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The Dangers of Hegelian Dialectic in the Christian Church

08/03/2014

Be aware – wolves within the modern church are rejecting biblical leadership patterns and exerting pressure to conform upon the church, using methods of coercion and compliance devised and implemented by the world…

Have you every wondered what happens when the political leaders get together in some negotiating situation?  Where a ‘facilitator’ is brought in to convene all-party talks, when obvious political  choreography is taking place around the ‘process’ – when a crop of new ‘buzz-words’ suddenly appear out of nowhere, and suddenly become the common parlance of every commentator, every current affairs programme; they drive the agenda, and eventually what the facilitator has proposed right at the start, some blueprint or plan is the outcome.

What you are witnessing is the use (often by a government, but sometimes by a manager or group leader) of Hegelian Dialectic, or ‘group speak’.  

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a 19th century German philosopher who devised a method of argument for resolving disagreements. Hegelian Dialectic has been around now for two hundred years, (although the concept has been around since Ancient Greece) and it is a well established method of group control, which seeks to move groups of people (organisations, communities, populations, churches) with the guidance, often of a ‘facilitator’ through three separate stages; thesis, antithesis, synthesis.  So the facilitator will have a predetermined outcome, (his thesis). He will then listen to all the viewpoints, often deeply opposing viewpoints, (antithesis) and then, through a strategy involving peer pressure, and emotive language (group think) seek to bring the opposing groups into a situation where they are willing to compromise their own strongly held opinions ‘for the good of the group/community/church/children/society’ etc.  (synthesis). In this way, the facilitator will bring the whole group to a point where his desired outcome (thesis) is achieved.  After all, in our narcissistic world, everyone wants to be liked, to be part of the group, to be accepted, to be a celebrity, to be acclaimed and affirmed by others, especially when that popularity results in being more electable, more popular with the electorate.

Gay Marriage

The use of mind-altering words and phrases to shape the attitudes of a group of people is a common element when governments and lobby groups aim for social change.  Strong, emotive words have been used in changing people’s attitudes to immigration.  For quite some time it was difficult in the UK to be critical of the government’s immigration policy, for fear of being branded a racist.  On another major contemporary issue, over recent years we have seen the use of ‘group speak’ to radically alter society’s attitude to homosexuality. The corruption of the word ‘gay,’ from its previous innocent meaning, (happy) to make it refer to homosexuals was deliberately intended to remove the stigma of the legal terms previously used; homosexuals, sodomites; the crime of sodomy.  A convenient way to silence legitimate criticism of the homosexual lobby was to coin a new derogatory term, ‘homophobia’  which could then be used to marginalise and stigmatise those who objected to the new moral values. In more recent days, the march towards homosexual ‘marriage’ was advanced when the homosexual lobby stopped speaking of ‘gay weddings’ and began to use the term ‘equal marriage’. After all, who could object to equality?

Obamacare

In the USA, where President Obama is a radical liberal with a radical agenda for radical change (he said so, didn’t he, – ‘hope and change…’) group-speak has been used to introduce major societal change.  Everyone knows that the Affordable Care Bill (Obamacare) needed to be introduced because there was a ‘healthcare crisis.’  Yet American friends confirm that there never was a healthcare crisis of any kind.  No one who needed treatment for an illness or accident was ever turned away from a hospital because they couldn’t pay.  An acquaintance of mine was in the USA on holiday when he suffered a heart attack and was admitted to hospital, where he got world class care and attention.  He was given a bill of costs, and he explained to the administrators, that he could never hope to pay it.  They just said, ‘Ok, – that’s fine. No-one was refused treatment if they were in genuine need.

However, there was a problem with health insurance.  Younger, fitter people were not purchasing policies until well into their thirties, – which meant that the insurance pot was getting smaller, as older people were claiming on their policies.  The price of insurance was rising, – becoming less affordable.  The government started a campaign to persuade people that there was a ‘healthcare crisis’. The phrase was on the lips of every official and and every politician until it became an accepted fact.  Wanting to be nice, and to be liked, and to be part of society, people began to believe it was true, and were thus made ready to accept a new bill, a Bill that would then infringe on religious liberties, by demanding that employers make financial contributions to healthcare that would include contraception and abortion.

The NI ‘Peace Process’

In local politics, here in Northern Ireland, Hegelian Dialectic has been extensively employed by the liberal government/s of both Britain and Ireland to bring about their desired social outcome.  They have been ruthless in manipulating opinion to coerce sworn enemies into a mandatory coalition government of parties, allegedly for ‘the good of the community’ – exerting peer pressure by repeating phrases like, ‘we all want peace’ or ‘it’s not just for us, it’s for the sake of the children’ (a phrase continually on the too often dissembling lips of the loathsome, vomit-inducing Tony Blair.  Blair’s use of his ‘Third Way’ reasoning and Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ both have their philosophical roots in Hegel).

The classic Hegelian technique is to have a predetermined outcome, then break down (often legitimate) opposition to that outcome by creating or imagining a crisis. (Blair did it with the Weapons of Mass Destruction Dossier, which achieved his end of a war against Iraq). They did it when Tony Blair was Prime Minister and Peter Hain was the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.  They observed rightly that the likelihood of Ian Paisley going into government with Martin Maguiness was slim in the extreme.    Shortly before the St Andrews agreement was signed between the parties in October 2006, Ian Paisley was still declaring that a DUP/Sinn Fein government would only happen ‘over his dead body’. So Hain manufactured a crisis.  He told the people that the public water supply was below standards, and he must introduce a water tax. (Hitherto the people of a Northern Ireland had been paying for their water as part of the domestic rates bill). He went so far as to issue draft bills to every household. (This is not sensationalism, imagination or a conspiracy theory. Hain has himself publicly admitted that this was a deliberate strategy).

There was an outcry!  No one wants to pay more tax to the government. Hain willing appeared on as many television and radio programmes as he could fit into his schedule.  His message was simple, and he repeated it daily, if not hourly on the radio news, – if you don’t like the way I am governing this part of the country, then all you have to do is make your elected leaders get together and govern it for you.  In this social manipulation strategy, the BBC were willingly complicit.  Along with others, wittingly or unwittingly, Stephen Nolan, a well known local broadcaster on BBC Ulster, furthered Hain’s strategy, by continually accusing politicians of not doing their job, being paid for doing nothing, because they weren’t solving the water tax crisis, (which the government had manufactured). On one occasion when a local politician had come on Nolan’s morning radio show to raise a very important and relevant education issue, Nolan constantly badgered him about ‘not doing your job’ and ‘laying aside your personal issues for the good of the people…’  The radio phone-in programmes were inundated with people calling to complain about the ‘lazy useless politicians’ who were being paid but were doing nothing to stop the unjust water tax.

Eventually, under intense public and peer pressure to conform, placed in a pressure-cooker atmosphere, where the thesis-antithesis-synthesis method could be applied, the desired outcome was achieved.  A cobbled together coalition was established at St Andrews, the politicians were applauded and rewarded, and the threat of water charges mysteriously disappeared.

Seeker Sensitive/Purpose Driven Ecclesiology.

But is it possible that such tactics could ever be introduced into a Christian church, and if they were what outcome would be envisioned for congregations?  Those in the evangelical wing of the church who are applying the leadership strategies of Philip Drucker, as popularised by Willow Creek and Saddleback, have been taught the strategies of Helegian Dialectic (even though they may not have heard it so called). They manipulate a church, a group, by using peer pressure, the desire to be part of the group and to be accepted by introducing ‘buzz words’ – phrases to effect a collective mindset and thus to achieve the thesis (vision) of the facilitator (pastor) by overcoming objections.  Now what are these words and phrases?  Here’s just a few…

Change the world. (Or ‘make a difference’). We are not commissioned by Jesus to go out and change the world, or to make a difference.  We are commissioned to go into the world and preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments and make disciples.

Purpose.  ‘God has a purpose for you, and if you will just let him, God will help you to realise your purpose and live your best life now.’  Based on a misinterpretation and distortion of Jeremiah 29:11. ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’  – This is NOT the gospel, for living a life of purpose cannot cleanse you from your sin, and make you acceptable to God – only Jesus can do that, and He did it on the Cross.

Vision. This is a frequent buzz word in seeker-driven churches, used to manipulate the congregation to fall in behind the pastor’s aspirations.  He ‘casts his vision’ and the people must ‘catch the vision’ that is being cast, laying aside their own beliefs and ideas, and uniting ‘for the good of the community’ behind the vision given to the visionary pastor.  Again this is not biblical.  A pastor or a church has no right to opt out of the Great Commission to work on an individual vision supposedly given to him by extra-biblical revelation.  Often, church members who dissent from the visionary leader’s vision are simply expelled from fellowship, or to quote one visionary, ‘they are under the bus.’

Dream bigger (Or, God will help you realise your dreams). Utter nonsense.

Watch out for them in your church, and be aware of what is happening.  You may hear phrases like these being repeated in ‘sermons’ or read them frequently in the church magazine.  The likelihood is that your pastor has been infected by ‘seeker-sensitive’ or ‘purpose driven’ thinking, and is starting to practice the techniques taught, the management practices and strategies of this world, based on Hegelian Dialectic and Druckerite techniques.  Look at the list of speakers who have been invited to influence Christian pastors at the Willow Creek Leadership Conferences; people like Bill Clinton, who spoke to Christian Leaders right at the height of his scandalous and immoral presidency.  This year one of the speakers is Liz Wiseman who, according to the Willow Creek website,

…coined the term “Multipliers” to describe leaders who amplify the intelligence of others utilising specific practices to deliver twice the performance for their organisations.

So what are the ‘specific practices’ and what has any of this got to do with biblical church leadership, the role of a pastor, as shepherd of a flock, faithfully teaching the word of God, visiting the sick and dying, administering the sacraments?

If you are bold enough to go to the Word of God and advise the pastor that you would prefer him to use biblical language when preaching, to use theological and doctrinal terms and concepts instead of the language of worldly leadership techniques, you will probably be called a hater, and probably your time in that church will be seriously limited.

The Biblical Motif of Leadership

So, how should a pastor influence his congregation?  Not by the methods of worldly philosophy or business practice, or even by imitating politicians.  Paul clearly warns us in Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. We must look to the Scriptures for our leadership strategies for the church for to exercise false leadership in the church is a very serious matter indeed;

1 Timothy 4:2: through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,

1 Timothy 6:3: If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,

2 Timothy 4:3: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Titus 1:11: They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

2 Peter 2:1: But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

With regard to the leader of any church, the Scriptures teach us what is:-

* His aim.

To Point to Christ.

Acts 8:35: Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

Acts 9:20: And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

Acts 17:3: explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

1 Corinthians 1:23: but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

2 Corinthians 4:5: For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

* His technique.

To be a SHEPHERD, not a visionary or a CEO.

Jeremiah 3:15: “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.

Jeremiah 23:4: I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD. 

Acts 20:28: Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

1 Peter 5:2: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

To be a WATCHMAN.  To exercise a discerning leadership, keeping watch over the flock of God, not to be a wolf in sheep’s clothes, who lets the world attack the flock.

Hebrews 13:17: Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.  

Ezekiel 33:6: But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. 

James 3:1: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

To TEACH SOUND DOCTRINE.

Matthew 28:20: teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

1 Timothy 3:2: Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

1 Timothy 4:11: Command and teach these things.

1 Timothy 6:2: Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.  Teach and urge these things.

2 Timothy 2:25: correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

* His demeanour.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 

* His reward.

2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 

Luke 6:35: But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

John 4:36: Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.

None of these biblical objectives and practices will be found in any modern leadership guide, management technique course or ‘dialectic approach to achieving consensus with a group dynamic.’  Pastors and leaders must diligently study God’s word, and with the help of God, practice it.

Bob McEvoy,

March 2014

2 Comments
  1. Eric McComb permalink

    An excellent piece of work Robert very challenging and extremely timely, Many thanks.

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