Tearing Down the Temple

Reactions to reading the book of Romans

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curator, Christian Quotation of the Day

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Romans 1:18-24. The Unholy City—I. The City

The marketing people have many names for it: the Global Village, the Shrinking Universe, the Small World, the Electronic Marketplace, etc. They all amount to the same thing: technology and the appetites of society have linked the world together in ways unimagined a few decades ago. It is the gift, not of visionaries or master architects, but of engineers and businessmen, working for a living, each trying to exploit his opportunities to best advantage, “as God gives him to see that advantage.” I go to work each day to build a little piece of a future of which I see nothing, know nothing, and can say nothing save, “Let it be,” whatever “it” is.

What “it” is, is a city, the one City. It stretches across the planet, engulfs the physical cities, and daily extends its borders. The City is no respecter of cultures, languages, politics, economics, morals, or religion, because it consumes them all. One is easily fooled into thinking these attributes retain their identity and simply enjoy greater scope due to the freedom of information exchange: there is room for all. There may be room for all, but the City reduces them all to components of itself.

The City’s life-blood circulates in vessels of metal and glass and through the air. The Internet, that vast network of computers communicating with one another, is itself a manifestation of the City, a result of the City’s need to interconnect its citizens. But the City is far larger than the Internet, and its prince has been around far longer. Because the Internet is such a porous and friction-free medium, it is the new favorite vehicle for the City’s self-expression, and hence also its expansion.

Need a culture? Look up “culture” on Yahoo, and you will find a thousand entries, which lead to a thousand thousand more, which lead to, well, all the choices in the world. Need a language? Sorry, English is it, the international language of technology, but the rest will be supported—eventually. Need some politics? Got lots of that, every flavor in the book, and some that don’t belong in any book. We have economics in theory, policy, action, and practice; every kind of moral system; religions old and just recently thought up. And we have room for every variety of these things yet to be discovered or developed.

What we do not have is a guiding principle.



Blogger still seeking said...

Thank you for your superbly enlightening and rather chilling exposition.I just spent the past hour reading your entire blog.
I am a teacher in Singapore and your thoughts on cookie-cutter education accurately reflects the state of education in our ultra-efficient state.
Having presented your views on the pervasiveness of the City, I would like to know your views on how a Christian can be in the world and yet not of the world.
Also, I would like to thank you for cqod. The quotes have given much food for thought. God bless you for your good work, and may the Truth, Way and Life shine forth from the words of His true prophets.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Robert McAnally Adams said...

That is the trick, isn't it--to be in the world but not of it. Put simply, we cannot do that in our own strength. There is no way for us fallen creatures to avoid the contamination that comes with living in the world. "With men, this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible." Matt. 19:26

To be "in the world but not of it" is not a goal or an admonition but an existing condition for a believer. Jesus affrimed to the Father (John 17:16) that His followers were "not of the world." He challenges us to recognize that this is the true state of things--that being "not of the world" explains a lot about our daily experiences, the disconnect we feel from the mainstream of society, the variance we have with those around us, the sense that we are sojourners, not citizens.

Jesus was not gentle with the architects of the society He lived in. The Pharisees are long dead but their spirit is not. To stand for what is right, against what is wrong, is only part of the Christian's life, but it is an important part, not to be missed. Only the Spirit can tell us when to stand and when to submit. Cultivate sensitivity to the Spirit's impulses through prayer, and the answers will come.

7:50 AM  

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