Christians are called to be “in this world” yet “not of this world”. That is what Jesus prayed the fateful night before his execution. And yet, Christians have been tempted by some mysterious forces to be more “of this world,” but not really “in this world.” One of these forces must have been liberalism.
The basic idea of liberalism is quite Christian: Liberty, liberalis, freedom. Free from arbitrariness, power and dictatorship. Do what you want, as long as you do not hurt your neighbor. Too good to be true. Almost better than the gospel itself. Who needs still theology and heaven?
Therefore, we failed to see that liberalism – after all a pretty European invention but soon exported to the States – can only work in close interaction with church and faith. For the freedom to do or to live however you fancy works only as long as everyone follows a commonly agreed, strong ethical code. It requires responsibility, consideration and, above all, the maturity and humility to be able to relinquish, to step back and give way in favor of one’s neighbor. All this was preached Sunday by Sunday from hundrets of thousands of pulpits in Europe.
As soon as we detach ourselves from that ethical code, liberalism reveals the true grotesque face of the fallen individual: ego, selfishness, self-love. That is exactly what happened: in its obsessive search for ever new “liberations”, liberalism eventually emancipated itself in a defiant way from its own mother, the Church. Like an unconvincible teenager liberalism is now drugging itself to death – after all he’s liberalism and can do whatever he (or she?!) wants to. One of the latest phenomenas of this process are the distinctive twins in spirit and intellect Johnson and Trump. They are not only a fascinating symptom of this rebellious type of liberalism, they are also forerunners of an age without liberalism, and therefore a preview to a world without the set of values that have made our societies so strong. Perhaps it is no coincidence that liberalism begins to rot just where it was born and raised – in the two oldest democracies of the West.
Freedom is a beautiful thread in the fabric of ethics, but one should never pull it out because nobody knows what will happen. It could turn to our hangman’s noose.Martin Lönnebo
Christians shouldn’t be fooled. Liberalism must not be confused with the gospel, even if we actually prefer to live exactly like “liberalists” – especially between the lines. Furthermore, “freedom to do whatever I want!” is not really stunning good news anymore. We’re all pretty much used to it. The freedom to do what I do not want is, however, the manifesto of the time to come: love, fasting, renunciation, a simple life, simple hospitality, contemplation, slowness, vision, hope, responsibility, downsizing, courage and the cup of suffering. All these simple things that challenge our ego are becoming more important than ever before in order to build up a healthy counter balance to a derailed liberalism. And let’s not forget: These values and practices have always characterized Jesus’ body and life – the one we love to call “our Lord“. So: If we really want to be back in the world but not of the world, we need to go back there.
Do we want that?!