by Dan Juster, Director, Tikkun Ministries International
After a long day of meetings in Korea I turned on a Korean T.V. station which was broadcasting the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic games. Israelis had already noted the injustice of having no ceremony to commemorate the Israeli athletes that perished in Munich some 40 years earlier. Many countries called for this commemoration, but the Olympic leadership refused, claiming that it would be a political gesture not in keeping with the Olympic movement. The folly of this decision is that such a tribute would have been just the opposite - a statement against terrorism and in favor of humanity. So, in spite of a great display in the opening ceremony, there was no memorial. Now, after a very engaging set of contests, what would London bring forth in the closing ceremonies?
Blasphemy at the Olypmics
The Olympic closing ceremonies were quite astonishing and even blasphemous, but did many notice? The ceremony took place at an Olympic stadium where the graphic of the Union Jack flag was projected onto the field and outlined the passageways on the floor of the stadium. The Union Jack is made up of the three national crosses of England, Scotland and Ireland, representing the union of these countries united as one kingdom. The whole effect of the flag, when it was originally designed, was intended to proclaim the Christian foundations of the United Kingdom. So there on the field of the stadium, everyone was looking at this Christian symbol.
The show was a celebration of British music. What should we have expected? British music means rock music, not Ralph Vaughan Williams or Edward Elgar. Not Handel (actually German, but a long-term resident in England who wrote for the English court). However, I think there is some worthy rock music. That said; the Olympic presentations were laced with sensuality, with women gyrating provocatively while wearing revealing clothing. This sensual lewdness took place on stages that were over the symbol of the British flag. It was a celebration of hedonism.
However, the centrepiece of the presentation was the projection of John Lennon on giant screens all over the stadium singing his nihilistic song, "Imagine". A large choir of children sang along as well, all dressed in t-shirts with the words "Imagine" emblazoned on them. For any reader who does not know the words, the full text is not important, just the thrust of the song. Lennon asked us to imagine a world were there is no God, no religion and no nations. This world of undifferentiated humanity is filled with loving people who view each other as brothers and sisters.
"Is this really the type of world we want to live in?" Yes, men have engaged in war and imposed great suffering on others in the name of religion, but just consider what atheism has produced. From Stalin and Mao to Pol Pot, history has witnessed the slaughter of tens of millions to attain the perfect atheist socialist order. I have been around long enough that I should not have been stunned. For the cultural elite that expresses multi-cultural commitment, the song is a denial of the value of separate cultures. Did they not understand this aspect of the song? No matter! Lennon and his song are iconic.
The whole stadium cheered in approval as they watched Lennon singing. There on a background of the British flag, in front of millions of viewers world over, the olympic crowd had a quasi-religious experience celebrating atheism, choir included. This should have been offensive to billions of people. The fact that Lord Coe and the Olympic organising committee chose this as their high point is breathtaking. It is as if the whole Olympic program was shaking its fist at God and at Britain's Christian heritage. Yes, the British engaged in a program of harsh colonialism, but they also brought the Christian faith and a vision of human rights and dignity across the globe. After all, the British endeavoured to eliminate slavery worldwide well before the American Civil War. They also committed themselves in 1840 to restore the nation of Israel.
The Influence of Today's Western Culture
Can we be far from God's judgment? I know we are on the victory side. Yet, it is sometimes depressing to see the influence of the secular and relativistic West on the world. My recent trip to Korea was wonderful. We were building Church support for the restoration of Israel and alignment with the Messianic Jewish community through our "Toward Jerusalem Council II" project. We saw major inroads into Korean denominations. Yet I was also saddened to see that this very large body of Christians was in decline. It was quite different than my last visit, fifteen years ago. There was a noticeable change in dress, now much more sensual. Many of the young people are leaving their Christian upbringing in the same way as they are in the United States. Sadly, the compulsive trends of secularism, hedonism and relativism are becoming stronger and stronger in Korea.
The West, with the United States' entertainment industry in the lead, is spreading a terrible influence around the world. If one thought that colonialism destroyed cultures, our western influence, fostered by those who claim to be multi-culturalists, is destroying many cultures at an alarming rate. We saw that western cultural influence being played out in Korea.
In Israel we seek to resist the same influences. Libertine sexual philosophies, homosexual movements, lewdness, hedonism and abortion abound. The Orthodox, thankfully, resist these trends. However, they bring their own contra-biblical orientations that must - in their turn - be countered.
Is there Hope for Revival?
I do not know if the world trends in the free nations can be reversed. Revival, the Gospel and culture formation are the keys. First of all, revival is necessary to re-energize the people of God. We need a classic revival worldwide that will bring repentance from worldly compromise and a new empowerment in the Holy Spirit. This would lead to a new effectiveness in spreading the Gospel in western and democratic nations.
The Kingdom is growing in oppressive societies, but in past days we have seen great revivals in western societies (the 18th and 19th century revivals, the Welsh revival in the early 20th century, and the Jesus movement in the 1970s). The last element, culture formation, is crucial if we are not to lose the gains of revival and the Gospel. Culture formation begins with committed discipleship in the Word of God, including an understanding of the Bible as yielding a comprehensive world-view that speaks to every area of life. We need to understand the contrast between the Biblical world-view and its credibility against both the secular alternatives of modern humanistic materialism and western relativism. In addition, we should be clear that Biblical faith is like no other - a faith grounded in reality and displaying evidence without parallel. If we do not experience this sort of culture shifting revival I fear greatly for the legacy that will be passed on to future generations.
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