“Who is blind but My servant …”
God’s Dealings with the Cultural West
Reimagining It’s Future as God’s Servant to Nations
Who is blind but My servant,
Or so deaf as My messenger whom I send?
Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me,
Or so blind as the servant of the LORD?
With ancient Israel as the prototypical model, we will explore the dynamics of God’s dealings with all humanity—both ecclesia (church) and ethne (nations). As demonstrated through the model of Israel, we will see that God’s kingdom – or government – comes to earth through covenant; that the constitution – or laws – of that government are discovered in his covenant with humanity – constituted in Adam, reconstituted in Abraham, and consummated in Christ – consisting of both stipulations (commands) and sanctions (consequences). We will demonstrate that covenant is the touchstone for all God’s dealings with humanity and the love-relational arrangement by which his government comes to nations.
Consequently, the prophets – both old covenant and new – are called to interpret the circumstances of both ecclesia and ethne through the lens of the covenant: both the called out ones (ecclesia) and the nations (ethne) experience covenant consequences— that is, the curses or blessings of the covenant (sanctions) according to their obedience to the law-word of God (stipulations); thus, the binary arrangement of both the Law AND the Prophets and thus Christ’s call – as the final prophet to Israel – to return to the Lord and covenant fidelity. Christ encapsulated this covenant when he enunciated the greatest commandment as: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength; with the second like it, to love your neighbour as yourself. These are the essential covenant stipulations; laws providing the love (agap?) dynamics by which all humankind relate to God and to one another—for humankind’s spiritual, social and economic existence.
We will then see how disobedience to the covenant plays out in idolatry as the universal and central sin of humankind, infecting both ecclesia and ethne. Essentially a problem of the heart, we will see that idolatry is expressed in human autonomy and pride, which is then rationalised intellectually, resulting in a suppression of the truth and knowledge of God. From the heart and intellectual life this then plays out in the social life of humankind. Defection from the true and living God for the gods of the nations triggers a culture-shift. We will demonstrate how human culture is essentially the expression of that culture’s gods. Changing our gods plays out in changing our belief system, our values, and our laws.
By way of application, it will be demonstrated that Europe and the West is currently suffering from cultural amnesia. Having honoured God’s covenant through her reception of the Gospel in the first several centuries, it will also be demonstrated how this flowed through into the transformation of culture—her intellectual life, values and laws. Nonetheless, through the embrace of Renaissance and Enlightenment humanism, Europe and the cultural West – despite a significant remnant – have rejected her historic obedience to the covenant. This resulted in the 20th Century social experiment with its rejection of the Christian worldview and its corollary—a suppression of the knowledge of God and his covenantal relationship with humankind; firstly through the idolatry of man – Enlightenment rationalism and more recently post-modern irrationalism – moulding both the culture and the church through epistemological constructs (how we know) that undermine the true knowledge of God and the cosmos; and, secondly through the idolatry of matter, moulding culture through teleological constructs (purpose and design) that misconstrue the universe in terms of a naturalistic closed system. On the one hand this has produced a spiritually impotent church embarrassed by the truth-claims of Jesus, and on the other a market-driven church governed by corporate-commercial values and systems. Concluding the application, we will see how the notion of divine covenant strategically contributed to Western political theory, particularly the principle of federalism, but conveniently forgotten by secular-humanism.
We will then explore one of the major covenant consequences of idolatry: we become what we worship. Just as idols of wood and stone are deaf, dumb, blind, and impotent—so too, idols of the heart and those who worship them. This underlies one of the main motifs of the prophets and of Christ in their rebuke of God’s people for idolatry—that of sensory-organ failure. Idol worshippers are rendered deaf, dumb and blind—they, in fact, become like the idol. Israel who had been called as God’s servant – to hear him and speak on his behalf – under her idolatrous defection had been rendered spiritually incompetent. In fact, God had poured out upon them a “spirit of stupor (stupidity)” as a penal judgement. As we bow to the gods of the nations – their belief-systems, values and laws – they, and we, will be proven to be spiritually and culturally worthless. To the degree the West had historically worshipped and obeyed the true God, to that degree she had prospered under the covenant blessings (Deuteronomy 28). The evangelisation and Christianisation of Europe in the first millennia, notwithstanding the flaws of the Christendom construct, resulted in an unusual degree of cultural collateral – intellectual, political, judicial, scientific and economic – relative to other cultures.
Through the covenant lens, it will be argued, we are provided a prophetically incisive interpretation of the West’s current decline, and thus also, of her hope—her reimagination and recreation through covenant relationship and God’s government in Christ. Without engaging in exceptionalism, it will be argued that through her return to the Lord and covenant obedience Europe and the cultural West are yet to complete their divine assignment. Through discerning the covenant consequences in her social and economic ills she will humble herself under God’s hand and will be realigned to the Lord Jesus Christ as ruler of the nations—to his wisdom, word and ways. She will correct the abuses of the past, particularly the Christendom construct, and fulfil her destiny as a model and teacher of nations. As the historic purveyor of the Gospel to all nations the cultural West remains strategic to the completion of God’s cosmic plan— to bringing in the “new heavens and the new earth”, the recreation of planet earth as God’s dwelling place.
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