…27 At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
…36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. (1Kings 18)
I don’t know what the Greek word is for what I feel when I read this, but the German word is definitely Schadenfreude. Here’s what it tells me: It’s high time that we started mocking the progressive gods, especially when they’re sitting on the dunny.
So there is Elijah in 1Kings 18, God’s holy prophet, weaving and bobbing to keep his head as the progressive Baal narrative led by Jezebel sweeps all before it in Jerusalem. It looks like YAHWEH is finished. Get on the right side of history Elijah, or you are history.
So when Elijah gets the chance he doesn’t simply and soberly mention that Baal is impotent; he suggests he might be incontinent! Elijah has the confidence in YAHWEH’s power not only to call out the false gods but to mock them as he does so.
What we have experienced in 2016 in the West is the fall (momentary) and mockery of the false progressive gods. It’s Schadenfreude to the left, right and centre, everywhere in the West. Brexit and Trump were a stake in the heart, or at least a hump in the road, to the utopian future of the liberal framework; a framework marinaded in the new sexuality, extreme individualism and a fierce, confident determination to shut down dialogue, and shower opprobrium on dissenters.
And a good thing too. As Doug Wilson reminded us recently, every nation is a theocracy, it’s simply that not all nations name their gods. How do you tell which gods a nation clings to? Topple them over and watch people yell. And boy have some people being doing some yelling!
The time has certainly come to mock the false gods of progressivism. And we’ve got permission to do that from that most progressive of organs The New York Times. In a recent NYT article The Crisis For Liberalism Catholic writer/blogger Ross Douthat put it baldly and incisively:
Unfortunately the values of “Imagine” are simply not sufficient to the needs of human life. People have a desire for solidarity that cosmopolitanism does not satisfy, immaterial interests that redistribution cannot meet, a yearning for the sacred that secularism cannot answer.
The secularist in this setting has never heard of Charles Taylor, or Augustine, or …or….the list is endless. But hey, when you live in the centre of the universe, New York, and your primary news source is that universe’s Bible, then you’re at risk of that much talked about echo chamber. That is until fire stubbornly refuses to fall from heaven, and there’s a hairy weird prophet standing in front of you laughing.
in the meantime Christians have been hearing so-so sermons for years pointing out how Lennon’s Imagine’s lyrics are simply misty eyed nonsense that not only won’t end tyranny, but will in fact advance it.
Not that this is a chance for conservatives to crow. Secular conservatism is a national god too, given as it is to its own brand of individualism, and indifferent pragmatism towards money and privilege. I counsel against Christians who are politically conservative to simply throw their lot in with the new regimes, because as we know they are not on God’s side, nor are they the hope of God’s people.
Yet the progressive gods must be mocked. They must be, and hard, especially as their stated aim was to knock over the Christian framework that has given them so much of what they have. Yet they moved so quickly from the edge of the culture to the centre of the culture, never realising that such a movement invites mockery. They did not realise that taboos muscle up over time.
That’s why their constant battering of Christianity’s moral taboos yielded less results than they’d hoped, and why their own taboos are now so exposed, so feeble and so unable to stand on their own two feet without constant political fussing and legal fluffing. Progressivism’s gods moved so quickly to the centre, but, like a one-year runner attempting a marathon, were not muscled up sufficiently to withstand the body blow of bedrock truths about human nature and why we have been doing what we’ve been doing for thousands of years. Take a bow natural law.
Progressivism’s primary problem is that it doesn’t understand how history works. Not much point telling people to get on the right side of what you don’t understand. Why it just seemed like yesterday that Andre Serrano’s artwork Piss Christ was being vandalised by reactionary Christians and protected by revolutionary secularists. Now those self-same revolutionaries are the reactionaries, stunned that anyone would mock and sneer at their newly constructed gods. Sorry folks, toilet humour just won’t go away, and your gods are not immune from it.
The old comedians got a belly laugh out of mocking the inconsistencies of the church and Jesus and heterosexual sex. But is there anything funnier than a world in which Yr 2 children are being taught gender studies, while senior executives at Price Waterhouse Coopers in Australia are being offered counselling because Donald Trump became President of the USA? Funny of course, except that it’s deadly serious, deadly destructive and is social sulphuric acid.
Of course the Christian response to the fall of the false progressive gods is not to look back, or to look forward, but to look up. The answer is, ultimately, not to be found in a kingdom we create, whether conservative or progressive, but in the one whose fire can fall from heaven – and the one who can turn hearts back to himself!
The false gods of Israel were the false gods of the church not simply the nation. And that’s perhaps where our first theological mockery must be pointed. The same progressive sulphuric acid that is eating at the culture has infected the church. We need to start the holy mockery of a false gospel that simply apes the culture, propagated as it is by a cringe-worthy “me-tooism”, and a failure of nerve. And that’s a call for older, stronger Christian people to back up their younger Christian brothers and sisters who are being assailed and assaulted from every direction by post-gospel church leaders. It’s time to take a hit for the younger team people.
The best way to do this is to fearlessly rebuilt the broken altar of God’s holy people; to constantly proclaim and model to the world that we are not a conservative people in fear of a progressive future, but rather eschatological people in hope of a promised future. And to do so not simply mocking the old gods, but finding delight in the eternally new God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what needs to fill the vacuum being left by the demise of the old pagan, progressive gods, and the consistent failure of the conservative gods to seal the deal.
For despite all of the humour at seeing the progressive gods mocked, here’s what’s really sad: progressives and conservatives alike will miss out on the most amazing future of all should they settle for the gods of the nations that promise much but in the end deliver nothing. And that’s no laughing matter.