Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Left-right, left-right.

Tony Payne makes some theologically significant observations about assumptions undergirding some left-leaning thinking, here. From his post:

Mamet is in no sense a Christian, but his observation of life at this point is one we share. The Bible teaches us that people are not good at heart: every part of us is tainted by sin. Nevertheless, neither we nor the world are totally and unremittingly evil, and in the goodness of God, we often manage to work together to do and build good things (if not perfect things), and to live together with a degree of harmony—but only to a degree, and never without suffering and compromise. It's not the system that's the problem—such that if only we completely changed it, everything would be fine; it's the people.

I don't think Tony is intending to make any sort of political point. Perhaps I'll ask him next time I see him. But he does here what any good theological thinker must do, which is to take the basics underlying our world-view and subject it to scrutiny using the Bible's teaching.

And the Bible is has no shortage of passages that remind us of our fundamental corruption.


Michael K said...

Liberalism is naiively optimistic about the power of sin - fair cop.

But should we therefore be pessimistic or even cynical about the ability of people to bring about change? No we shouldn't.

Total depravity should caution us against optismism. Common Grace and Providence should caution us against pessimism. Love should drive us to action.

So, yes we can.

If you read the text of the 'Yes we can' speech - http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/26/obama.transcript/index.html - you'll see it is mostly a defence against the cynicism that says 'No you can't'

Pete said...

As someone who found the "Yes we can" speeches somewhat uplifting, only to be perplexed by what he was then proposing to "do" to solve the problems he wanted to face, I guess I can disagree with the last comment on Obama.

I agree with Tony Payne here. And I don't think he is being political, though I was thinking today that lots of Christians do it to their theology, even subconsciously.

Michael K said...

Pete, my comment isn't so much for or against Obama. It is a caution against dismissing the ability of people to make changes in this fallen world.
The great change thats needed is peace with God and that only comes by his Spirit and through his Word. That change addresses the sinfulness of the human heart.
But there is still a place for kings rulers, even democracies, to change the system where it is unfair to better promote justice. The obvious American example is slavery & civil rights. For Obama's position on this - see his "A more Perfect Union' speech. While it is stirring stuff, more significantly it shows a position far more nuanced than 'naiive liberal with misplaced optimism'. It also hints at some of the substantive policy directions that can be taken to make a difference.
Whatver you think of Obama (I won't be voting for him) the larger issue is the relationship of the Christian to the state. Can we bring about change to systems without changing human hearts that result in a better society? Yes, we can.