Today there is an increasingly visible divide that runs through the fellowship of the remaining conservative denominations within the United States. The clash between these factions stands to be the defining struggle in the American Church of this decade.
On one side are the Ideological Progressives: men who are dispensationalists when it comes to the moral order. In our time, these hail the 20th Century postwar consensus, founded on the Enlightenment priors of previous eras, as the latest iteration of the social teachings of the true Christian faith. Progressives are easily recognized according to certain telltale signs. With no hint of irony or self-awareness, they:
- Promote female careerism and leadership as unequivocal and God-pleasing goods
- Are staunch critics of certain passé models of slavery, while defending and profiting from novel, modernized models backed by usury
- Are fierce advocates of the Civil Rights movement, from women’s suffrage to racial justice up to and including sodomy rights (though not all accept every wave)
- Are accepting — and often encouraging — of ethnic multiculturalism/multinationalism and religious pluralism under the banners of “tolerance” and “loving like God loves”
- Subscribe unconditionally to the founding myths of the postwar global order, such as those which justify ethnic nationalism for certain groups while simultaneously (and conveniently) making it verboten for members of other groups to even speak on their own behalf
- Largely believe the promises of medical progressivism and cast themselves on its mercy, on the basis of the signs and wonders of its sorcerers, such as their ability to suspend a woman’s reproductive cycle with a pill
- Hiss and spit at the idea of a man ending the life of the mugger assaulting his wife and children, while simultaneously hoisting aloft war trophies from the latest regime-sponsored conflict in Eastasia
On the other side are the Traditionalists: men with the sense that the doctrines of the United Nations are not actually in service to Jesus Christ. Men with the sense that previous generations of Christians were acting in faith when they built and maintained “Chesterton’s Fences”, which modern theological zoning committees tear down and condemn as nonsensical idolatry. These men fall on a spectrum of awareness, from apprehension to conviction, but all suffer the enmity of the Progressives.
In our current situation, and largely due to media programming, most members of a typical church body align with Progressive ideals. Individual men may do so wittingly or unwittingly, (which is an important consideration, as we shall see), yet the fact that this is broadly true has implications for the Traditionally minded. Namely, that the Progressives receive wide approbation when they trumpet their moral ideals, from within and without the Church. For Traditionalists to do so would render them untouchables, again within and without the Church.
Therefore, in public, Traditionalists are generally circumspect about their opinions. In private, they may express themselves more openly, yet this creates a state of stress as they contemplate what their fate would be if they should be exposed to figures essential to their lives and livelihoods. For laity, this might take the form of their company’s HR department, or certain family, friends, and business associates. For clergy, this list expands to those in their congregation, or to their ecclesiastical supervisors in a chain of hierarchy.
Traditionalists, therefore, have a vested — and urgent — interest in establishing a more stable social footing, when possible. If a man is exposed as against the Progressive Spirit of the Age (i.e. against female careerism, ethnic multiculturalism, or any other tenet in the above list) and loses all, who shall receive him into his dwelling? Such a man’s life hangs on the answer to this question. It is for this reason important for Traditionalists to righteously make friends for themselves, even among their Progressive peers.
In two ways.
In the first place, such a man must be of good character. He is already lawless according to Progressive moral dictums, but for him to be lawless according to God’s Divine standard means that not even otherwise sympathetic Traditionalists will receive him. On the other hand, a man who is upright according to the will of God — who does not cheat, who does not steal, who does not deal in falsehoods, who is self controlled — will find respect even in the hearts of Progressives who otherwise despise him.
This respectability is also required, as a social currency, for one to invest into the second way of making sympathetic friends: changing Progressive minds.
This is not the sort of changing of minds where the former Progressive becomes a dyed-in-the-wool Traditionalist. No rapid and complete ideological conversion is in view. Rather, all that is necessary is for the ideological monopoly of the modern paradigm to be broken — particularly in such a way that allows it to be questioned without being treated with shock and dismay befitting the crime of blasphemy.
A brief digression is helpful here.
In the recent past, creating cohorts of unwitting Ideological Progressives was a relatively simple project. With the advent of broadcast mass media (radio, television) it became easy to standardize thoughts, feelings, and behaviors across the land on scales that were previously unthinkable. As the generations of children which followed began to be socialized by electronically conveyed voices as much as (or more than) their local community, regional idiosyncrasies such as accents waned and, in some cases, disappeared. Replaced by speech patterns modeled after those that were broadcast into the home.
In the same way, social mores were taken captive to an emergent norm. Thought patterns in the human mind are highly regulated by the perceptions of what is axiomatic versus what is up for debate. “What everyone knows to be true” is held in a different regard than “what reasonable people disagree on”. With broadcast technologies, the ideologies of a small coastal set begin to seem universal when they are voiced by such a seemingly wide range of individuals as broadcast programming portrays. If the Flintstones and the Jetsons, with their vastly different eras, experiences, and lifestyles can agree on a common ideology, then by all appearances the ideology is universal, or at least ought to be.
Over the years, “what everyone knows to be true” has in many cases been coaxed into existence by mass media. When most people spend hours a day in their parlor with their pixel-rendered “family” (in tones of Fahrenheit 451), they adopt their ideology. They can hardly help it. They then congregate with real life friends and family who have also been shaped by the same ideology, and within a generation or two what was previously up for debate is entrenched as axiomatic. And to question or debate what is axiomatic is effectively blasphemous, to the ideologue.
As reflection on the above should make obvious, the generation known as “Boomers” have been the most propagandized generation in history. They matured during the heyday of post war programming, yet were middle aged before the internet and its widespread use rendered everything up for debate. Therefore they are the most recalcitrant in their rote declaration of moral absolutes like “who wouldn’t want their daughters to go to university?” and absolute and unshakable endorsement of any new vaccine recommended by their doctor.
Thus we return to the second strategy for modern thought criminals: strategically picking away at the foundations which render certain matters axiomatic in the minds of the key Ideological Progressives in your life.
Fr. David Ramirez’s keynote lecture from the 2020 Bugenhagen Conference, Racism and the Church: Overcoming the Idolatry of Babel, is a case study on exactly how this should be done. Note that I don’t know if Fr. Ramirez intended to create such a case study, and I don’t mean by recommending his example to signify where he falls on any of the above issues — for the simple fact that I do not know since I have not asked him. Rather, I mean that a method can be derived from his approach, regardless of his intent, which is sound and efficacious.
Rather than attacking the modern idea of racial functional egalitarianism head on, he simply questions whether there are any two things alike, whether individually or grouped, or whether all things have definable and identifiable differences. With that established, questions about the previously iron-clad consensus on universal racial interchangeability suddenly become allowable again. Disagreements about the matter, while they may still be strong, can at least now be viewed as in good faith once more.
And this is the exact point. If a pastor who denies the identification of Progressive Ideology with Christianity is exposed to his denomination at-large as critical of, say, female careerism, what happens next? If he is exposed as believing that Europeans (Whites) have a right to their homelands, just as much as Asians, Africans, or Jews, what happens next? If he is exposed as believing that old forms of slavery can be benevolent institutions, what happens next?
If such a pastor has a congregation that is, through his shrinking back from or lack of skill at catechesis, still in the throes of Ideological Progressivism, then he is likely to be dealt with severely by his ecclesiastical superiors in the modern Church, with no backing from his flock.
However, if such a pastor has successfully called into question modernist doctrines — not necessarily directly, but in the fashion of Fr. Ramirez — and has good rapport with his congregants, then he has much less to fear. A man of good character, well known for his uprightness, will find support from his sheep on that day. A man who has created enough of an aperture in his people’s thinking that they are not shocked by the revelation of his viewpoint, even if they are not ready to fully embrace it, will be well placed to make an appeal to their reason and understanding.
As the ministerial machines dial their sights on dissident pastors — and while there is still a question as to what end — the task of gently catechizing the Ideological Progressives amongst the laity, and finding the supportive Traditionalist dissidents betwixt them, has never been more urgent. If and when the hammer drops, it is these sympathetic laity within the local congregation, not ecclesiastical supervisors, not even a digital network of “based” friends, who will be in a position to render hospitality and aid.
Cultivate these relationships as a crucial matter, and be apt to teach, as befits your calling.
And conversely, what was axiomatic — the existence of the Creator God — is now up for debate. ↑