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Thread: The idol of our age

  1. #1
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    The idol of our age

    Saw this article today and it is spot on. Humanism is rampant even within the church. We have separated repentance from mercy, and made love more about tolerance or human compassion than what we see in the scriptures. Here's a more in depth review article:

    https://www.realclearreligion.org/ar...rs_110221.html

    By Chandler LaschJune 07, 2019


    To believers who have noticed a disconcerting distortion of Christianity’s ideals of love and charity, Daniel Mahoney’s “The Idol of Our Age: How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity” may be a godsend.

    The book, which was published last December, addresses the problem of secular humanitarianism and its effect on the Church’s thinking about divine mercy and Christian charity. “The Idol of Our Age” has been widely reviewed, somewhat–though not entirely–to the author’s surprise. In an interview, Mahoney said the book has resonated with Christians in Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical circles who were aware of the problem he diagnoses but hadn’t put a name to it.


    “I sensed that there was real discontent in thoughtful Orthodox-minded Christian circles about this increasing conflation of the Christian religion with a humanitarian political agenda, reducing Christianity to simply a project to promote left-wing social justice and pacifism, and, I think, a deeply problematic interpretation of the Gospels,” Mahoney said.
    It seems unusual that “The Idol of Our Age” would resonate with Christians of such varying beliefs, but perhaps this speaks to the widespread effects of the religion of humanity. To understand the themes that most resonate with readers, it is helpful to examine the many reviews this book has received. Reviews often emphasize Mahoney’s explanation of love according to humanitarianism versus Christian love and charity, particularly in his critique of Pope Francis.

    The humanitarian version of compassion is, Mahoney said, motivated by a desire to be nice to other people and understand their perspectives. While these are admirable goals, this compassion is clearly different from the biblical concept of divine mercy. “Compassion without a rooting in principle and a call to a change in behavior can lead to an abandonment of moral truth, and Christianity can become about ‘cheap grace’ way too easily,” Mahoney explained. “The modern sensibility is to identify forgiving and forgetting without a need for repentance. This also has a political dimension, and identifies Christianity with a kind of softness and relativism.”

    In a review of the book, Rémi Brague, a professor of philosophy at the University of Paris and the University of Munich, addresses this substitution of humanitarian compassion for divine mercy in writing, “Christ said: ‘Ye are the salt of the earth, love your enemies.’ The new humanitarian religion says: ‘Ye should be the sugar of the Earth, you have no enemies…’ The new idol is all the more dangerous [in] that it apes Christian charity and tries to replace it.”

    One reason the compassion of the religion of humanity is dangerous is because it emphasizes mercy but does not call for repentance, something Mahoney says Pope Francis is guilty of. “I’m not Jonathan Edwards talking about sinners in the hands of an angry God,” Mahoney told me. “I think the God of the Christian tradition is a loving God, but love is not an excuse for irresponsibility. It demands what Plato called a ‘turning of the soul,’ or what the Christian tradition calls ‘repentance.’ If one is satisfied in one’s sin, that’s not the Gospel. It has much more to do with modern hedonism.” Thus, humanitarians in the Church emphasize loving one’s neighbor, but misunderstand what Christian love entails. “Think of the two criminals on the cross with Jesus,” Mahoney said in an interview with First Things podcast. “One repents, and Jesus says, ‘This day you shall be with me in paradise.’ The other doesn’t repent, and Jesus says no such thing to him.”

    Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world, but the religion of humanity is concerned only with what is of this world. When Jesus spoke to a woman caught in adultery, he assured her that he did not condemn her, but he still instructed her to “go, and sin no more.” The religion of humanity would emphasize the lack of condemnation, but ignore the call to change. And yet, this subversion of Jesus’ message is not new, and extends even beyond the philosophers Mahoney engages. He references Pope Benedict XVI’s teachings on the temptations of Jesus. “The Devil promises Christ political power and the amelioration of the ‘social problems’ that plague humanity,” Mahoney writes. “Christianity can never be understood as a merely ‘humanitarian’ project without betraying faith in the promises of God or a true understanding of Jesus’s mission on Earth.”

    An impact of the humanitarian influence on Christianity is that it not only distorts Christ’s teaching, but corrupts the authority of churches. “The more [churches] endorse a reductive, secularist religion of humanity and pretend it’s Christianity, the less attractive authentic Christianity will be for ordinary people,” Mahoney said in the First Things interview. “It’s quite possible the Catholic church could go the way of the Church of England– not die, but become a fundamental irrelevance, and that’s a deep concern of mine, that they literally don’t know what they’re doing.”

    Mahoney examines a series of thinkers including Orestes Brownson, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Vladimir Soloviev, but readers and reviewers of “The Idol of Our Age” have paid particular attention to the chapter titled “Pope Francis’s Humanitarian Version of Catholic Social Teaching.” Mahoney refers to the Pope as “half-humanitarian” and “blind” to how “humanitarian secular religion subverts authentic Christianity.” “Of course I respect his office,” Mahoney said. “As a Catholic, I’m obliged. I think that in decisive respects he is really guilty of confusing Christianity with the religion of social justice.”

    In his book, Mahoney writes that Francis has left the Church “divided and vulnerable to an unthinking political correctness,” and critiques his opposition to capital punishment. Though Francis opposes abortion, his understanding of mercy seems to prevent him from speaking out against it when it is difficult to do so, preferring to condemn what is considered evil in leftist circles. In fact, “Pope Francis has recently said that life imprisonment is just as immoral as capital punishment,” Mahoney said. “I think that does not reflect Christian judgement. The Biblical tradition makes clear that it’s possible for human beings to reject God’s love and grace, and Hell is a real possibility, but the humanitarian logic would lead to absolute rejection of punishment.”

    Mahoney said that he has received responses ranging from those he calls ultramontanists, who refuse to criticize anything from the Vatican, to people like the writer Maureen Mullarkey. On her blog,she accused Mahoney of being too respectful toward Pope Francis, writing, “When ‘the arts of intelligence’ are applied to the actions of an office holder who distorts his office, it is reasonable–even mandatory–to withhold respect from him.”

    Nonetheless, his careful assessment of Francis’s papacy impresses many of the book’s reviewers. In a piece for National Review, David P. Deavel writes, “Among Francis’s negative critics I’ve read, Mahoney takes the pope’s official documents the most seriously, finding in his work continuity with the Catholic tradition and, even in the most controversial documents, important insights.”

    “Mahoney is no facile optimist or facile pessimist,” Deavel continues. “He’s a prophet calling us to listen with the heart, avoid the humanitarian siren song, and heed the civilizing memories of some figures, too little remembered.” “The Idol of our Age” diagnoses an important problem not only in Pope Francis’s theology, but in the Church as a whole. It is no wonder that, for those concerned with the perversion of Jesus’s message of love and divine mercy, and the effect that the religion of humanity has on the authenticity and authority of the Church, the book provides an important look, as Brague writes, into the unmasking of of the religion of humanity and “gives us a precious help for how to exorcise it.”

    Chandler Lasch is the editor of RealClearReligion.




  2. #2
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    Re: The idol of our age

    It is really the same thing that some in the church have been preaching against for generations and it has been with us from the beginning (i.e. Adam and Eve). It's humanism... or said another way, how to ease man's suffering, or improve his plight, without God or without being submissive to God. Even some missionaries go to the mission field more over concern for their fellow man than concern for God receiving the reward for His suffering.

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    Re: The idol of our age

    I think it's very important for those *within the Catholic Church* to examine the corruption of liberal and humanist philosophy. Advocacy for Man without repentance is really what liberalism is all about--the freedom to be a sinner.

    I'm not surprised the Catholic Church is turning more to the Left, adapting to the political and social realities of post-Christian civilization. It seems that there was a certain hesitancy to stand up for the Jews during the Holocaust, even though I believe there were real attempts to stop it. As Bonhoeffer called it, there is such a thing as "Cheap Grace." Bonhoeffer paid the ultimate price for standing up for what he believed, in his opposition to Hitler from within Germany.

    I really have a problem with Christians here in the US who are standing with Democrats on the Left. Yes, there are conservatives or moderates within the Democrat Party who are Christian. But the Democrat Party has now turned so far to the Left, and so far towards Europe, that their political view is virtually a social agenda advocating for corrupt lifestyles and practices. It embraces Islam, abortion, homosexuality, as well as condemns traditional Christian beliefs. Freedom to be a Christian is being discouraged in favor of a Leftwing tyranny that would punish conservative Christian viewpoints.

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    Re: The idol of our age

    It's not just the Catholic Church Randy. It's many evangelicals too. I see it a lot in the youth at a church I attended for years. There is an idea of love floating out there now that means we should just "love" people into the kingdom without ever expecting them to repent from their sin. It's astounding to me! Apparently it's far wider than I thought because now someone has written a book about it.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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    Re: The idol of our age

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Mark View Post
    It's not just the Catholic Church Randy. It's many evangelicals too. I see it a lot in the youth at a church I attended for years. There is an idea of love floating out there now that means we should just "love" people into the kingdom without ever expecting them to repent from their sin. It's astounding to me! Apparently it's far wider than I thought because now someone has written a book about it.
    I mentioned in a sermon once, "Jesus did say... now sin, NO MORE."
    Slug1--out

    ~Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,~

    ~Honestly, the pain of persecution lets you KNOW you are still alive... IN Christ!~

    ~Colossians 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.~


    ~"In the turmoil of any chaos, all it takes is that whisper that is heard like thunder over all the noise and the chaos seems to go away, focus returns and we are comforted in knowing that God has listened to our cry for help."~


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    Re: The idol of our age

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Mark View Post
    It's not just the Catholic Church Randy. It's many evangelicals too. I see it a lot in the youth at a church I attended for years. There is an idea of love floating out there now that means we should just "love" people into the kingdom without ever expecting them to repent from their sin. It's astounding to me! Apparently it's far wider than I thought because now someone has written a book about it.
    I couldn't agree more. I didn't mean to say that only Catholics need to hear this. I meant that it is important within the Catholic Church that they see what is happening within their own church! I appreciate the clarification though.

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    Re: The idol of our age

    Quote Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
    I mentioned in a sermon once, "Jesus did say... now sin, NO MORE."
    It's the point that some don't even want to mention what is and is not a sin. And I've seen cases where someone was in open sin, while claiming to be a believer, I mean obvious open rebellion, and the thinking is, we should not condemn the behavior. It is amazing to me. It is another Jesus that is being preached and believed.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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    Re: The idol of our age

    Originally Posted by Brother Mark

    It's the point that some don't even want to mention what is and is not a sin. And I've seen cases where someone was in open sin, while claiming to be a believer, I mean obvious open rebellion, and the thinking is, we should not condemn the behavior. It is amazing to me. It is another Jesus that is being preached and believed.
    What is happening is this... NO "fear" in the Lord and quenching of the Holy Spirit, so "the" Jesus whom provides one victory, is not preached.
    Slug1--out

    ~Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,~

    ~Honestly, the pain of persecution lets you KNOW you are still alive... IN Christ!~

    ~Colossians 1:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.~


    ~"In the turmoil of any chaos, all it takes is that whisper that is heard like thunder over all the noise and the chaos seems to go away, focus returns and we are comforted in knowing that God has listened to our cry for help."~


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    Re: The idol of our age

    Quote Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
    What is happening is this... NO "fear" in the Lord and quenching of the Holy Spirit, so "the" Jesus whom provides one victory, is not preached.
    It is true. No fear of God is rampant today. I am amazed. Stunned. Each time I see it, I am simply amazed. It is humanism through and through where the 2nd greatest commandment has replaced the 1st. God exists for humanity's needs and salvation is what is taught.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

  10. #10

    Re: The idol of our age

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Mark View Post
    It is really the same thing that some in the church have been preaching against for generations and it has been with us from the beginning (i.e. Adam and Eve). It's humanism... or said another way, how to ease man's suffering, or improve his plight, without God or without being submissive to God. Even some missionaries go to the mission field more over concern for their fellow man than concern for God receiving the reward for His suffering.
    Thanks for posting the article, Mark. It is eye opening for me and hopefully other people who read it will be enlightened as well. Not only has this approach been harmful to the Church, but would you say that we are sort of playing god by reducing people's suffering, when God, in fact, has allowed the suffering for the person's benefit? It reminds of the saying, "God is more concerned about our character, then our comfort". A different aspect to the issue.

    Jesus came to heal the sinner but if the sinner doesn't know the sin is bad - or at least confronted of it, how can he be healed...or does that even make sense?

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    Re: The idol of our age

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidC View Post
    Thanks for posting the article, Mark. It is eye opening for me and hopefully other people who read it will be enlightened as well. Not only has this approach been harmful to the Church, but would you say that we are sort of playing god by reducing people's suffering, when God, in fact, has allowed the suffering for the person's benefit? It reminds of the saying, "God is more concerned about our character, then our comfort". A different aspect to the issue.
    it is a good thing for the church to try and alleviate suffering and to bring the gospel with her when she does. However, when the church's primary motive is centered in humanity rather than the Lord, she has become a harlot. That is what happened with Israel towards then end of the OT. The minor prophets are full of imagery about it. She becomes more consumed with her own happiness than with the Lord and her calling.

    Jesus came to heal the sinner but if the sinner doesn't know the sin is bad - or at least confronted of it, how can he be healed...or does that even make sense?
    Yea, I don't get the whole "don't preach against sin" mindset that is becoming prevailent today. The great awakening began with a message called "Sinners in the hands of an angry God". He preached the judgment to come. Some are OK with that, so long as we don't name sins. I don't get that either, though I am more open to it.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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    Re: The idol of our age

    As an interesting read.... read Proverbs 7, about the harlot and the niave young man with the idea of the harlot being the harlot church. She whispers to him that it is all about him and giving him what he wants. When a niave person goes into this church, it is very, very, very hard to get them out.Now therefore, listen to me, my children;

    Proverbs 7

    Pay attention to the words of my mouth:
    25 Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
    Do not stray into her paths;
    26 For she has cast down many wounded,
    And all who were slain by her were strong men.
    27 Her house is the way to [l]hell,
    Descending to the chambers of death.

    This is talking about a harlot church, IMO. Most men in the church do not go to harlots on the street. But this warning is about how strong men were slain by this harlot.
    Matt 9:13
    13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
    NASU

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