I am going to “re-gift” a quote that I used in a post entitled: A Critique of the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ Society. I want to apply this quote in a different way, sort of. I want to draw attention to what happens when we as Christians collapse God into the fabric of our societies — and the brain matter of our psyches — when we follow a natural theology; when what apparently is becomes the all too immediate ought of what we presume should be. I am thinking still of the material covered in my last post, the one highlighting the salacious inner longings of Douglas Wilson and his son (news to me), Jared. What happens when God becomes our prostitute? When God is domesticated to the point that we can pimp him to fulfill our own wanton pleasure; can this any longer truly be the God of the Bible revealed in Jesus Christ? Can we truly call this God, Lord?! This is what I see funding the kind of theology of dominance (or dominion, as Cal has pointed out) that would allow Douglas (and Jared) Wilson to communicate, with impunity, what they have about the “order of creation,” and naked man as the one who has dominion over it (as its lordly, Lord). It is the same kind of natural theology that funded the third Reich, which Karl Barth so eloquently wrote against. It is to Barth’s theology and ethics that we turn now, through the bright eyes of John Webster [Webster is discussing Barth’s ethics, and developing what Barth was about in contrast to the ‘Liberal Protestant’ mode of his day — which in general mistook anthropology for theology, and thus collapsed God into nature, thus making nature and human nature synonymous with Godly nature]:
A large part of Barth’s distaste is his sense that the ethics of liberal Protestantism could not be extricated from a certain kind of cultural confidence: ‘[H]ere was … a human culture building itself up in orderly fashion in politics, economics, and science, theoretical and applied, progressing steadily along its whole front, interpreted and ennobled by art, and through its morality and religion reaching well beyond itself toward yet better days.’ The ethical question, on such an account, is no longer disruptive; it has ‘an almost perfectly obvious answer’, so that, in effect, the moral life becomes too easy, a matter of the simple task of following Jesus.
Within this ethos, Barth also discerns a moral anthropology with which he is distinctly ill-at-ease. He unearths in the received Protestant moral culture a notion of moral subjectivity (ultimately Kantian in origin), according to which ‘[t]he moral personality is the author both of the conduct with which the ethical question is concerned and of the question itself. Barth’s point is not simply that such an anthropology lacks serious consideration of human corruption, but something more complex. He is beginning to unearth the way in which this picture of human subjectivity as it were projects the moral self into a neutral space, from which it can survey the ethical question ‘from the viewpoint of spectators’. This notion Barth reads as a kind of absolutizing of the self and its reflective consciousness, which come to assume ‘the dignity of ultimateness’. And it is precisely this — the image of moral reason as a secure centre of value, omnicompetent in its judgements — that the ethical question interrogates. [John Webster, Barth’s Moral Theology: Human Action in Barth’s Thought, 35-6]
Do you see how what Barth was protesting is the same thing that we should be protesting in the kind of theology that D. and J. Wilson have been articulating, relative to sexual ethics and gender questions? Can we simply read theology off the sheets of our bed, and presume that we will end up with the Lord, Jesus Christ? The obvious response is, No! We will instead end up with the Lord of Genesis 3 (read in certain ways), man. This, I submit is the Lord that is funding Douglas Wilson’s idea of Lordness … a Lord who dominates through ‘pure nature’ that has been absolutized in ‘law-like’ form, a Lord who cannot be distinguished from Douglas Wilson’s own machinations. This is serious stuff …