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God's Ways Work; Man's Ways Don't

(What about Woman's Ways?
They're better than Man's Ways -
But too many women try to ape Man's ways.
Men and Women alike spurn God's Ways!)

Jump directly to examples

I recently swore at my son. Because he said "Christianity might be 1% good - but it's 99% bad." I was livid.

I realised afterwards why this was: because of the way I interpreted what such percentages would mean. My reactive interpretation was:

Anything less than 50% good means that it would have been better for the world if Christianity had never happened.
That is not what my son meant, of course! But that is why I reacted to violently.

I also realised why I cared so much. It is because I am deeply convinced that the message and active intervention of God (Holy Spirit, Jesus, Father) in the world is huge net good. Net good in the world's own terms, not just 'Christian' terms. I am deeply convinced that God's ways work, and that human ways do not.

Christianity is the structurational bearer of that message and intervention. So, despite it's flaws, Christianity is net good, even in the world's own terms. It is far better for the world that this has happened, than if it had not. So, talking percentages, it is far in excess of 50% good and far less than 50% bad.

Not just in some other-worldly terms, but in terms the world itself would own, understand and value. It's meaningless to try to talk %s or even balance good and bad, when we think in such terms. So here are a few examples.

'Structurational'? Giddens: societal structures (beliefs, attitudes, laws) influence all we do, but what we do builds and changes or reinforces those structures. Christianity is a structure of beliefs, attitudes and laws that influences the way Christians and others live. And the what Christians and others do shapes Christianity. (Actually, Christianity is a bundle of many such structures; there are many Christianities!)

Some Examples

This part of the page is a collection of smallish examples that demonstrate that Man's ways do not work in the long run, while God's ways seem to work better. Pride in particular is a killer.

This page in in process of being written. When written all the above will be hyperlinks that take you to material on each topic.

God's Ways Work

There are fewer visible examples of where God's way has worked, not because it doesn't work but because it has not been tried often - and also because evil seems more interesting in the media (see Simone Weil's comment).

Flood defences.

We try concrete etc. But salt marshes are much more effective. Because concrete is like a shiny surface over which the incoming flood glides easily, while salt marshes are rough and slow it down.

Working 'with nature' usually works better in the long run. But is not spending huge amounts on large projects to build concrete defences more 'notable'? Might a huge concrete system me an 'iconic project'? Might not it gets the leader of the project some career 'brownie points'?

One gets brownie points for doing things Man's way. One gets no brownie points for doing things God's way! But is that not the exactly what Jesus taught us?

South Africa

7 December 2013: Nelson Mandela died yesterday. The thing that most spoke of spontaneously was his humility. One put it "He was the man God gave us for this time."

De Kleerk publicly repented of apartheid, and Mandela publicly forgave. And that laid the foundation for true healing and eventual prosperity. (What is later built on the foundation is the responsibility of others.)

De Kleerk's apology was not a face-saving "I'm sad that it happened and we won't do any more of it," but took the form of repentance rather than mere regret. "We were wrong; we did wrong." Mandela's forgiveness was not "Well, let's just forget and try to cooperate to keep a decent economy," but was genuine forgiveness.

Notice the pattern: repentance by those with power, then as a response forgiveness by those who were powerless or oppressed. This is God's way.

Now contrast this with that notorious trouble-spot: Israel. Human ways are adopted: compromise, face-saving, then shows of strength, firm resolve against terrorism, revenge, and the like. They will never work on their own. All that happens is that the lack of repentance remains as arrogance and the lack of forgiveness remains as bitter anger, which can boil up again at any time; see a page on Israel.

(Maybe I'm wrong? I did have Northern Ireland in there too as an example of human ways - but those very human ways do seem to have worked there, and there is now peace and power sharing.)

Commercial Branding

In the 1970s we had production, in the 1980s we had marketing, in the 1990s we had branding. But branding today has become hollow and empty, says Kevin Roberts, Chief Executive of Saatchi and Saatchi (BBC Radio 4, Business Eye, 27 February 2005). Instead, we are moving to 'love marks'. 'Love marks' are brands that are honest, holistic, environmentally responsible. That do not 'target' us (who wants a weapon pointed at us anyway?) but that 'intrigue' us and even respect us. Brands work when they are holistic and authentic.

Notice the resonance with Christian values of truth, love, humility, responsibility here. Brands were an attempt to get a commitment to a thing for its own sake, which is self-serving and even verging on idolatry. Thus is would not work in the longer term. But if a brand is self-giving, serving others (customer, environment, etc.) rather than itself, and does not demand the worship of customers, then it will be more successful.

Man's Ways Do Not Work

Ziauddin Sardar has said:

"From the most favourable conditions in human history we have generated terror, war and a proliferation of tensions grounded in mutual fear and hatred. Humanity is unquestionably in need of help."

[The Guardian, UK, 9th December 2006]

Treaty of Versailles

World War 1 was supposed to be "the War to end all Wars". After World War 1 the French especially wished to 'punish' the Germans for starting the War and what they did. For 'punish' read 'humiliate' and 'get revenge on'. This humiliation sowed seeds of first despair and then resentment among the German people that Hitler could nurture to gain leadership. Hence World War 2 came about, and all the lasting impact on the world that has had.

Pride, while it might sometimes seem to achieve results in the short term, never works in the long.

A Stupid Construction Project - Millennium Dome

Another construction of pride became a laughing stock. The Millennium Dome was heralded by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Peter Mandelsson was put in charge but had "not a single idea" as to what the Dome was all about [BBC Radio 4 14 March 2011].

Was not the Millennium - 2000 years - about Jesus Christ, who was born around year 0 and who has made such an impact in the world? But Peter Mandelsson had told Tony Blair "We don't do God" and so Jesus Christ, whose Millennium it was, was rejected as an idea that would make the Millennium Dome meaningful. The excuse was made that Britain is no longer a Christian country and that other religions might object - but both Muslims and Hindus honour Jesus Christ. No wonder there was no idea left, and the whole became a laughing stock.

Stakeknife - On Honesty and Promises

A British mole in the top of the IRA, code-named 'Stakeknife', has just been named by another agent who was frustrated that the British government had refused to keep their promise to him/her of safety. As a result, Stakeknife has gone into terrified hiding. This provides a double example of not going God's way:

News, 30 January 2018: It has been reported that Stakeknife had been arrested for murder, torture and kidnapping. Human way is to employ someone of evil character; God's way is to employ people of good character.

See also:

This page is offered to God as on-going work. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all dates below. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Part of his pages, that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: ?. Last updated: 3 February 2001 I combined two files called 'pride' and tidied the lot up. 23 September 2001 extended South Africa. 12 May 2003 Stake knife and honesty; changed from pride to general examples. 27 February 2005 long overdue revamp, removed Iraq, added branding, placed work before notwork. 6 January 2007 Sardar quote. 27 April 2008 introductory story. 5 January 2009 otg, new .nav, rid NI. 18 February 2009 N Ireland. 22 November 2009 farming God's way. 16 January 2011 links. 14 March 2011 Millennium Dome. 7 December 2013 new intro, and flood defences. 10 September 2014 9-11-response, and added these to list at bottom; new .nav, .end. 11 February 2018 Stakeknife arrested.