Populism, Globalization, and the Christian Response: Jonathon Van Maren interviews Os Guinness

Populism, Globalization, and the Christian Response: Jonathon Van Maren interviews Os Guinness



hello everyone and welcome back to the Bridget my name is jonathan van marin and today i'm really excited that we're having somebody on I've had on once before but he's the kind of guy never get sick of talking to because his insights are so varied and so multifaceted that you can really sit down with him and present him with a series of disconnected apparently I disconnected trends and culture and he'll tie them all together with just a profoundly deep Christian worldview and that would of course be oz Guinness now a lot of you will know him because he's the author of dozens of books so I actually interviewed him last when his book Renaissance was released we discussed the responsibility of Christians to create Christian art it was a very interesting discussion a latest book in 2015 was fools talk recovering the art of Christian persuasion but because he regular he gives commentary on what's going on in the culture and I recently of course interviewed Rod Dreher on his Benedict option and a number of other people that oz Guinness had commented on I really wanted to talk with him again I'll just give you a bit of background before I introduced the conversation because his his background is really really interesting he's actually the great-great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness for Dublin brewer he was born in China during the Second World War where both of his parents were medical missionaries and he actually witnessed the climax of the Chinese Revolution in 1949 before being expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 he has his undergrad from the University of London and his DPhil and the Social Sciences from Oriel College Oxford he's written or edited more than 30 books just a few of them would be to call a time for truth long journey home a free people suicide and the global public square which is what I actually happen to be reading right now he's also close friends with men like Eric Metaxas in fact they're Metaxas actually says he borrowed the five volume the of william wilberforce biography written by his sons from oz guinness when he was writing his popular biography of Wilberforce Amazing Grace and he really has this European and English sense of depth when he talks about Christianity and culture so I asked also he'd come on the show again and and started by talking about his his most recent book and then continue on to kind of discuss the culture as it stands today and how Christians should respond and this is that conversation I wanted to start off by saying that in your latest book you call this age the age of apologetics and I know a lot of Christian apologists who are very excited by that terminology why would you call the age we're living in right now the age of apologetics well I did that because is actually a sexual secular description where we are in the age of the social media where identity and all sorts of things come on the social media I post therefore I am you can see that everyone's in the business of presenting themselves selling themselves in thought now that's really a secular comment so I'm quoting secular people in saying that correct you might also you might also say from a Christian perspective it's also the age of apologetics in the sense that first we've had an explosion of pluralism in most of our Western countries the Christian consensus has collapsed so we need to make sense of our faith through all sorts of people from all sorts of religious backgrounds and then of course with the mounting rejection of the church in the Western culture were in an ABC moment I call it anything but Christianity right you know we need to give a defense of the gospel so both on secular grounds because of the social media but far more importantly on Christian grounds because of the changing cultural context this is a magnificent age for apologetics in order for us to really figure out how to present our apologetics and how to approach the rest of the culture we really have to know why the Christian consent did collapse in the first place and of course that's a complicated question but why at least historically speaking and your view did the Christian consensus collapse more or less right across the West well one reason is inevitable the explosion of pluralization that shouldn't cause any problems the early church was born in a highly diverse pluralistic society and maintains its allegiance to the exclusiveness of Christian truth and the lordship of Christ without any compromise in fact as we know they died for it whereas with the collapse of the consensus many Christians today if gone the other extreme that i relized and as a failure of nerve and so on so that's inevitable pluralization is a fact that's just written into the advanced modern world now there all sorts of things that were not inevitable so if you look at the european church this is a generalization much of european secularity is a direct reaction to corrupt oppressive state churches now if you look at say American as opposed to Canadian Church much of the weakness of the church and the scandal of the American Church is that unlike Europe and unlike Canada the church is a huge majority in America but it's still incredibly weak compared with tiny groups like the Jews or say on the other side the gays and main reason is that the American church is weak because as well it's more shaped by the American culture than it is by the gospel so we're going to look in at particular reasons some we can't change like pluralization and we should welcome some we have to ask the load forgiveness for and move at again you know with a new spirit in our time looking at the contrast between the European Church which you've written a no Peter Hitchens has written us as well and his book the rage against God I began to collapse after the loss of faithful in the first world war but in the United States the church was was much more of a majority and much more of a grassroots thing where this overt hostility of the culture come from which is the reason the laws of nerve that you mentioned that your ABC rule I just heard them a radio this morning an interview with with a very very well known yeah interviewer for the national broadcaster here berating a feminist for daring to say that transgender people might not be welcome for example in her at her sexual assault center this is that that simple and this this overt hostility that's taken people that never used to care about these issues and put them really firmly on one side or another of the culture war where does that come from well I think there's two reasons above all in Europe as I said it's a direct reaction to corrupt oppressive state churches you see it supremely in the ECJ of France which of course touches Canada in some ways but you know the French cry of the radicals coming from deidre we want to strangle the last king with the of the last priests little gory but you get the point right the French Revolution through of both church and state and the United States never had anything like that because it is establishment and faith religion in general flourish not despite disestablishment but because of it it was voluntary based on the dictates of conscience but the excesses and the sub Christian practices of the religious Rite have created a backlash that's one factor the other fact is quite simple if you look at the roots say of sexual revolution political correctness and so on they actually go all the way back to the French Revolution which was animated by extreme hostility to religion and you can see say cows ever sign up or bill home right people like that who is the architect of the word the sexual revolution back in 1920s they openly admit that the final obstacle to their success is the church in Europe the Catholic Church as they saw it in America the umbilicals and the Catholics so Christians are the obstacles of their success so animosity towards religion is a founding article of to the left what do you think the what sort of mistakes did the Christian Right make because you've been part of this discussion but I know first things has published quite a few articles about this and during the rise of Donald Trump I know that Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention has really been discussing how Christians need to take a different approach how would you delineate the difference between the successes and the failures of the Christian Right especially during the 90s Clinton era but I thought Russell Moore was dead wrong but we can come back to right and I've been a strong critic of the religious right and it successes at two points one is what's called politicization that was trusting politics to do more than politics can do you know in a democracy and certainly our Western countries we should all be politically engaged no question but politicization forgets the old maxim that the first thing to say about politics is the politics is not the first thing right you know what it is downstream from so much of culture education entertainment family life and so on and the religious right forgot that and pretended if he got people in power our people in quotes all would be well it wasn't but the second problem is even worse than that they tried to do the Lord's work and it really was trying to do that but to use the old term they did the Lord's work in the world's way so for example our Lord calls us to love our enemies that's very radical challenge someone like William Wilberforce great social reformer and evangelical truly loved his enemies and they attacked him physically as well as in every other way but he loved them and finally won through to them whereas the religious right demonized stereotyped treated his enemies disgustingly you know you see bumper stickers like hate his dollar family value and so on which which grew out of that so there were real problems on the religious right having said that I thought Russell Roe was dead wrong and it's been right there by some of his fellow Southern Baptists and other Baptists he was wrong in the sense in he blamed the 81% of evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump you know for they're giving into idolatry and all sorts of things others the fact is they didn't vote for the one Muslim didn't vote for Trump they voted against Hillary and they progressive left that she represented now I actually understand that and fully agree with it in other words if the Democrats had got in with all of who represented after eight years of Obama that would have mean the American culture was irreversibly set in concrete short of a massive revival from the Lord so I think they were voting against the left rather than for Trump and very few people I don't know have a great faith in in the Donald himself he's kind of gods wrecking ball who stopped the country in his tracks and gives America chance to rethink all right it's interesting in your answer to the question of why that hostility came about Mike might be the answer to this question because one of the things a lot of people I know are brainstorming is how do you reach the culture with the truth of all Christianity in a culture where most of the language we use in the name Christianity itself triggers such ire and and you hit on something there when you pointed out that you know the demeanor of people like William Wilberforce you know where they managed to tackle extraordinarily controversial issues while still remaining in in a very Christian demeanor but how how does one go about effectively transmitting Christian apologetics when most people view Christianity as a hateful religion based on for example it's sexual orthodoxy are we going to go back to the practice of the early church many people read a book I say Rodney stocks the rise of Christianity what was the final answer to all the bigotry and hatred Christians were atheists and they drank the blood of children and all the sort of stuff wild rumors going around about the early church but what principally broke through was the way they live you know they're caring for their neighbors for the sick for the poor things like as low Caesar is great cities of compassion you know that that was what what principally broke people through that you simply couldn't deny and again in the game the cry went up greatest the god of the Christians so for example and in the plague of Garland 169 and most doctors just got out of town the best thing to do was put your sneakers on and run for it because there's no medicine that could help but the Christians stayed and they cared for the sick and the poor and some of them died too many thum ironically had developed antibodies and were better able to survive the next plague so it was in many many different areas treatment of women the poor and so on it was Christian behavior the practice of the communities and we're going to demonstrate that again today do you think that that that exact approach might be able to resonate more simply due to the fact that the sexual revolutions report car has come in and only somebody truly bunkered down in a state of denial can call what has taken place progress right so I work with several pro-life organizations as well and what pro-life activists who are on the ground discussing things with people see is that teenagers for example are very very open to the idea that they've been lied to because they know that everything is supposed to be better and more progressive and more inclusive but they're not happy alright you don't have to tell a fourteen-year-old has had two abortions that something has gone terribly wrong and maybe nobody's saying anything's wrong but they know that there is and and of course the the culture of divorce and the generation that has been preceded from that they've been robbed of a lot of very very simple things that a very short time ago most people the majority of people enjoyed so what we confront with on a cultural level as an extremely happy unhappy and angry generation who's being told everything's getting better but they don't feel it do you think that presents an opportunity next Roden on its own know that that's that's at one level that is the strongest answer knows the sexual revolution what is the identity confusion or the social breakdown of families and all that sort of stuff it is breeding a harvest of dissatisfaction and chaos and lostness and again we gain the incidence of loneliness and then of course tragically of suicides so that is the principle argument follow bail and certain consequences come Elijah says but if bail is God follow bail and we've got to say look you've chosen this and there are consequences and we can spell them out for you if you like now we've also got to make you began by talking about discrimination you know one of the subtleties of the sexual revolution they borrowed anti-discrimination from the civil rights movement where it had incredible moral authority and applied it to themselves so anyone who disagrees is guilty of discrimination you know that but that's a an attack too far and you looks at the Jewish people they understand very well the discrimination and discernment is a part of human speech human logic but more importantly the heart of creation so you know male and female heaven on earth God and humanity God is the Jews put it is the great discriminator he separates and he means to separate and social constructionism the so-called Battle of the binaries it's going to lead us again into intellectual chaos what you described was the more important the social and the personal chaos but really the sexual revolution is reaching the point of no return and that leads us to to a couple of things that Christians need to understand a lot of people during the Age of Trump when finally there was this discussion about populism and where populism was coming from I know a lot of people who never considered the term globalization or globalist until suddenly it was the only thing that political analysts and pundits were discussing in order to understand what was taking place so Christians really need to understand that their world was created by these modern things before they can release to see how to approach things so what in your view because I know you've both written and spoken about this is globalization and its impact on the West and Christianity what globalization is quite simply the expansion of human into connecting us to a truly global level and in many ways has been going on for a long time but in smaller ways and you think of imperialism or warmongering or the rise of international trade they were all rather smaller versions of globalization in their day but obviously of course the main carrier now is not capitalism capitalism is merely following its intend I T it's a technology and so the world is truly capable of being incredibly interconnected and that was just a simple fact we shouldn't be scared of it and I would say two things first globalization should be in the DNA of Christians right back in Genesis 12 a call of Abraham in you all the families of the earth will be blessed you have that global vision you have it in the prophets of course you have it in our Lord the Great Commission you know making disciples of all nations we of all people a Christian faith has globalization in its DNA now the trouble is though the challenge to think globally act locally you know it's rather like a Christian equivalent of Renard you both think globally act locally now as we can think and should and pray and dream globally bringing the gospel to the whole world and at the same time recognizing the sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof give us today our daily bread we all live with a little power pack of our bodies which are very limited we all live in a home in a neighborhood and I'm off this afternoon to Singapore I travel all around the world but my home is here in Washington DC and there should be an extraordinary balanced in the global and the local and the trouble of the elites is they live in their penthouse suites and they fly at 30,000 feet in their private jets and they have no sense of the local and of course religion like bodily existence and neighborhoods is local and many of the elites have an incredible disdain for the local and therefore for the bodies and that's why globalization represents at a religious dimension in new Gnosticism my in good mind infinite mind boundless especially with the new enhancements of technology coming from Silicon Valley and bodies bad and so on you see a new Gnosticism growing with globalization but we should never be afraid of a thing itself we've got to keep the balance this is interesting because the discussions about globalization seem to be steadfastly ignoring a lot of the questions that we need to be asking so here in Canada and you might have seen this but very recently there was a there was a formal debate in Toronto between Oxford historian Neil Ferguson and Fareed Zakaria of CNN and the discussion was is the International liberal order over and so you had Neil Ferguson taking these somewhat populist line and he was grasping around for how to explain this but he simply said look this this new international order as much as it might have brought us as leaving people behind those people are unhappy and essentially Fareed Zakaria pointed out that with you boiled his answer down he was saying those people were ungrateful because they didn't realize how much better of a world we had since that order had existed but the spiritual dimension never came up in the entire debate they didn't talk about the spiritual vacuum the West is actually experiencing they didn't discuss how one of the reasons that immigrants are having such an impact as big as they're arriving with robust cultural mores and they're not willing to give those up and so it's posing a large threat to sort of the the castrated tolerance and diversity language of the West they're arising in and then there's the other elephant in the room that because of abortion and contraception and imploding demographics the whole reason that you need so many immigrants in the first place is because Westerners have voluntarily decided not to create a future in terms of having children but they interesting thing about that debate is that we see the opportunity for the wrong answer to the question so you've just described the spiritual dimension of this but we see in the rise of people like marine lepen you see in the rise of people like Donald Trump and you see especially here in North America the rise of the alt-right and the alt-right is using a lot of very very familiar language they're talking about localism they're talking about tradition they're talking about nationality they're talking about healthy families they're essentially using all of the language that Rodri or uses about the Benedict option except without God and with a heavy dose of strange death no ideology mixed in there so what do you think the chances are that we're going to pick the wrong answer to these questions because we can be tempted by these other movements that that sound Christian but aren't well that's always the case people go to one extreme well the other so you take Europe the globalists love the EU however bureaucratic and however non democratic it becomes and the so-called nationalists and Patriots like marine lepen you know go the other way and you just see the extremes there whereas you know people can learn I'm a critical admirer of America but in the beginning it had a real balance in the federal and the local and that's increasingly overwhelmed in the day of globalization now when you talked about the old right remember that there's no left and the old left is actually far more capable of winning for a very simple reason that it's ideologies have captured the university world and the world of entertainment and the present media nodes in the long run the old White has no chance and the question is we her Christians who don't believe in either of the old extremes you know we've got to argue for a better way while we have the time earthly to answer to ask a final but a bit of a long question because I know you've got to get ready to fly out here when you take a look at this this current situation across the West where everybody's trying to figure it out right it seems some days reading the the commentators that everything they used to know about politics no longer applies and everybody collectively is trying to figure out what what this all means what populism means whether or not it's sustainable whether or not Trump will hang on to the presidency and improve his performance whether or not brexit was a blip and the election of Emanuel Michael indicates that it won't happen again or this is a broader trend what's your analysis of the broader situation because you seem to have the sky is falling people and the Benedict option people and then you seem to have people who are more along the lines of what you're saying by presenting the fact of the West's post-christian as at the opportunity to see the West is pre-christian well I didn't use the word Christian either but we are in an absolutely fascinating situation but the way I put it Jonathan is simply we've got to get beyond critiquing the extremes you go do that and you and I both began there well the extremes are obvious and the reason what we're talking about is globalization and nationalism and is populism but we've got to try and figure out some of the solutions to this now this is the five I'm totally against the Benedict option the benefit is and Benedict was incredible before the Reformation probably one of those powerful movements in the church prior to the Reformation but the Reformation was a direct reversal of Benedict right and you had the idea of calling an engagement of culture and the Reformation became the single strongest set of ideas that made the modern world so it went shouldn't be in the business of retreat we should be in the business of reform and the Reformation notion of simple referenda is incredibly important today but I would stress the positive you take for example what created constitutionalism many people don't realize that was the Reformation rediscovery of covenant the Constitution in America many other countries the National Secular form of the Jewish covenant and as the Reformation the recovered is the trouble is in the church we've made it theological only or girlish spiritual only whereas the Reformers made it political too and so you you look at the notion of government there's a freely chosen consent that's the origin consent of the government you have a morally binding place not a contract of self-interest and above all you have the reciprocal responsibility of all for all love your neighbors yourself you even care for the stranger and so on now if you have the roots there for what the Jews call not just either relationships of Martin Buber but we though relationships the most responsible community in air whether it's marriage the family attend ship or whole country and we gotta explore some of these things because as Christians we're the last great defenders of human dignity sorry not not with with the Jews as biblical people were the last great defenders of human dignity the last great defenders of human freedom atheist can't ground freedom were the last great defenders of equality the last great defenders of community and so on I'm going to realize it is a privilege also a great challenge but a great privilege to be the defenders the things are absolutely critical to human flourishing and the human future but we've got to get out there and there's apologists defend it and articulated sweet people of it and then Christians together in our churches and our communities practice it until they see it and see the difference it makes there's nowhere a greater difference say between covenantal relationships and the hook-up culture and where you began earlier with the teenagers feeling betrayed perhaps you write the hook-up culture is a disaster it's a direct logical consequence of various things in the sexual revolution Marquis de Sade protected this long ago you know in Keith Richard called masturbation you're making love ko as friend the Maquis decided essentially said that during the revolution in other words all that matters is the subjective self you can have 100 partners but they're only there for the self and the self is all about us and so on and you can see the loneliness and the suicides and then betrayal or a direct result and we're the alternate we have the alternative to that so we're going to have courage and move out with confidence the gates of hell I'm not going to prevail against the church well that's the perfect place that we fit thanks so much for joining us again oz great privilege thanks Jonathan I love this bye

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