Of Contest for the Heart and Mind of Man: Contemporary Reflections of a Growing Theologian
A classical Muslim historian, Ibn Khaldum saw history as working out of divine plan, while his Christian contemporary, Hegel saw history as God’s purpose working out man’s freedom. But ironically, the 19th Century historians saw history as working towards the progressive triumph of science. And just around the same time or probably more than two hundred years ago, a renowned sociologist is said to have written: “History is but the visible effects of invisible changes in human thoughts”.
When you meticulously reflect on those heroic claims, you cannot but wonder at the reality of the battle for the heart and mind of man. And this battle has been raging since the first human civilization until now. And somehow, the perspective of history being the working towards the progress and triumph of science is the dismal reality today in the heart and mind of man. And many have accepted and witnessed that grim reality readily and in an unprepared way. We are forced to swallow the debris of today’s cultural onslaught by the daily produced scientific minions.
St. Augustine at a time wrote about a certain good man in Rome, who attended a gladiatorial contest. When he began to see the gruesome fight which often featured mindless bloodshed, at first, he shielded his eyes from the horror. But within minutes the roaring of the crowd was irresistibly intoxicating and he found himself joining the mass in the Coloseum, shouting, and lustily cheering as swords tore open flesh upon flesh, blood flowed, and men died…
Many at times, that is exactly what we do! We fight to shield away from the daily incursions of things un-invitingly making in route to the base and the centre of our lives, but alas, we can only go so far with the easily exhaustible human moral energy. As a result, we have dulled our moral sensibilities and sensitivities to the obscene silhouettes of present day media culture.
And as the legend of the Nixon Watergate scandal, Charles Colson, puts it: “We sit mesmerized in front of our TVS, unable to turn the sets off, so we turn our minds off instead”. How? We loose the touch of the transcendent upon our conscience, drowned away by the immensity of today’s media culture, we become drowsy to anything vertical. And the society gets the repercussions: rape, fraud, serial killings and the rest.
For years, the media has dutifully laboured to systematically exclude the Christian worldview. Many media houses, especially, in the Western world have a policy of not airing any God-related programme, not because the owners are assistant devils themselves, but it is all part of the designed plot, whether or not they are aware of it. And that is why we have reasonable ‘cultures’ crumbling before us, while many have attempted announcing the dead or end of Christendom.
So, who speaks for God contra—mundum (against the world) to assert His Lordship over this media age? While the search for the speakers continue, the Church has got to realise what Donald Bloesch said:
“Before the Church can make an impact on the culture, it must break with the idolatries and misconceptions that dominate the culture… For where secularism so often dons the guise of religiosity, the primary danger is not persecution by the culture but seduction”.
Seduction and not persecution is the greatest threat to the Church of any generation, and if you ask me, the seduction of our time is the worst, and much of the Church has been swallowed by it, while we balance in the feelings of emotionalism as the Church of power.
But then, when we find the true speakers, may they be those who will be able to echo and their voices cut through the temper of the age and time with felt gravity like the Protestant Martin Luther:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are attacking at the moment, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all battlefields besides, is mere flight and disgrace if the soldiers flinches at that point”.
Our calling as Christians, is to assert the Lordship of Christ, wherever the world has denied Him that, and confess Him before His enemies. I pray I truly stand in my place as you stand in yours!