relativism

Morality – The Real Target of Relativity

If the basic entities of the cosmos are persons, not things, not atoms, quarks, or some other latest smallest being, not electromagnetism or gravity, not cosmological constants, then the investigation of how persons, not things, begin will yield more information on the meaning of life, and put scientific re-search into the beginnings of nature in its proper and most fruitful perspective. We will occasionally be looking at how immature persons develop into mature persons to make a point about logic, meaning, and how we know what we know.

We are not taught any more in most schools, though we ought to be, how humble grammar-school grammar is the way any language formulates logic and meaning. The lesson was implicit in the “trivium” which we inherited from that benighted Middle Ages. To learn grammar is to learn logic. As my (public) high school English teacher in 1952 strictly informed us, “If you cannot say it in good English (or whatever your language), you don’t know it yet.”

Today in some schools, she would be fired for saying such a thing. Competent science will not long survive that kind of treatment. The real target of our cultural “relativity” has not been truth. Everyone needs some bits and pieces of truth just to survive. The target has been moral truth, a casualty of our drive for moral autonomy, our drive to be independent, autonomous decision-makers, to be “as God”, as the serpent in the Garden of Eden promised Eve. Even the teenage street urchins understood the 1962 Engel v. Vitale decision to be the end of moral responsibility. They understood the power of the big “SEZ WHO???” If there is no God, or if He can be successfully dismissed by the Supreme Court, then (as Ivan responds to Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov) nothing can be forbidden.

We now have, for surely the first time in human history, school children taking deadly weapons to each other — for fun! That alone should scare the reader into asking how we got to this state of affairs. This book is part of my answer to the big “SEZ WHO???”, which is part of my answer to the science-vs.-religion “problem”. Science itself does not require morality. Any adequately trained criminal can follow scientific procedure, just as any criminal can train a football team by the rules of football.

But the scientific community and its place in society does require moral responsibility for its declarations and predictions to be believable — a passionate moral commitment for getting at the truth of a matter. That is so, just as a sports league requires morally responsible trainers, players, and referees for the results of contests to be believable. The enormous intellectual authority accorded by the public to the scientific community rests (or should rest) solidly on an earned (as in healthy track-record) reputation for honesty.

In other words, truth and morality each depend on the other. Neither will long survive without the other. And the authority which science bears in society depends fully on the commitment of the scientific community to being truth-seekers, to protecting and defending the common public ground of truth-seeking — at any cost to themselves.

If that is the case, it is worth noting that both the ontological and the moral foundations of Western science are the result largely of the Biblical worldview, and will not survive without it.

Just for good measure, I will venture another prediction, that, again, as we begin to see the essential unity of science and Biblical religion, we will discover with it the essential naturalness of what we commonly call miracles, that miracles appear “miraculous” (strange, astonishing, foreign) only from the fallen world’s point of view. If the Biblical worldview, along with the extraordinary gracefulness of the Biblical God, is true, then one might not be surprised to find that the closer one moves toward a relationship with this gracious God, sovereign over all, that the forces of nature might well obey the commands of those who have this kind of close relationship with this Creator of all things.

And in all of that, science, truth-seeking, will be fulfilled, not compromised. So, my answer to the title question of this section is that science and Biblical religion both logically and practically require each other, and that neither will survive in any very helpful manner without the other.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was originally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

christarchitect

The Two Basic Laws of Science, Religion, & Rationality

The fundamental laws of rationality are also the fundamental laws of the Biblical worldview.

 

The two laws of Non-Contradiction & Sufficient Cause (sometimes misleadingly call the law of Sufficient Reason) are the rock bottom foundation of logical and empirical evidence.  It was the unique combination of those two laws during the late middle ages which led to first a freemarket of ideas which then led to the rise of science.

Non-Contradiction:

The Law of Non-Contradiction states that “nothing can both be and not be at the same time, place, and respect.”  A light can be red at one moment and green or yellow at another moment, but it cannot be both red and green at the same time and place.  The color is the “respect” in this case.

This is the fundamental law of the Cosmological Argument for God (see Personality, Empiricism, & God)  God is the differentiator between the possible and the existing.  He who Is absolutely gives existence to that which is contingently.  So the difference between being and non-being, between existence and non-existence, must be clear and precise.  The very nature of God as Creator ex-nihilo itself ensures that.   Only so can the cosmos be rational, thus providing a basis for science.

Sufficient Cause

The law of sufficient cause states that every event must have a sufficient cause, that is, the law of nature, given by God, specifies that the cosmos is rational, not random chance and thus unpredictable.  The “sufficiency” is rationally set by natural law as given by God.  No one would think that a large dump truck being overturned and smashed could be caused by a 3-year old riding carelessly on his tricycle.  The alleged cause would not measure up to the effect.

It was often first called the law of sufficient reason because Western philosophy was dominated by the rationalist oriented Greek philosophical tradition.  Abstractions (such as reason) were treated as though they could cause events.  But the principle of sufficient reason tended to spurn the empirical world and to exalt the logical, intellectual world as the more real than the physical world.  That error was a major hangup in the development of Western philosophy and science (see Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth.  It is the sufficient cause, not sufficient reason, which gives the empirical world its rational character.

The Hebrew focus on the empirical world of time and space, insisting that God Himself quite naturally and easily invested Himself in that world of His own creating, was for centuries in Christian thinking overshadowed by that Hellenic preference for the logical and abstract as the more real — as with Plato’s Ideas.  So, despite the Biblical influence, the empirical world for centuries got short shrift.

But that began to change in the late Middle Ages when there developed the floating free-market of ideas, which then was institutionalized into the great universities of Europe, at Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Rome, etc.  From those universities developed Western science.  The budding scientists threw off the Hellenic/pagan worldview but kept the Greek tools of abstract reasoning, importing those tools into the Biblical worldview of the particular, personal, temporal, spatial, and material.

For the first time in human history, there was a sophisticated intellectual mechanism for studying the world in which human relationships took place, planned by God for the Kingdom.  Those Greek tools of the intellect, it is beginning to be discovered, work far better in the Biblical worldview than in the pagan/secular worldview.

But Christians lost the initiative, early on rejecting reason, and pitting it against revelation.  Other than using force to convert people, that was the worst mistake the Church of God ever made.  The anti-intellectual (and unBiblical) stance aided and abetted the rise of secularism and rejection of Biblical faith.

Christians are beginning to discover the power of science for explaining, not trashing, the Biblical view.  The 21st century thus bids fair (if we do not first self-destruct) to be a powerful renewal of Biblical civilization.  The wedding of reason to revelation creates the Biblical 2-edged Sword of the Spirit, an invincible weapon — reason and revelation welded back to back.

Both fundamental laws of rational thinking are foundational to the Biblical worldview.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was oiginally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Absolute-Truth

Putting Truth Ahead of God?

Imade the statement at a recent church meeting that we needed to learn how to put truth ahead of God. There were some raised eyebrows. The thought seems rather irreverent at first, until you examine the logic of the statement and just what Scripture says and implies on the matter.

Putting truth ahead of God is a challenging way of saying, “Be truth-seekers before you are position-defenders.”  Putting truth-seeking before position-defending is putting God first, because that is the only way to ensure that you are arriving at the true God.

God is creating a freewill covenant, one in which all parties are given the terms of the covenant and introduced to the parties involved. That sets them free to decide “yes” or “no” to the covenant. God does not twist our arms, He sets us free because He wants only willing participants.

The covenant is defined by the two Great Commandments, to love God and our neighbor. Love is a free gift, not coerced or mind-controlled.  So the two highest commandments in the universe (love God and neighbor) are about freedom, not compulsion.  Logic thus tells us that putting truth ahead of God (or in any decision at all) is necessary to genuine freedom and assent.  Truth is the common ground upon which alone any two persons can communicates.  All else is smoke, mirrors, and confusion.

God knows that and plans accordingly.  In I Kings 18:17 ff., Elijah challenges his own people, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him.”  He then proposed an experiment to see who was indeed God. Elijah, at the command of God, was putting the case for God right out in the open to a fair contest.  The real God would be the one that showed up to prove His own case.

In other words, Elijah was challenging the people to test to see who was the real God.  And he was also putting God on the spot, expecting Him to show up. (Elijah was in deep trouble if God did not.)  That is the meaning of putting truth ahead of God. When God tells Isaiah (1:18), “Come, let us reason together…,” He is implying the same thing, that we should, as John says centuries later, “test the spirits to see if they are of God…” (I John, 4:1).  But you do not know ahead of time whether the testing you are doing will be of a faithful prophet, a false prophet, or of God Himself.

Job speaks the same language in 13:7 ff., chastising his three friends for “speaking falsely for God”.  Job is saying that we insult God if we think Him less than honest in His approach to us, lacking intellectual credibility.  God does not want to be defended other than by the truth, come what may, and will chastise those who try to defend Him unworthily (as He does at the end).  But that means putting truth ahead of God.

And most important of all, Jesus Himself, His very Incarnation, implies putting truth ahead of all other obligations.  The kenosis, the self-emptying (Philippians 2), is what makes the Incarnation meaningful and powerful, and is what creates the level playing field upon which God will meet us.

All this means becoming truth-seekers before position-defenders.  That is not because positions are unimportant, but rather because they are so important.  Only by being truth-seekers, letting the truth and the Lord of truth speak for themselves can we hope to come to the true position.  We have to let go to receive.  The way to be truth-seekers is to be honest observers and honestly reasoning from those observations to the truth.

God thus arranges creation as a level playing field upon which He will meet us on equal terms.  He does not become less than God, but He humbles Himself to talk with us in honest conversation — precisely that for which Job stoutly and rightly contends.  God does not (as pictured by the Muslim view of Allah) stand on His dignity, insisting, “I am God, so just listen to Me!”  God holds Himself responsible for making sense in a manner that we can understand.  That is the only way that God can set us free to make an honest decision for or against the covenant.

If a person has a false view of God (all fallen persons do), and if therefore that view needs to be corrected, then we must all put truth-seeking ahead of our current image of God.  Otherwise we have no hope of ever having our current and false image of God corrected by anyone, not even by God Himself.  What else could correct a false image but a true image?  And where is the true Image, but in God Himself?  Putting truth ahead of God is therefore not demeaning God, it is submitting to the very process which will lead to Him.  God Himself draws us through that process to Himself.  There is no other way.

There is thus an implied First Commandment, underlying and prior to all other commandments, “Thou shalt be a truth-seeker — at any cost to thyself.”  Only if we put truth first before all things have we any hope of arriving at truthful answers to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual problems of the Fall.  God knows that, which is why He sets up the cosmos in that manner.  One supposes that that commandment is not stated openly in Scripture because, prior to our modern invention of “relative” truth, no one supposed anything else than an objective obligation to truth-seeking.  People may have lied, but they would not have defended lies as a good thing.  They knew what lies were and that they were wrong.

No religion or philosophy outside of the Bible even comes close to promoting that kind of freedom and intellectual integrity.  The standard in both secular and pagan worlds is power struggle.  Might, not truth, makes right.

This means that God (not human scholars, philosophers, academicians, etc.) owns the intellectual, moral, and spiritual high ground — all three.  It means that the Kingdom is built on truth or it is not built at all.  It means that the Kingdom IS that intellectual, moral, and spiritual high ground.  The Kingdom is reality at its fullest and deepest.  God is inviting His fallen people to come and stand at the center of reality, there on that high ground with Him.  So, like clarity, honest truth-testing, which produces clarity, always favors the Kingdom of God.

America, quo vadis? 

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was originally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Post-Modern Despair, Apathy… …& Standing for Truth

But why reason at all? we hear from post-moderns (po-mo’s) and other believers in relative truth. Does not reasoning lead to arguing, and is that not counter-productive?

The short answer is that ideas have consequences. It makes a life-and death difference as to which religion, which philosophy, which worldview, is the truth of the matter. Either we find out or continue in our self-destructive confusion. And, no, reasoning does not need to lead to hostile confrontation.

The hostility does not come from reasoning, it comes from resistance to reasoning, resistance to being open to correction by truths. Truth (reality) does not get out of the road for anybody, truth is the road. So we had better learn how reasonably to navigate it.

The attack on reason is no longer so much from a rigidly fundamentalist Christian point of view as from post-modernism having wafted into the life of Western Civilization. If secular science has failed us, then it must be because reason itself is not a valid tool for resolving vital issues — or so we have concluded. But science is different from secularized science.

Some post-modernists are sincere, reacting to the obvious and massive failure of secularized science and reason over the 20th century. But science and secularized science/reasoning are two quite different things. Secularization is a metaphysical decision, though seldom recognized as such. And the option least imaginable by almost anyone is that reason is God’s way, and that it ought to be the Judeo-Christian way. Almost no one thinks of God as being reasonable, let alone holding the intellectual high ground.

The fate of those who believe truth to be relative, however, is to become the victims of every charlatan and manipulator coming down the road.

Advertisers, media people, lawyers, politicians, and spiritual leaders are taught how to influence persons through fundamentally dishonest means, through emotional appeal, shame, guilt by association, etc.[1]Fact and logic are intentionally and selectively factored out of the discussion. Students in captive audience classes (mandatory and coercively enforced school attendance) are taught that truth and morality are relative — and are behaving with appropriately disastrous consequences.

We must cut to the chase, and force the issue before especially the young: For what are you willing to die? For what are you willing to dedicate and sacrifice your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor…, if not for the truth? Are you willing to stand, come what may, to defend the open arena of honest public discussion and truth-testing? What do you want to pass on to your children and grandchildren…., if not a respect for truth, righteousness, and love?

Loss of truth has led directly to the lethal malaise in dying Europe. With no truth, there is nothing much left to live for, except “feeling good”, and that, after a while, gets boring. Europe is dying of boredom. The trashing of truth comes from two sources: (1) deep despair about life, and (2) willful intent to manipulate the public. In the end, it comes from the father of lies. Only dishonest persons can benefit from the trashing of truth.

And furthermore, manipulators do not really believe truth to be relative even though naive and gullible folks can be suckered in for a while. No one can live by relative truth in actual practice. Promoters of it want the rest of us to believe truth to be relative, and hence not defend our truth, only so that they can insert their version of objective truth unopposed.

That is betrayal of the most profound sort, and should be firmly treated as such. But there is a relatively easy way to find out who is and is not sincere: Ask (yourself first, then the other): If you were wrong, would you want to know? And are you willing to work together to find ways to test between our opposing views to see which is right?

If there is no reasonable and honest response, you know that you are not in an honest conversation. You are in spiritual warfare. As John Macmurray told us, all thought is for the sake of action, and all action is for the sake of relationship.[2] There is no escaping the intimate connection between what we think and how we relate. Ideas have relationship consequences. If you want your relationships to go well, as many po-mo’s do, you must clarify your ideas and commitments.

 


 

[1] Read, for example, After the Ball, by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, one an expert in intelligence testing, the other an expert in advertising, both well equipped to mount their self-styled “propaganda” program to convert America to acceptance of homosexuality. The Episcopal “liberal” program of the 1990’s to do the same thing in the Episcopal Church was (for anyone who had eyes to see) a blatant mind-control program. But Episcopal conservative leadership was either too ignorant, prudish, or cowardly to stand up to the nonsense. And worse, they did not want to be told how they might win the struggle for sexual sanity. They had no concept of marshalling evidence and presenting a compelling case. They had been “post-modern-ized”, and so were out-debated, out-flanked, and out-maneuvered by persons who had no intention of allowing any thing so dangerous to their program as honesty.

[2] See his two books, Persons in Relation and The Self as Agent.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article is an extract from the Preface (D-2) of Dr. Fox’s book A Personalist Cosmology in Imago Dei: Personality, Empiricism & God, Vol. I. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

rodneyreason

The Middle Class & Imago Dei: Why the Middle Class is a Godly Foundation for Freedom & Prosperity

Why is there a Middle Class?

I grew up thinking of the middle class as just a natural part of any society, that there was a normal spread of the poor, the middle, and the rich in any society.  I thought that the middle class was lacking in the early eras of Western Civilization because we had not yet become rich enough as a culture. 

I was puzzled by people who wrote about the “rise” of the middle class as a new thing, almost unique to the West.  Why the West?  Didn’t every culture at least potentially have a middle class?  It was probably Rodney Stark’s two books, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, and then, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts, and the End of Slavery, which triggered my thoughts in the following direction, but there had been vague inklings in years prior. 

In the middle of July, 2012, I awoke with Stark and several other sources percolating in my mind, with a startling and thrilling new thought: the Middle Class is designed by God for a purpose, having to do with the Image of God, the Imago Dei

This does not mean that all middle class persons are Godly, far from it.  The unGodly middle classers will themselves torpedo their own class.  We are to be obedient to God to keep His blessings.  When we disobey, His blessings become unavailable—by our own actions. 

The middle class, I had come to recognize, is the fundamental engine which has driven Western economic success, and, indirectly, politics and government.  The middle class is the engine which has lifted up whole national economies.  The rich do not do that, or only rarely.  They were in control and had slaves to do their bidding.  There were two basic classes, (1) the rich and powerful, and (2) the poor, divided between the slaves and everyone else. 

A college history professor told the story of a Roman emperor (I do not recall which) who was having demonstrated before him a road-laying machine invented by one of his subjects.  It apparently worked impressively, and would thus be a wonderful tool for the road-building Romans.  But, he told the inventor, “Burn it!”   When asked why, the emperor replied, “What would I do with all my slaves?” 

The emperor (along with probably everyone else) did not expect “progress” or “betterment” of the lives of people, other than that obtained by force of arms or inheriting a fortune.  Might made right.  The thought of betterment just did not occur among pagan cultures.  Slaves were to be slaves, that was the way it was.  Social levels were pretty much in cement—if the upper class had anything to do with it.  They wanted stability, not freedom.  There was no concept of the grinding poverty of the poor ever changing.  The rich had no incentive to make life better for the poor.  Their incentive was stability in their culture, not change.  Change agents were heretics to be gotten rid of.  The investment of the powerful was in keeping the status quo. 

There have been, of course, “small business” men and women since the first village markets.  But much of it was by barter, with no or little banking system, and thus could never develop the wealth which began in the Middle Ages.  And, most importantly, there was little or no sense of personal value—as would have a child of God. 

All this was true because in paganism there is no such thing as the Image of God in which we are made and loved, as we meet in the Bible. 

Church & State

But after Constantine made Christianity legal, things began to move in a different direction.  The struggles between Church and State were partly about the sovereignty of God over all civil government, and the growing notion that came to fruition in the pre-Reformation centuries, that (as John Wycliffe put it) God wants a government of, by, and for the people, later echoed by Abraham Lincoln. 

1215 saw the signing of the Magna Carta, forced on King John by his barons, to limit the tyrannical power of the king.  The Archbishop of Canterbury was involved in the writing of the document.  It was the first time the authority of an English king had been forcibly limited by his own subjects.

The Magna Carta had a trickle down effect as citizens below the rank of baron also began to claim rights under the king, leading eventually to the principle that “a man’s house is his castle”, and that no person could be arbitrarily punished by the state. 

The growth in the academic world during the Middle Ages of a freemarket of ideas would eventually support the notion of universal individual freedom, still yet a long way off.  This freemarket of ideas became institutionalized in the newly forming universities of the great cities of Europe. 

Out of these universities sprung science, a combination of the Hebraic world of particular things, history, and a rational world built by a rational God wedded to the gift of abstract thinking developed by the Greek philosophers.  The blend resulted in science—a culturally supported freemarket of ideas, research, and a level playing field in which anyone might express his viewpoints, and not be shot at dawn if he lost the debate.  And then an increasing development of technology (ships, weapons, new plows, pianos, clocks, horse harnesses, etc.), mostly unheard of in pagan cultures (see the two books above by Rodney Stark).

The key behind all this was the uniquely Biblical belief that all men were created equal, that we all stand equally before God, so all equally before any government on earth, and are therefore equally free to engage ourselves in productive enterprises for the benefit of ourselves, our families, and our society.  Lower and lower classes began demanding the freedoms being gained by those “above” them.  Contrary to the typical pagan attitude, the world was deemed rational, orderly, and improvable.  Life could get better, not only politically, but physically and financially as we developed new ways of constructing and manufacturing.  

All of this was generated out of the Biblical moral and spiritual framework which valued time, space, and the sacramental life where the physical revealed (not hid or destroyed) the spiritual, the Image of God.  Most of this new energy came from the bottom up, not from the power-pyramid top down.  Individuals and families were set free by this new resource to be creative.  So long as this took place within the Judeo-Christian framework, it was understood that individuals were a part of that larger community, the Kingdom of God, which the Church was to represent.  People came to be respected and respectable because they were well off and capable—independently of their prior social status.  The new Entrepreneurial Middle Class was forming—because the law and the grace of God were significantly (if not perfectly) respected. 
  

Is Capitalism Selfish?

The notion that capitalism is selfish is foolishness.  Capitalism cannot be selfish, only people can be.  But good and generous people can be capitalists.  The mere fact of making money is no more selfish than growing a crop, or than raising taxes from those who do make money.  The issue is whether the actors act honestly and intelligently for themselves and for the whole community. 

Freemarket capitalism is one of the great barriers to the most selfish and destructive of all forms of government— centralization in the hands of a few or a class.  Capitalism becomes evil for the most part when it buys out politicians and co-opts the coercive force of government in its favor.  But that is no longer capitalism, it might be called corporate monopolism, as we see all through the West.  A government properly limited to being referee and run by honest citizens would be the best proof against that kind of evil.  The separation of commerce and state is just as important as the proper separation of church and state.  And for the same reasons, the danger of the abuse of power.  

Taking care of oneself and one’s family is not selfish, any more than putting on one’s own oxygen mask in an airplane before helping one’s child.  One can be of assistance to others only to the degree that he is healthy and capable of doing so.  Capitalism vastly increases that ability, and tends to disperse the wealth throughout the market rather than concentrate it.  The primary wrongful concentrator of wealth is civil government unlimited by the law of God.   The powerful among the pagans did not redistribute wealth in a healthy manner, and neither do secular “liberals”.   Judeo-Christians, if they are obedient to the law of God, will limit government as in the American Constitution, and set free the market to run its own affairs, with government only as referee. 

In the Old Testament, God is continually urging the people, as in Deuteronomy 8:18, “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth; that he may confirm his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as at this day.”  See also Joshua 1:1-9.   God wants to confirm His covenant with us, in which He promises to make us flourish.  That is part of the meaning of the law being made for man, not man for the law.  Following the law naturally and organically leads to success.  Just like following the directions for maintaining your automobile.   

And in the New Testament, we hear Jesus telling the disciples, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these [material blessings] will be yours as well” (Matthew 6:25-33).   Spiritual obedience leads to material success.  That is not true in the foolish sense of thinking that God is obligated to honor our requests.  Success comes from obedience, following the way of the cross, not from our “claiming it” from God.  There are no claims we can make on God.  Obedience might lead through very tough times, especially when repentance is required.  But in the end, it leads to success in all the ways which God has promised in His covenant with us—the Kingdom, all the riches of heaven.   

The socialist/communist solution to economic problems gives the economic power into the hands of those who already own (or want to own) all the weapons (the government), a perfect prescription for tyranny (as in “the perfect storm”).  All of the available evidence tells us that the concentration of power into the hands of any group or person will end, not in a just and righteous redistribution of wealth, but in the concentration of wealth into the hands of those with the power.  Power must be distributed in order to keep the wealth distributed—as in the separation of powers and federalism upon which our constitution is formed.   

Government centralizers are enemies of God, of the American Constitution, and thus of we, the people.  That is true, as the founders of America stated, because we humans are not angels, and need “help” in loving one another.  The only effective antidote to the concentration of power is the law and the grace of the living God which dictates the separation and dispersion of power and authority.  
   

The Rise & Fall of the Middle Class

 Napoleon derisively called the English “a nation of shopkeepers”, i.e., unfit to make war on France, in contrast to themselves as the cultured and civilized, and so, one supposes, themselves the elite with the right to make war on whomever they so desired (as Napoleon murderously did).  But it was those “shopkeepers”, those entrepreneurs, who kept producing better ships, weapons, and other goods which enabled Britain to dominate the world for a century.  And it was Napoleon, whose government was centralized around himself, who put the newly growing middle class again in certain peril. 

The British (et al) defeated Napoleon, but lost their lead in the economic race, because, as with George III, they would not support the freedoms of the rising middle class in America and so lost America.  Americans understood that their economic (as well as political and spiritual) freedoms were from God, not from George III. 

The genius of entrepreneurship thus shifted to America, the new land of the free and home of the brave, where, for perhaps the first time in history, the common man could own land securely and outright, not as renting a plot in the king’s realm, but full ownership.  He could then use his land as secure collateral for a bank loan to start a farm or business.  Fueled by such advantages, the entrepreneurial enterprise took off all across America.  Newly freed individuals were having a very successful go at producing the “good society”.  

It could have worked, not perfectly but substantially, had the people kept their covenant with God as indicated in the Declaration of Independence.  They understood themselves to be separating from George III to become more rightly dependent upon and obedient to God Himself.   “No king but Jesus!” proclaimed the Presbyterian clergy.  

But, sadly, it does not appear that the arrival of the middle class was understood by many, even in America, as a gift from God, and that God, not secularism, was bringing civilization to a new level of maturity, based on the principle of equality in the Image of God.  Too many Christians had misunderstood and rejected the Biblical cooperation between spiritual and material, and saw politics and economics as “unspiritual”.  They wanted to be “spiritual” in a manner that was not Biblical.  It came to be called “pietism”.  The Christians were thus unable to keep the powerhouse of the rising economy united with their God-given limited government for a free people.  Christians failed to see and proclaim that it was God, not a secular economic and political structure, that was blessing them materially. 

So, by the end of the 1800’s, the whole process was being successfully secularized, due largely to the failure of Christians to defend their case in public, and to the newly-recast-by-secularists “positivist” law which rejected God as  the source of all government authority.  It had taken over a millennia for the notion of the equality of all men everywhere to effectively challenge the pagan belief that the strong can and should rule the weak, that slavery is natural, and that might makes right.  It took less than a century in the West for it to be shredded. 
   

The French Revolution

The negative reaction had begun with a vengeance in the late 1700’s.  The ink had hardly dried on the American Constitution. 

The French rejection of God, intended nor not, meant the rejection also of individuality in any healthy sense.  The atomized secular individual is easy prey for centralized government.  It might have been largely the newly emerging French middle class, who were champing at the bit for freedom and saw both Church and State as their enemies.  They did not see that the proper wedding of Church and State would be their best friend, and so the French middle class became its own worst enemy. 

Americans saw it differently.  Only God can unite we, the people, in a substantial manner— by way of moral and spiritual consensus, to hold government on a tether so as to keep our freedoms from the ever-present danger of power-centralization.  That was why the rise of the middle class in America was so productive.  America began with the first substantial beginnings of that proper relation between Church and State, where the Church is the moral and spiritual teacher and the worship leader, but in a freemarket of ideas where it has to compete for adherents (that same freemarket which Christians began in the Middle Ages). 

In that arrangement, the government holds the gun of enforcement, but is tied by the Constitution to using the gun only as directed by the morally and spiritually informed public through their elected representatives.  That was the basic foundation of a government limited for the freedom of the people.  The Church part as worship leader and moral teacher was absolutely essential.  Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution could have been written by a non-Biblical people. 

The French Revolution was a counter-attack not just against the tyrannies of a decadently Christian Europe, it was in effect, even if not intended, a counter-attack against the growing freedom of the people.  That was evident from the very process of the French Revolution from one butchery to the next.  Despite their claims to be against the tyranny of the Church and royalty, they inspired a far more repressive tyranny, which did not take long to deploy itself in the form of Communism, the absolute centralization of all freedoms into the hands of the now secular central few. 

Communism was never about redistributing to the poor, other than for the “useful idiots” who believed such things, as Lenin himself said.  Communism is about redistribution fromboth the middle class and the poor, and from those rich who disagree, into the pockets of the centralized few.  A whole new aristocracy of secular sheer brute power—all for our good, of course. 

Communism has never been “for the people”.  Like Islam, it has flourished only under coercive centralization, by force.  No surprise that communism and Islam work so often together.  Communism has never been supported substantially by “the people” uprising to throw off the chains of capitalism.  Capitalism, under the law and grace of God and under a properly limited government, is by far the most effective and most just redistributor of wealth ever invented— which communism claims to be. 

It was Antonio Gramsci, a 1930’s Italian communist, who wrote the playbook, not for military takeover of the world as dictated by Lenin and Stalin, but by the long slow march through the cultural institutions, exactly what is happening today— with the Church and politicians stubbornly oblivious.  Or in cahoots.   (See also Yuri Besmenov, ex-KGB agent, interviewed by G. Edward Griffin.)
  

Equality of Results? or of Opportunity?

The French Revolution and its offspring put the unifying of the human race right back into the hands of the powerful, not into the hands of the righteous under God.  And that means the end of the middle class.  There are the rich and powerful and there are the poor and weak.  It is no accident that the central enemy of Communism is the middle class under God.  No centralized government, whether from the right, center, or left, can allow the free dynamism of a healthy middle class.  The middle class under God is a powerful block to tyranny.  Under the law and grace of God is how America was founded. 

Government-given equality is equality-of-results.  Government is unable to give equality-of-opportunity because that equality is based on the love of God for His people, the ability and right to be themselves by being made in the Image of God.  That ontological personal security, standing on the omnipotent Hand of God, hearing the commanding Word of God, is what sets individuals free to be productive in a cooperative and loving way.  The world cannot give that security (it is called “salvation”).   

Equal results requires massive coercion and control because a free people will not willingly line up in regimented rows of equal results.  Forced equal results thus drives out freewill equal opportunity.  Equal opportunity comes from the freewill moral and spiritual consensus of the people which allows each of them to participate in the community life as they believe God or their conscience to be leading them.  That freemarket of ideas again.  Their value and security as human beings (established by God) undergirds their participation, which is what gives it such power.  That is why all tyrants make war on Biblical religion. 

Without that affirmation of personhood from God, the fallen in the world must beg, borrow, or steal their sense of value from someone in the world.  Civil government is glad to pretend that it can give it, but is not capable of giving any person his value because government is not the creator of its citizens.  It is the creature of, and thus to be the servant of, the citizens under God. 
    

America becoming a “3rd-World” Nation

Over the 1900’s, we began to hear about “3rd world” nations, who, we thought, needed to be blessed by our shiny new secularized “liberal democracy“.  Liberal democracy (which is neither liberal nor democratic) is supposed to be the secular version of what God had given us, God no longer being thought essential to the project of the good life. 

“Blessing” Iraq that way was part of the justification for invading Iraq, and other meddlings abroad.  But so-called liberal democracy has rejected and lost what God had given America, the spiritual energy of a people free to be themselves under the law and grace of God, not under the say-so of their wanna-be human masters.  So the “3rd world” cannot be rescued by liberal democracy, which only puts them under a new and more competent overlord, now equipped with mind-control, and with surveillance and incarceration techniques beyond all previous imagination. 

We hear (perhaps accurate) predictions of America becoming a 3rd world country, due to our financial disabilities falling back into the poverty-ridden state of affairs.  The capacity for a people to generate wealth by capitalism depends on their having a dependable money and banking system, and a dependable government which referees honestly.  And those conditions require a moral commitment and consensus by the people— which only God can give. 

We in America lost both of those in any effective manner probably early in the 1900’s, at least by the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, beginning possibly as early as the war between the states.  Lawyers and politicians had by the 1850’s begun to make law without regard to the law of God—positivist law which claims to owe no allegiance to either the law of God or any other law higher than the government itself.  Positivist law effectively gutted the Constitution of its authority and legitimacy, which should have been considered an act of treason, but the watchmen in the Biblical towers were asleep somewhere in a poppy field. 

3rd world nations are those which have not yet raised up a middle class independent enough to govern their own decisions about the creation of wealth.  They still live under a government which controls from the top down, generally for its own benefit, not that of the people. 

Our present administration under Barak Obama is a long jump in that direction.  He is a government centralizer, and thus an enemy of God, of the Constitution, and of we, the people.  As Thomas Jefferson wrote of (and to) George III, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”   George III had not done nearly the damage which Obama and his handlers are doing.  They are moving America as close to communism as they can get it, openly, right in front of our eyes, and in the process, necessarily eroding the middle class, whom they want closely under government control.  Thus the middle class is reduced to poverty and the rich become corporate monopolists. 
   

Unity, Freewill, & Coercion 

Civil government is primarily (and rightly) about coercion.  Everything government does, it does at gunpoint.  We rarely see the gun when we agree with and obey the laws.  Some things ought to be coerced, such as keeping contracts, protection against robbery, murder, invasion, etc.  But only a few things ought to be coerced, which is why righteous government is severely limited.  Some things ought never be coerced, such as religion, education, health care, and welfare—prime targets of centralizers because they can be made into powerful tools of control—as ever communist knows.  Centralized government will try to coerce all of these, not to bless the people but to bless themselves with its control over them. 

Government produces nothing, so it can give only what it has taken away from someone else, which means, for example, welfare and generosity at gunpoint— what ought to be an obvious self-contradiction.  Government can give only through coercion.  But it is not rightly, and should not become, either a redistributor of wealth nor a producer of goods.  Its rightful role is primarily as referee in the game of life for the producers and consumers— which means that it may not play in the game. 

With the Biblical model, the unity of the people comes from their freewill decision to love and obey God and to love one another just as they love themselves.  With the secular/pagan model, there is no moral order, so unity of the people must be maintained by threat and coercion.  Top down coercion of equal results means the end of middle class entrepreneurship because the power of Godly entrepreneurship comes from the bottom up and from within, from one’s relationship to God which sets one free to be creative.  This kind of entrepreneurship is a gift of the Holy Spirit.  Civil government cannot give that gift of unity or entrepreneurship.  The American Declaration of Independence is thus the theological underpinning for all American civil government.
  

At a Crossroads

Europe has already chosen the wrong path.  America is at the same cross roads.  The forces of government centralization, mainly through government schooling, have captured the minds of our people, and pacified/neutralized/paralyzed most of those who disagree with them.  It will remain that way until the people, under the law and grace of God, are willing to confront, openly and vigorously, the government with that law and grace.

With God, no situation is hopeless, but we are far behind the 8-ball, and it will take a spiritual renewal in the Church of God to change things.  We face a spiritual far more than an economic or political problem.  That means the reconversion of the Church before the politicians.  The Moral Majority of some years ago, and many other attempts by Christians to change things ran aground on just these issues.  They should have aimed at the reconversion of their churches before reconversion of the politicians.  A 3rd-world country is one where the people have not yet been set free by the law and grace of God to manage their own prosperity.  That is what America is becoming because the Church, by and large, does not see the public realm as any of its business.  God does not agree. 

We will not have the right people in government until we have the right people in the pulpits and at the altars of America and as heads of their families— to raise up the right people for government and commerce.  We need a renewed black-robed regiment, like the Presbyterian preachers who proclaimed, to the dismay of the British under George III, “No king but Jesus!”.   Families and churches are the smithies where Godly souls are forged. 

That is again why centralized government makes war to subdue both of them.  “Public education”, taken out of the hands of parents, from birth to grave is the project of centralizers to reduce family and church to its own will.  Government control of education will subvert or destroy the freemarket of ideas because the governors will educate the people to reelect them.  Education then becomes a closed loop, mind-control, not a process open to exploring the truth. 

But, the centralizers know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.  We must rebuild a Church that does know, so that it can set the record straight on why God has given us a middle entrepreneurial class and a limited government.  The two go together.  God wants us to obey Him so that He can confirm His covenant.   No country needs to remain (or become) a 3rd-world country, but to change things requires submission to God. 

St. Peter was ministering in Rome, which was turning violent against Christians.  He was on his way out of Rome when the risen Jesus met him and asked, “Petrus, quo vadis?”  “Peter, where are you going?”   Peter understood and turned around back to Rome where he was later crucified upside down.  The path to success is not always easy, but it is always possible.  For the obedient, God will confirm His covenant with America (Bible, Declaration, and Constitution). 

America, quo vadis? 

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was oiginally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Gothic ceiling

A New Reformation

Every so often, we need a New Reformation, that is a new mining of both the Scriptures and whatever other knowledge we have gained for insight on how to deal with (1) challenges raised by secular or pagan people over the last <whatever> period of time, & with  (2) whatever faults might have arisen in the Church itself.

The Reformation of the 1500’s did just that, going back to the early Church fathers and the time of the New Testament to find a plumbline for their theology and practice.  It was successful in some ways, but failed in others.

And things have changed since the 1500’s.  New problems have been thrown at us, and we are a bit more knowledgeable about the human race and its condition.  The basics of Christian faith have not changed, but how we understand them has definitely shifted.  The Post-Reformation result of the Christian response has not been pretty, it has been often chaotic, divisive, and self-destructive.

There are three fundamental issues with which we must deal in a current New Reformation (there may, of course, be more, but these makes a good start):

 

1.  Epistemology – Science and Faith: Christians must come to terms with the rise of science and become truth-seekers above all else, that is, be willing to say, “If I am wrong, I want to know”.

Truth-seeking is the royal road to God, who is the Truth.  Truth-seeking is the first step of faith, beginning with the first curiosity of a small child.  Despite the nearly concurrent rise of science, which was all about being truth-seekers, the Reformation of the 1500’s did not get this principle clear.  In fact, in many cases, Christians went the wrong direction, we became hardened “position-defenders” rather than truth-seekers.  Afraid that honest science might disprove our faith, we could not honestly say, “If I am wrong, I want to know,” —  which in turn led quickly to the splintering of Christendom.  Without this focus on truth-seeking, we splintered into hardened defensive positions, and lost the battle for the soul of the West.

If we can imagine the two edges of the Sword of the Spirit (Hebrews 4:12) to be reason and revelation welded back to back, then we can use that image to show what happened to the Christian mind and spirit as secularists began successfully to split reason against revelation, pitting the Sword against itself.  A house divided.

It was just that split which was inherited by the American founding fathers as they struggled to put together their “new experiment” in civil government.  The masses of the American people were fairly unified in their Christian faith, and so were most of the politicians.  But the intellectuals in the colleges and universities were drifting ever more strongly toward what looked like the new intellectual wave, “enlightened” secularism, or a religion at least without revelation or a Trinity.  Reason alone, without revelation, would take care of us.  Hence the rising influence of Unitarians and Transcendentalists.  The problem was that both sides, pro-reason and pro-revelation, had a piece of the increasingly divided truth, but could not see that the two were complementaries, not opposites, and so began to conclude, disastrously, that reason and revelation were inherently at odds.

The truth is that reason cannot survive without revelation because science has a moral commitment to truth-seeking, without which it descends into just another facet of the current power struggle — as evident all through the late 19th and then 20th centuries.  Science became just as corrupted as religion, politics, etc.

And likewise, revelation will not survive without reason.  Is one to read the Bible unreasonably?  That would destroy the purpose of revelation — which is to reveal, clarify.  Are we not to read revelation logically and factually, making sense of it?  Revelation reveals with clarity, it does not muddy the waters and throw dust into the air.  The very act of reading at all requires grammar and logic.  Reason and revelation are eternally wedded in God.  We had better make it so among ourselves.  There is no other way to have clarity about God, the world, or ourselves.

But secularists continued to get more influence over the 19th century, and then won victory after victory during the 20th against a largely unreasoning Christian community.  Christianity was effectively run from the public square, mostly by secularists illegally capturing the already illegal government-run school system.

However, toward the end of the 20th century, and now increasingly in the 21st, Christians are catching on that God holds the intellectual high ground, not secular folks, and that Biblical faith is indeed the only fully reasonable way of understanding the cosmos and ourselves.  This becomes the more obvious as the Intelligent Design community does it work.  Secular and/or pagan evolution is a non-starter.  The reunion of reason to revelation, the two edges of the Sword of the Spirit, will provide a well-nigh invincible weapon against the utter nonsense into which the West has descended, on its trek through secularism, back again into paganism.
2. Gender in God: We must explore the Bible regarding both the masculine and feminine in God.  (See The Biblical Worldview, and Psychology, Salvation, & the Ordination of Women.)

There is often strong, but not well explained, resistance to the notion that God is our mother just as He is our father.  It has often been hinted and suggested that the Trinity is a family, but seldom, if ever, developed theologically.

One suspects that the resistance, especially among men, is the pagan/secular association of women with sexiness, seduction, and promiscuity.  The Biblical image is mothering — which means life-giving, faithfulness, and support, not sexiness.  Like reason and revelation, masculine and feminine necessarily imply each other.  And though the Bible does not call God our mother, there are passages from start to finish where God is described as relating to us in feminine, mothering ways.  God often uses marital imagery to describe His relationship with His people.

Seeing the feminine in God opens up vast resources for personalizing our relationship to God, resolves a host of issues which have arisen in our gender-contentious society, and need not at all be drawn into the pagan and secular scheme of things.  The Biblical view of motherhood is the best defense against the pagan/secular view.  Only the Biblical worldview can give us an answer to the perennial “war of the sexes”, which then provides a substantial and reliable answer to the sex and gender issues of our time.
3. The nature of Godly civil government:  Christians, for most of the last two centuries, lost their grip on what reformed theologians were beginning to understand in the 16- and 1700’s, and on what God provided for us in our own Declaration of Independence and Constitution: a limited government for a free people under God.  The Declaration and Constitution could have been written only by a Biblically literate and faithful people.

The task was not complete with the signing of the Declaration and then Constitution, however, and Christians of the 1800’s failed to finish securing and explaining those Biblical foundations.  So with the rise of “positivist law” over the 1800’s, denying any relation of civil law to the law of God or to a natural law, the secularists were able to gently nudge God out of the picture, with hardly an audible peep from the still majority of Christians in America.

American Christianity had lost its way.  But the political disasters of the 20th century have awakened Christians to the need to revisit our political foundations, that the so-called “separation of Church and State” is not what God had in mind.  There is a separation between Church and State — they have different tasks, but God rules over both of them.
These three issues, truth-seeking, gender in God, and civil government, must be dealt with in a New Reformation for our time.  As with the 1500’s, a true reformation goes back to mine the Scriptures for ways of dealing with our straying from the Biblical path and new insights into how to deal with current issues.  The nature of truth, gender, and government are key issues awash everywhere in the world today.  The Bible (and no other religion or philosophy) has good answers to all of them.

Christians are typically today unable to explain their faith in public.  They stick to inside the church walls, for the most part at least, and almost never appear in the political back rooms or on public stage with an audible faith.  That is primarily because Christians in the 1800’s began to oppose “reason” to “revelation”, tending to paint God as an arbitrary, tyrannical intellectual despot — much like the Muslim version of Allah.  The problem actually began early in Christian history, leading to a distortion of the Image of God which has plagued Christendom right up to the present.

God cranked up the intensity of the discussion by giving us the rise of science overlapping with the Reformation.  That challenged Christians to a deeper understanding of intellectual credibility — as part of the Imago Dei, and truth-seeking at the foundation of Biblical faith.  But for the most part, Christians (like the Hebrews rejecting the entry into Canaan – Num. 13-14) did not get it, failed God’s test, and rejected both science and the development of due process in government as being “secular”.  They were not.  They were both given specifically by God for His people.
There are signs that Christians are getting fed up with this nonsense, but we have a loooong way to go.   The Road to Emmaus is aimed to provide a clear explanation of the basics of the Biblical worldview and Christian faith which is logically seamless, no contradictions.  I have believed that to be possible since my junior year in college, and still believe it to be possible.  I believe that the already finished works on this website (see Shopping Mall) provide that logical consistency.  Some Christians might have to let go of a favorite doctrine to attain that consistency — as I have on occasion.  Let the reader decide.

If we are truth-seekers, we will reject statement contrary to known fact, and reject illogical statement as inadequate and unfinished.  We might hang onto the two ends of an apparent contradiction until it can be  resolved.  That is the intelligent way to handle contradictions — put it on a shelf until the conflict can be resolved.  That has happened over and over in my quest for this seamless garment of Christian faith.  I recommend it for all truth-seekers.
Below is a list of the central beliefs of the Christian faith in generic terms, as I would state them for a New Reformation.  They are “generic” in the sense of being non-denominational — the issues which are central to the Christian faith — but not how the details might be stated.  The denominational differences are the details to be worked out in that logically seamless way:
(1) Objective truth – the foundation of both reason and revelation.  (See Epistemology Library)

Christians rail at those who promote “relative” truth (which is a logical contradiction and is almost always manipulative).  But we have often ourselves failed to be true to the goal of logical consistency.  If truth is objective rather than relative, then we ought to be able to get at it by the normal means of investigation which we learn as we grow up into adulthood.   That is the Biblical position.

We live in a sacramental cosmos, in which the temporal, physical, spatial are all mixed up with the spiritual, metaphysical, and eternal.  The words ‘truth’ and ‘true’ together occur about 250 times in the Bible, always with positive meaning.  Truth is never denigrated.  It is taken for granted that truth-seeking and truth-speaking are expected and required by God (see, for example, 2 Cor. 4:1 ff; or, I Kings 18:17 ff.).

We must be truth-seekers before trying to be position-defenders.  Positions are very very important, but one gets to the true position only by being a truth-seeker.  When we become position-defender at the expense of truth-seeking, our positions petrify so that no intelligent discussion can take place.  No one is then willing to risk the hard work of truth-seeking, nor the chance that “my” position just might need some adjusting.  That attitude has been a primary cause of the fracturing and hence the demise of Christian faith in the public arena, and rightly so.  Such an attitude is betrayal of Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  God is not interested in or honored by intellectual cowardice parading as “faith”.

(2) the Biblical worldview, that is, the Doctrine of Creation.  God is both Creator of, and Sovereign over, all things and circumstances.

He is Sovereign because He is Creator (see The Law & the Grace of God).  Being both creator and sovereign define the meaning of “being God” for the Bible.  The Biblical worldview, as distinct from the pagan/secular worldview, is defined by this reality.  See also Theology Library.

If the Biblical worldview (in opposition to the secular/pagan worldview) cannot be shown to be the truth, then neither the Bible itself, nor the Christian notion of salvation and redemption have much chance of making sense.

The Biblical doctrine of creation is the foundation of the Biblical worldview, forming a watershed between the Biblical view and the two primary other views — pagan and secular (see Worldview Library and also Personality, Empiricism, & God for the Cosmological argument for God — which establishes the Biblical worldview over and against the pagan and secular views).

(3) Man made in the Image of God – male and female, to be in fellowship with Him and one another.

Every human being, from conception to birth, is therefore of unalienable value, and given by God the same protection for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as anyone else.

(4) The reality of the Fall, sin, and the corruption of the human spirit, unable to save itself.

(5) A final moral judgement between heaven and hell will happen in every life.

(6) The Bible as the definition of the Christian faith (as interpreted through the lens of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds — go to The Authority of the Bible in a Scientific Age).

(7) The uniqueness of Christ as the Way to salvation (see Christology Library).

Given the Biblical  worldview (with persons, not things, as the basic entities of the cosmos), the uniqueness of Christ is not a self-serving, narrow-minded belief, it makes perfect logical and factual sense.    See The Law & the Grace of God.

(8) The holy and undivided Trinity as the fundamental nature of the Godhead.  See Trinity Library.

Every one of these points can be defended Biblically, logically, and factually.  If any one of the points is missing, the fullness of the picture will be compromised.  As my college religion professor stated, only the Biblical worldview has dependable logical consistency, all other worldviews fall into contradiction.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was oiginally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

Scales-of-Justice-01

A Lesson in Law

Many persons have written extensively about the law, but very few of them have done what needs to be done by any and every legislator, judge, or president—that which St. Paul does in the Epistle for the Romans 13:1-7. Paul declares that all power (one can read “authority”) comes from God. Actually both come from God, all power and all authority.

In our usage, there is commonly a difference between power and authority. “Power” means the ability to get something done, whereas “authority” means the right to have it done, the right to command obedience. The ability might be the power of enforcement, but that is quite different from the right to command something. Many governments enforce things they have no right to command, and therefore no right to enforce. They do it anyhow because they have that ability, and do not care about someone else’s rights.

We can have the power to force something without the right to command it. That is THE major problem of civil government—for which God has the only answer.

That distinction between power and authority is latent in the Gospel lesson where a Roman centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant who is apparently dying. The centurion is an officer in the Roman army which is occupying Judea.  They are, in that sense, an enemy of the Jews.  But there were many Roman legionaries who had become God fearers, those who honored the religion of Judaism without becoming actual Jews by circumcision.  Such was the centurion who pled with Jesus for help.

The centurion describes how he has the ability to command this and that to his servants.  But he does not have the ability or authority to heal his sick servant.  The centurion humbles himself, admitting that he has a need for one of his conquered foes.  He knows that Jesus can do something which he cannot.  And, the centurion recognizes something which startles even Jesus – that there is a connection between authority and healing.  The centurion compares the authority which he has to order his servants with Jesus’ authority to command healing.  He understands that healing comes from authority, a command, not from incantations or other abilities which some claim to have.

Jesus says that he has not seen such faith even in all Israel.  His disciples standing around must have wondered about their own faith—who had known Jesus for some time.

The centurion understands that Jesus has an authority which very few have, that Jesus is indeed someone very special. He must certainly have heard of Jesus doing healings, but likely he also has seen Jesus heal someone because he is so certain that Jesus can heal his servant, even without coming to his home. He has only to say the word. That is authority. Command. Even the forces of nature jump to obey.

We secularized Westerners think of such things quite differently. We would not likely say that physical events such as healings can happen by command. But that is what both the centurion and Jesus are saying. And that is what the disciples learned from Jesus…, “In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk,” said Peter to a cripple. A command, not a pleading with God to heal the lame man.

The words of Paul that all authority comes from God are anathema today.  They are routinely denied by Christians as well as by secular or pagan folks.  Our denial of them is precisely the reason why we are in the political and economic chaos of today.  God tells us over and over that if we will obey Him, our lives will go well. But we know better, thank you.

Paul declares that all authority comes from God, meaning, from God alone.  It does not originate from any other source.  We humans cannot produce our own authority, independently from God.  That is not a thought which passes the minds of contemporary politicians of any major political party.  It was a thought which was common among our founding American politicians, and which was standard legal doctrine in England and America. No law could contravene the law of God—which was the source of all law.  We humans cannot invent our own law, we have only the law of God, which we are required to administer.

That has some rather radical (to us today) consequences.  It means that any government which makes up and enforces its own laws (either by ignorance or willfulness) is an outlaw government.  All legitimate government must be under the law of God.  That is how it gains its legitimacy.  There is no other way for a government to be legitimate.  The primary purpose for civil government is to bring the use of coercive force under the law and grace of God.

American Christians in the 1800’s failed to clarify the logic of that, so that as the 1800’s wore on, secular legal experts, eager to dispense with the law of God, reinvented the old pagan way of making law, and gave it a new name, “positivist law”. That does not mean law which is especially positive, that is, good, but rather it means law that is posited, placed or put, as in “deposited”. The legal experts simply posit what they deem to be a good idea as the law of the land. It needs, they thought, no back up from God. Their own expertise is sufficient, they thought. They made up law by trial and error, to see what “worked best”— that is, according to their secular standards. In the end, it always comes to mean—by the standards of some individual or oligarchy. Tyranny.

That is the legal system by which we operate today. It is, by the standards of God, an outlaw system. Or, we might say, an anti-Christ system because it forbids the law of God, and denies that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords—that is, over all governments, all kings, all lords, all presidents.

That is no small matter because it always leads to legal chaos, as we see all over the West and in our own present administration. And that chaos leads always to more and more centralization of government and tyranny. Exactly what God warned the Hebrews would happen when they chose a king for themselves (see I Sam. 8). The only way to stem the tide of growing chaos is to have some strong man rescue society from the chaos by himself taking over—just as did Napoleon for the tragically disintegrating French Revolution. That, as our founding fathers understood, is where “democracy” leads—unless the people themselves are submitted to the law of God and insist that their government be likewise so. And then we are no longer a democracy, we are (at least in America) a constitutional democratic republic under God.

The Hebrews had a written constitution. Ours was not the first. The king was ordered by God to keep a copy of the Torah under his pillow, ready for reading. The law of God is our universal cosmic constitution—meant for everyone, every government. Star Wars included. Whether secular folks like it or not, that is why the Decalogue was placed by our founding fathers in the Supreme Court. The judges were to read it.

But, what justifies this absurd sounding assertion that God already rules all governments? The fact is that if you ask a pagan or secular person what is the source of government authority, the government’s right to command other persons, and the people’s obligation to obey the government—they cannot come up with any reasonable explanation. They end up just having to assert their authority. And maybe think you a fool for denying their assertion.

Well, then, what is the Biblical justification for the rulership of God over all things? As English law once recognized in print, the justification was that God, being the creator of all things, owns them, outright, 100%. Just as we recognize that the creator of a book, or a song, or a new invention can have a copyright or patent on it and decide how it will be used, just so, God, being the absolute creator of all things, has, as it were, an eternal patent and copyright on the cosmos. He wholly owns everything. Owning something means that you have the ability to say how it will be used. That is because the creator of something is the only being who logically can give that thing is “reason for existence”. No one else can do that, only the creator, precisely because He created it.

This principle that there is a designer of the cosmos is the foundation for the growing “Intelligent Design” movement, successfully countering the secular/pagan notion of evolution.

“Reason for existence” is the only logical basis for moral obligation. God, being the source of moral obligation, can obligate any and all of us, as He chooses. That is why all civil governments are obligated to assent to the law of God, to administer that law, and to refrain from making up their own laws independently of God’s law. The law of God is universal, covers all possible situations, and is understandable by the people—in well under 1000 words, believe it or not.

Christians have allowed this secular/pagan nonsense to become the “law of the land”. It is outlaw law. And we Christians must learn how publically, politely, and gracefully to proclaim the truth—which is why I am preaching this sermon with these Bible passages.

Deuteronomy 4 takes this theme further. Moses tells his people, “I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the Lord my God commanded me… Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear of all these statutes, will say, ‘surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon Him.”

Moses tells them to make these things known to their children and to their children’s children. He told them that the law of God will “be their wisdom”. That is a statement which I would never have thought until about 1992 when I began to take seriously the law of God myself, not only for myself personally, but for the public arena.

I discovered that America had been formed as a Biblical nation, that is, that our founding documents could have been written only by a people who understood and believed the Biblical principle that we are both personally and corporately responsible before God. Everyone of our founding fathers would have assented to that. It was not a perfect beginning for us, but it had the basic principles which we Christians then failed to develop.

We spent much of our time during the 1800’s fighting with other Christians rather than with the secular influences which were growing steadily. Evangelicals, by supporting the government school system, even sided with secularists—to control the Roman Catholics who were coming over from Europe. Government schools created a monumental disaster, which as much as anything in the last two centuries, sealed the fate of Christian culture for the 20th century, and probably most of the 21st. On the good side, home schoolers are winning that battle, with some possible great advances coming in New Hampshire.

Moses tells the people that their government will be a “witness to the nations”. Amazing. There is hardly an American alive today, I suspect, who sees America in that role. Every week, I go out Friday mornings on a two hour prayer walk, praying primarily for two things, that God will raise up truth-seekers and truth-speakers, and that God will raise up among us Americans witnesses for Godly government, both here and abroad, that we will become a missionary nation, that “city on a hill”, a testimony for the whole world. People must learn that their political freedom comes from God just a much as their personal salvation freedom. Our founding fathers understood that.

Moses goes on: “Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire… and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm….?” “Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you this day, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you….”

There is that promise again—keep these commandments and it will go well with you. These commandments are for your good. They will enhance your lives and your relationships. They are a light upon your path. They are your wisdom, even in the eyes of the pagans out there. Why would you be your own worst enemy by deserting God who has saved you and wants you to prosper?

We Christians MUST learn how to say the same thing to our people, to our voters, to our government. It is a provable fact of life—that when you do things God’s way, they go better. I know of no contradictory evidence in any area of life. Why cannot Christians stand up and say that?

The answer, I believe, is because we do not know how to be truth-seekers. And we are not typically very good even at position-defending.

The first business of any political order is to decide who is God, who owns the cosmos, who has authority to rule over people, to command others to obey. The first and most important question of politics is just that. Who owns the cosmos? We have in practice only two choices: God or civil government. As one Speaker of the House of the 1850’s said, “We will be ruled by the Bible or by the bayonet.”  God or tyranny—take your pick.

For at least 150 years, we American have sadly chosen to drift towards tyranny.  We are well along that path.  We Western Christians are currently a sorry lot, so often just like the Hebrews.  But we can, by the grace of God and a lot of hard work, repair the damage to our own witness, and learn again the meaning and substance of Biblical government.   We need government first for ourselves, our salvation, and then, people secure in the Lord, out in the public arena.

It begins with “Jesus is Lord”.  Jesus is King of all kings, and Lord over all lords.  That is our message to the world.  He cannot be our savior unless He is King over ourselves first, and then including most emphatically, civil government.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was oiginally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

thoughtcontrol

Our Schools are Killing our Children – Part I

1. The Takeover of our Schools

The Littleton, Colorado, school shooting affair has provided yet another place exposing the unraveling threads of our civilization.

The world has never been a “safe” place to live. At any point in history, there have been nearby threats to life and limb, and even more, to our spirits. There are persons abroad in any society who despise truth except as a tool for their own ends, who have no use for righteousness, and who are not lovers of souls other than their own. And they do very poorly even at loving themselves because their behavior is heading them pell-mell for self-destruction, the cosmic junk heap, hell.

Truth-righteousness-love is the three-strand plumbline by which God measures, and by which we must measure, our spiritual lives. Yet these three qualities are not of interest to a substantial (but often indeterminate) segment of the human population — which makes them enemies of God, and enemies of the common good. If you are not interested in truth, righteousness, and/or love, you are an enemy of the common good, of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the King.

We have had in America, arguably, for a country this large, until recently the safest and therefore the freest place to live in the world at any time in human history. Safety and freedom go together. The less the safety (i.e. the more the sin), the more external control there must be on our behavior. Only a moral society can be a free society. Our founding fathers universally recognized that fact, and built our constitution on that principle.

A moral society is a self-governing society, a society which has a commonly accepted set of values by which it rules itself — independently of coercive interference by civil government.  In a free society, there is a clear distinction between society and civil government, the government being limited primarily to the role of protector, referee, and servant of society.

One of the most easily recognizable symbols of this relative freedom and safety in America has been our school system. Parents by the droves have sent their children off to school day by day, secure in the thought that their children were in safe hands.

For the first time in American history, that is no longer true. Beginning in the 1960’s, and then escalating in the 1970’s, parents began more and more taking their children out of our so-called “public” education system (which is now neither public nor education), and either home schooling them or sending them to independent schools. Something like 10% of American children receive home schooling today.

Their concerns were chiefly intellectual and spiritual. They saw that government-controlled schools were not in fact educating their children. Perhaps a few foresaw the violence to come. But the violence was inevitable — as if scripted into the school curriculum.

William Coulson (who with Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, engineered the entry of “non-directive” methods from therapy into education), along with Maslow, saw the disaster the team had created, and has since the 1970’s been telling people to stop using their non-directive techniques.

He visited a school in New York City shortly after a woman had been beaten and raped by a gang of teens who had gone “wilding” in Central Park. He told the teachers that they (using his own non-directive methods) were training their students to go wilding. They, of course, did not believe him. Non-directiveness teaches students to have no authority other than their own feelings. If it feels good to beat and rape, then that is sufficient justification. Whether or not intended by the teachers, that would inevitably be the effect. And so it has been.

About 1991, during a sermon in a church near Pittsburgh, I commented that “Our schools are killing our children…” I had outlined the nature of Outcomes Based Education and the mind-control methodology of our government-controlled schools, and the predictable violent results of non-directive education. Later, I thought my statement was a bit strong.

But it was not strong at all, it was too little and too late.

Eric Harris, co-assassin with Dylan Klebold at Littleton, had written: “My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law…. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame.” Or as a song has it: “There is no right or wrong, only boring and fun.”

That is the culmination of the non-directive “self-esteem” training which we have been force-feeding our children for nearly three decades. Eric and his friend were simply putting into practice precisely what the Supreme Court had told us in Casey that every woman possesses — the right to self-determination subject to no outside control, the right to invent one’s own meaning of life (i.e. morality) including the right to kill her child at will.

There is a direct line from those Supreme Court abortion decisions of the last 50 years to student murders in our schools. Our schools are killing our children, and our courts are mandating the philosophy of life which justifies such horror.

What, then, pray tell, is the difference between what Klebold and Harris did and what the abortionist does? The abortionist gets paid. The boys just did it for fun. The boys were amateurs, the abortionist is a professional.

Eric Harris was not a bad student. As Coulson predicted, he learned very well. The problem was that he did not have sufficient moral backbone or sufficient reality contact to live above the teachings which he was absorbing. He did what he was told. Each of us in the human race has a spoiled brat within — which would like to believe just what Eric wrote. But most of us have sufficient control over the brat in us to hold it in check. The two boys said to the brat, “Go for the gusto!”

We can be very grateful that most of the students have enough backbone and reality contact to live above the philosophy of life to which they are being subjected in government-run schools.  They have enough common sense to mostly ignore it.  But not completely, only mostly.

2. Why Did They Done It?

Mrs. Katzenjammer (in the Katzenjammer Kids cartoon of the 1940’s) in exasperation used to ask that question of her rambunctious kids. We are asking it today of our murderous kids. Vy did they done it???  Mrs. K showed no obvious awareness of the fallen nature of her kids, nor do very many of today’s commentators and questioners. They do not know vy they done it. Attempts to psychologise on it are inane and empty.

A Washington Times weekly headline (4/26) notes that “Schools lack moral center: Experts”. Like we needed experts to tell us what government education has been mandating. The tragic fact is that many still do not get it. Apart from the law and grace of God, there is no way to understand vy they done it. Still less to do anything substantial about it.

The Washington Times of April 23 echoed a theme commonly heard after each of the recent school shootings:

Nothing in their lives seemed to indicate that their sons, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, would soon be responsible for the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, say friends and neighbors.

And then in the 4/26 Times weekly edition:

Until their sons launched a bloody rampage on Columbine High School…, both the Harris and Klebold families appeared to be living their versions of the American dream.

Are we to believe that these “normal” parents, living their version of the “American Dream”, were unable to discern any trouble in their children? It turns out that Dylan Klebold had already been in trouble with the law, and that both boys were a part of the “Trench Coat Mafia”, a paramilitary “Gothic” group. Yet even in view of the many earlier teen-on-teen killings, these boys were not being closely enough watched, and there was great surprise when they engaged in such violence.

Why did they done it??? From God’s point of view, the question is moronic. He has told us vy we do such things. St. Paul repeated the warning yet again in Romans 1:18 ff. In three stages. We begin by subverting truth. Then we fall into worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. And thirdly, bereft of truth, and cast into a false dependency and obedience relationships (idolatry), we are inevitably ensnared into irrational, compulsive, addictive, …and lethal behaviors.

St. Paul thus gives a common sense analysis of the logic of being a creature — and hence a dependent being. If you are a dependent being, you had better find Someone dependable, on whom to rest the weight of your dependency. All other ground is sinking sand. Sin all begins with a choice which in some way subverts truth.

Eric himself was kind enough to tell us vy they done it — because they wanted to. We have trouble accepting the reality of freewill. We want to psychologise everything so we can control it. We do not want to deal with the fact that we choose to enter the covenant God is offering, or, as taught by our government, to be our own sovereign.

3. Discernment

But the American public cannot discern good science from the arrant nonsense paraded to justify homosexual behavior. The American public cannot discern that killing babies in the womb is evil.  Taking the life of another person without cause or due process is socially acceptable in America. That is appalling. The American public is persuaded that truth, especially moral and religious truth, is a relative matter.

So why should we expect citizens and parents with such an incapacitated mindset to discern perverted and violent behavior beneath the surface of their children’s psyches? We are today the people of whom Scripture speaks — eyes to see but cannot see, and ears to hear but cannot hear. We are spiritually blind and deaf.  And dumb.

Government-controlled schools have pounded into the heads of parents that they, the parents, are defective raisers of their own children, that they need the expertise of the experts, and that the experts have decreed — the children know best.

So only the bravest parents will risk public, and possibly legal, censure by peering too closely into the thinking and lifestyle of their offspring. Or by saying “no” and making it stick.

“Oh, that trenchcoat Mafia stuff… That was just a game. Why take it so seriously?” Like Dungeons and Dragons, which is no doubt “just a game” for many children, the trenchcoat Mafia was an evil game celebrating darkness. Games which celebrate darkness blur the line between good and evil, and thus provide cover under which stealth thoughts of murder and violence sneak under the radar of naive, unobserving, and spiritually blind parents. And so they have.

In the same weekly edition of the Washington Times, retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former West Point psychology professor, says:

“Anywhere television appears, 15 years later, the murder rate doubles. …television is the single most pervasive influence in the lives of children in America. They spend more time watching TV than any other single act….”

Not in our house, they didn’t.

4. Why They Done It…

We have lost the capacity as a people to discern good from evil, and that fatal flaw has reached right into our civil law and our courts, into our schools and our churches, and right down into our child-raising. Although the reasons are quite evident, we really do not know vy they done it. To repeat what I have said many times before….

They done it because their culture and their parents have told them that self-centeredness is “IN”, and self-discipline and self-giving are “OUT”. That message was signed and sealed in 1962 (Engle v. Vitale) by our Supreme Court which told the God of the Universe that He could not talk to our children in government-controlled schools, nor the children to Him.

We have now for 37 years, by coercive force of law, taught our children that God (the only being who can obligate us to do anything at all) is irrelevant to growing up. Where is the surprise when they take our words to their logical conclusions?

Then in 1973 (Roe v. Wade), our treasonous Court declared that it was legal to trash the lives of our unborn children for any reason or no reason at all — so long as it made the mother feel good. And finally in the 1990’s (Casey), the Court admitted and proclaimed the very foundation of it all — that we each have an inalienable right to invent our own meaning of life, to define our own right and wrong, and that we are thus responsible to no one outside of ourselves.

The Court did not mean that, of course. We all understood that, although we are no longer under obligation to God, we do remain under the strictest obligation to the Court. They would be quiet incensed to hear that we thought otherwise. The Court has taken what God defines as sin and made it into the highest good. It has turned self-will and rebellion against God into the law of the land — and made itself into God.

If that is not an overthrow of our Constitutional order, what act of treason needs to be added to make it so? Some of us believe William Clinton to have sold America out to the Chinese Communists. But what is that along side of our Court selling America out to Satan?

In all my reading of history, I do not know of a single culture in which the parents allowed the teachers of their children to tell the children that they, the children, knew more than their parents. And where in the world has there been a culture in which school children thought it would be fun to mount lethal attacks on their classmates? And not only thought it, but did it?

And whose voices are being heard most vocally in Littleton to return to prayer? According to one report, the children!  Where are their parents? the clergy?  No doubt busy psychologising rather than repenting of their betrayal of God and of our children. Why are the parents leaving any of their children in government-run schools? If parents, fathers especially, will not begin to take charge again of their own lives and of their own families, our increasingly lethal and outlaw government will continue to do it for them — and produce more children made in their own outlaw image.

Our children are paying a terrible price for this betrayal and for our own cowardliness — and there is more to come.

The womb is today (yes, literally and statistically) the most dangerous place in the world for a child to be. Nearly one third of the population in the womb will die a brutal death at the request of the mother. The world, the flesh, and the devil, using the Court and the education system, with the mealy-mouthed compliance of the legislatures and churches, have turned American public schools into perhaps the second most dangerous place for a child to be.

5. Silencing the Dream

Were Eric and Dylan and their families part of the mainstream American dream? It depends on which dream you think is the “American” one.

If you choose the American dream of the first colonists of the early 1600’s, or the American dream of the founding fathers two centuries later, one has to conclude that Eric and Dylan were enemies of that dream, and that their parents were at best woefully ignorant, if not enemies, of it.

The (yes, imperfect and incomplete) dream of the first and founding Americans was of truth, righteousness, and love, and of a constitutional order in which public discussion of the basic religious issues of life would be guaranteed. It was of a culture which understood itself to be both personally and corporately responsible before God. It was of a government which knew itself to be under a law higher than itself, under the law and grace of God.

But the American dream of today is that every person ought to be allowed to live as he wishes, that self-will and self-definition are the highest values. So, God, take note. You may have created us, but You have no business directing us.  We are “non-directive” now.  So butt out.

The understanding and faith and values upon which America was founded, and upon which it became the greatest, safest, and most free nation on earth were subverted through our Government School System (the Church of Secular Materialism), and through the abysmal ignorance, cowardice, and appallingly poor strategy of those who should have been defending the ramparts of America’s Godly heritage — our politicians and clergy.

Christians were so divided among themselves, and so incapable of responding to burgeoning secular forces that we gradually gave up the fight, secluding ourselves within our church walls, finally leaving the public space to the anti-Christ forces of non-directive education.

“Non-directive” was aimed not at parents but at God. God was successfully silenced (as it were) in the public arena by silencing those whom God had called to be His witnesses. (See I Kings 18, Isaiah 40-50, Acts 1, and Rev. 12:11) That silencing could never have happened had not civil government taken control of our children — along with our own sheep-like compliance and cooperation.

The legitimate American Dream is the Godly dream, not the dream of self-centeredness unleashed to seek its own final demise. We will not recover and secure that dream until civil government is removed from all education.

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article was originally published at TheRoadtoEmmaus.org. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.