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A Tale of Two Worlds -- why contemporary Western culture contends against Christian Faith

A Tale of Two Worlds -- why contemporary Western culture contends against Christian Faith

By J Andrew Kirk. Kingdom Publishers 306 pp £13.99

Reviewed by Chris Sugden
March 1, 2024

Andrew Kirk's book should be required reading for all members of General Synod, particularly the bishops, as they consider the implications and applications of 'Living in Love and Faith'.

The debate in the House of Lords on February 9th on the bill to ban misnamed 'conversion therapy', and the landmine that the Prime Minister stood on in the Commons when referring to transgender 'women' on February 8th show the current relevance of this study by a highly respected contextual theologian and missiologist.

Dr Kirk cut his teeth on engaging with the contextual theology of Liberation Theology in the 1970s in Argentina. In 'Two Worlds' he ruthlessly exposes the lies and inconsistencies underlying the ideologies in Western culture that have resulted in the legalization of abortion, so called 'equal marriage' and gender transitioning.

The book repays slow reading. Like the Book of Proverbs it has nuggets of wisdom and insight on every page. He can afford not to pull his punches because, aged 86, he is not looking for ecclesiastical preferment nor can be sacked.

He analyses clearly how in the last 50 years, the public space in the Western World has dispensed with the belief in the creator God who in making human beings in his own image, as the stewards of his creation, gives the basis for human identity and equality, regardless of race, colour, class, creed or any other status marker. In such a vacuum humans construct their own identities, rooting them in sexuality or some form of self-consciousness to be able to choose to be what they want to be.

Dr Kirk illustrates the destructive consequences of this shift in the fields of abortion, sexuality and transgenderism because they 'touch the inner being of human identity in a way no other issue matches'.

If someone is not self-conscious, they do not qualify as being human. This opened the door for legal abortion, since the unborn child does not qualify as a member of the human race. This is only step away from infanticide, disposing of those in a persistent Vegetative State, and eugenics.

He exposes the inherent contradictions in the opposition to what is wrongly termed 'conversion therapy', a misuse of language coined by its critics, which he classes with the distorted meanings given to phobia, bigot and so on. The free exercise of choice by people who are uncomfortable with their same-sex predilections to have counselling should be granted in the same way as counselling is accessible for mental health issues. Such opposition is rooted in the notion that sexuality is 'what you are born with'. Any attempt to alter such orientation, once discovered, is the 'imposition of heterosexual marriage' on society, an exercise of power in the interests of personal preferences.

Such post-modern deconstruction of objective truth is accompanied by the opposite assertion that the only source of truth is the shared experience of members of identity groups who perceive themselves to be victims. There can be no disagreement with them. So a true bigot 'will not allow any other view to be discussed on any issue unless the other person is vilified and demeaned regardless of the evidence.... It is very hard to listen to other viewpoints when your own identity is only based on your definition of identity.' Ethical debate becomes an issue of who shouts loudest and can wield the levers of power. As Daniel Horowitz observed, 'Inside every progressive is a totalitarian screaming to get out.'

Jesus 'good news of the kingdom' comes into this world as it came into the Roman Empire where might was right. His kingdom is present in this world and its members are to exercise a prophetic ministry 'to name the consequences that will inevitably fall on those who choose not to follow God's direction for a life of well-being', with sadness and compassion. A parting of the ways will come when people who have chosen to live by the beliefs and standards of the old world will be excluded from the presence of God in the holy city (Revelation 21:8).

The work is well referenced with academic studies, an extensive bibliography and index. Its publisher is not one of the major Western publishing houses who have published his over 15 books, but by a niche publisher. One can only speculate why.

This review was first published in The Church of England newspaper

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