Lent 2008: Day 15 – Dust of Death

Os Guinness, a former student of Francis Schaeffer at L’Abri, wrote one of the seminal books affecting my early Christian growth, The Dust of Death. In this challenging book, Dr. Guinness discussing the passing of Western Civilization, which at the time, 1973, was being assaulted from both the rise of technology and Eastern thought, while being torn from the inside by the advancing counter culture of the late 60’s and early 70’s.

One of his most important points, at least for me, was Chaper 6: The East, No Exit. Many want to see Judaism and early Christianity as Eastern and consider the rationalism (so called) of the West a distortion of God and Christ into legalism. Let answer that by saying there is the East and the east. While it may be legitimate to argue that the ancient culture of Judaism and subsequent early Christianity came out of an eastern cultural setting, it had long been part of the Greco-Roman world and had nothing in common with the East as known through the religious systems of Bhuddism, Hinduism, or any of the other Isisms of the East. Dr. Guiness’ warning was that Eastern religion and thought was a dead end, an inviting cul-de-sac that capture and destroyed the soul.
Judeo-Christianity was a covenantal system that argued against sin and for holiness and was based on revelation. The Greco-Roman West could understand that. That is why Christianity conquered the Empire they had built. The East, on the other hand was mired in the oneness and noneness of everything and denied the base that Moses and Jesus stood upon.

If you want the plane truth, be not concerned with right and wrong. Conflict between right and wrong is the sickness of the mind. Yun-Men, Zen Master

Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know. Lao-tse

The first denies the fall and the need for Jesus Christ at all. The second denies revelation and the need for the Scriptures, the “studying to show yourselves approved,” and the Word itself, as revealed by John in the first chapter of his Gospel.

It has been thirty-five years, almost a generation later. Has the diagnosis changed? No it hasn’t. The West is in freefall, though now not so much from the East as Dr. Guinness observed, but now from Islam. Weakened by the “Dust of Death” it has little of substance left to stand upon as it absorbs body blows from Mohammad’s assault.

The East neutered much of Christian thinking, converting the message in the marketplace away from God’s contract with his people and the demand for righteousness by downplaying or outright denying the concern for sin as outmoded and even evil. Today, militant atheists mirror Yun-Men and call Christianity a viral pathology, because it dares remember that God is not mocked and his demands never change.

We need to get out the spiritual vacuum cleaner and houseclean our souls, our minds, our thinking. We need to embrace Romans 12:1-2 and clean out the dust of death that has settled across even the Church. We must strengthen the weak knees and lift our drooping hands to embrace the work God has given us to do. We must prepare for what Ezekiel warned about.

And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that it is coming. Every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming, and it will be fulfilled,'” declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 21:7

So, as they say, forewarned is forearmed. Go to love and serve the Lord.

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