While doing internet research for my series on Romans and the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, I somehow ended up at the Asia Times website. There I encountered an internet columnist who writes under the pen name of Oswald Spengler. The original Oswald Spencer was the writer of The Decline of the West. That Spengler died in 1936. The current living columnist who uses his name is obviously a fan.
What can I say? I hate the man! It is hatred born of envy, pure and simple. Spengler thinks, writes, and blogs better than I can ever hope to accomplish. He has a vast knowledge of history and political and philosophical trends that underlie recorded events. Unlike most commentators, Christian or secular, he appears to have nailed the “American Experiment’s” association with radical Protestant religion and secular leadership.
Even his pseudonym has more depth than mine. Well, maybe Kwai Chang Caine could play a better flute than the original Spengler, but that would be about it.
Here are some extracts from the modern Spengler’s writings on topics close to my heart, including American Christianity, politics, world and current history, some smatterings of theology, and how they all tie together. I reference the original documents should you desire to read them in full (as you should). The man is amazing.
In What makes the US a Christian Nation?, Spengler notes how the organizational structure of secularism of the elites meets a Christianity “which revives itself with terrible force in unknowing re-enactment of the past.”
Two combustible elements unite every century or so to re-create American Christianity from its ashes. The first is America’s peculiar sociology: it has no culture of its own, that is, no set of purely terrestrial associations with places, traditions, ghosts, and whatnot, passed from generation to generation as a popular heritage. Americans leave their cultures behind on the pier when they make the decision to immigrate. The second is the quantity that unites Wycliffe with Tyndale, Tyndale with the pilgrim leader John Winthrop, and Winthrop with the leaders of the Great Awakenings – and that is the Bible itself. The startling assertion that the Creator of Heaven and Earth loves mankind and suffers with it, and hears the cry of innocent blood and the complaint of the poor and downtrodden, is a seed that falls upon prepared ground in the United States.
Spencer in another post, notes that though Christianity is tied in with America in ways that would be dangerous to extract it is not the same as “Americanism” as is commonly accused.
Religion proposes not to create a more perfect union, nor to safeguard individual rights, but to vanquish death. America never has had a dominant religion. On the contrary: America has had to rediscover Christianity every few generations, in the form of new “Great Awakenings”…The Puritans who settled America, as Gelernter observes, looked backward “to the pure Christianity of the New Testament – and then even farther back. Puritans spoke of themselves as God’s new chosen people, living in God’s new promised land.” The Puritans tolerated none of the old pagan devices to pad the Kingdom of God with corporeal consolations. But they did not abjure the world this side of the grave. Rejecting the old pagan devices, the Puritans instead adopted a Hebrew one, that is, a temporal order in emulation of Israel…To stretch the point, one might say that that the United States is founded on a Judaizing heresy.
This “Judaizing heresy” did not infect European Christianity (according to Spengler). Instead, they created a Christianity in their own image, synchronizing the Hebrew faith with that of their national and pagan ancestors. This compromise (which can better be called idolatry) is what has moved Europe to choose extinction.
Have the Europeans taken to heart existentialism’s complaint that man is alone in a chaotic universe in which life has no ultimate meaning, and that man responds to the anxiety about death by embracing death? Detest as I might the whole existentialist tribe, there is a grain of truth here, and it bears on a parallel development, that is, the death of European Christianity…For today’s Europeans, there is no consolation, neither the old pagan continuity of national culture, nor the Christian continuity into the hereafter….They have no ambition but to die quietly, no concerns except for those amusements which might reduce boredom and anxiety en route to the grave. They have no passions except hatred born of envy. They hate America, a new kind of universality that succeeded where the old Christian empire failed.
Finally, Spengler sees hope in another potential revival of the Judaizing heresy again coming to the fore in America once again. He notes the following in his review of Michael Wyschogrod’s book Abraham’s Promise:
American Christianity is personal rather than political, in contrast to the Protestant Separatism that founded the United States…Except for the institutions it built, nothing remains of the New England Puritanism that brought to a New Promised Land a New Chosen People…Not until I read Michael Wyschogrod’s new book Abraham’s Promise did it occur to me the long-departed spirit of American Puritanism might once again become flesh. US evangelicals might awaken one morning as a New Israel not merely in metaphor, but self-aware as a New Chosen People in a New Promised Land. The most paranoid imagining about the Christian Right pales beside this prospect.
In this essay, Spengler then moves into parallel orbit with one of the intents of this site: to note that Christianity was the first and most valid version of Reformed Judaism. It is a Judaism that does not limit its Kingdom from God to a small strip of land in Palestine. It will settle for nothing but the world recognizing God’s Governmental authority over the entire earth.
On the surface, his innovation is a way for Christians to think of themselves as a special case of Judaism… Wyschogrod provides [American Evangelicalism] with a biblical (as opposed to a philosophical) framework to “understand itself … [by] coming to terms with the Judaism within it“. To a movement founded on the premise of Scripture alone, this may constitute an offer the evangelicals cannot refuse.
I hope the Evangelicals do not refuse the offer being made to them at this juncture in history. So many forces, including the Hebrew Roots movement, the New Perspective on Paul, the Federal Vision, and the Context Group Scholars—along with the too long delayed death of “rapture” theology—are pushing them in this direction. If they do accept it, then I agree with Spengler that “the world will be a different place.”