Saturday, April 5, 2008

Against Christianity: review

Peter Leithart has written more books than I have read (if you count all series that I have read as one book, this is coming dangerously close to being true), and they vary in terms of prose and quality.  Most of them are somewhere around average on the former count while being well above on the latter.  Against Christianity is different: the prose is very good, and the content shattering.  It is a delight to read, and yet I feel almost sacrilegious turning each page, as I know that I could spend a lifetime attempting to apply the one I just read, and that I will forget what it was about when I'm flattened by the next one.  

Against Christianity is amazing.  The book is a collection of short essays, parables, and even simple phrases marshaled into a massive assault of "Christianity," which Leithart describes as "biblical religion disemboweled and emasculated by (voluntary) intellectualization and/or privatization," and "worldliness that has become so much our second nature that we call it piety."  The primary objection that Leithart appears to have with what we call Christianity is the lack of effect that it has on the world around us.  In one of his parables, a religious consultant is approached by John, Peter and Paul, who desire to "start a new religion," and it ends with the consultant saying the following:  

Gentlemen, I'm very sorry.  I can't help you.  You have completely misunderstood what we're doing here.  I don't think you're starting another religion; you're doing something else entirely.  I am a religious consultant, not a political revolutionary...

Yet Leithart would not define Christianity as a political ideology; that is actually one of the opinions that this book was written to critique.  The mentality that views Christianity as a fundamentally political thing still makes the lethal and heretical mistake of calling the New Creation a subset or facet of the old.  Christianity is a New World competing in the land of the old world, it is, oddly enough, more like a virus or parasite than anything else; it's job is to methodically transform the host into itself, until it is all that is remains.  

Christ will gladly take His place in the temple of Dagon--it is, after all, His--but Dagon will not like it.  No god may remain in the presence of Christianity, as it defines not just how we worship, but how we eat, how we tie our shoes, and how we view all other things.  All that exists is a subset of Christianity, not the other way around.

And this book makes that explicitly clear.  It revives the all too often dying antithesis, spurns cowardly compromises, and embodies the words of God to Isaiah:

Do not call for a treaty every time that these people call for a treaty; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.  The LORD All Mighty is the one you are to fear, He you shall dread, and He you shall call Holy...

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