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Commentary :: International
Predestination and Social Change
21 Jan 2005
This doctrine of predestination is the root of Puritanism and Puritanism is the root of all rebellions. (Brook cited Hill 1990:209)
So said Mathew Brook who as Master of Trinity College at Cambridge University in 1630 gave a speech calling for social change. This doctrine of predestination in my opinion is the key to overcoming fear within practitioners of social change. In this essay I aim to show how building a community of social changers in their knowledge of destiny. Which is the key factor in effectualising social transformation. Understanding this doctrine of predestination can help social activists overcome fear in any violent situation that may arise. It can also keep activists going on where others fail. The doctrine of predestination can also be of use in actualizing social change in the west. It can be used as a key point of internal contradiction in western society, which can help in erasing consent given to western governments by there citizens. Through the teaching of predestination through Christian Church structures, it is my thesis that the consent given to western governments will be removed through the teaching of this radical protestant doctrine. PHILOSOPHY The Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith of the Church of England Article 17: Predestination and Election “Predestination to life is the eternal purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he has consistently decreed by his counsel which is hidden from us to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he has chosen in Christ out of mankind and to bring them through Christ to eternal salvation as vessels made for honour. Hence those granted such and excellent benefit by God are called according to god’s purpose by his Spirit working at the appropriate time. By grace they obey the calling; they are freely justified, are made sons of God by adoption, are made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, they walk faithfully in good works and at the last by God’s mercy attain eternal happiness.” (Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., 2004: online) I propose to use Article 17 of ‘The Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith’ as the basis for my plan of action of non-violent social change. The ‘Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith’ form the basis for authority in the largest western protestant church the Anglican Communion. It is through protestant churches that consent to government authority is built up in western nations. Instead of people having input in the decision making process, there energies are diverted away with fear. Their energies are put into the philosophical notion of God, which a pathological fear of the unknown. Robert S. burrows in his book, the Strategy of Non-violent Defence, describes the basis to this consent theory of power and how it is used to control people, “The consent theory of power identifiers people as the ultimate source of power and highlights the notion that elites are dependant on their cooperation of the people they dominate.” (Burrows 1994:87) It is through the building up of consent in western churches that the teachings of the official state religion, protestant Christianity, that western Imperial governments legitimise their rule over their people. It is through western Christianity that consent is built up in the Imperial Capitalist system. This system rules over the lives of all people in the world and at the same breads consent in oppression. To effectualise non-violent social change in a western society on a permanent basis we needed to understand how to undermine the structures that give consent to the authority structure. Burrows in his book describes the foundational basis on which we can operate effectively to install permanent social change, “The way to undermine the power of an elite is to organise corporate resistance by those constituencies on which it actually depends.” (Burrows 1994:96) In this way Burrows teaches us that, in the theory of nonviolent social change that removing consent is just as, if not more effective than direct action of a violent nature. The Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ (U.C.C.) is attempting to do just this. Recently they launched a campaign in relation to the American governments launching of a war against the people of Iraq. In a document entitled, Patriotism, Nationalism and the Christian Life, that they distributed to all U.C.C. churches nation wide, they published a statement of peace from leading officials of the major Christian. In this document Loey Powell shows how being a Christian and opposing your governments policies are not mutually exclusive, “We are citizens and we are Christians. We are members of a denomination that has declared itself to be Just Peace Church, affirming the unity of all human community and opposing the use of nationalism to divide this covenant of friendship.” (Powell 2004:online) The Justice and Witness Ministries of the U.C.C. attempts to challenge the justifications for war and undermine the basis of support of there authority to do so. The challenge posed by a main Christian denomination in the United States to their governments policy helps undermine the legitimacy of their authority. The development of a fearless team of radical social changers is the key component of establishing any subversive situation. Rebecca Spence in, The Philosophy and Practice of Nonviolence Study Notes, shows us how fearlessness is the major contributing factor in the success or failure of any campaign for social change, “Fearlessness can be seen as a central requirement for those wishing to sustain nonviolent action in any circumstances, as social and political forces may seek to maintain the status quo, but the need to cultivate fearlessness is especially true involving brutal oppression.” (Spence 2004:25) Spence shows to us in her writings the need for fearlessness as the basis for training social changers. Historically the doctrine of predestination has been the central characteristic protestant religious philosophy. Through the teachings of the protestant doctrine of predestination it is hoped that the fear factor that builds consent for oppressive authority can be overcome. It is also hoped that authority can be undermined by action of a similar nature of the of the Justice and Witness ministries of the U.C.C. TACTICS In my opinion the organisational tactics for the building of a program to undermine the consent given to government authority needs to be kept within a closed shop environment. Unless a closed shop approach is taken to this special operation western governments supported spoilers like Trotskyites, Anarchists and Greenpeace that may infiltrate any subversive program with the aim to destroy its anti-government activities. Robert W. Funk founder of the Jesus Seminar Project describes how the messages and actions of Jesus were subversive and that of a radical social changer. Funk describes this is his book, A Credible Jesus: Fragments of a Vision, where he highlights how Jesus used nonviolent tactics to undermine the legitimacy of the Roman Imperialist government, in the eyes of his fellow citesens, “The response Jesus proposes is subversive: By offering the other cheek you send an equally powerful message. It is an act of defiance. It is a statement that proclaims the parity of the victim. ‘I am not your inferior. I have my rights. I am a human being. I refuse to be treated like an inferior specimen of the race.’ The aggressor is now at a loss. The backhand blow cannot be repeated on the left cheek. And to be reduced to fisticuffs would mean to acknowledge the equality of the two parties.”(Funk 2002:96) Funks qualified argument on the basic nonviolent principles that were the basis for the teachings of the Jesus. This shows to us a good tactical approach to the undermining of consent. Just as Jesus’ social revolt was based on non-violence due to the over whelming superior force used by the Roman Imperial Army. We in our situation can see how these same tactics can be used today against our own Imperial overlords. We ourselves can be leaders of our people just like Jesus was by employing the bible based subjective philosophy of predestination and the objective tactics of nonviolence. Where is the need to fight if we can understand that our side has all the aces and the trump card in Jesus Christ, whilst the other side only has a hand full of twos? A good bible reading that could be used to help emphasize and promote is the doctrine of predestination in a campaign to eliminate fear is Ephesians 1:3-6, “Praise be to the God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to praise his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (International Bible Society 2001:648) This passage clearly demonstrates to us a tactical tool, an edge that we can use to teach other people how to come into conflict with authoritarian power structures. Through the doctrine of predestination we can teach others that what ever happens to them there is no need to fear or worry as God will inevitably make things right. Through the doctrine of predestination people can have steadfast faith that God’s promise will be fulfilled, in a pure and perfect Utopian Republic. This doctrine of predestination of God’s providence, that was written before the time begin, eliminates all need for fear in the unknown or even fear of death. If nonviolent activists can eliminate there fear in oppression, they will inevitably be successful in there righteous struggle for freedom and liberation. The greatest tactical tool in this noble struggle is the doctrine of predestination. STRATEGY The basic strategy of this plan is designed to underpin a great social upheaval in our society. The aim of this strategy is to build a society where is one where the collective consciences of the people is its central theme. The best and easiest way to achieve this is to make use of people who have nothing to loose and every thing to gain. Also a key to this strategy is to use a key group of people that help underpin the authority superstructure. If this group is to be attacked in reaction this will add yet a further undermining of the authoritarian there support base. The use of a church or a particular grouping of Churches as a tool of social transformation can help reinforce democracy in western nations. The founder of the Commonwealth of Great Britain, Our Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, according to Christopher Hill in his article, Quakers and the English Revolution, describes how Cromwell thought a Church was useful in underpinning of a democratic society, “Cromwell is alleged to have said that no temporal government could survive without a national church that adhered to it.” (Hill1991:24) This passages show us how western governments use Christian Churches to help reinforce their power structure. In this way people consent to authority through the Church structure. This consent that is built up through the tactical use of religion is the basis of our western democratic system. George Fox was a great strategist who believed and acted upon the belief that in aiding social change through nonviolence. This was based on the tactic of subverting of the dominant paradigm; Hill also explores Fox’s nonviolent theory in his article, “In January 1661, there was a violent revolt by Fifth Monarchists which for a short time terrorized London. Many Quakers were arrested on suspicion of connection with this revolt. Twelve days later the ‘peace principle’ hence forth characteristic of Quakers, was declared. ‘The spirit of Christ’, Fox declared, ‘will never move us to fight a war against any man with carnal weapons.” (Hill 1991:31) In his steadfast opposition to violent acts of insurrection George Fox established the world’s foremost organisation for peace, the Quakers. It was through the strategical use of nonviolence that George Fox helped secure victory for the Republicans in the English Revolution against the oppressive Roman Catholic Monarchists. His bible based ideas made it difficult for opponents to legitimately attack his views and actions. The amounts of provocatation including arrests, jailings, beatings and executions that were carried out against Quakers actually helped build the Quaker movement into a peace force that helped actualise social change. To build a movement that can effectively use the nonviolent tool for social change is a major strategic hurdle that needs to be conquered before trying to effectualise a plan of action for social change. To liberate all people who fell under the spell of misguidance in the name of conformity was the basis of the teachings of Jesus. The strategy I propose is quite similar to the great pamphleteers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centaury in England. It was through the distribution of the knowledge of the elite that the basis of hierarchy was undermined. In this distribution of information on how the doctrine of predestination forms the basis of Christian understanding, could help revolutionise how fear is utilised to exert power and authority on behalf of an exploitative elite. PLAN OF ACTION Step 1: Recruitment Step one in implementing the plan is to recruit a ministry team that appeals to a youth audience. Needed for this are two recently graduated theology students that are from a background in one of the major Protestant denominations. Important also would be the recruitment of trained musicians who could form the core of a youth orientated rock band. This could be done by recruitment advertising in Universities that provide an education in theology or otherwise it could be done by establishing contacts with church administrators that have a similar ideological underpinning. Step 2: Printing Material Printed material is essential needed for the campaign success or failure. Posters, fliers, t-shirts, ministry kits etc. could be produced and sent to churches in target areas and they could hold services in support of the principles of the campaign. Also needed would be propaganda material that would be distributed liberally to advertise the event to all interested persons. Propaganda material could be distributed on the night of the event which would be a glossy magazine. Which would contain lots of colour pictures of young people having fun, bible in hand wearing trademark clothing that contains the logo of the campaign. This would aim to highlight key words to the campaign like peaces, love and destiny. Step 3: Preparation Thinking up a funky name for the ministry team is an essential. Renting out a local town hall or approaching a local church about holding the ‘Spectacular Christian Event’ in there church or church hall ‘free of charge’ is also another prerequisite. Explain to them how this will cost them ‘absolutely nothing’ and how it can give there much over worked ministers valuable time off. Also explain to them how you will be attracting new comers to there church. Also explain to them how you will be able to spend thousands of dollars in ‘promotional advertising’ through local papers, radio, letter box drops etc. that will mention there church. Explain also how this will be an exciting promotional opportunity that has lead to increased church attendances, at venues you have played at before. Purchasing a data projector, a lap top computer and musical instruments for the band must be considered of utmost importance for the ministry team. Step 4: Execute Plan Doing a tour of capital cities and major rural towns using local church representatives as liaison officers who can ahead of time make all the necessary arrangements that need to be done. The doctrine of predestination is the key teaching so make sure all participants know and understand this. Make sure the key bible passages all relate back to the doctrine of predestination. The biblical books of Ephesians, Romans and Ecclesiastes are recommended to be quoted regularly in campaign and participants must be made aware that the bible is to be referred to as the source for all understandings. Make sure all songs in this campaign contain key words and phrases point towards the doctrine of predestination. An example of these is destiny, fate, meant to be etc. Constantly refer to constantly how Jesus was a radical activist who wanted to subvert the system. Refer to how Jesus was a rebel and how being a true bible based Christian you must also be a rebel like Jesus. PITFALLS Possible pitfalls may include not being able to come up with enough financial resources to cover the expenses of the campaign. If financial resources are limited than this campaign may be reduced in scale to concentrate on a small geographic location. Also one may have to make do without properly trained musicians with only one potential minister who would coordinate to whole program. Savings could be made if the events were to be held in an isolated geographic location as people could make there own way between the events and there home. Another pitfall could be that the teachings just go over peoples head. If this were to happen then this might just increase the number of people giving there consent to oppressive authority. EVENT ORDER OF SERVICE Song 1 Song 2 Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14 and Romans 8:28-39. Song 3 Reading of Article 17 of ‘The Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith’ and also the section on predestination in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Song 4 Song 1 Break for half an hour so people may eat, drink and talk and so the band may rest. This also a great opportunity for the distribution of propaganda. Song 1 Song 5 Give talk about what Gods predestinated plan means for audience and how it has changed the life of those in the ministry team. Song 3 Bible reading, Ecclesiastes 3 and 4, use this to explain how all things are of God and there is no other way but forward. Song 2 Song 1 Distribute more propaganda to people who wish to stay and meet the ministry team. REFERENCES Brook, M., 1630, cited Hill, C., 1990, Gods Englishman: Oliver Cromwell ant he English Revolution, Penguin Books, London, U.K. Burrows, R. J., 1994, The Strategy of Non-Violent Defence, State University of New York Press, New York, U.S.A. Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., 2004, Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith, Retrieved on the 06/08/2004 from Funk, R. W., 2002, A Credible Jesus: Fragments of a Vision, Polebridge Press, Santa Rosa, U.S.A. Hill, C., 1999, ‘Quakers and the English Revolution’, New Light on George Fox 1624-1691, The Ebor Press, York, U.K. International Bible Society, 2001, Holy Bible: New International Version, The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, U.S.A. Powell, L., 2004, Patriotism, Nationalism and the Christian Life, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ, U.S.A., retrieved on the 21/08/2004 from Spence, R., 2004, The Philosophy and Practice of Nonviolence Study Notes, University of New England, Australia.
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