Time for a New Deal?
Many people are concerned about the state of the economy. Economic hardship is becoming a first-hand experience for people across North America and around the world. University of Michigan economist, Paul McCracken goes as far as saying, "What has happened has put the fear of God in people." A recent TIME Magazine article, "Does America Need a NEW DEAL for the Nineties?" (1/13/92) offers an interesting observation: "In one of history's most painful paradoxes, U.S. consumers seem suddenly disillusioned with the American Dream of rising prosperity even as capitalism and democracy have consigned the Soviet Union to history's trash heap."
Having just read Larry Burkett's excellent and timely Christian book, The Coming Economic Earthquake, the ideas that are proposed in the TIME article take on an ominous tone. Indeed, as Father Seraphim Rose observed, it seems increasingly the case that "It is later than we think." After all, when politicians around the world are actively promoting the ideal of a NEW WORLD ORDER, and when TIME gives prominence to statements by economists who are advocating that, "The time has come to create a new economic order," then thinking Christians need to pay attention to what is going on around them.
What is going on, anyway? Are we as Christians called to be concerned about such things as the economy and the political agenda of our time? TIME declares that "the pervasive pessimism that seems to define the American spirit today is itself a cause for optimism." Does this statement make any sense to you? It makes perfect sense really, because out of the abyss of economic ruin and spiritual bankruptcy that our society is falling into, a new solution will arise-a NEW DEAL for the world. America, along with the rest of the world, has been programmed to the survival philosophy of "Let's Make a Deal" (remember the TV show?), and this in turn prepares the way for the supreme New Dealer-Antichrist, the most persuasive and beguiling deal-maker in history.
So, how can we as Orthodox Christians prepare ourselves for what is seemingly about to happen? On the practical side of things, Mr. Burkett's book offers a few good suggestions, but on a deeper level, what can we do? The answer for me was clearly and definitively explained with the re-reading of the cover story from a back issue of Orthodox America, titled, "Just Say 'No'," and the theme that was presented describes and advocates, "the freedom that comes in learning to say 'No'." In particular, a quote from the sayings of Abba Dorotheus of Gaza declares, "Nothing helps men so much as to cut off self-will, for thereby a man prepares the way for nearly all the virtues."
The bottom line for all of us is that this world will not succeed. New Deals only put off the inevitable day of reckoning. For Orthodox Christians, the only real world is the eternal one, and it is not of this world. The American Dream is a myth, and so was the communist one. They are both essentially materialistic philosophies of life. But there is a spirit alive in this world which is recklessly self-willed and determined to succeed, and the lie that will buy countless souls is that a heaven on earth (with abundant material and even spiritual blessings) is within reach for all of us. All that will allegedly be necessary for society to embrace in order for this to occur is yet another, more elaborate and sophisticated NEW DEAL. Who could resist such a tempting proposition? Only those who have prepared their hearts and souls, and disciplined their wills so that they will be able to "Just Say 'No"."
Once again, there is a profound lesson to be learned from the martyrs and confessors of the persecuted Church that have gone before us. Because, North Americans are especially vulnerable to a subtle form of "spiritual Sergianism" (see Bitter Fruits of a Sweet Captivity by Zoya Krakhmalnikova), or "political Christianity," which is "preoccupied with the earthly life" rather than the "eternal celestial life." That is why ECUMENISM is such a powerful force. It is akin to the spirit of our times and it is adept in the fine art of compromise. It concentrates attention on the superficial, and nurtures the desire and the quest for success and temporal abundance and happiness here and now, on our terms, according to our own agenda, complete with the subtle and gradual "elimination of the Cross". It presents instead the politically expedient "'correction' of Christ's work", for the sake of survival. As such, it is nothing more than a lie, a pragmatic re-interpretation, and self-deluded distortion of the truth. But, this program will be sponsored and advocated by all in authority, including many supposedly Orthodox hierarchs and clergy who have already bought in or are going to buy in to the idea for the sake of supposedly saving the Church! The deals are already being made and there are more to come. Some were made long ago, and the tragic legacy is evident to all who have not yet allowed themselves to be blinded, deceived or uninformed.
For the true Church of Christ, and so, for true Christians, there is and will be no NEW DEAL. The truth doesn't even need to come in a new package. Jesus Christ remains the same and so does His Church.(A an other-worldly, eternal, unconditional reality, not a worldly, temporal, conditional one )* Seek and ye shall find, while time and opportunity still remain available, because, most assuredly, "It's later than we think." But far from being cause for a sense of doom and gloom, we are reminded that our faith gives us cause to rejoice, ...for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed (Rom. 13:11-14), for our hope and our fortunes are not based on this world and its deceptions, but rather on the TRUTH of the crucified and RISEN Lord Jesus Christ!