In editing this blog for more succinctness, I’ve been praying for humility, that my pride in any greater knowledge than anyone else would not be my driving force but that (as I read today) “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Eph. 1:17-18). Be enlightened and informed in the truth, brothers and sisters.
Dualism is a concept that there are two distinct and opposite forces or gods in the universe and many ideas have come from it, the most recent being probably that proffered via ‘Star Wars’; the ‘Jedi’ belief in the Force, with its Dark Side. It pervades much thinking and in the course of time has invaded a lot of Christian theology. It can easily do this as we DO believe in good and evil; it hijacks this and utilizes scripture verses like “All things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28), implying that the natural order of things is that good will triumph over evil – many heresies hinge on just one verse of scripture (or as in this case, just a part of it)! We know that we live in a fallen world.
One person influenced by this was Marcion, who appeared in the 2nd century AD. He was a very religious guy, but he allowed his abhorrence of Judaisers (a sentiment first expounded by the Apostle Paul and shared by myself) to lead him into the error of rejecting the whole of the Old Testament in the belief that the Hebrew God was NOT the God of the New Testament, but a lower being or demiurge, characterized by wrath and vengeance, as opposed to our Christian loving God.Where Marcion was stupid was that in his blind hatred of all things Jewish, he failed to really read the scriptures. Had he done so, he would’ve discovered many many references in the Old Testament to the love, forgiveness and mercy of God (I shall not even bother to try to list even some; look up any concordance and see how many there are). He also should have been able to read in Paul’s epistles (the bulk of his own canon) about the wrath of God that exists and is only truly assuaged or turned away by the blood of Christ! (It’s mentioned in at least 8 of the 16 chapters of Romans alone)
The relevant part of his doctrine for us here is how he concluded that the ‘bad’ god is manifested to us through his laws and decrees, while our good God offered a new way of freedom in Christ, through His grace, living without the restrictions of the law, but by conscience and the Holy Spirit. This issue provokes heated debate, largely due to the ongoing influence of Judaisers, who are on the rise again, and consequently is far too complex to go into here. However, if, like Marcion, you have already rejected the God of the Old Testament as a false pretender to the throne of Almighty God, the Father of Jesus Christ, then his law means diddly squat to you.
What has this got to do with Thatcher?, I hear you screaming. Marcion’s ideas took hold of everyday life for him: any hint of law or regulation was a sign of the ways of that terrible god who ruled the Israelites with tyranny. The right way was one of freedom from such things, and society was to be marked by the rejection of laws, and refutation of those bent on imposing them. For him, the natural way of the universe was to allow things to find their own level and not to impose laws made by either human or god.
Fast forward to our century. Dualist ideas have been applied to experiments with the regulating of society and social systems, including the concept of the free market, where the removal or at least reduction of regulations (deregulation) governing market forces should be done to encourage the natural development of the system, which should lead to a healthier and better way economic problems are managed. Says who? The removal of regulations is good? Yeah, when you have a false dualistic view of the universe, it’s good. Does our Bible, Old or New Testament, say any such thing?
The main effect of Thatcherism on the world, largely attested on all sides, was her commitment to the free market. Not her own new idea, but she was the one who managed to make it mainstream, following a small number of experiments, from Pinochet’s Chile onwards, culminating in the disaster that is now Iraq (see “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein, for more detail). Her religious devotion to this ‘wonderful truth’ about the free market led her to such statements as “Mr. Pinochet is a good man” and “there are good elements in the Khmer Rouge” – those ‘elements’ believed in the same philosophy. I even found more stuff I didn’t know about her and Cambodia: pretty good article here.
Our current economy is run according to these ideas, and New Labour adopted the same, thus offering no current mainstream alternative. If it has been the way, the only way, we have pursued economic growth, for over 30 years, surely it is safe to say that our current mess is a direct result. Once we, as believers, realise that the application to economics of Marcion’s idea (that laws and regulations are bad), which is exactly what free market ideology is based on, are we surprised that the reign of such heretical thinking has led to this? “Thatcher never referred to Marcion!” you might argue. I don’t know if she did. Probably not. But I am convinced that the insidious thinking borne from that, all those years ago, has filtered down through various patterns of thought and philosophy, and found its modern home in what runs our banks and financial institutions today, and defines our business law. Why not extend the same to everything in society then? Nobody advocates that? Look up the ‘no turning back’ group of politicians who are ultra-Thatcherites. Mmmm, didn’t she say “there is no such thing as society” – how does that square with scripture?
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Let us not allow worldly thinking to overtake our Biblical point of view, no matter how well it is encouched in political buzzwords.
Grace be with you.