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September 26th 2016 print

Merv Bendle

The Folly of Turning the Other Cheek

Desecrate a Bible and it will be acclaimed as 'art'. Depict Islam's founder, even with deference and respect, and expect not merely a riot but expressions of sympathic regret from our cultural quislings. With Christianity under siege on so many fronts, a spirited defence is the only response

piss christChristians being violently abused and assaulted: verbally, physically, in print, in the media, and online. That is the future people of faith may have to get used to, as the perennial war between Judaeo-Christian civilization and the totalitarian powers and principalities continues remorselessly to escalate. Indeed, it is uncanny how the intensifying anti-Christian campaign in Australia and the West is reminiscent of repressive operations launched previously against Christians by the Nazis in Germany and communists in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, as well as presently by Islamists attacking Christians in their ancestral homelands in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.

In this context contemporary Christians and their leaders face several challenges. Firstly, they have to understand the nature and methods of the threat. In brief, the present conflict is at the level of metapolitics and Christians face a political religion bent on destroying their religion, as I will outline below. Secondly, they must learn the lessons of the past and formulate a robust strategy of response this time round and not yield to the confusion, fear, and intimidation that compromised the church under the repressive totalitarian regimes spawned by earlier political religions during the twentieth century.

What is the present situation? Generally, there is a singular lack of support or even respect for the Judaeo-Christian tradition at the political level, within the mass media, or in the education system and the universities. It is routine to see Christians ridiculed and derided, and for their values and views on any range of subjects to be discounted and disrespected, and this often stands in stark contrast to how other religions, especially Islam or Indigenous religions, are treated with an often fawning respect. At present, the onslaught has taken shape around the extremely aggressive Green-Left-LGBTI campaigns for Same Sex Marriage, along with the infamous Safe Schools programs and similar systematic propaganda and grooming operations being implemented in the schools, kindergartens, and day care, where, for example, we now learn that “a four-year old pre-schooler in NSW has begun ‘transitioning’ their gender before attending their first day of kindergarten, amid a wave of young children across Australia who are seeking to change sex.”  The Safe Schools program has now assumed the characteristics of a cult, complete with an (unlikely) transgender Fuehrer-figure, adoring devotees, a comprehensive ideology, a well-resourced propaganda machine, submissive mainstream media, and quisling politicians, especially in Victoria and NSW, where education departments are eager to offer children as sacrifices to the Moloch of political correctness.

A few other examples of the anti-Christian campaign must suffice, beginning with an obvious but perennial issue: the war on Christmas. This continues apace under the guise of ‘cultural sensitivity’, as if Christians are the only group whose deepest beliefs can be ridiculed and marginalized. In politics, some months ago young Green-Left/LGBTI fascists notoriously invaded the office of Cory Bernardi, an Australian Senator and high-profile Christian, trashing the premises and terrorizing staff, confident that they would suffer little or no meaningful sanctions under an ALP government in South Australia. In the sphere of ideology, the Q&A program, the primary propaganda vehicle of the Green-Left ABC, is regularly used to attack, denounce, and ridicule Christianity. In one noticeable example (25/4) it was used to attack the managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton, by associating him with allegedly derogatory comments made by the American author Eric Metaxas concerning a link between homosexuality and Nazism.

Ironically, while this ‘gotcha moment’ continues to be very germane as the conflict unfolds. It was meant to discredit both Metaxas and Shelton, but it actually back-fired in two ways. Firstly, it drew attention to the very significant role  played by militant male homosexuals at every level in the Nazi Party throughout its history, as detailed by Samuel Igra in Germany’s National Vice (1945) and The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams, as I discussed in a previous Quadrant Online article.  Secondly, it invoked the example of the iconic German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was martyred by the Nazis because of his role in the German resistance to the Hitlerian regime. Metaxas, who has published a prize-winning biography of Bonhoeffer, observed how the German churches’ preparedness to compromise their beliefs and reluctance to stand on principal and confront the Nazis in their early days only facilitated their rise to power.

On another front, corporate sponsors of the LGBTI campaign for SSM are mounting a denial of service campaign directed against opponents of SSM, who are to be denied airline, banking, and other services. As Miranda Devine explained:

Whether it’s Qantas or Virgin you want to fly with, whether it’s Westpac, or the Commonwealth Bank, or Bankwest, or St George, or ANZ you bank with, whether it’s Telstra or Optus’s brand on your phone, no dissent [from the SSM campaign] is allowed.

This denial of services campaign has now escalated and now even includes blocking access to places for Christians to meet. Last week, some 100 people, including Sydney Anglicans and Catholics, the Marriage Alliance, and the ACL were intending to conduct a conference on the proposed SSM plebiscite at the Mercure Sydney Airport Hotel. However, the LGBTI website hate crimeSame­Same.com.au alerted its followers to the event, urging them to stop the “dangerous, predatory”, “hateful, deceitful and extreme” ACL. Allegedly intimidated, the Accor Hotels group abruptly cancelled the booking, contending that the social media storm conducted by LGBTI militants had rattled employees and raised concerns about the safety of its staff and guests. (Whether this is true or just a rationalization for a corporate decision to support the LGBTI cause is unclear.)

Christian leaders are now viciously targeted on a routine basis. Federal Greens MP, Adam Bandt, denounced “bigots like Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby”, and declared that Christian groups would “spread their hate-speech through [the proposed] plebiscite”. Crikey’s Bernard Keane vilified Shelton as a “creep”, a “fact-free hypocrite” and “a nauseating piece of filth” who was “obsessed with sex”; while  Fairfax columnist John Birmingham attacked opponents of SSM in obscene terms as “weirdos” and as “a sweating pig circus of morons and bigots” wanting to “mangulate their hate boners in the marriage equality plebiscite”.

What is the origin of this war? At the most profound level the answer lies in the realm of metapolitics, and in the nature of political religions, such as older versions like fascism and contemporary versions like progressivism.  Metapolitics concerns itself with the underlying themes and assumptions about the nature of humanity and the world that drive political movements. In this case, the core tendency is a fierce desire to destroy religion and all notions of spirituality and the transcendent and, as Ernst Nolte pointed out fifty years ago in The Three Faces of Fascism, this desire lies at the core of all forms of fascism – of both the right (e.g., Nazism) and the left (e.g., communism). These are political religions, i.e., powerful ideologies whose cultural and political traction is so great that they impact societies like historical mass religious movements (e.g., post-Constantinian Christianity, early Islam, the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, the Taiping Rebellion, Communism, Nazism, and Islamism).

Political religions are militantly anti-democratic and employ instead some form of Führerprinzip or dictatorship They also invariably seek to seize and sacralise state power and to transform society in a totalistic and utopian fashion. They are generally messianic or apocalyptic and surround all their activities with an aura of sacredness supported by a system of non-negotiable values, myths, symbols, and rituals, which are enforced by often extreme forms of social control and violence. They are militantly intolerant of dissent, which is invariably viewed as wilful blindness and ignorance, or even treason and a mortal threat to the regime, and opponents are routinely dehumanized, marginalized, incarcerated, or ultimately exterminated. Analysed in these terms, the Green-Left-LGTBTI movement is obviously a political religion.

Indeed, what we are witnessing is a war between two fundamentally different conceptions of god – the traditional Judaeo-Christian God, which is transcendent and other-worldly, and the fascist ideal of a god-like mega-State, which is entirely immanent and this-worldly. Instead of seeking salvation in the Christian fashion through an all-powerful transcendent God who accepts human weaknesses and limitations and promises eternal life through faith, totalitarian movements seek salvation through an all-powerful state apparartus whose presence is entirely immanent, controlling every aspect of individual and social life and promising to transform human nature and society into a paradise of the here-and-now. Invariably, this involves a primary emphasis on sexuality and gender as utopia is necessarily pursued in the physical realm of the senses rather than the spiritual realm of faith.

It is for this reason that the war on Christianity is inextricably bound up with utopian campaigns promoting various forms of sexual libertinism and extremism, exemplified by SSM and the Safe Schools program, which promise social and personal transformation. This utopian vision was made clear by Roz Ward, the architect of the Safe Schools program, in her address to the 2015 Marxism Conference.

“Marxism offers the hope and the strategy needed to create a world where human sexuality, gender and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordinarily new and amazing ways that we can only try to imagine today”.

LGBTI militants like Ward envisage a sensual paradise where “polymorphous perversity” reigns supreme and “bodies blossom in extraordinary new and amazing ways”. In their view, the main obstacle to this polymorphous paradise is the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which has served as societal bedrock for inter-personal and familial relations for over two millennia.

As mentioned, none of this anti-Christian animosity is new. The Nazi campaign against Christianity was ferocious and was heralded by a concerted propaganda campaign akin to that being conducted at present. The purpose of this was to dehumanize Christians and marginalize their beliefs, seeking to intimidate believers into ideological conformity ahead of a systematic program of repression, incarceration, and extermination of all those who did not bend to the will of the regime. This began during the Weimar Republic, which famously plunged into a morass of social, cultural, and sexual decadence that proved to be fertile soil for Nazism, communism, and other forms of extremism, especially of a sexual nature. This has been vividly illustrated in many scholarly works, including Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (2015) by Robert Beachy, which won the Randy Shilts Award, honouring works of non-fiction of relevance to the gay community. This shows how, in the half century before the Nazis rose to power, Berlin became the undisputed gay capital of the world. Activists and medical professionals made it a city of firsts— “the first gay journal, the first homosexual rights organization, the first Institute for Sexual Science, the first sex-reassignment surgeries—exploring and educating themselves and the rest of the world about new ways of understanding the human condition … The uninhibited urban culture of Berlin helped create our categories of sexual orientation and gender identity … that continue to shape and influence our thinking about sex and gender to this day.”

Another major work based on extensive research is Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin (2008),by Mel Gordon, which depicts “a sexually charged city brimming with prolific prostitution, homosexuality and drugs in the heady days before the Nazis came into full power.” In a manner reminiscent of the core premise of the Safe Schools program — that all sexuality and gender is fluid and people may change their identity at will — Weimar Berlin offered the full range of male homosexual roles, including, as Gordon recounts:

Androgynes – highly refined male homosexuals with distinct feminine features augmented by plucked eyebrows, face powder, lipstick, and perfume. Aunties – older, fat crossdressers usually attired in oversized dressing gowns; Bad Boys – twenty-year olds who travel in packs in garish leather fetish fashions. Cellar Masters – dominant sexual partners, aka Top Men or Mounters. Kitty Receivers – submissive sexual partners, aka Kitty Suckers. Ladies – male transvestites.  Doll Boys – very young (8-13 years old) male prostitutes who live on the streets, aka Line Boys, if they lived long enough to become older teenage prostitutes.

Under Weimar, a militantly secularist socialist regime obsessed with sex complemented a society-wide decadence with a coordinated plan to suppress Christianity. This involved a set of policies that focused on education, including banning religious instruction, prayer, and worship services in schools, including Christmas celebrations; abolishing the study of traditional theology at universities (at a time when Germany was recognized as the world leader in such studies); the removal of state subsidies for church-run social services; and the confiscation of church property.

This campaign was made easier by the undermining of Christianity that had occurred before the Great War, as Richard Grunberger recounts in A Social History of the Third Reich (1974). Firstly, St Paul was marginalized as a Jewish upstart, while Jesus was Aryanised and transformed into a Nordic warrior-saviour, bearing “the sword rather than the crown of thorns”. He was then absorbed into the neo-paganism that came to fuel Nazism, with the Gospel replaced by Wotan worship and radical environmentalism or what would now be called Gaia worship. Traditional theology in the universities was replaced by the study of “Wotan and Jesus”, “Baldur and the Bible”, and “The German Saviour”, with the latter resolving the ‘scandal’ of the Jewish origins of Jesus by insisting that “a beautiful Aryan flower can grow on a Jewish dung heap”. This neo-paganism was taken to an entirely new level by the SS under Heinrich Himmler, who sought to establish an occult religion of Nazism, as discussed by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke in The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology (1985).

Once the Nazis were in power they moved quickly to subvert and control the churches, establishing the German Christian movement composed of Nazi sympathizers. The start of the Nazi’s official anti-Semitic campaign was welcomed by German Christian leaders as a necessary measure to reduce “Jewish over-representation in business life, medicine, law and culture”. They then set out to restructure the totality of German Protestantism and with the militant support of the Storm Troopers they seized ecclesiastical power, “whereupon they moved to reshape the Church in the image of the Nazi state”, as Grunberger recalls.

Bonhoeffer became a leading figure in the German resistance to this campaign and paid with his life, being tortured and hanged only days before the end of the war in Europe. As noted earlier, one of the points made by Eric Metaxas in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (2010) and reiterated during the author’s visit to Australia is that Bonhoeffer can be considered an exemplar of Christian responsibility, and that Christians must be prepared to act in a timely and decisive manner if they are to have a chance of defending their faith and themselves as well as protecting society from totalitarian threats committed to their subversion and destruction.

Merv Bendle PhD taught history, religion, and social theory for 20 years at James Cook University. 

Comments [27]

  1. Solo says:

    I believe a Jordanian writer just got shot (and killed) outside a courtroom today for drawing Mohammad.

  2. Anthony Cox says:

    The situation is now at a cross-roads: the political and media class, with a few exceptions, are effectively betraying Western society. Those few who do speak plainly about Islam are vilified by the rest. Islam is an ideology which has a military intention; this is evident by its actions and what its spokespersons say. I believe the MSM and the politicians who obfuscate about this are afraid.

    • ianl says:

      > “I believe the MSM and the politicians who obfuscate about this are afraid”

      Yes. They are as frightened as the mass of the populace is of the willingness for jihadis to perpetrate random, horrible violence upon unsuspecting children, women, men. It’s obvious that preventing all of these obscenities is impossible, so the social engineers are fearful of anything that may provoke them.

      Australia has had a reasonably successful series of immigration programs over the years. All of the groups, excluding one, successfully assimilated within a generation or two and no one I know has ever had any problem with that. The stubborn refusal of that one group to assimilate surprised the social engineers and it became necessary to blame us for that to avoid them looking like utter fools (as world-wide experience had told them what would happen).

      But the one group that refuses to assimilate ? Cultural conflict, constantly beat up by the MSM, is not racism – Islam is not a race any more than Christians or Buddhists or Jews or … but critical analysis of cultural traits is howled down as racism in the MSM to stamp out thought crime. That is how fearful, indeed terrified, of uncontrollable random violence we are.

  3. Bill Martin says:

    A brilliant article, one of the best I ever read in Quadrant. One is compelled to bow before the awesome depth and breadth of Merv Bendle’s familiarity of the subject. Let this article be commended to Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, to that demented Christian priest in Gosford whose name I don’t recall and every other namby-pamby “Christian” leader and clergymen who are so desperately and righteously endeavouring to appease Islam in the vain hope of reciprocal response from from that evil, degenerate creed.

  4. Keith Kennelly says:

    Bill to call to stop Christians from seeking peace and turning the other cheek is calling Christians to stop being Christian.

    The totalitarian lefties win in that scenario..

    • Bill Martin says:

      Remember, Keith, that Christ didn’t “turn the other cheek” at the outrage of the money lenders and merchants desecrating the temple. Today the desecration is of Christianity and Christ’s example ought to be followed in dealing with it.

      • Warty says:

        Unfortunately, far too many Christians have fallen for the radical left’s theme songs of ‘make love not war’, ‘every man is your brother’, ‘love your neighbour as yourself’, ‘feelings of guilt for being white’, ‘feelings of guilt for being descendants of slave owners/ colonialists/imperialists/invaders of aboriginal Australia; of being part of the white Anglo Saxon ruling class etc etc.. The nameless cleric in Gosford is one amongst many. The World Council of Churches actively funded Mugabe’s ZANU and Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU during their ‘liberation’ war against Ian Smith’s government, back in the late 1960s and 1970s and blithely turned a blind eye to the Matabeleland massacres in 1983 (Gukurahundi).
        But, anyway here’s an interesting video clip that speaks to the cultural malaise we find ourselves surrounded by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QspjaavaI9o

  5. Alistair says:

    Sorry Merv, but “Christendon” is finished. Where Christian morality once controlled and moderated secular power, the secular,”progressive” atheists are now in almost total control and Christians have effectively accepted Dhimmi status in that world. Christians are no more able to mount a resistance in Berlin than they are in Bagdad.

    • Jody says:

      I resent the use of that word “progressive”. This is the one step forward/two steps backward kind. And it’s important to remember: a belief in everything is a belief in nothing. Nihilism is pervasive in the western world.

      • Warty says:

        Nihilism is indeed pervasive. But the term ‘progressive’, one that the left proudly used with regard to themselves, has been adopted by conservatives and used ironically against the left. I’m sure you know all this, but sake of being repetitive: the left see the Safe Schools programme as being progressive in a sociological sense; they see their ideas and the computer modelling on global warming as progressive; they see open border policies as progressive, all feel good policies, but with unintended, ill-considered consequences. Conservatives in turn mock them calling them ‘progressives’ because their ideas taste of saccharine, chemically sweet, but leaving a bitter taste in the mouth.
        A growing number of people are showing dissatisfaction with the old Left/Right divide as being too broad, too imprecise. ‘Progressive’ intended ironically, at least points to the ideas of the radical left.

    • whitelaughter says:

      Gee, where have we heard that before? Oh that’s right: in every century for the last two millennia. in our own lifetimes we had the Marxists celebrating their victory over Christianity – we remain while they’ve lost the Bloc they held, seemingly forever. There are more Christians on the planet than there were *people* a century ago; 2.2 Billion of us. Let the self-appointed elites tremble.

      • Warty says:

        Alistair is right, with regards to Europe and the UK, in particular, but in a lesser sense here. But he is wrong in an overall sense, with Christianity gaining impetus in China, strong in S. Korea and elsewhere in Asia, and strong in South America. It is in dire trouble in the Middle East, and the Pope, content in his Marxist raiments, is even more content to turn a blind eye, so that he can invite Syrian Muslims to come and live in the Vatican. Perhaps in a year or two he’ll authorise the building of a mosque next to St Peter’s basilica and ruin the neighbourhood for good.

  6. Mohammadens carried out the first genocide of the 20th century killing 1,500,000 Armenians when they started to lose WWI.
    Nazis carried out the second genocide of the 20th century killing 6,000,000 Jews when they started to lose WWII.
    Australian doctors are enacting the Australian genocide with 2,000,000 abortions in the last few decades.

  7. padraic says:

    The thing that distinguishes the green-left from the rest of us is their monumental cowardice. They know damned well that if they denigrated Islam as they rip Christianity apart they would get the Charlie Hebdo treatment – safer to stick with the Christians.

  8. Egil says:

    This article is most enlightening, thank you Merv Bendle!
    I very much like the term “cultural quislings”.
    Whoever penned that term first [MB?] deserves credit.
    It should be an integral part of the verbal artillery of right-minded people
    who find the free Western civilisation/way of life worth fighting for.
    Words are powerful and the left has been very skilful in adopting/genetically modifying/stealing certain words.
    Gay and misogyni comes to mind.
    Progressive is another.
    The left obviously likes to call themselves progressives, but if truthful description of the left matters,
    then they should be referred to as “progressives”, as in “as if” or if serious honesty is called for; regressives.
    Progressive they are not.
    One more point;
    Nazis [ The National Socialistic Workers Party ] have MUCH more in common with communists/left/Greens than they have with anything on the right of current politics.
    How can a centralist/totalitarian/anti religion/Gaia worshipping/Jew hating party calling itself The National Socialistic Workers Party,
    be of anything but the left….?
    Hitler got along with Stalin fabulously until he stuffed up.
    We now have a new “Herr Volk” presiding over formalities at universities/media/bureaucracies.
    Nazis were/are of the left.
    It should be no surprise that the left we are up against today -the cultural quislings – has adopted [bar nationalism ] many of Hitler’s policies,
    including their SS tactics in closing down meetings/free speech.

  9. Paul says:

    Merv I don’t understand why you regard Nazism as right wing. I thought it was short for national socialists.
    Is the only difference between right wing and left wing, nationalist vs internationalist?
    A short essay on the difference between right wing and conservative would be interesting.

    • acarroll says:

      Right wing and left wing only have relevance if you consider the positions of the French parliament at the time of the revolution:

      On the right wing was the ancienne regime — the parties representing the traditional hierarchical society that Europe utilised for millennia.
      On the left wing was the revolutionary parties who wanted to tear it all down.

      Since the revolutionaries are now pretty much in control (actually, we have a synthesis since many on the right are traitors to tradition) they’re actually the ancienne regime, i.e. technically the right wing. The left wing now are nationalists and traditionalists who reject “progressive” social movements, reject globalism.

      National Socialism is a socialist ideology rooted in the concept of the Volk, of socialism amongst an extended kin/national group. Sweden, up until it adopted multiculturalism effectively had a national socialist system. Communism has always been international in nature — destroy borders, destroy nations, destroy men and rebuild a workers paradise. One could perhaps argue that Sweden is starting to turn itself communist in its suicidal drive to abolish its founding people.

      Stalin hijacked the plans of Lenin and Trotsky by turning Soviet communism into “communism in one country”. Communism in this guise starts to look more like National Socialism. This is essentially the default position of all those nations who nominally became communist, e.g. China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea.

      Confused yet?
      :)

      • Warty says:

        You have just exemplified why terms like right wing and left wing can get a little confusing, particularly when there are aspects in common, like a tendency towards totalitarianism.
        In essence Fascism looked to the nation, the state as supreme and wished to dominate the inferior races, where as a Leninist form of socialism to the world as a disciplined form of workers’ utopia.
        Fascism, under Hitler cultivated the notion of Fuhrer the strong, charismatic leader; whereas Lenin looked towards the soviets or collective leadership, a sort of bottom up leadership of the proletariat, but as he never trusted their ability or innate intelligence to further their own leadership, he had the politburo, with Lenin at the head, to do it for them, so becoming a sort of Fuhrer, without the Fuhrer worship, but the people went ahead and worshiped him anyway (you only had to look at the superhuman statues of Lenin and Stalin to get the gist of this). But the Marxist form of socialism looked to take ‘people power’ to the world, whilst the Volk stuff was distinctly nationalistic and Germanic at that: hence the Third Reich.
        But, I’m pompously teaching you to suck eggs.

  10. Tallaijohn says:

    Nazism, Communism and the Taiping Kingdom of Heavenly Peace have all come and gone. Christianity survives and I think will continue to do so. My book, Mission to China: How an Englishman Brought the West to the Orient, shows how Christianity won through even in situations where the philosophy was hardly known. The book has just been published in England and will be available in Australia in November. It shows how Christianity was introduced to the Chinese, first in places like Indonesia and survived through it’s unplanned introduction to the Taipings. Now there are more worshippers in China than in the whole of Europe.

  11. Ian MacDougall says:

    Wars of religion are clearly an on-again, off-again business.
    I think that Emile Durkheim and his functionalist school were right. Religion is all about maintenance of group solidarity. It does not matter what we believe so much as the fact that we all believe in it together. Thus whatever the size of the congregation, in its religious ceremony that group is actually worshipping itself.
    The presence of professional believers (ie clerics) adds another dimension as well. They have an interest in ensuring that their own livelihoods are maintained by maintenance in turn of the doctrinal distinction and professed purity of their own separate congregations of particular believers. This can take the form of an outraged cleric whipping up hostility in his congregation against a perceived threat, such as that posed by a rival theological sect or doctrine, with murder and mayhem resulting: perhaps even helping to bring on a dark age. Thus the bloody divisions within Islam which began shortly after the death of Mohammad; the brutal maintenance of a Catholic doctrinal monopoly by the Holy Inquisition, and the persecution of scientists like Hypatia of Alexandria, Galileo Galilei, and the Soviet geneticist Nikolai Vavilov by religiously-motivated opponents.
    Aspirant charismatics in the clerical tradition of Luther, Hillsong or even of Joseph Smith have an interest in finding an issue on which to make a break and lead their own congregation out and away; which may be something outsiders deem trivial, like the selling of indulgences, partial vs total immersion in water at baptism, or more serious stuff.

    Those possessed of zeal for preaching whatever brand of political correctness start by appealing to a natural sense of justice, based on the crucial human ability to empathise. However, acts directed against the liberty of any person or group to publicise their views such as are outlined in this article are to be vigorously opposed. They are never justified.

  12. Bran Dee says:

    I may be wrong but scholarly Merv Bendle comes across to me as an insider to Christianity whereas Ian MacDougall comes across as an onlooker who sees the divergence of Christianity without seeing the unique origin, the relational revelation of God, Jesus Christ.
    Follow Mohammedanism back to its source, the intolerant and coercive warlord Mohammed, and see why the Middle East is a cauldron of unrest and violence for 1400 years. Doing a search on Joseph Smith indicates he was impressed with the growth of Mohammedanism and his movement in the US in its foundation seems to copy much the discipline of the Arabian movement including polygamy and energetic proselytising.

  13. Ian MacDougall says:

    I may be wrong also, but the scholarly Merv Bendle also strikes me as an insider to Christianity, whereas I am merely a lapsed Anglican; but one who once took it seriously enough (at the age of 15) to volunteer to become a missionary.
    Bran, there are many diverging religions, all claiming some unique origin and revelation. Christianity is merely one of many, and they can’t all be right. But they all come from the same source, which is not a bloodthirsty Sky Ogre, but from inside of the heads of the admittedly exceptional men who have been revered as prophets.
    The most inspiring observation by the Nazarene Carpenter as far as I am concerned is this: “The Kingdom of God is within you.” But that is so jarringly inconsistent with the rest of his (or if you would prefer, His) message, and with the Paulian doctrine of sin and redemption
    that I conclude that Christ got it from Buddha, who lived a distance away down the Silk Road, and a few hundred years previously.
    But it is a maxim that even a modern infidel and Unbeliever like me can live by.

    • pgang says:

      It reads as though your Christian faithfulness was destroyed by a dalliance with neoplatonism. You seem to have rejected pretty well all of the historical nature of the Bible along with its ‘physical’ evidence, the most important of which was the real time event of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which was witnessed by hundreds of people (a piece of evidence which would not have survived the scrutiny of the times had they been lying). I remain faithful to God because of the clear and unequivocal evidence of His work in the real world. There is nothing else that would convince me, as I possess no sense of a ‘personal’ spirituality as seems to be the moral imperative for most modern Christians. I am an engineer so I take my evidence very seriously.

      ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’ is a questionable interpretation of Jesus. Presumably you are talking about Luke 17 which has your interpretation, as far as I am aware, only in the KJV. All others say the ‘Kingdom of God is among you’. In this passage Jesus is talking about himself, being the Son of Man (or THE man), as prophesied by Daniel, and here Jesus is prophesying about the his own work, relating it to Noah and Lot. I don’t know why the KJV changes what is the obvious interpretation but I suspect it was some sort of Aristotlean influence. There was a school of thought at the time that inner reflection on philosophical and natural matters would help to build the self into a person better able to understand and serve God and this concept, while not unreasonable in itself, got a little out of control.

      Dare I suggest that were you to dump the baggage of ‘religion’ as some sort of internal exercise (which is really a form of self-idolatry) and take a fresh look at the Bible in its historical, real time context you might find your view of it turned on its head, and with it your life.

  14. pgang says:

    The Biblical story of ‘turning the other cheek’ has, like almost everything in the Bible, been reinterpreted in a ‘soft’, post modern context which ignores the culture of pre-modern times which was patronistic and honour-bound. The lesson is not about letting enemies walk all over you as that would be suicidal in some cases, and merely confirm their aggression. It is actually about bringing to light the shame of your enemies who have lost honour through their actions. Same goes with the story about giving them your shirt when they ask for your cloak. Jesus is teaching us not to defeat shame with more shame (brute revenge), but to reveal your opponent’s shame with your own honour and integrity. And even if men ignore it, God won’t. That is why the fighting of wars against evil and the defence of the truth is the correct thing to do.

  15. Bran Dee says:

    ‘A spirited defense is the only response’ of Christians wisely says Merv Bendle and these latter comments above seem in that spirit.
    What other ‘ism’ comes anywhere near the brilliant relational one modeled by Jesus. Sure he may have known of Buddha, nearby Afghanistan was both Buddhist and Hindu, and Iran had Zoroastrianism, but never has the world before or since seen such a revelation of God as in Jesus. The Christian awakening caught on for centuries until a primitive ideology of lust and violence calling itself a religion halted it. Afghanistan was converted by the sword and India, the richest country on earth, had its northern part beheaded by the scimitar and subjected under the Arabian crescent-moon god.