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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Philosophy of Meritocracy Not For Me

This past Tuesday I was riding down the road listening to my usual talk radio, and the Sean Hannity show was on. Hannity was interviewing Senator George Allen (R-VA) about the relief and recovery efforts concerning Hurricane Katrina. From the brief interview with Allen, Hannity was quite impressed with Allen's philosophy of life and politics, so much so that he predicted on the air that Allen would be a presidential candidate (or should be) in '08. There was something Allen said that struck me. Upon speaking of how victims of Katrina cope with the aftermath and how the American people have aided with goods and services, Allen described what he called "meritocracy" - that is, the philosophy that everyone contributes to the overall good of others, as in a team effort. This all sounds good, but what Allen was purporting in his "meritocracy" is the mentality that in the society, the only ones which should receive aid and comfort are those who "merit" such goods and services. If you don't contribute, then you are not worthy of help of any sort. This sounds like the morality of hard capitalism at its core - if you have something to offer (goods and services), then we have something to give back to you (loyalty, investments, etc.). This is meritocracy in action. For Christians, it is very easy to align ourselves to the conservative political ideology or Republican party. Now I am not advocating the extreme alternative (communism), but I do believe that this morality of capitalism is dangerous for Christians, and we should be wary of such ideology from conservative politicians. The consequences of such philosophy reduces human beings to utility and pragmatism. If you can be utilized, then you have value to society, but if you, can't, then, good luck. Can you think about how antithetical this is to biblical spirituality and priorities of the kingdom? What about the elderly that we should honor? What about the poor and oppressed that we should embrace? What about the widow and orphan that we should visit and care for? These don't have much to offer, and yet Christ and Scripture emphatically speaks of them highly favored of God and precious in his sight. Let me give you just one example of exhortation from the words of Jesus: "When you give a dinner or banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." Luke 14:12-14 Precisely because we believe in the resurrection and are citizens of another kingdom, we should reject the philosophy of meritocracy. We should invest in people who are not viewed in light of utility or pragmatism but in light of the mercy and grace of God. On what merit did we find favor with God? What did we have to contribute to the kingdom of God on our own but our own condemnation? What goods or services can we provide that would make us worthy of God's investment in us? Answer: Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. If God were to treat us as Senator Allen tells us we should treat one another, then all humanity would be consigned to damnation. We exist because of grace, and in each and every moment thereafter salvation is lived in light of and by means of God's amazing grace. It is what God gives generously and freely to those who are most undeserving. Mercy is God withholding in compassion and kindness what we rightfully and justifiably should receive. Whatever we have (grace), and whatever we don't have (mercy) [that we should] is entirely of God. The kingdom of God and its morality is not based upon the philosophy of meritocracy but the mercies of God. American Christians must be careful not to buy into such a utilitarian, secular, capitalistic philosophy lest life be deduced to efficiency and worldly success. We do not treat each other because of what they can offer us, but we treat them because of what Christ has offered to them. Bring not your performance or your services (Pharisee) but your sin, and all of it to Jesus (the Publican). It would be good for us all at times to evaluate how much of our thinking and convictions whether they are political, social, or theological are based upon sources outside of Scripture and the values of the kingdom of God. I don't know if Allen is running for President or not, but I do know the Author of Life and King of the Ages who has spoken acceptance and grace to bankrupt sinners and is bringing them to a country where meritocracy cannot be found. Therefore, while I am here on earth, I must say that meritocracy is not for me - that is, if I really believe in the resurrection of the righteous.


Blogger AlphaOmega said...

Seconded. It may have taken 6 years to reach me in Bristol, U.K. but very helpful comments. Thank you.

6/01/2011 02:27:00 PM


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