How should we respond (3/3)
Secularism, moral relativism and Islam united
Secularism, moral relativism and Islam are united on one thing: the denial of the deity of Christ. Each of these worldviews intersect with each other in strange ways. But they all start from the same position; “God cannot, will not and has not entered this world.”
Therefore, the stuff of everyday life (reasoning, economics, politics, man-made rules, subjective experience, desires and personal preferences) must be elevated to the place of ultimate criterion for truth and moral judgment.
Allah cannot enter this world but he sends a code of practice perfectly observed by one man and his followers. Muhammad’s example and teachings are elevated to the ultimate standard for humanity. Muhammad’s name is more revered than Allah’s. If we deny the deity of Christ, we inevitable elevate a mere human example, including his cultural context, to the place of God. And due to that cultural context, now we have confusion over what the example of Muhammad means and how to implement it.
God is the enemy of reason. He cannot enter into process of human reasoning without poisoning the well. Therefore, all we have is human reason and political, economic and historical processes. The state, human reason, economic or historical processes (which are all human things) compete or combine to fill the gap left by the God who cannot and should not enter into human affairs. And so, big state and small state ideologies, economics or historical processes are seen as ultimate arbiters of truth and well-being for human flourishing.
There is no meaning in nature, no truth, all is a social construct and all I have is emotional life, self-actualisation and endless choice. When the truth-made-flesh is denied, we are cut free to elevate subjectivity to the role of arbiter of truth and moral reasoning.
Competing pretenders to the throne
The denial of the deity of Christ means Europe is in the grip of competing pretenders to the throne. For Islam, it is a human, culturally-bound example. For secularism, it is human reason and political processes. For moral relativism, it is human subjectivity.
None of these worldviews argue against Jesus’ humanity. But all undermine his humanity. Where his deity is denied, his humanity falls apart because his humanity is submerged under whatever ascends to the throne of our lives. Jesus’s humanity becomes a product of his historical context, later church political and historical machinations, his own inner psychological world, or he is lowered down the ranks of Islamic prophets. He is at least dishonest, at most a social or historical construct, or reduced to an argument for Muhammad’s preeminance.
How should we respond?
We plant churches that exalt the God Man and delight in his unique office as prophet, priest and king in order to call Europeans home to truth, reconciliation and life lived under God’s word. The church stands as a testimony to the invasion of God into this world. We are the evidence of the completed work of the prophet, priest and king; Jesus the God Man. Our proclamation of him, and our waiting for him to return, in a posture of worship and service, is an announcement to the world that God has come into the world and he will come again.
The God Man is uniquely qualified to be the prophet, so his church proclaims the truth about his person and work and can interpret reality correctly in a world of confusion and relativism.
The God Man is uniquely qualified to be the high priest, so his church is a forgiving people, resting in his finished work, enjoying unity through the Spirit with the father through the priestly work of the Son.
The God Man is uniquely qualified to be the king, so his church flourishes as we live under the good rule of the gospel and are put back together to image him; the image we will display is the one who endured the cross for the joy set before him.
The secular and Islamic worlds of Europe need churches that love and exalt the God Man and his priestly, prophetic, and kingly work. That is the only antidote to the destructive idolatrous forces of false religion, subjective morality and the secular obsession with economics, reasoning and political processes.
To the Muslim we say: God can be personally known - he is not locked out of his world. Jesus is the high priest bringing God to us and reconciling us to God.
To the Secular humanist we say: God’s rule is better than the myth of autonomous human self-rule. God rules his world through Christ the King. He rules through his gospel, he is not subject to human process but rules over them.
To the Relativist we say: there is truth. Jesus is the truth, he is the Word made flesh who reveals God the Father to us. He brings us true self-knowledge that correlates with the knowledge of God that he discloses.
Jonny Woodrow is a Faculty Member of Crosslands and Lead Pastor of The Crowded House church Loughborough.