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the idol of our age

The Christian ideals of love and charity are being distorted. Daniel Mahoney, author of The Idol of Our Age, writes, “There’s an increasing conflation of Christian teaching with a humanitarian political agenda,” that’s reducing Christianity into just another instrument in the social justice orchestra. This conflation depends upon a “deeply problematic interpretation of the Gospels.”

Mr Mahoney’s book is resonating with diverse Christ-followers—Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Charismatics and believers in-between.
Humanitarian love and compassion is strikingly different than Christian. The humanitarian version of compassion is motivated by a desire to be nice to other people, and to understand and respect their perspectives. This is admirable. However, our modern sensibility is to pursue forgiving and forgetting, without repentance. That is denial.

Love and compassion in the Bible is rooted in mercy which calls people to repentance and to changed behavior.

According to Remi Brague, professor of philosophy at University of Paris and at the University of Munich, “Christ said: ‘You are the salt of the earth. Love your enemies.’ The new humanitarian religion claims, ‘You should be the sugar of the earth, and should have no enemies.’”

The new humanitarian religion seeks to improve on Christian charity. But granting mercy where there is no repentance can be dangerous. Rather like welcoming predators among the sheep, and then demanding the sheep agree to the arrangement.

The God of the Bible is a loving, merciful God—anxious to forgive. But He’s not irresponsible. He demands repentance, what Plato called a “turning of the soul.” He insists upon justice. Mr Mahoney writes that individuals satisfied in their sin, comfortable with their brokenness are hedonists.

The new humanitarians minimize the cost of authentic love. Think of the two criminals crucified with Jesus. To the one who repents, Jesus said, “This day you shall be with me in paradise.” To the criminal who didn’t repent, Jesus said nothing.

Jesus assured the woman caught in the act of adultery that He did not condemn her. But His command to her was “Go and sin no more”—cease providing what the male hierarchal system demanded of her. The new humanity wouldn’t command that she change; it would champion her victimhood. That is a gross subversion of Jesus’ message.

The Bible makes clear that humans can reject God’s love and mercy, and that Hell is a possibility. The new humanitarian logic rejects all punishment, including divine punishment.
The Idol of Our Age identifies how Jesus’ message of love and mercy has been warped, and the damage that distortion inflicts. It also offers help to those who seek the Kingdom of Heaven. ~

Dan Nygaard