Mars Hill audio is an audio magazine that just celebrated the publication of its 100th edition, and I commend it to you. I listen to it faithfully, and the interviews with numerous authors are really informative, and it is one of my main sources for tips on valuable books to check out. So go ye, and subscribe. But if you scroll down to the end of this post you will see a short video clip from Monty Pyton’s Holy Grail. How will I get from here to there?
I was listening to one of the interviews recently, one with a sociologist who had done some in-depth research with the “demographic” of emerging adulthood — the 20’s. He commmented that not only did they have trouble finding many young people in this group who believed in the objectivity of external reality, they had trouble finding people who could even comprehend that point of view. That by itself is unsettling and frightening, but it got me thinking (off on my own), and the participants in the interview bear no responsibility whatever for the subsequent thinks I have thunk. In other words, this is not what they were talking about. It is what I came to think about later because of what they were talking about.
It is the problem of false catechesis. Sociologists scatter across the landscape, and they discover how everyone is trained to answer. Asking someone in this age group where they derive their core values is like approaching a 10-year-old Scottish boy in 1710, and asking him, “What is the chief end of man?” But because we have all been trained in bedrock democratic assumptions, when we get these answers back, we tend to believe them, taking them at face value.
And I would suggest that there are two problems in evidence here. The first is obvious — when someone declares that when it comes to reality, each person rolls his own; when that person says that realities are individually constructed; and when that person says there is no objective truth, goodness, or beauty. The second problem is when we believe them.
The Bible not only teaches that the world is the way that God made it, and not the way we would like it to be, but the Bible also teaches that every man actually knows this, and that no man has an excuse for denying it. The world the way God made it includes the fact that sinners in that world take it upon themselves to deny the obvious, and have a vested interest in pretending that this is not what they did.
So it is not the job of the evangelist to step into that world of delusion, and try to find some sort of purchase there that will enable him to walk someone back out of that delusion. It is the job of the evangelist to declare, with authority, the reality of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. When unbelievers blow smoke, it is not our task to try to weave something out of that smoke. It is our task to set up a big industrial-sized fan to blow it all away.
An important part of this is preaching the doctrine of damnation. If I may put it this way, Hell may be defined as the existential state in which a self-constructed reality would be most in demand and would be, at the same time, most impossible. The promise of delusion would be infinitely valuable; the inability to be deluded would be at an infinite distance. The worm does not die.
Anyway, when I was thinking about this, the Monty Python video clip came to mind. It is funny on a number of levels, but the thing I had in mind came at the very end — when the muddy peasant is reciting his “repressed” catechism.