christ. More distressingly, we shall not see it because the only things to which people are willing to subjugate their ethnic or national loyalties are not Christ but various incarnations of the Son of Morning.