An Informed Faith



The Position Papers of R.J. Rushdoony

Chalcedon / Ross House Books

Vallecito, California

Copyright 2017 Mark R. Rushdoony

Most of the essays in this compilation were originally published in the Chalcedon Report between 1979 and 1999.

Chapter 217, “Non-Intervention as a Constitutional Principle” was reprinted from the author’s This Independent Republic (copyright 1964) in the October, 1999 Chalcedon Report.

The following essays appear in print here for the first time:

Chapter 17, “The Old Order”

Chapter 70, “Aristotle vs. Christ”

Chapter 84, “Proxy Religion”

Chapter 145, “Faith and Logic”

Chapter 158, “Heresy”

Chapter 178, “Pietism Revisited”

Chalcedon/Ross House Books

PO Box 158

Vallecito, CA 95251

www.ChalcedonStore.com

Book design and indexing by Diakonia Bookworks

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise — except for brief quotations for the purpose of review or comment, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2017933251

ISBN: 978-1-879998-78-0

OTHER SELECT TITLES BY ROUSAS JOHN RUSHDOONY

The Institutes of Biblical Law

The Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume 1

The Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume 2: Law & Society

The Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume 3: The Intent of the Law

Commentaries on the Pentateuch

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Systematic Theology in Two Volumes

Sovereignty

Salvation and Godly Rule

Larceny in the Heart

Tithing & Dominion

By What Standard?

The One and the Many

Law & Liberty

Revolt Against Maturity

The Cure of Souls

In His Service

The Messianic Character of American Education

The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum

Intellectual Schizophrenia

The Biblical Philosophy of History

Foundations of Social Order

The American Indian

This Independent Republic

The Nature of the American System

Politics of Guilt and Pity

A Word in Season series

Acknowledgements

The James Vernier Family

Dr. Russell & Karen Boates

Heath Ford

Thomas & Marguerite Wingfield

Ruth M. Jacobs

Elmer L. & Naomi H. Stoltzfus

Ford & Andrea Schwartz

Dr. & Mrs. Richard Vest, Jr.

Steve Shifflett

  1. & Joan Dyer

Keith & Antha Harnish

Steven & Sue Schlagel

Dean & Mary Helen Waddell

Mr. Darrell Ross

  1. David Allen

The George Sechrist Family

Michael & Denise Snyder

Stephen Cope

Jerry & Linda Postell

Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Christian Nordskog

Mark & Kathy Dion

Paul R. Zimmerman

Michael G. Griggs

Joseph & Jessica Graham

Mr. & Mrs. Eric E. Brown

Timothy P. Murray

Eleuthere & Joan Poumakis

Steve & Bev Swartz,

Alice Springs, Australia

David Robert Mason

Dr. Nick & Janie Edwards

Dr. John E. and Lynda J. Ramsey

Harry J. Krieg, Jr.

Robert E. Scherer

Michael & Marian Bowman

Roger & Jenny Strackbein

Virginia C. Schlueter

Steven & Darlene Christenson

Robert B. Halliday III & Patricia M. Halliday

The John Saunders III Family

  1. James DeMattos

Ruth Sawall

John and Tracy LaBreche

Maurice & Marlene Page and Family

John R. Rimel & Debra L. Rimel

Jean L. Herre

The Grater Family

David J. Brewer

  1. M. Childs

Mr. & Mrs. Roberto Corral

Felipe Sabino de Araújo Neto

Table of Contents

Foreword

Volume I

Christianity & Reconstruction

CULTURE

  1. Our World Today
  2. The Cultural Conflict
  3. The Lost Center
  4. The Cultivation and Promotion of Impotence
  5. Curzonization
  6. The New Racism
  7. The Communion of Saints
  8. Communion and Communications
  9. On Giving to the Rich, the Middle Class, and the Lower Class
  10. The Ultimate Pornography
  11. The Dying Enlightenment
  12. The Myth of Socialization
  13. The Eschatology of Death
  14. The Love of Death
  15. Reality, Faith, and Architecture
  16. Inheritance, Barbarism, and Dominion
  17. The Old Order

RECONSTRUCTION

  1. “First the Blade”
  2. The Wheat and the Tares
  3. Revolution or Regeneration
  4. Great and False Expectations
  5. The Menace of the Future?
  6. Sufficient unto the Day

DOMINION

  1. Antinomianism Versus Dominion
  2. World Salvation Versus World Domination
  3. Religious Liberty and Dominion
  4. False Religions
  5. The Roots of Environmentalism
  6. The Future Is the Lord’s

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

  1. Faith and Understanding
  2. The Use and Abuse of Worship and Prayer
  3. Against Much Praying
  4. Perfection
  5. The Heresy of Unconditional Love
  6. The Heresy of Love
  7. Absolutizing the Relative
  8. Holiness Versus Perfectionism
  9. Maturity
  10. Hypocritical Guilt
  11. The Sins of the Fathers

THE FAMILY

  1. The Family
  2. The Family
  3. The Attack Against the Family
  4. Social Planning and the Family
  5. The Definition of Man
  6. The Failure of Men
  7. The Place of Women
  8. The Paradise of Women

ECONOMICS & CAPITALISM

  1. The Doctrine of Debt
  2. The Love of Money
  3. Karma, Debt, and the Sabbath
  4. Man and the State
  5. The Trouble with Social Security
  6. The Militarization of Life
  7. Ownership
  8. The Decapitalization of Mankind
  9. Wealth
  10. Wealth, Responsibility, and Cowardice
  11. Wealth and Heirship
  12. Wealth and the City
  13. Wealth and the State

HISTORY

  1. Our Doxology
  2. The Pagan Critiques of Christianity
  3. The Failure of Church History
  4. Latitudinarianism
  5. The Dark Ages
  6. Wealth, Time, and History
  7. Social Amnesia
  8. Living in the Past

EDUCATION

  1. Aristotle versus Christ
  2. Education and Decadence
  3. Education as a Panacea
  4. The Restoration of Education

CONFLICT

  1. Conflict with the State
  2. In the Name of Jesus Christ, or in the Name of Caesar?
  3. Conflict Versus Harmony

Volume II

Ecclesiology, Doctrine & Biblical Law

ECCLESIOLOGY

  1. Accreditation and Certification
  2. The Freedom of the Church
  3. Baptism and Citizenship
  4. Heretical Baptism
  5. Sin, Confession, and Dominion
  6. Confessing Other People’s Sins
  7. The Church as Function
  8. Proxy Religion
  9. The Counseling Heresy
  10. Altar Versus Pulpit
  11. Basilicas
  12. The Antichurch Within the Church
  13. The Retreatists
  14. Faith
  15. Catholicity
  16. The Heresy of Democracy with God
  17. The Way
  18. Masochism and Antinomianism
  19. The Lust for Respectability
  20. The Doctrine of Grace
  21. Pragmatism
  22. Revolution, Counter-Revolution, and Christianity
  23. Capturing God?
  24. The Possessor of Truth
  25. The Source of Law
  26. Incorporation

THEOLOGY & DOCTRINE

  1. Box Theology
  2. Covenant Versus Détente
  3. Covenant Versus Contract
  4. Covenant, Law, Grace, and Antinomianism
  5. Discontinuity and Antinomianism
  6. False Antinomies
  7. The Incarnation
  8. Demonism
  9. The Providence of God

SIN & EVIL

  1. The Doctrine of Original Sin
  2. Original Sin
  3. The Freedom to Sin
  4. The Opposite of Sin
  5. Sin and Evil
  6. Conspiracies
  7. Loyalties
  8. The Reversal of Standards

BIBLICAL LAW

  1. The Meaning of Theocracy
  2. The Source of Law
  3. Natural Law and Theonomy
  4. Natural Law and Canon Law
  5. The Limitations of Law
  6. Inferences and Commandments
  7. Inferences and the Law
  8. The Law, the State, and the People
  9. The Meaning of the Sabbath
  10. The Sabbath
  11. The Tax Revolt Against God
  12. Biblical Military Laws
  13. God’s Law
  14. Justice and Torture

MAN

  1. Persona
  2. The Flight from Responsibility
  3. “Empty Suits”
  4. The Death of God and the Death of Man
  5. Man’s Hatred for Man
  6. False Morality and False Reform
  7. The Cult of Victimization
  8. Hypocrisy
  9. Detachment
  10. The Definition of Insanity
  11. Bigotry in the Name of Tolerance

AUTHORITY

  1. Faith and Logic
  2. Presuppositionalism
  3. Jurisdiction: By Christ or by Caesar?
  4. Sovereignty
  5. The Question of Authority
  6. The Self-Righteousness of Satan
  7. The Crisis of Authority
  8. Atonement and Authority
  9. Ownership and Authority

AUTONOMY

  1. Autonomy
  2. Reality
  3. Knowledge
  4. Dethroning God

Volume III

Heresies & Philosophies; Statism & Liberty

HERESIES

  1. Heresy
  2. The Spirit of Heresy
  3. Gnosticism
  4. Modern Gnosticism
  5. Docetism, the Crippling Heresy
  6. Docetism and the Mandate for Dominion
  7. Marcionism
  8. The Montanist Outlook
  9. The Carpocratian Heresy
  10. The Carpocratian Heresy
  11. The Carpocratians
  12. The Manichaean Heresy Today
  13. Monarchianism
  14. The Heresy of Modalism
  15. Donatism
  16. The Implications of Arianism
  17. Pelagianism
  18. Pelagianism
  19. The Cathars
  20. Pietism
  21. Pietism Revisited
  22. The Cartesian Heresy
  23. Quietism
  24. The Great Fear and the Great Faith
  25. The Heresy of Theosis
  26. Kenosis: The Great Modern Heresy
  27. Kenoticism, the “Gospel” of Defeat
  28. The Mystery Religions
  29. Monergism and Synergism

PHILOSOPHIES

  1. Titanism
  2. Catharsis
  3. The Myth of Nature
  4. The Hegelian Revolution
  5. Invisible Rulers
  6. Reason and Rationalism
  7. Descartes and Rationalism
  8. Rationalism and the Mind of Man
  9. Rationalism and Heresy
  10. The Bankruptcy of Rationalism
  11. Rationalism and History
  12. Rationalism and Tyranny
  13. Rationalism and the Chain of Being
  14. Rationalism and God

LIBERTY

  1. Religious Liberty Versus Religious Toleration
  2. Liberty
  3. Religious Liberty
  4. The Changed Meaning of Liberty
  5. Freedom and Responsibility
  6. Vouchers, Freedom, and Slavery
  7. The Nature of Freedom
  8. Conflicting Ideas of Freedom
  9. Property, Charity, and Freedom
  10. The Holy Spirit and Freedom
  11. Guilt, Atonement, and Freedom
  12. Guilt
  13. The Risk-Free Life
  14. Slavery
  15. The Privatization of Morality and Social Decay

AMERICANISM

  1. The Political Illusion
  2. Noninterventionism as a Constitutional Principle
  3. Serbia , The United States, and Christianity

STATISM

  1. The State as the Embodiment of Morality?
  2. No God, No Law
  3. The New Tower of Babel
  4. Nationalism
  5. The Open Face of Religion
  6. Adiaphorism and Totalitarianism
  7. State Interest Versus Public Interest
  8. Taxation
  9. Morality and Growth
  10. The Dream of Reason
  11. The Recovery of Memory
  12. Aristocracy
  13. Elitism

POLITICS

  1. The Political Myth
  2. The Modern State as a False Messiah
  3. “Politics Is About Evolution”
  4. Law and Politics
  5. Law Versus Right
  6. What Is the State?
  7. The Myth of Politics
  8. The Death of Empty Forms

About the Author

The Ministry of Chalcedon

Endnotes

Foreword

by Martin Selbrede

To write a position paper is to take upon one’s shoulders a major responsibility. Position papers are intended to speak with authority to the matter at hand. People will even study their opponents’ position papers to better mark the issues that divide various schools of thought.

Not every position paper, however, functions as a manifesto, articulating ideas that embody moral force. And fewer yet are conceived as marking out cultural territory to be claimed for the Kingdom of God. Position papers of that kind represent tent pegs driven deep into the world of mankind’s rebellion against its Creator. They establish a beachhead. Whether it’s a deeply rooted beachhead that will stand the test of time, or a poorly built edifice that’s quickly swept aside by more able opposition, depends on the breadth and depth of its workmanship.

Position papers that treat their subject matter in a superficial way, that lack depth, provide poor anchors upon which to build cultural foundations. That depth relates not just to doing what is popularly called “a deep dive” into the subject matter. Many writers can “go deep” without discriminating between important and unimportant elements in their analysis.

Depth for depth’s sake is actually not true depth. Depth means tracing what’s important back into the core foundations of a matter, to mark out how ideas, concepts, and conflicts appear on the stage of history and why they progress as they do. In short, to do justice to a matter requires understanding its history and the presuppositions that undergird it.

A position paper with true depth will “pop the hood” to explore the otherwise hidden or undisclosed roots of its subject. A position paper conceived as an embodiment of St. Paul’s marching orders to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:4–5) must dig deep to ferret out non-Christian foundations that afflict our understanding. Humanism being the air we breathe by default, it is crucial that a position paper stand upon the Word of God so unapologetically that the pretense of common ground disappears entirely.

Beyond this, a single position paper must also exhibit breadth of scholarship. If all things cohere in Christ, then all things are ultimately related to one another. To omit to make these connections is to give humanistic frameworks free rein to integrate all of human learning and experience for us. We are under obligation to bear witness to the overarching governance and providence of God.

If we fail to connect all topics, subjects, and disciplines together under Him, then the mind of man is the source of order in our world. This means that to do justice to a topic, one must also do justice to all related topics. One must be both specialist and generalist to fully declare Christ’s lordship over any disputed territory. Because we live in a world where sovereignty over every square inch is in dispute, lesser measures will be left in the dust. Very strong medicine is what we desperately need to avoid healing the wound of God’s people slightly (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). Any position paper that allows us to “halt between two opinions” (1 Kings 18:21) has not done its job: in fact, it has failed to justify its existence because it sets us adrift from the law and testimony into the darkness (Isa. 8:20).

The Chalcedon Position Papers of R. J. Rushdoony

The writings of Dr. R. J. Rushdoony (1916–2001) have taken many forms: Bible commentaries on both Old Testament and New Testament books, a systematic theology, and books on dozens of topics of contemporary import. Unique among his writings are the position papers he began to publish in 1965. Now gathered into three volumes with full indices, they represent an extraordinary legacy being passed on to future generations of faithful men and women.

Each individual position paper by Dr. Rushdoony occupies a square on the cultural and intellectual chessboard our world is built upon. He chose which squares to stake out for Christ with deliberation, always mindful of Christ’s claims on everything and everyone. His goal was to keep driving a tent peg into every single square of the chessboard until God saw fit to give him rest from worldly labor. The process of crafting these position papers (which amounted to weaponized payloads targeting the specifics of humanism’s fraudulent dominion) dovetailed with an already congested personal schedule. Yet, as prolific an author as Dr. Rushdoony was, he regarded himself as slothful compared to the Puritans who paved the way centuries earlier in terms of exhaustive scholarship.

When Dr. Rushdoony sensed an area where Christian scholarship had left a vacuum or (worse yet) the ominous wreckage of earlier misfires at establishing godly dominion, he deployed his encyclopedic learning to reverse the situation and do so decisively. The now-overused image of the sons of Issachar (“that had understanding of the times and what Israel ought to do,” I Chron. 12:32) applied with full justice to Dr. Rushdoony, founder of the Chalcedon Foundation. More significantly, Dr. Rushdoony had understanding of our times because he had understanding of earlier pivotal epochs and their influence on the present and because he steadfastly viewed all reality through the lens of its Creator and Lawgiver.

The process of driving these tent pegs continued under the radar until Dr. Rushdoony’s work at Chalcedon became influential enough to attract humanistic opposition. By that time, dozens of critical squares on the chessboard had already been claimed for Christ, with more territory being gained with the advent of each new position paper.

Christians who were strengthened and equipped by these position papers became additional boots on the ground in asserting the crown rights of the King of kings, because no humanistic challenge could stand against the bulwarks painstakingly raised by Dr. Rushdoony. Scoffers could only malign from a distance. Those that dared go toe-to-toe with Dr. Rushdoony (like Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox in the Leeper homeschooling trial) were handed their hats.

While Dr. Rushdoony’s individual position papers had both depth and breadth, the spreading network of position papers added extension to the picture. Christians who had despaired of seeing any serious challenge to the hegemony of humanism, and were thus cowed into a pietistic corner because no successful alternatives were available, discovered that the Goliath of humanism did have a David to deal with. With his pen, Dr. Rushdoony had reversed the process of humanism crowding Christianity out of all fields. Each new position paper dislodged the enemy from one position after another for those who read and applied the lessons in those papers. It was a slow-motion rout with both the speed and force of a glacier.

These position papers, in their own way, embody one important application of Isaiah 58:12, which speaks of raising the foundations of many generations. Since the advent of Darwinism, Christianity has had its intellectual feet continually knocked out from under it, offering no broad-based countermeasures as humanism gained ascendancy. The line of thought running from John Calvin to Abraham Kuyper to Cornelius Van Til to Rousas John Rushdoony provided an alternative both credible and Biblical, one sufficiently developed to actually turn the flank of the opposition. By rebuilding the foundations, Christians once again had solid ground upon which to mount the challenge to man in rebellion against God. It became ever more difficult for naysayers to argue that the Bible doesn’t speak broadly to all men on all matters. The position papers of Dr. Rushdoony expose this lie on every single page.

Humanists certainly resent having their intellectual and cultural foundations shattered and new Biblical foundations being poured over the resulting ruins. This is to be expected. The bigger surprise is how many Christians share the humanists’ revulsion at seeing every thought being taken captive to Christ. Opposition to the work of Dr. Rushdoony has united humanists and those Christians committed to protecting secularism at all cost. These strange bedfellows do indeed share certain values with one another, but when they face the content of these position papers they confront a serious problem: they can’t fight something with nothing.

This kind of situation plagued a theologian of an earlier generation, Dr. Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield (1851–1921). It was said of this noted polemicist that the only way to deal with so strong a protagonist was to ignore him. We seem to see the same cowardice in the case of Dr. Rushdoony as well. If you can’t ignore him, then discredit him (preferably with faulty secondhand sources, because primary sources will fall short of the goal). The intent behind the reviling of this author has always been to prevent Christians from gaining traction using the Biblical foundations he has laid by making them fearful of the judgment of men. Because this strategy worked effectively in Christ’s time, it remains in the toolkit of those wary of His Kingdom and its expression in time and history.

But these position papers are primary source documents. Being foundational in their nature and conception, they equip the reader to continue building the Kingdom along the Biblical lines they’ve laid out for us. They articulate the battle lines and what, precisely, is at stake. Considered in their entirety, they provide a systematic network of manifestos spread over every major aspect of reality. They teach us that nothing is beyond the scope of Christ’s Kingship here and now, and they do this by providing a living example of this truth. In that capacity, these position papers slay the myth of neutrality on their every page. In so doing, they give us reason to fight the spiritual battles before us on every conceivable battlefield.

From Position to Progress

There’s nothing more wonderful or deadly than laurels. Sitting on one’s laurels is the dangerous downside of achieving mighty things for God. Perhaps even worse is for those who follow to sit on the laurels of their predecessors.

And so we come to the unfortunate implication of the term position paper. It denotes taking a position on something: a static position. The thought is to hold ground, rather than to conquer additional territory.

In the case of the Scriptures, there is certainly a time and place to hold fast to certain things, to protect a precious deposit, to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. But in other matters, returning the same talent that you were originally dealt will count as wicked slothfulness in our Master’s sight. Foundations are not to remain unimproved foundations forever. In Haggai 1:9 the people of God failed to build upon the previously laid foundation, so those exposed timbers eventually rotted and became unbuildable — making of God’s house a “house that is waste.” Once foundations are laid, the rest of the building must go up.

The powerful legacy in these volumes drops a burden into the lap of each and every reader: now that you know this, how will you build? Will you extend the foundation by applying the Word to areas not yet covered, driving more tent pegs into the chessboard? Or will you choose a foundational area to build up vertically, driving the process closer to the day the capstone can be slid into place?

For these position papers serve not only as manifestos (writ large with moral imperatives) but even more profoundly as blueprints. The notion of a blueprint should not be taken literally in this instance, but in the deeper sense of pointing out the direction for future progress. By articulating the shape of the foundation, the shape of what is built on top of that foundation can then be intuited. It is in this sense that these position papers act as blueprints, for they point the way that leads to the capstone.

By the same token, the subjects not covered by these position papers serve as blueprints for extending the foundation where it hasn’t yet been properly built. In our present surveillance-ridden age we keep hearing the phrase If you see something, say something. These position papers send a more legitimate message to the reader who studies them: If you see a hole, fill the hole. If the hole is in the field you yourself work in, even better: reconstruct what you know best, and in so doing cast your crown at Christ’s feet. You’ll leave more conquered territory for the next generation to build upon.

Each new tent peg (stake) in the cultural chessboard follows the growth pattern of Isaiah 54:2: “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.” When extending the foundations of Christian dominion over every area of life and thought, the message must always match Isaiah’s cry: Spare not. Don’t hold back. Nothing must be left in the darkness.

But not all readers will be inclined to “go horizontal” and widen the foundation further. Some will be inspired to “go vertical” and build upon the foundations laid out in the position papers found in these three volumes of An Informed Faith. They desire to race against each other, out of mutual zeal for God, to hasten the placing of the capstone. Like Dr. Rushdoony before them, they’re willing to be stepping stones to that goal, which may still be many generations in the future. But they operate in confidence that the capstone will be brought forth “with shoutings crying Grace, grace unto it” (Zech. 4:7). And all will know that the capstone stands atop a building built upon the foundations faithfully laid in writings such as these seminal papers by Dr. R. J. Rushdoony.

To be sure, there is only one chief cornerstone, and there is only one foundation laid, which is Christ. Not a single position paper in these collections is infallible or canonical. Nobody has ever urged otherwise about the works of Rousas John Rushdoony. So if we ask how well his writings compare against Scripture, the answer must be no contest in favor of Scripture. But if we instead ask how well these writings reflect the truths of Scripture and their real world application, we must answer better than virtually anything written in the last hundred years.

If you then ask, which tool of sanctified Christian scholarship provides the best foundation for challenging humanism and retaking ground for Christ, the answer is letter simple: you’re holding that tool in your hand.

Christians with an informed faith will build on rock rather than on sand. In an era where so many Christians are building on sand and undermining the Lordship of Christ, we must assert that the only foundations that won’t be overthrown are those rooted in Him and His Kingdom. We read in Ezekiel 13:10–16 that God’s people were seduced to trust in a wall that was painted to cover up its weakness, provoking God to blow it away. This is no time to whitewash and conceal the weaknesses in our faith and understanding, which inevitably will lead to “confusion of face” (Dan. 9:8) as Dr. Rushdoony observed. Rather, it is time to raise the foundations of many generations (Isa. 58:12), starting with you, and starting right here.

Volume I

Christianity & Reconstruction

CULTURE

  1. Our World Today

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 79, October 1986

Recently, I was in an eastern state as an expert witness in a freedom of speech and freedom of religion trial. Two street preachers were on trial and had been arrested and imprisoned earlier. The judge in this case, unlike so many, was courteous and conducted the trial with dignity; however, he readily admitted hearsay evidence against the two preachers. The city brought to the trial a zeal which would have been more appropriate for a case involving rape or murder. I left at the end of the first day, having given my testimony, but the memory of the case remains, together with a sharp awareness of this country’s degeneracy. Pastors and Christian school leaders, as well as children, are regularly on trial. Widows and orphans, whom the Lord regards as the test of a people’s faith, are systematically robbed by inheritance taxes, and most people, in and out of the church, do not care and are indifferent to the evils of our times.

The other morning I was awakened by a very vivid and horrifying dream. In my dream, I was back at the courtroom (where in fact no local pastor came to give open support, being fearful of the hostility or disfavor of the city fathers). In my dream, three mildly friendly men unrelated to the trial offered to drive me to the airport. There was an oppressive darkness in the air and in the minds of men. All had left faith and morality behind, and the world was Christless. We stopped at an intersection; a nearly naked black girl of about twelve years ran crying to the automobile, asking for help. I demanded that she be taken in. Just then, a van, going in the opposite direction, pulled alongside of us; the two men in the cab, one black, one white, demanded the girl’s return. They mistook my refusal’s reason, and offered to sell her, adding that they could supply any age or color, any sex, for any purpose. I demanded that the driver gun the motor and leave, and we escaped the slave-wagon. I asked the frightened girl her name, and she had none, only “girl.” The three men told me the girl was my “problem”; they wanted no part of “stolen property.” I realized I was in a slave world without Christ and without Scripture, the law-word of God. Then I woke up with the recognition that the world I live in and the world of my dream are not very far apart.

The next day, The Wall Street Journal (August 7, 1986, p. 24) gave confirmation to my dream in an article by Bruce S. Ledwitz, “The Questions Rehnquist Hasn’t Had to Answer.” The author called attention to the ironic fact that prominent conservatives and clergymen had strongly supported Justice William Rehnquist for chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Rehnquist follows strictly in the legal footsteps of Holmes. He denies the relevancy to law of personal moral judgments, because they are “subjective” and supposedly cannot be proved.

Legal positivism governs our courts increasingly and is separating religion and morality from law. The same legal cynicism that led to Marxism and to National Socialism is now increasingly commonplace in American law.

My dream was very logical. A world not under God’s law is soon a world in which only tyranny prevails. Moral order is replaced by statist order, and man ceases to be a person before the law. We should remember that John Dewey, the father of modern statist education, was skeptical about personal consciousness and conscience. For him the reality was the statist community.

Bruce S. Ledwitz called attention to the churchmen and conservatives who supported Rehnquist’s nomination as chief justice by President Ronald Reagan. These men won the battle, but they continue to lose the war because the basic issue is obscured. What we face is more than a political battle, and more than an intellectual struggle. It is a conflict of faiths, and, by supporting men like Rehnquist, we are aiding and abetting our own destruction. The conservatives have won many victories in recent years which have only advanced the cause of their opponents.

A key problem of our time is the failure of men to see what is at stake. A spiritual blindness marks our age. In 1924, Eileen Power wrote an interesting study entitled Medieval People. In 1938, she wrote an essay, later included in the 1963 (tenth ed.) printing, entitled “The Precursors,” which begins with a survey of “Rome in Decline.” Towards the end of her essay, she commented, “The fact is that the Romans were blinded to what was happening to them by the very perfection of the material culture which they had created. All around them was solidity and comfort, a material existence which was the very antithesis of barbarism.” They might have problems, but for the Romans it was unthinkable that barbarism could replace civilization. As Eileen Power grimly noted, “Their roads grew better as their statesmanship grew worse and central heating triumphed as civilization fell.”

Central to Roman irresponsibility and blindness, according to Professor Power, was their educational system. It was irrelevant to their problems, she noted, “and it would be difficult to imagine an education more entirely out of touch with contemporary life.” The Romans were guilty of “the fatal illusion that tomorrow would be as yesterday.”

Rome was full of cultured Rehnquists who were busily making Rome and its ways irrelevant to reality. Its liberals were building up statist power and destroying society. Its conservatives had impotent criticism, of which Petronius Arbiter gives us an example, in the complaint, “And it is my conviction that the schools are responsible for the gross foolishness of our young men, because, in them, they see or hear nothing at all of the affairs of everyday life.” True enough, but neither Petronius Arbiter nor any of his fellow satirists could offer Rome the faith and morality needed to revitalize their world. The Romans were practical men of the variety Disraeli described in the nineteenth century, when he observed, “Practical men are men who practice the blunders of their predecessors.”

Professor Ledwitz said of Rehnquist, “In a 1976 article, Justice Rehnquist formally set forth the ideas he has implicitly championed throughout his judicial career. In the article, he formally endorsed Justice Holmes’ call for ‘skepticism’ about moral values.” From coast to coast, our press snarls with rage at those who try to apply religious and moral standards to man and society. The “good” is increasingly defined by what the state does, because no God and law above the state is recognized and the state is viewed as a god walking on earth.

Phil Donahue used a Soviet propagandist on his television show, and the man, Vladimir Posner, saw the United States as “bad” because it has unemployment, poverty, and homeless peoples, whereas the Soviet Union, he said, had none. Bayard Rustin, in criticizing Donahue and Posner, called attention to the fact that his black grandparents were slaves and had full employment, food, and housing, and it was not a good order for them. Remove God and His law from society and you have the moral confusion demonstrated by Posner and his friends.

Roman civilization, said Eileen Power, lost the power to reproduce itself. She gave no clear answer to this problem, but, as Christians, we can supply one. If you believe nothing, what can you transmit to your children? If you have no faith, can you give your heirs anything but cynicism as a way of life? If good and evil are myths, then how can we call life itself good? The increasing incidence of suicide among state-school children is the logical conclusion of an educational system stripped of Christianity.

Modern man has no solid grounds for condemning slavery, tyranny, child abuse, sexual abuse, or anything else. Fifteen years ago, some of the avant-garde leaders of the new amorality were insisting that all things between consenting adults should be legal. Now the limitation of consent is disappearing as some groups agitate for the freedom to molest children.

As Dostoyevsky observed more than a century ago, if there is no God, then all things are possible.

But there is a God, the Lord God of Scripture, and He lives, and He is a consuming fire to His enemies (Heb. 12:29). All things are not possible, because God reigns. There is therefore causality and judgment in history, and God’s law governs all things.

Can men make this the kind of world I dreamed about? Yes, and they are doing so. But as the sabbath song, Psalm 92, declares in verses 7–8, “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed forever: But thou, Lord, art most high for evermore.” Men’s Towers of Babel are always confounded and destroyed. The judges and rulers of this world will in time take notice, because none can escape the righteous Judge of all creation.

  1. The Cultural Conflict

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 228, September 1998

During most eras of Christian civilization, people have seen their age as the peak of history and of culture, and with some measure of truth. However cruel and brutal an era may seem in retrospect, its basic direction and impetus have been usually promising. Its sins can be real: the Victorian era was addicted on the one hand to pornography sub rosa, and a worship of things classical (Greco-Roman) on the other, but its better side showed remarkable growth in Biblical studies, Christian culture, and a concern for the common man.

A significant shift came with the twentieth century. Previously, three concerns governed a culture — the church, the family, and education — and while this latter at one time meant the university, it came in time to mean education on all levels and spheres.

With the twentieth century, a new emphasis unknown since the fall of Rome came into focus, entertainment, and it was accompanied by another, also echoing Rome, statist charity or welfare. Some of us have memories of the kerosene-lamp era, before electricity reached the countryside. When the sun set, it was not long before everyone had supper and went to bed. Summers had longer days and longer work hours; entertainment had no such commanding place in everyday life. Radio and films first began to command men’s days, and by 1960, some 120 million tickets to films were sold weekly in the United States. This was little compared to the rise soon thereafter of television, with an average of four hours daily of viewing time per person.

The implications of this were enormous. It created a different kind of person. In 1998, it seems strange to recall that in the ’teens and even into the 1920s a word often used was edification. As a child, it early caught my eye. To edify meant to build, construct, or improve, especially morally and religiously, and reading, preaching, teaching, and drama were all expected to edify people.

Very quickly, however, we went from edification to entertainment. Perhaps the revivalists led the way. Preaching at one time had stressed solid exposition, growth in the knowledge of Scripture; it came quickly to mean entertainment, albeit with a goal in mind. The revivalist very early affected church preaching by cheapening its contents to stress ear-catching entertainment and emotional results.

In other areas, entertainment per se had dramatic results. Earlier humor had often been political, but not ugly. In early film fare, as witness the Laurel and Hardy films, and Jack Benny on radio and in film, one poked fun at himself. After the World War II shift, men like Don Rickles made ugly jokes at others, often audience members. The world had changed greatly.

The older culture, by stressing family, church, and education, called thereby for growth and improvement. The cult of entertainment had no improvement in mind: it became increasingly sadistic. Today Don Rickles is a somewhat mild figure compared to modern comedians and film directors. Entertainment directed against others becomes in time sadistic, and then drops all pretense at humor to stress sadism. It thereby becomes pathological even to view it.

It is not enough to condemn this return to the culture of Rome, nor to avoid it. We must restore the older Christian priorities of family, church or faith, and education in a Christian sense.

We are seeing a major revival in all these fields, and a recent Minneapolis conference spent time in railing against all such efforts. But the best reform begins on the grassroots level, and it attacks the evil closest to home.

Phariseeism, self-righteousness, marks the new culture. It demands sexual freedom, abortion, and feminism, i.e., freedom from responsibility to others in every sphere. It resents any call to moral accountability in any Biblical sense. It is the culture of death. We must separate ourselves from it by affirming the culture of life, Christianity.

  1. The Lost Center

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 152, June 1992

Some years ago, John S. White, in Renaissance Cavalier (1959), pointed out that, when man lost his sense of God as the center, and this world as the focal point of the great work of the Creator-Redeemer, man lost an important ingredient of his freedom. When God is the center and all in all, man could be independent of man, because God was his center and the source of man’s law and status. With a man-centered faith, man now needed man and society “as a resonance box.” White said that before this, “The invisible eyes of God hovered above him. (Now) Universal Man needs society in order to display his virtues. His realm is only of this world” (pp. 8–9).

God being denied as the center, man greedily took God’s place. Galileo, Copernicus, and Darwin were welcomed, each in turn, not because of scientific evidence, but because they dethroned God in favor of man and his “autonomous” reason.

By 1920, William Butler Yeats, in his poem “The Second Coming,” wrote,

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

The “new” revelation was not to be of Christ as the center, but of something radically different; after twenty centuries of Christianity,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Meanwhile, “the new man” was no longer the regenerate man in Christ but the intellectual and the artist. Of the intellectual as “the new man,” Friedrich Heer wrote that, “he called everything in the world into question except his own ego, which he interrogated incessantly for the answer to his problems. He was the self-proclaimed heir both of prophets and priests” (The Intellectual History of Europe, pp. 202–203). Intellectuals and artists united in giving expression to the new view of man as the center in a new art form, the opera. It is impossible from this distance to appreciate how grand the grand opera of the Enlightenment and Romantic eras was: vast cost, long hours, spectacular settings, and more. Opera gave expression to man’s view of himself as heroic and godlike.

The courts of kings became staged opera. Louis XIV set the standard. On February 15, 1715, Louis XIV received an embassy from Persia. He played the role of Apollo, and the Sun King, to the hilt. Earlier, ca. 1680, when Versailles was being built, with up to 36,000 workers plus the army, the death toll was enormous. Every night, wagons carried off the dead workers killed in the accidents of rushed construction. An old woman whose son was killed, in her grief called Louis XIV a tyrant and was flogged in public. Shortly thereafter, a man of sixty complained about the death of his son. He was condemned to be a galley slave and die soon, chained to his oar, but first he had his tongue cut off. This was the medieval and early modern penalty in France for blasphemy. Now it was blasphemy to criticize Louis XIV (Diana de Marly, Louis XIV and Versailles [1987], pp. 33–34). Versailles, an unending operatic stage, saw Louis XIV receive the Persian embassy in a dazzling coat of black embroidered with diamonds, worth 12,500,000 (gold) livres. The coat was so heavy that he had to be helped to the throne by his two illegitimate sons, Maine and Toulouse, who were themselves ablaze with diamonds and other stones (ibid., pp. 125–126). The ceremonies of the courts of Europe, small and great, were all imitation opera, and Versailles was imitated by country gentlemen as well as the nobility.

But this is not all. Since man was now the center of the universal stage, all began to imitate kings and courts, and the theater and opera set tempo for one area of life after another. According to Jean Starobinski, in The Invention of Liberty, one set of operatic figures replaced another, and “[i]t seems likely that (at the French Revolution) the Revolutionary mob felt itself involved in a large-scale theatrical performance and that the more ardent Revolutionaries saw themselves as actors playing heroic roles” (p. 106).

In my student day, students who were “intellectuals” read with religious fanaticism two stupid books, John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World (1919), and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940); the first was supposedly history, the second, a novel. Both were very bad opera; and bad opera now rules politics, the academic community, television evangelists, and more.

According to Starobinski, by the Baroque period, “The idea of an infinite universe had triumphed.” As a result, “All parts were equivalent.” (This meant that a knave was as good as the best of men, and a fool’s opinions as good as those of the best scholar. It meant a total equality of all men, ideas, religions, and art forms.)

As Starobinski pointed out, every person, every individual mind, could “organize” the whole universe “from his own point of view, justifying his own private interests, while acknowledging the interests of others” (p. 115). (This means purely personal values, with every man as his own god. The values of the cannibal are as valid as those of the saint. Our state schools tell children that values are personal choices and creations. The world has become a stage in which every man writes and acts out his own scenario or opera!)

Louis XIV, the great example of modern man, could afford to indulge his fantasies as few others have been able so to do. He spent an hour and a half daily in getting dressed, with help (Marly, p. 38). The truth was what he chose it to be. When Marechal Vauban pleaded for a fairer taxation system, calling attention to the suffering of the poor peasantry, he was dismissed from the court, in spite of a lifetime of faithful service (ibid., p. 103). After suffering military defeats, Louis XIV said, “God seems to have forgotten all I have done for him” (Nancy Mitford, The Sun King [1966], p. 114).

Louis XIV was able to indulge the self-centered nature of fallen man as have few others. The word revolved around him: hence he saw himself as the Sun-King. Even more, he was to himself “an imperial idol,” and “All Europe was expected to bend the Knee before King Sun” (Marly, pp. 71, 83). He was able to indulge himself as every spoiled child or criminal mind dreams of doing.

Because the modern age denies God as the center, and because man has become the central actor on his own stage, equal validity is given to all things that move in terms of man as the center. God and His law-word are seen as something evil and antihumanistic. This has led to a characteristic of the modern age, which is a revival of paganism. Sensualism and intellectualism have gone hand in hand. The intellectuals of the early church, the medieval era, and the Reformation, were men for whom God was the obvious priority. This perspective was summed up by the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” But the modern intellectual has an affinity for moral depravity. He is a champion of abortion, adultery, homosexuality, euthanasia, and more. Freedom for him means a mind and a life separated from God and His law. In Starobinski’s telling words, “As Kant was to say, the men of the Enlightenment were no longer willing to obey arbitrary external laws; they wanted personal autonomy to recognize only such laws as they perceived within themselves” (Starobinsky, p. 12).

We are now in the last days of this humanistic culture. It has, unhappily, captured vast areas of the church. God’s law-word is despised, and churchmen “recognize only such laws as they perceive within themselves,” and they call this the leading of the Holy Spirit.

But “be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). God’s harvest time of judgment has begun, and men, churches, and nations will be judged. They have lost, they have abandoned the only true center, the triune God, and they cannot escape the judgment that is overtaking the world.

  1. The Cultivation and Promotion of Impotence

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 84, March 1987

In her study, The Knight in History (1984), Frances Gies tells us of the growth of irrelevance in knighthood. Originally, the knight was an important and key figure in feudal society. However, after 1050, knights began to stress their status rather than function, and “what had been a rank became a hereditary caste” (p. 26). In time, their lives and their tournaments became “an adjunct of theatrical productions and partook of their character” (p. 200). The same thing in time became true of royalty: it became a matter of blood and theater. Earlier, a ruler like William the Conqueror was a bastard whose mother was emphatically not royalty; later, such a king was ruled out. It was not ability that counted but blood. Royal “courts” ceased to be a place of justice and became social centers where dress prevailed in importance over character and ability.

What had happened was that men preferred the façade to reality. The centers of power became centers of fashion and theater, not of justice and government; and before long, they lost their power. When fashion and theatricals become more important to those in power than justice and social advancement, then the end is not far away.

To prefer fashion and theater to justice means that the ruling powers have lost their hold on reality. They seek admiration and envy, not results and progress. But this is not all. Art is divorced from Christianity to become a substitute for religion, and the power elite becomes linked to an art elite which is similarly out of touch with reality. Each serves to exalt the other as they go blindly into destruction. Such a direction is not limited to heads of states. It is also true of the world of commerce. Otto Scott has often commented on a revealing aspect of the life of corporations. Their founders are true entrepreneurs, men of ability, vision, and foresight. As innovators, they build a great industrial empire out of little or nothing other than their dedication and ingenuity. Such men vary in character, and their biographies reveal sometimes very real flaws, but they were builders. But there is another fact about them: often they were short and unprepossessing in their appearance. Many had character traits which today would lead to their immediate rejection by any personnel department. If they appeared today, looking for jobs with firms they established, they would be rejected! It was rare for any of these innovators to have a college degree. Today, the firms they founded take college men only, and only those over six feet, in many cases! The result is cloning an image of an advertising agency’s fashion plate. Is it any wonder that the corporations are having problems?

The same problem exists in the church. Administration is often given priority over pastoral and preaching concerns. “Ministerial relations” committees handle placements in many church bodies, and these committees are more often concerned about loyalty to the church than loyalty to Christ and Scripture. Such a superficial churchmanship leads to a theatrical view of reality. Ecumenical meetings by failing churches pronounce all kinds of judgment on things they know little about. There is more concern with public relations and a good press than there is with reality.

In the world of the theater, life and death are both make believe, not reality. Reality is no longer real to some people. Theodore Shank, in his study of the American Alternative Theater (1982), which he found pleasing on the whole, cited one leading figure in the theater who declared, “Life, revolution, and theater are the words for the same thing: an unconditional NO to the present society.” But to equate revolution and theater with life is to have lost a hold on reality! Shanks said, of the Living Theater group, “life is theater, and theater is their life.” Such a view means that a hold on reality is lost. It should not surprise us, then, that one performer has insisted, “Acting is not make believe but living exquisitely in the moment.”

This is the avant-garde theater today, and this, too, is much of our world; it feels that only when one is on stage, only when one is a part of a “living theater,” is life real. (One man seriously told me once that to be truly alive one had to live in New York City!) Is it any wonder today that more and more of our “news” and politics is dominated by press conferences, public hearings, and television coverage than by actions and accomplishments?

On stage, life and death are make-believe, not real. So too are births, accomplishments, and victories. When men move from reality to theater, they sentence themselves to impotence.

For the living dead, there are virtues in impotence. It means none of the pains, expenses, and heartbreaks of family life, of birth and death, and the partings of ways. Impotence eliminates many of the cares and problems which are basic to life.

Our age obviously loves impotence and death. It favors homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, and more. It will not face up to the growing epidemic of AIDS, and it continues to live in its fantasy world. The presbyter Salvian, describing the fall of Trier in the last days of the Roman Empire, tells us that men did not defend the city because they were too interested in the games at the arena. After the rape, looting, and burning of Trier, the survivors petitioned the emperor to rebuild their arena so that the games could go on and their morale improved! Salvian said of Rome, “it is dying, but continues to laugh.” So, too, this modern age: it is dying but continues to laugh.

Impotence today is cultivated on all sides. A few years ago, at its inception, I joined a national group ostensibly dedicated to studying and implementing matters of national policy. Its members were to be Christians and conservatives. Very quickly, in only a few years, it has become theater. It is more interested in providing a forum for “big names” than in serious study. Its meetings are now expensive social events. One might say that, instead of being a training ground for war horses, it has become the gathering place to produce geldings and mules! Impotence is cultivated, and ineffectuality is the order of the day. Men must love impotence, because they spend so much money to produce it!

In 1947, in The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis began with a telling chapter on “Men Without Chests,” i.e., on education as planned sterility. At the end of the chapter, he said, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful” (p. 16). This is true not only of education but of every area of life and thought. The culture and promotion of impotence is central to our contemporary culture.

Biblical faith is vital and demanding. It requires that we die in Christ and become a new creation in Him. It requires our total surrender. We must become Christ’s creation and creatures.

The world prefers a surface religion. It was surface religion which destroyed the medieval church long before the Reformation. Margaret Wade Labarge, in her study of Henry V (1975), wrote of the fact that Henry took his religious duties seriously. However, with most people, religion had become conventional. “Conventional religious practice required no individual initiative and did not necessarily imply any personal commitment. A look at the hierarchy of the day provides still another impression of decent formalism” (p. 95). Before the immoralism of recent years, we too had our era of “decent formalism.” It has given way to indecent immoralism and rebellion!

I have had calls from time to time from troubled pastors, all with a common problem. People visit their church to see “what’s happening.” They want a church where they can be spectators to much action, but they do not want to be part of the work. One pastor reported that one visiting couple said that they wanted a church “where things happen and miracles take place”! They did not ask for an opportunity to serve. They wanted to be spectators. This is an easy route to damnation.

Given the modern perspective, when Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, instead of asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6), Paul instead should have asked, “Lord, what’s in it for me?”

Returning again to Henry V, Labarge’s comment is of interest when she says of medieval kingship that it was associated with justice. “Justice was the prime virtue of a medieval king” (p. 187). Not all medieval kings were just, but enough of them were, and the concern for the realities of rule, not theatricals, governed them. Even ungodly kings were able to retain power, because they did not lose touch with reality.

Monarchy disappeared when it became theater, when it lost touch with reality. Ludwig of Bavaria, Richard Wagner’s friend and patron, was such a ruler. He was far more beneficent than many a predecessor, but his idea of a kingship was so unrealistic and so theatrical that it proved suicidal for the future of the crown. Wagner himself took Germany and much of the Western world into a land of fantasy and irrelevance. Wagner adopted the current anthropological doctrine of myth as a higher reality and thus a higher realm of truth.

The same evil doctrine is widely prevalent today, especially in seminaries, both Catholic and Protestant. A myth is said to be a higher form of religious truth and is not to be confused with falsehood. By “seeing” the mythological character of the Bible, we supposedly have a firmer grip on truth and reality!

How much trust can we place in a mythological bridge across a canyon? Such men may insist that these “myths” embody a higher reality, but in so speaking, they declare themselves to be, at the very least, fools, if not knaves.

Such professors turn Christianity from the truth of God into a lie called myth. They insist that theater in the form of myth is reality, and that, by implication, reality is unreal.

We live in an age when men believe that “life is theater and theater is their life.” They insist that “acting is not make-believe, but living exquisitely in the moment.” This is insanity and a flight from reality. But that flight from reality is all around us. Press conferences replace action, and public relations govern the world of “living theater.” The curtain always comes down on the stage; the play-acting comes to an end. But life goes on; it does not end with us, nor with our children, and we cannot ring down the curtain on neat and invented endings made for an imaginary, theatrical world without birth or death.

The world of the “living theater” is not for us. We are told, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:4–5).

The impotent have no future. The cultivation and promotion of impotence is the calling of the humanists. Our Lord is the Lord of life.

  1. Curzonization

Position Paper No. 204, September 1996

More than sixty years ago, as a young man, I was very much interested in the British leader, George Curzon, a member of Parliament, Viceroy of India, Lord Privy Seal, and later foreign secretary, First Baron and First Marquess Curzon of Kedleston. Curzon (1859–1925) worshipped power, authority, and ritual. As a result, he thought highly of Turkey and of autocracies which stressed symbols. He saw it a duty to impress natives and common peoples with the trappings of power. The Delhi Durbar, monuments to the unknown soldier, and other symbolic events and cenotaphs showed Curzon’s hand. Much of the ceremony common now to state functions shows the influence of Curzon. It has been called Curzonization.

David Cannadine, in Aspects of Aristocracy (1994), observed, “For him, great ceremonials were ‘pages of history,’ ‘chapters in the ritual of the state’” (p. 83). Cannadine devotes a very long chapter to Winston Churchill, an example of this. Of Churchill, Cannadine observes, “He showed no respect for religious belief or spiritual values, and his conversation was often Rabelaisian” (p. 149). But Churchill could not turn every speech and act into a momentous ritual and symbol. His lust for greatness he made into an imperial ritual and act. He saw Britain’s rise to power as the work of a small segment of Britain, an aristocracy that had propelled a people into greatness. Churchill had no idea what the common people were like and imagined them still to be small cottagers. He had been attracted to Sir Oswald Mosley, Mussolini, and Fascism.

But Churchill was not alone in this. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with less ability, also saw life as a stage whereon aristocrats managed things in the name of the people.

In World War II, Britain and the United States were led by men indifferent to Christianity, while Germany, the Soviet Union, and Italy were led by men (Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini) opposed to it.

There was a logic to all this. Lord Curzon was a man who substituted forms and symbols for substance and reality. St. Paul early faced this issue. With him, and with the New Testament, definition now became a matter of inner reality, not external form. Paul insisted, in Romans 2:28–29, that the true Jew is one who is a Jew inwardly, from the heart, not merely by circumcision. It is hard at this distance to recognize the religious revolution this created because the Greco-Roman world was content with external definitions. Mohammed expressed the counterrevolution to Paul and Christianity by declaring that he is a true Muslim who is one outwardly. Curzon and the twentieth century are in line with Mohammed, and the political leaders now admired represent this externalism and hypocrisy.

About thirty years ago, I was told of a group of intellectual and cultural leaders that it was radically tolerant of any kind of immoral behavior performed discreetly but radically intolerant of any moral standards on any grounds. This describes rather well the culture of our day. Many of the televised ceremonies of our day, awards celebrations, political nonevents made momentous, academic ceremonies, ecclesiastical professionals, and more, are best described as the results of Curzonization.

Critics saw in Lord Curzon an “insufferable sense of superiority: not for him the sordid policy of self-effacement” (p. 78). Much of the supposedly ancient imperial pomp of Britain has its origin in the Curzon era. Oxford, too, felt the effect of Curzonization when he became Chancellor.

But that is not all. Curzonization now appears even in middle-class weddings, performed with much pomp and more expense, followed by receptions at greater costs and pretentiousness. Simplicity and economy are somehow in bad taste! Curzon’s premise was, impress the peasants and natives. But what about God? More than once, God through the prophets expressed contempt for the solemn assemblies of a hypocritical people. He saw these as a form of rebellion. He declared that, in all these pretentious forms, the faithful city had become a harlot.

Lord Curzon restored at great expense some magnificent mansions: Kedleston, Derbyshire; Bodiam Castle, Sussex; Montacute House, Somerset; and Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire; two of these were bequeathed to the National Trust. He was an earnest and dedicated servant of the monarchy and empire. But he was also a prime example of the new temper of men and nations. After Darwin, men turned from a moral and a religious imperative to a man-centered one. Their concern ceased to be pleasing God but became instead impressing men.

In the colonial era, the imperative to children was pleasing God and their parents as duty to Him. By the late 1950s, college and university students were telling me that the governing force on campus was peer pressure, pleasing one’s classmates and meeting with their approval. Since then, the power of peer pressure has grown. Nothing is more calculated to make a people easily controlled than peer pressure, a modern term for an old fact, the fear of man. The fear of man is a condition of tyranny, and only the fear of God can counteract it and prevail.

  1. The New Racism

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 14, July 1980

Racism is a relatively new fact on the world scene. In earlier eras, not race but religion was the basis of discrimination. Although religious history has been marred by ugly violence against other religious groups, and the history of the Christian church is no exception to this, there is a notable fact which is often forgotten. Missionary faiths, and supremely Christianity, normally seek to win other groups, not oppress them, and this missionary impulse has also provided, in many eras, a favorable cause for a friendly approach.

In the modern era, as Christianity’s influence receded and science began to govern together with humanism, biology came to predominate over theology. The differences between men were seen increasingly as biological and racial rather than religious. The earlier physical anthropologists made very precise and detailed physical studies of all peoples in order to establish the physical differences between races.

The theory of evolution fueled this developing scientific racism and added still another important factor. Many theories began to hold to multiple origins for the human race. Whereas in Scripture all men are descendants of Adam, in evolutionary thought all men are possibly descendants of very differing evolutionary sources. Common descent in Adam meant a common creation, nature, and responsibility under God. The idea of multiple origins proved divisive. The human race was no longer the human race! It was a collection of possibly human races, a very different doctrine.

It is important to recognize that racism was in origin a scientific doctrine. Whenever a scientific doctrine is discarded, as witness the idea of the acquired inheritance of environmental influences, the old scientific doctrine, as it lingers on in popular thought, is blamed on religion or popular superstition! The origins of racism are in very highly respectable scientific theorists. The fact that men like Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855–1927), a British admiral’s son and son-in-law of Richard Wagner, took this scientific literature to develop what became the foundation of Nazi thought does not eliminate its scientific origins.

The defeat of the Nazis did not end racism. Instead, it has again become respectable and widespread. We must remember that studies of Hitler’s Germany indicate that his support came from liberals, democrats, socialists, and the intellectual community. Scholars like Erik von Kuehnelt- Leddihn have ably exposed the myth of a conservative or rightist origin for Hitler’s support. The fact of Hitler’s antipathy to Christianity helped enlist support for him.

The new racism is widespread and common to many peoples and to every continent. It has now become a part also of the religious vocabulary of many churchmen. Thus, in almost every seminary today, pompous professors rail against a missions program which would export “the white mentality” and European modes of thought. What is the white mentality, and what is the European mode of thought, as against the human, common to all men? If it is specifically white and European, it must be common to the pre-Christian European as a racial factor. The pre-Christian Saxons, for example, practiced human sacrifice and more. Much more could be said about pre-Christian Europeans, but I have no desire to be flooded with angry letters (which I will discard without answer). No race born of Adam has a good history: this is the Biblical fact, and the historical fact.

The Western mind, common to Europe and the Americas, is a product not of race but of culture, religious culture. Elements of it, none too good, go back to the barbarian peoples of Europe. Other aspects are from Greek philosophy, again none too good. (The Greeks described all non-Greeks as barbarians on cultural, not racist, grounds. They gave brilliant and inventive slaves a Greek name and status.) The Western mind and culture, in all its advances, is a product of Biblical religion. It is a religious, not a racial, product.

A generation ago, a pope with humane intentions said, “Spiritually, we are all Semites.” Despite his humane intentions, he was wrong. Arabs are Semites, but we are not Arabic in our faith and culture. He would have been equally wrong had he said Hebrews or Jews. The culture of the West is not the property of any race or people in its origin. It is Biblical. True, much sin is present in Western culture. True, such sin needs to be condemned. But the mind of the West bears the imprint of the Bible. It is not understandable on any other terms.

Today, however, men speak of the white mentality, the Asiatic soul, and the African mind. Some educators are insistent on the need to recognize and give status in the schools to what they call “black English.”

Implicit in all of this is a racist view of man. Races are seen as the sources of varying kinds of logic and reason. To deny the validity of the concept of a white mind, an African mind, or an Asiatic mind is seen as reactionary, imperialistic, and evil.

The mentality of a people, however, is not a product of race but of religion, and the culture of that religion. The key factor is always religion. There is a hidden but insane pride among those who oppose exporting the white mentality. Although such men would never dare say it explicitly or even think it, what they are saying implicitly is that other races are not up to comprehending the white mentality. (One brilliant black student told me, with wry humor, that he could always count on a high grade for minimum work from a white liberal professor. The man would regard him as inferior, but would never have the courage to admit as much, and would accordingly give him a good grade!) All talk of differing mentalities has a patronizing perspective; it also says that race, not sin, is the problem of other peoples and their cultures.

Because of the new racism, we now have a growing body of religious literature aimed at the seminary student, pastor, and missionary, which talks about contextualization. Supposedly, the only way to communicate the gospel to other races is by giving priority to the context over Biblical faith and confessional statements. The impetus for contextualization has come from the Theological Education Fund, set up in 1957 by the Rockefeller Foundation. Contextualization calls also for an emphasis on the struggle for justice in terms of “liberation theology” (a form of Marxism) and existentialistic responses to the historical moment in the Third World. Contextualization places a heavy emphasis on human need rather than on God’s infallible Word. Its mission is thus contemporary and social, not theological and supernatural. Contextualists of all theological stripes shift their language from that of Scripture to the jargon spawned by the Theological Education Fund.

Closely related to this in the area of Bible translations is the dynamic equivalence theory, now common to most Bible societies and translation groups. This doctrine, of which Eugene A. Nida is an exponent, “translates” the Bible into a culture and its ideas. This can mean giving an historical account a psychoanalytic or mythological meaning. Instead of reshaping the culture, the Bible is “translated” into the culture. (Such a doctrine makes the culture in effect the unerring word, not the Bible. The culture thus corrects or amends the Bible, not the Bible, culture.) As Jakob van Bruggen, in The Future of the Bible, points out, “the dynamic equivalence translation theory owes its influence and effect to the blending of modern theological prejudices regarding the Bible with data borrowed from communication theory, cultural anthropology, and modern sociology rather than to insights from linguistics” (Thomas Nelson Inc., 1978, p. 151).

The implications of this new racism are far-reaching. Instead of working to change a people, we have a static and racist view of a people and their culture. It is the Bible and the mission which must change, not the people! We must teach a “black English” if any at all, and a black, brown, or yellow Christianity, if any at all. It takes only a brief excursion into “liberation theology,” contextualization, and like doctrines to realize that it is not Christianity at all which is taught, but a counterfeit. Relevance is sought, not to the Lord and His Word, but to fallen man and his racial heritage. Such is not the gospel; it is the new racism.

The new racism passes, however, for vital, relevant Christianity. It is widely promoted by seminaries and missionary organizations. It encourages races, like individuals, to trumpet the existentialist (and hippie) slogan, “I want to be me!” The historical goal is racial realization! Providentially, the early missionaries to Europe, coming from North Africa, Asia Minor, and the Mediterranean world generally, had no such regard for the European mind. They regarded it as unregenerate and in need of being broken and redeemed. All the plagues and evils of “the European mind” are products of the fallen man and the relics of barbarian cultures, not of Christ and His Word. All that is good in “the European mind” is a result of Christian culture, not of race.

The words of Paul are a sharp rebuke to all who want men to glory in their blood, race, or history: “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7).

  1. The Communion of Saints

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 89, August 1987

Otto Scott has wisely observed that, to understand the United States, we must recognize that it is a nation of “minority” groups; it has no majority groups, unless we divide it into “whites” and “blacks.” Such a division assumes a unity and harmony in such groups which is nonsense. Northern Ireland is almost all “white,” but that does not make for unity!

Is the United States a WASP — white Anglo-Saxon Protestant — country, as some have insisted? Those of English descent number only 14 percent of the population, and the next most numerous group of Americans are Germans, 13 percent; Germans may be equal to or surpass the English, since many have Anglicized their names, i.e., Mueller into Miller, Schmidt into Smith, and so on. Moreover, these groups are not united in action, outlook, faith, or politics. Germans number many Catholics, and also many Lutherans, in their midst. The Irish are, in the United States, more Presbyterian than Catholic, and so on.

In the United States, all are members of one or more minority groups, but, in law and the media, the myth of a persecuting majority exists.

A Welshman, John Morgan, after a few years stay, wittily and wisely noted a common fact about Americans. From the first Englishmen, to at least the Vietnamese, each new group believed this was a great country, until the next group of immigrants arrived to “spoil” America!

In the 1920s and 1930s, ethnic jokes were common on radio and usually enjoyed by the ethnic group in question. In the 1930s, my family was in our home town, a Swedish farm town, when a new comedian gained popularity with his ethnic humor and simulated accent, “Ole Olson.” He was the endless delight of the Swedish community. In those days, ethnic humor, if not malicious, was relished. Jewish friends had an endless stock of Jewish jokes; Scots loved Scottish jokes, and so on. The difference between affectionate and malicious humor has been lost. Humor today is too often an ugly put-down.

But “racism” and “prejudice” are today the major sins in the eyes of many people. At the least, this is humanism and a theological error.

On April 3, 1987, The Wall Street Journal had a front-page story on campus “racism” at American universities. It showed clearly the illusions of our time. Some real incidents were cited, but a subheading told part of the story: “A Junior at MIT: ‘I’m Alone.’” As a university student during the Depression, I was not alone because I had no time to be. Most students held one or more jobs to pay their way through school. A major problem for some was getting enough to eat. A social life was a peripheral fact. I am sure, of course, that many black and white students today are lonely, but can you abolish loneliness and create friends by law?

Today, however, the media is full of people who are constantly on the lookout for instances of the great modern sin, prejudice. The cases become sometimes very ludicrous.

On Thursday, April 9, 1987, the Stockton Record in California carried a major story on pages 1 and 10, with a large photograph of an indignant Hindu spokesman. The story carried the author’s byline, Christopher Woodword. The problem? At St. Mary’s High School, the principal, the Reverend John Fallon, uses a large bulletin board in front of the school to advertise school events. If there are no announcements, he throws in witty comments with a moral content. In April, he had a sentence on the board designed to ridicule bigotry and prejudice: “Sacred Cows Make Great Hamburgers.” Innocent? Clever? Well, not to the Stockton Hindus! It was a slur, they held, against them and their religion! (Will they picket meat-market beef sales next?) They held that the sign was offensive to their belief that “all life is sacred, especially the cow.” A “spokesman” declared, “I don’t go putting up a sign saying white people make good hot dogs.”

Father Fallon was naturally distressed, and he promised to have the one-liner removed. But the “horror” of this crisis did not end there. Father Fallon had gotten the sentence out of a calendar put out by a Jewish group dedicated to combatting persecution, the Anti-Defamation League! The question of the moment is this: will the Hindu “spokesman” now demand of the Jews whether they would like a sign saying something invidious about the Jews?

Are we uniting society with all this nonsense, or are we dividing it? Many people who long wanted and even worked for an end to bigotry are now hesitant about close relations with self-styled minorities: they find them often too touchy for more than casual contacts.

But this is not all. Within each group, hypersensitivity is begetting an increasing isolation on all sides. I often hear remarks which, in a variety of ways, say the same thing: close fellowship is increasingly a problem because everyone is so “touchy” and easily provoked. A people with an exaggerated sense of personal rights are not capable of sound relationships with others.

A deserted island was once seen as a terrible place to live. Now, for some people it is an ideal setting! If only such an island could be stocked with certain things, and people barred, it would be a paradise for many.

Fifty years ago one of John Donne’s best known lines was widely used: “No man is an island.” Donne also said, “The greatest misery of sickness is solitude,” and, “Solitude is a torment which is not threatened in hell itself.” “In heaven,” said Donne, “there are orders; of angels and armies of martyrs and in that house many mansions; in earth, families, cities, churches, colleges, all plural things; and lest either of these should not be company enough alone, there is an association of both, a communion of saints which makes the militant and triumphant church one parish; so that Christ was not out of his diocese when he was in our flesh.”

Donne was speaking of the communion of saints. The antithesis of communion is solitariness, isolation. While Donne held solitude to be a torment not even threatened in hell, we must say that hell is self-chosen isolation from God and man, a realm in which every man is his own god, law, and universe (Gen. 3:5). All the Biblical images of hell stress its meaninglessness and isolation.

The communion of saints is not a natural fact. In a fallen world with sinful man, communion is a divine grace, act, and gift, a sacrament which celebrates fellowship with God in Christ, and with other men.

The goal of humanistic civil government is community. Among the names given to the envisioned world order of humanism and socialism are the “Great Society” and the “Great Community.” The goal is to attain a world order in which all men are brothers and all live together in peace and prosperity.

This “Great Community” is to be brought about by social and political revolution. Laws, or “works of law,” education, and coercion are to bring in liberty, fraternity, and equality. Economic controls are to be used to equalize society and enhance fraternity.

There is thus a vast difference between the “Great Community” and the communion of saints. The communion of saints is an article of faith, affirmed in the Apostles’ Creed; it is God’s act, His sovereign grace, which makes us members of that communion. Our obedience then to God’s law-word enables us to further that communion.

If men seek community humanistically and by acts of state, they destroy true community. They establish rather a “community” of evil, a unity only in hatred against Christianity. We should not be surprised that humanistic efforts to attain community become anti-Christian. It is held that Christianity, by its insistence on Christ alone as the truth and the Savior, is discriminatory and hence must be controlled or destroyed.

This becomes, then, an insistence on a community which denies absolute truth and is beyond good and evil. Marxism is thus both more logical and more consistent than other forms of humanism because it denies all meaning which transcends man.

Humanism enthrones the ultimate bigotry and prejudice: it is against truth because it is anti-God, and, because it is anti-God, it is of necessity anti-man, because man is created in God’s image. Hence, the goal of humanism is to create a new man and efface the image of God. In every sphere, mental, sexual, political, economic, and more, man is to be remade.

Recently, the Capsule for January–March 1987 (Cameron, MO), quoted Jeremy Rifkin as follows: “We no longer feel ourselves to be guests in someone else’s home and therefore obliged to make our behavior conform with a set of preexisting cosmic rules. It is our creation now. We make the rules. We establish the parameters of reality. We create the world, and because we do, we no longer feel beholden to outside forces. We no longer have to justify our behavior, for we are now the architects of the universe. We are responsible to nothing outside ourselves, for we are the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever.”

This statement is simply an expansion of Genesis 3:5, “ye shall be as God, knowing (or, determining for yourself) good and evil” in every sphere — law, sex, society, everywhere. This is original sin, fallen man’s desire to be his own god. Now, however, it is not called sin: it is humanism, it is the means to true community, it is man’s revolution of freedom against God.

The goal of the humanistic “Great Community” is the brotherhood, the fraternity, of all men. But how can you open your mouth in such a social order? After all, words are divisive; words define, delimit, and separate. The best way to get ahead, more than one person in politics, business, unions, and other groups have told me, is to keep your mouth shut and your eyes half-closed. After all, look where five little words got Father Fallon and the Anti-Defamation League! “Sacred Cows Make Good Hamburger” — this is religious and racial bigotry, something for the front pages of a daily paper!

Must we now be careful at a chicken dinner about expressing a preference for dark meat, or white meat, or any meat all! There is now a well-funded lobby, with many film and television stars as its champions, defending animal rights. After all, why should animals not have the same legal right not to be eaten as do you and I? If this sounds outrageous, remember that it is costing cattlemen and farmers money to fight this movement!

The end is not yet. Some scientists, in India and elsewhere, are telling us that trees and vegetables feel pain when harvested! Are we in for a vegetables’ rights movement? (The fruits already have a movement going.) One fool claims that the air is highly nutritious and provides sufficient food! He heads up a Breatharian movement of one.

Is that the direction of our society, millions of movements of one? But is that possible? After all, with so many people schizophrenic, how can any such a person organize himself into a movement of one?

A society, according to one political scientist of some years back, is a power structure. He was simply summing up a truism of his profession. More recently, a classical scholar, studying ancient Greece, used this same premise and added, “Power structures are rooted in brute strength” (Eva C. Keuls). Certainly, history gives abundant evidence of this fact.

Because of this premise, social reformers logically assume that no “Great Community” is attainable except by creating a power structure and using brute strength, unremitting social pressure, and coercion. This is what our politics is all about.

The Biblical premise is radically different: “I believe . . . in the communion of saints.” To believe in that communion is an act of grace, sovereign grace. It is of the Lord, not of us. He who made us remakes us into His people and community. He then requires us to live by His law, to live as “members one of another” (Eph. 4:25), and to remember that “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). We who have received the gift of Christ’s atoning grace have received more than the world itself. Much is required of us.

  1. Communion and Communications

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 41, July 1983

We are not accustomed to associating communion and communications with one another. For us, communion is a sacrament or an ordinance of the church, whereas “communications” refers to the media, to the exchange of ideas between peoples, to telephones, radio, television, and the like. The fact remains that the two words have a common root in the Latin and are closely related. Communication comes from communicatio, making common, an imparting, sometimes a consulting of the hearers. Communion comes from the Latin communio, a community, mutual participation, or fellowship. Interestingly, communio or conmunio, depending on the context, can also mean to fortify, make sure, strengthen, or secure. One can perhaps say that communion and communication thus are not only a means of sharing, but also a fortifying and strengthening of all those who are involved.

It is common, in our day, for men to speak of the communications gap. This gap exists in various quarters. The generation gap is one example, the inability of the old and the young to communicate in certain segments of our world. The gap exists also between the rulers and the ruled in almost every country; the high and the mighty, it is said, do not “speak the same language” as the rest of us, because their power places them on a different level of communication. In one area of life after another, the communication gap exists. Men may live and work close together and yet be worlds apart in their essential lives.

The simple fact is that there can be no communication where there is no communion. Proximity and a common background are not the answers. Husband and wife, and parent and children, can coexist in the same house and have no communication of any significant sort. In one such family, a member remarked once to me that occasional efforts at intimacy were painful, because they called attention to the very serious gaps and differences between them; living without communication was easier.

As a result, a fact of modern life is man’s readiness to live in isolation from close fellowship with others, because such a life of community means problems and also responsibilities. Many church members are ready to give for missions afar off rather than minister to needs close by. There are “valid” reasons for this: all people are born sinners and, even when converted, are far from perfected in grace. As a result, close contacts with people are close contacts with sin. Of course, we all find our own sins to be lovable ones, and the sins of others are for us intolerable! Hence, a retreat from community becomes very appealing to modern man.

At the same time, this retreat exacts penalties. Man was made by God to have community with God and with man. To retreat from community is thus to retreat from life as God ordained it. We have the paradox, thus, of men avoiding community while complaining of the communications gap.

Meanwhile, modern education, because it is humanistic, has lost the capacity to further or to create community. By teaching the radical ultimacy of man, the humanistic school isolates the individual from God and society. The statist school, normally a great instrument for communication and community, has been highly destructive thereof.

An historic communications function of the school has now broken down: communication with the past. The student who reads Shakespeare, Milton, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Augustine, Anselm, Fielding, and others enters into communication with the past and is challenged, informed, enriched, or stimulated by it. Communication with the past is an essential part of the schooling of man, not only in the formal school, but also in the family, the church, and the community. Family life should link the past to the present and the future. Where parents leave the care and the teaching of children to others, a vital link is broken. Similarly, the church’s faith has deep roots into the past, and is the “Faith of our Fathers, living still.” It cannot live if the past is untaught and ignored. That basic past is the Bible and its history, and it is alone the church’s future. If the Bible is simply mined for salvation purposes (and salvation by such people is rather fire and life insurance from the J. C. Agency), then most of the Bible is ignored. At the same time, the language of the basic translations of the Western world (the King James Version in English) is a language which also opens the doors to our past. Children brought up on the King James Version can read the literature of the past with an ease other children lack. The “community” of our day has lost its sense of the value of historic celebration of a nation’s past; this is in part due to the modern state’s evil ways, and to men’s shrinking from the old loyalties.

The various modern art forms have also often ceased to be means of communication. Expression rather than communication is their motif, and the expression is too often contempt, hatred, envy, and rage. As a result, art, historically one of the great means of communication, is ceasing to communicate. “Successful” and critically approved art is now elitist and increasingly restricted in its audience. To communicate easily and widely, i.e., to be readily understandable, is regarded as philistinism and bad art. Thus, modern art, by its very criteria, excludes the basic purpose and function of art, to communicate. A new school of art drops its style and changes rapidly as soon as it becomes popular, because such a dawning awareness of community is anathema to the artists. Basic to avant-garde art is a hostility to all real communication with the greater part of the people. Nicanor Parra’s Anti-Poems (1960) tells the story in its title. Instead of communicating, modern art has become exclusive and esoteric, which is another way of saying that it has ceased to be art. In fact, the esoteric and exclusive character of modern art is a denial of the very meaning of art. Marcel Duchamp was an “artist” who accepted and promoted this denial.

We have a communications problem and a decline of art because we have a decline in communion, and we have a decline in communion as a relationship because we have a decline in the centrality of communion as a sacrament. At the heart of the church’s life is the celebration of communion, the celebration of the great and central fact of history, the atonement by Jesus Christ. Man, created by God for communion with Him, and to work under God as His vicegerent over the earth, rebelled against God and sought to be his own god, establishing and determining his own laws and his own ideas of good and evil (Gen. 3:5). Man’s fall meant a broken communion with God; it meant instead that man’s communion was now with sin and death, and with himself in preference to God. This fallen man sought to create his own form of communion by means of a humanistic world order, a Tower of Babel, but the verdict of God and the requirement of his own fallen nature bring that hope to confusion and destruction. Throughout history to the present, men have tried to build their Towers of Babel, with consistently drastic consequences. Virtually all modern nations are Babels, and they have thus an anciently ordained predictable future. Fallen man has a communications gap, with God, with other men, and with himself. There is no solution to his problem apart from Jesus Christ.

The Lord, by His atonement, reestablishes us into communion with the triune God. We have peace with God through Christ, and we therefore have the principle of peace with other men and with ourselves in Christ our Lord.

As man grows in grace, he moves from the world of sin and death, and the isolation thereof, into the world of communion. Hell is the consummation of isolation, of every man as his own god and universe, living in total separation from all other men. Heaven, on the other hand, is the consummation of communion and community, of life in peace and perfect communion with God, man, nature, and ourselves.

The rite of communion thus celebrates a future perfection, and it is a feeding for the present task of developing that community here and now. Communion thus is, when it is truly communion, a triumphant present and future fact. It declares that we are one body in Christ. This means that we seek to be governed, not by our will, but by His. The kingdom we are members of and serve is not of this world but of the Lord: it is the Kingdom of God.

We are therefore summoned in communion to die to ourselves, to our old man, and to live in Christ, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:24–25). We move from the law of our fallen being into the law of God, now written in all our being by His grace.

Communion thus celebrates the fact of the growth of new life and new power, the purpose of which is to bring all things into captivity to Christ and their new creation in Him. The goal is summed up in the heavenly proclamation: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). To partake faithfully of the Lord’s Table is thus to partake of life, growth, power, and victory. It means that we become a part of the great army of God, and our purpose is the conquest of all things for Christ our King. All peoples, cultures, spheres of life and thought, and time must be brought under His dominion.

It means also that communion ends the communications problem. St. Paul says, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). All things were created by the Lord’s fiat word (John 1:3), and all things were made to hear and obey that sovereign law-word. God’s word therefore is the word that penetrates to the heart of every man. It is the only word that can get under the skin and into the blood and the bones of unregenerate men. It is the word of power, and the Holy Spirit works with it always.

We are plainly told that, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1). Apart from Him, there is no communion, community, or communication. The foundations of our political and economic orders must thus be in His law-word. Education apart from Him ceases to communicate anything but sin and death, and our statist education today gives abundant evidences of the devastation wrought by humanism.

In a society without communion, sin and death are the governing factors in every area of life, including the family, the arts, and the sciences. All too many scientists today treat man as an experimental animal; being governed by sin and death, they can produce little else. Abortion and homosexuality are fitting symbols for twentieth-century man, and for the century of world wars, drugs, and suicide. Having lost communion, men lose the ability to communicate, and, finally, the will to live. Suicides, both personal and cultural, give evidence of the failure and the refusal to communicate with God and man; they are, simply, the rejection of life because the Lord of life is first of all rejected. (I do not here include the “suicides” of persons given mind-deranging drugs by prescription: these come closer to murder.)

The modern age is dying because it has no communion. It has abandoned faith in the Lord who alone is Life and the source of life, and it has chosen death (Prov. 8:36) rather than life. For us, the living, it is thus most urgently a time for communion, growth, and reconstruction.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)

  1. On Giving to the Rich, the Middle Class, and the Lower Class

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 32, July 1982

The idea explicit in our title is hardly a popular one. In an age which propagates and exploits class conflict, it is clearly not popular to speak of giving to anyone. The popular reaction will be something like this: what do the rich need, that we should give them? The middle class is self-righteous, smug, and censorious: what does it deserve but contempt? As for the lower class, what should those lazy good-for-nothings get? They are already milking us for handouts, welfare, or grossly higher wages! So runs the popular reaction.

This should not surprise us. The modern Darwinian worldview rests on the concept of a lawless nature, the struggle for survival, and conflict in all areas. Class conflict, as Karl Marx saw, is a necessary development of such a faith. Hence, all areas of human life view all others with suspicion. The conflict-of-interests view of society pits classes against one another and makes for the politics of confrontation. The origins of this view go back to Hegel, to his view of life as conflict leading to synthesis, and then conflict afresh leading to another brief synthesis.

In The Secret Six, Otto J. Scott has shown how this view led to war in 1860. (It was first termed “a civil war” by a Virginian.) In the North, the abolitionists worked not for peaceful solutions, but for confrontation, war, and devastation as the answer. In the South, where only a very small minority owned slaves, and the majority hated slavery, extremists also worked for confrontation and conflict. In 1858, these extremists sought to reopen the slave trade, make very cheap slaves available in great numbers, and thereby include non-slave-owning citizens in their cause. In both the North and the South, extremists who believed in the social value of conflict set the temper of political discourse and overwhelmed the uninvolved peoples.

There is a second factor in the conflict-of-interests faith. Not only does it create social warfare but it also creates inner, psychological warfare. As a result, modern man is, more so than men of other eras, at war with himself. Not only does he hate other social classes, but he is consumed with self-hate.

As a result, most heirs of wealth have problems with themselves. The world of Darwin rather than Romans 8:28 governs their psychology. They see themselves as guilty because they are rich, and all too often use their wealth to try to atone for their affluence. They will be suspicious of others and given to hating themselves.

The middle class is no better off. All too many younger members of it can only speak of their parents with venom. For them, the ultimate and unforgivable sin is to be content with a good suburban home, a good income, and good friends, and virtue is equated with feeling guilty and miserable about the plight of man.

The lower class is no different. It sees those above it as in conspiracy against the poor, and poverty is somehow a creation of others, of society, of the system, or something else, in short. For example, one “inner city” young man delighted in throwing paper towels on restroom floors to mess up things, and in throwing candy wrappers, cigarette butts, and the like on the neatly manicured lawns of the well-to-do to express his hatred of their concern for cleanliness. In all three classes, class hatred and self-hatred go hand in hand.

Why, then, talk about giving to all three classes as a duty? Why bring up a subject which is apparently so remotely possible of attainment?

One of the great evils of humanism and the modern age is its equation of things as they are with norms. The Kinsey studies of human sexuality marked the social triumph of this faith. For Kinsey, whatever occurred in nature was hence natural and therefore normal. This meant that child molestation and homosexuality were normal and simply a variation in normal human behavior. Lamar and Corinne Strickland, of the Strickland Christian School, tell of a well-to-do mother who transferred her superior daughter to a depraved state school situation because the child supposedly needed to learn to live with reality. What the mother was in effect saying was that the Lord God is not real but that drugs, illicit sex, and humanism are real.

To live with reality is to live with the God of Scripture and His law-word. Any other way of life is living with illusions and with evil. God declares, “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isa. 45:5). To try to live without Him, or in contempt of Him and His law, is to invoke His judgment. Because we are God’s creation and servants, we have a total obligation to obey Him, and to meet His requirements towards one another. We have a commandment of love towards one another, which means keeping the law, which is love in action (Rom. 13:8).

What can we give to the rich? Like men of all estates, they need to know and obey the Lord. With respect to their persons, it will not do for us to set ourselves up as judges over men, and to judge them as a class. Every class has its own characteristics; the sins of others are always more offensive to us than our own sins, which to us are “understandable” and even lovable sins. The rich are not ipso facto knaves. They are often able, useful, and very capable men. Many of them are active in Christian Reconstruction in their own ways. They are carrying on, quietly and often anonymously, effective work among minority groups, the poor, and the unsaved. Like all of us, they need respect, understanding, and appreciation, not for their checkbooks but for themselves as persons. Like the rest of us, the rich need friends, not parasites. The rich need a sense of mission, not a “bite” on them. They need respect and help when they have a sense of mission, not attempts to get on “the gravy train.” Above all else, the rich need from us the love God requires us to show to all men. To see them as targets of class conflict and hatred is to sin against both God and man.

The middle class is often the target of hatred because of the widely fomented hostility towards “the Protestant work ethic,” now in the United States the common property of Catholics and Protestants. It is an ironic fact that wealth, great or small, earned in sports or entertainment, is seen as legitimate, but if earned in industry or business, is somehow illegitimate! Because nineteenth-century radicals associated Christianity with the middle class, much of the hatred of the middle class is still in part a hatred of Christianity, even though the association is no longer valid. The middle class includes most of our modern population. Efforts to destroy it are thus equivalent to efforts to destroy our social order, not to remake it. To despise the middle class is to despise work and thrift, and most of the people of our time. The middle class needs to be respected and appreciated, not only as an economic and socially stabilizing force historically, but also as people who, like all others, are created in God’s image. We are to love all men, and God exempts none from His commandment of love. We are to love them by loving His law and keeping it, and by being true neighbors one to another (Lev. 19:18).

The lower class is not exempt from the law of love. Some may lack the opportunity to better themselves and have the ability to do so. Others may simply have less than mediocre abilities and goals, and to be so does not make any man an object of contempt. The Bible makes sin the line of division, not class, social, or economic status. However much modern man may prattle on about social and economic “justice” for the poor, he is more comfortable around a homosexual with social status than a poor man with none. The line of division is now social and economic status and education, not faith; sin is not objectionable, but a low status is. One reason why so many today are full of verbal and political concerns for the poor is to mask their personal aversion for them. There is no social or economic cut-off line for either sin or God’s grace, nor can there be such for our love and friendship.

In brief, the graces and virtues that God requires of us are to be manifested towards all men. The line of demarcation is sin, and sin is to be dealt with only in terms of God’s law-word, with His judgment applied, and also His salvation proferred. No man is our possession, and therefore no man is ours to judge in terms of our human distinctions. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). Therefore, the world and all men can only be viewed, judged, governed, and received in terms of God’s Word and will, not our own.

This brings us to a cardinal sin of the modern age. Humanism and evolution posit an original nothingness, a primeval chaos. Out of this impersonal void, the cosmos evolved. Consciousness and personality are latecomers in a “universe” of supposedly billions of years in age, and both are likely in time to disappear, in terms of this view.

This means that material forces, mindless and lawless, govern the life of man, not a personal God. Ultimacy is thus impersonal, not personal; mindless, not mindful. The intellectual and scientific attitude calls for dealing with reality, therefore, in abstract terms. Thus, sociology deals with impersonal trends, social forces, and the like, not with God and man in a totally personal universe. “Capital” deals with a labor force, not persons, and unions negotiate with “management” and “capital,” not persons. Each depersonalizes the other and then wonders why there is no communication, or why a credibility gap exists. (If a man refuses to treat me like a person, how much credibility will he have with me? If someone tries merely to use me, however correct his outward demeanor, I will soon resent him.) We have depersonalized one another, and we do not understand why others have no liking for us. We like an impersonal world, because it enables us to avoid personal responsibilities for others, and we wonder why “alienation,” conflict, and social warfare prevail. We reduce persons to members of classes, and we wonder why there is class conflict. Do any of us, except the self-conscious revolutionary, think of ourselves as essentially a member of a class rather than a person? For that matter, does God pigeonhole us as members of a particular class, or by income, social status, or race?

We must see ourselves and one another as God sees us, not as our contemporary world does. The Lord God sees us as creatures made in His image (Gen. 1:26–28), and we dare not view ourselves and our fellow men any differently. Because God is no respecter of persons, we cannot respect persons in our judgment either; we must view them in terms of His law-word (Deut. 1:17), and His criterion is Himself and His law. Even then, God is patient, and, up to a point, sends His rain and sun to the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45; see also Deut. 28:12, 23–24).

The extent of our departure from the Lord is seen in the extent to which we allow human distinctions, however real, to be our determining premise in judgment, rather than God Himself. What social classes are now giving one to another is hatred and warfare. In judging one another, they are insisting on playing God and in setting up their own criteria as a new law for man.

The modern age makes much of “the common good” and “the general welfare.” We forget that these terms go back into medieval law and practice. Their meaning at times was defective and Hellenic; at other times, it was Biblical. A common statement was, in Wycliffe’s words, “every common good is better than any private one.” The great line of demarcation has been the meaning of “every common good.” It has had two meanings. First, it has often meant and now commonly means the humanistic, statist general welfare as defined by man. In this tradition, the rulers, philosopher-kings, or elitist planners of the state define the common good and thus play god. The state then becomes a god walking on earth. We are suffering greatly today from this false, deadly, and heretical view of “the common good.” In effect, it means the common tyranny.

The second meaning of “the common good” is that common moral law and requirement made by God for all men. The common good then is the Kingdom of God, and the reign of God’s justice in the lives of all men. It means the grace of God in the life of man, applied in all our relationships, so that we manifest the Holy Spirit in human action. The common good in this sense rests on common prayer, on common faith, and on a common life in Christ. We will then be “members one of another” (Eph. 4:25), and not of a social class.

  1. The Ultimate Pornography

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 46, January 1984

In these days, some people who are normally the most asleep to the world around them are actually stirring and showing signs of life and even of indignation! I am referring to parents of children in state schools. Normally unaware of the radical subversion of their children by humanism, these parents are in growing numbers being shocked out of their indifference by the kind of “literature” assigned to their children.

Meanwhile, films and television give us a fare which, when not repulsive, is too stupid and painfully bad to watch. The film and television audience has been decreasing in recent years with good reason. Too much of even the “culture” fare is insulting in its implications and rests on a contempt for man.

A recent “educational” television film was about wild horses. About forty years ago, I lived in wild-horse country. In their natural state, these wild horses were runty, diseased, and, with occasional exceptions, poor specimens of their kind. At that time, they were often rounded up to be sold for dog food. In recent years, special national range areas have enabled the breed to improve. To cut down on the surplus and to prevent a destruction of the range, many of the excess horses have been corralled to be sold as riding horses. The result? Indignation by our sentimentalists over the horses’ “loss of freedom.” It does not occur to these people that these are “welfare” horses, not truly wild but protected and cared for. At the same time, these sentimentalists, who would never allow the killing of excess horses and have blocked efforts to kill off California’s very prolific population of wild burros, are pro-abortion where human beings are concerned. Neither the millions of Marxist victims of slave labor camps nor the growing millions of unborn babies slaughtered annually distress or disturb them. This is pornography indeed.

At the same time, a preserve is being established in Southern California to protect the California condor, an “endangered” bird. Now, this condor is plentiful in Mexico and Latin America. The condor is a vulture. Its future in the United States is a bleak one, not because of the “press of population,” but because the conditions in the United States are unfavorable to its diet. After all, how many dead bodies do Americans leave lying about, of animals or men, for vultures to feed on? Even a dog hit by an automobile is quickly removed and buried in most cases. What do they plan to feed the condors? The 1.5 million aborted fetuses each year? After all, more concern is expressed in some circles for the condors than for unborn babies. Is this not a form of ultimate pornography?

Pornographic films, books, and magazines, however bad they are, represent only the superficial and surface manifestation of a deep-seated cancer. We have today a radical inversion of values and a studied hatred of Biblical faith, law, and norms, because the triune God of Scripture is seen as the ultimate enemy. The more alien something is to the Word of God, the more highly it is prized. One recent “educational” television film, in approaching a “primitive” tribal people, declared that the people and their culture should be taken “at absolute face value.” This is the way every such “primitive” group is approached. No such absoluteness, of course, is ever ascribed to Scripture, to Christianity, or to the life of an unborn child! The unborn child is seen as merely a part of the woman’s body, her property, which, as someone has pointed out, is exactly how slaves were once viewed, as property.

The ultimate pornography is very simply described in Proverbs 8:36, “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” The hatred of life and the love of death is the ultimate pornography. Every particular form of pornography is simply an exemplification of this fact.

In Genesis 6:5 we are told of the world before the Flood, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Pornography is the triumph of this evil imagination; it sees people, not as they really are, but in terms of an imagination which uses people to serve a man-god. Sexual pornography makes all the world the slave of the pornographic imagination; women, for example, only exist to please the would-be god and to coo in delight at the “privilege.”

This pornographic evil imagination is not limited to the sexual sphere. An even more popular area is the politico-economic realm. One of the most influential and evil works of pornography ever produced was Plato’s Republic, which reduced the great mass of humanity to the status of tools for the philosopher-kings. The respect accorded to Plato is evidence of the diseased character of the academy.

Igor Shafarevich, the Soviet Russian mathematician, has described socialism as the organized love of death. The socialist ideal is equality in death. It calls for the destruction of hierarchy, of private property, of religion, of the family, and, finally, of life itself (in Alexander Solzhenitsyn, From Under the Rubble). Its governing force is hatred, the attempt to be god, and the savage hostility to all that is of the true and living God. The socialist imagination refuses to recognize either God’s existence or man’s existence apart from its own power and control. Just as the pornographic tales of the Marquis de Sade created impossible people who could not exist in life, so too the socialist imagination calls for the creation of a like people. When people refused to conform to de Sade’s imagination, he sought to force them to do so; the socialist imagination also uses coercion also to bend living men into its evil mold.

This is, of course, the appeal of abortion. In the early days of its civil legalization, many avant-garde women, single as well as married, became pregnant in order to have an abortion. It provided good table talk, the ability to boast of, in effect, playing god over human life. We fail to understand abortion unless we see this aspect as central to it.

Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., a former abortionist, reports in Aborting America (1979), on the pleasure expressed by one administrator at the number of abortions performed.

If the pro-abortionists were logical, they would speak of the supposed need for abortions with regrets and dismay as a sorry fact and “necessity.” In reality, they speak of it as a right and a freedom. A freedom to kill? They are not honest enough to say so, but this is their motivation, the love of death, for others and for themselves.

According to Scripture, the unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:31–32). This has been seen as the inversion of the moral order to the point where a man makes evil his good, and God’s good his evil. All forms of pornography flirt with, advocate, or wholeheartedly embrace this inversion. This is why any involvement with this inversion of the moral order is so deadly dangerous.

In my study of The Politics of Pornography (1974),[1] I called attention to the fact that the new sexual pornography is radically different from the older forms. The earlier forms of sexual pornography were self-consciously written as “dirty books”; they were playing with sin and crime and knew it. The new pornography is written as the new health, the new  freedom, as a witness to the truly good life. It presents us, therefore, with an inversion of the moral order lacking in the older works. It exemplifies the sin against the Holy Ghost in its motivation.

Dr. Lewis A. Tambs, of Arizona State University, in writing on “World War II — The Final Phase” (in Christian Statesman, November–December 1983 [Beaver Falls, PA]; ed., Ray Joseph, a Chalcedon friend), cites 1946 to 1975 as the first stage, containment. The second stage, detente, 1960 to 1979, has been succeeded by the third stage, double encirclement, 1964–1985. This is “the Tartarian tactics of choke-point control and tribute collection.” The goal is not to destroy but to control, work, and exploit, to make the West, and especially the United States, a satellite or slave state. The Soviet Union, while professing to work for the freedom of man, has become history’s greatest slave state, together with Red China. Both talk of liberation while working for total enslavement. Those who love death see slavery as a major step in the right direction.

Because the whole world outside of Christ loves death rather than Christ, who is life (John 14:6), every man outside of Christ is at heart an ally of the forces of enslavement and death. As a result, the parties of the right and left in the “free” world are ready and willing to serve the needs of Marxist states. Foreign-aid programs do more for Marxism around the world than domestic programs do for the citizenry.

What, then, is our hope? Apart from Christ, there is no hope. The redeeming power of Jesus Christ alone can save men. The law-word of God alone gives the guidelines for freedom and prosperity.

Men and states, however, prefer their own fiat word and law to God’s, because, in rebelling against God, they rebel against life. They are dedicated priests of death.

To love Christ is to love life. Life is full of the unexpected (including guests) and the untidy. Too many people want showcase living in showcase houses, where everything is hostile to life and to children. To be truly against abortion means to love life and children, and children mean dirty diapers, messy rooms, toys strewn about, noise, and more. These are all things alien to the prim, prissy, and proper pro-abortionists. They prefer houses as neat and trim as a cemetery. (This primness has in my lifetime reached the cemeteries! Upright headstones are banned in the newer ones in favor of ground-level markers in order to give a neat, easily maintained death-park. The desire of many today is the legend, “Untouched by human hands.” All too many people want a life untouched by other human beings. This is the love of death; it is pornography.)

The love of Christ is the love of life. It is the love which motivated Lester Roloff and motivates Mother Teresa. It is the love of children and family in Christ, the love of children’s growth, and the love of their joy and laughter. It is the love of a man and a woman which creates a family in Christ, and which erects therein a realm of dominion under God.

There is a fundamental disorderliness about life because the present is not the final order. My library, where I am writing this, is a very disorderly place, with books piled here and there, stacks of papers, manuscripts, letters and more, because work is in progress. To bring my library of 30,000 books to a final order is to walk out of it and die! The passionate purpose of my life and all that I have is God’s final order, and the subordination of all things to that realm. It is pornography for me to impose an order of my imagination or desire on that purpose, or to supplant it.

Where sexual pornography, abortion, socialism, and more are involved, I do not seek to impose personal standards on others, because what is at stake is not a personal preference but God’s law, God’s order, life itself. Neither I nor any other man has the right to say, “My will be done.” God’s will alone is right.

Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). His working and power through the Holy Spirit is an overwhelming flood of grace, authority, and regenerating power which overturns and shatters the things which are so that only those things which are unshakable may remain (Heb. 12:27). Against this force, the death-sayers are helpless. Therefore, choose life and live. It is our calling to reconstruct all things in terms of God’s sovereign law-word, to bring all men, nations, and every sphere of life and thought into captivity to Christ our King, into freedom from sin and death and captivity to life and justice. Our King shall in due time make even the cemetery dead alive in Him!

  1. The Dying Enlightenment

Position Paper No. 141, August 1991

About a year ago, a man told me of his very great bewilderment over events in Southeast Asia. He had worked in that area most of his long life, and he knew it well in the colonial era especially. Now, there were women prime ministers in one country after another, and it baffled him. Women in such places of power went against the cultures of those countries. He himself had no concern whatsoever over who ruled, whether a queen, or a woman as prime minister, but how could this happen in Southeast Asia?

It was a good question, and a very important one. To understand the answer, we must note at the beginning that there is a vast gap between the rulers and the ruled in these countries. Many of the rulers, bureaucrats, and top military men have had a Western education. Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and other such universities are familiar places to them. They reflect the world of the Enlightenment, of rationalism, of feminism, and more. They are in some respects closer to the leaders of Europe and the United States than to their own people. They are an elite group controlling politics, education, and almost all the superimposed structures of life. They represent the culture of the Enlightenment.

Now, when Christianity entered the Roman Empire, it reached people of all classes, the slaves and the wealthy, the ignorant and the philosophers. Christianity’s threat to Rome was precisely this catholicity or universality of appeal. Had it been merely a slave religion, it would have been easily controlled. Charles Norris Cochrane, in Christianity and Classical Culture, shows how Christian philosophers challenged and defeated their pagan counterparts.

The same was not true of the Enlightenment. It was self-consciously an elitist movement. Various scholars, notably Louis L. Bredvold in The Brave New World of the Enlightenment (1961), have documented its nature and beliefs. The three great expressions of Enlightenment philosophy have been the French Revolution, Hegel and Darwin and the mythology of evolution, and the Russian revolution and its worldwide impact. First, Enlightenment philosophy rejected history and the past in favor of reason. The past, especially religion, must be wiped out. Whether in politics or in education, a studied ruthlessness was insisted on; the French Revolution decreed a new calendar, and a new “year one.” Christ’s birth was to be replaced by the birth of the Revolution.

Second, institutions and customs inherited from the past had to give way to reason and science. Wisdom now rested with the Enlightenment elite. Religion, marriage, and the family had to be supplanted by the state. The state was seen as man’s vehicle of salvation.

Third, the Christian doctrine of man as a sinner was dropped. Man’s nature was neutral, if not good. Education can remake man into a “true” man and it can perfect society, it was held. This meant statist intervention into every field. It also meant that Christianity is the great enemy, although all religions are treated with disdain.

Fourth, the rule of society must be in the hands of the “enlightened” ones, the elite. These are the new philosopher-kings, scientists, educators, politicians, and bureaucrats. As a result, power in most states has quietly been shifted to a nonelected elite created by the state to govern men and to rule them by regulations rather than by law.

Fifth, basic to this faith is that man and society must be humanistic, not Christian. Step by step, education has been made a humanistic establishment of religion and anti-Christian.

Sixth, science must replace religion as the source of judgment and authority. Religious meaning is replaced by scientific methodology; truth gives way to pragmatism.

Seventh, Biblical view of sin and punishment are replaced with psychotherapy. The cure of souls becomes a scientific rather than a religious concern.

Eighth, conscription came in with the French Revolution. The professional army is replaced with a state-created army and a hold on all youth.

Ninth, foreign policy is given priority over domestic or internal affairs, because a one-world order is the goal. Hitler spoke of a “new world order”; so, too, do Gorbachev and George Bush. The goal of politics has a world scope, not a local one.

Tenth, the new god is man, or humanity, and the goal is “to be truly human,” which means to be stripped of all religions and moral standards and faith.

Eleventh, the world’s economic problem is seen as one of distribution, not production.

Twelfth, power is centralized in the state.

Thirteenth, reality is seen as basically impersonal, thus ruling out the God of Scripture.

Fourteenth, the new established church becomes the state school.

Fifteenth, there is an increasing control over private property and a virtual confiscation.

(All this I discussed in This Independent Republic, 1964.)

In 1887, a German professor of law, Rudolf Sohm, in his Outlines of Church History, gave a brief summary of the meaning of the Enlightenment. He used the older name, “The Illumination.” The goal of “The Illumination” was this: “A natural law, a natural State, and a natural religion shone as the great ideals on the intellectual horizon, and carried away the world of the eighteenth century in a movement of passionate endeavor. These battles prepared the way for the rise of modern humanity” (p. 195). According to Sohm, “The great practical results of the Illumination were the destruction of the Jesuit Order, the foundation of the omnipotent authority of the state, and the idea of Toleration” (p. 197). This Enlightenment idea of toleration applied to religion, because it was believed to be not worth fighting about. Intolerance was transferred to politics: it has meant the Reign of Terror, slave labor camps, and an increasing media attack on all who have no use for the world of the Enlightenment.

The United States has a curious part in all of this. It is a nation of immigrants. In my home town, in only a very small number of homes was English the native tongue. Most spoke Swedish, some Danish, Portuguese, Armenian, and Italian. Whether they came here with college and university education, as my parents did, or without it, the Enlightenment world was foreign to them — as it is to most of the peoples of Southeast Asia.

The Enlightenment rules on the top, especially in politics, education, and the sciences; and a people, bewildered and restless, exist all around them. They resent the direction of things. It is no wonder that in the United States, close to 40 percent of all children are in Christian or home schools. This is a major revolution against the world of the Enlightenment, and it will not go away.

In some countries, as in Mexico, the gap between the Enlightenment leaders and the resentful people is a growing and potentially explosive one. Law is the foundation of society, and the nature of the law depends on the religion it expresses, because law is religious. It is a religious and moral judgment concerning good and evil, right and wrong.

Sohm, in discussing the origin of law, said that the eighteenth century shifted it from God to man. It was a social contract, a deliberate and conscious choice made by free men whereby they passed from a state of nature into a political and legal state. Later, scholars based law on the national instinct, or on folk wisdom. Law was thus a natural development, not a revealed decree (pp. 216–217).

This emphasis on the natural origins of law denied all ultimate meaning and morality. It meant that law could be what the state decreed it to be, and this is the fundamental aspect of modern law. It is also the basic ingredient of totalitarianism. There is, then, no appeal against the finality of law decreed by the omnipotent state.

We are now in what may well be history’s major crisis. The world of the Enlightenment controls our politics, state schools, entertainment, and media. It is now becoming aggressively intolerant in more countries than one. It should not surprise us that the Enlightenment elite such as Gorbachev and Bush should draw together against the Baltic captive states, Georgia, Armenia, and other such peoples. They want more centralized power for their Enlightenment faith to triumph in a “new world order.” The growing decentralizing forces are a witness to their blindness.

The modern school and the media stress self-realization as the goal for man. The countless enclaves of non-Enlightenment culture in the United States and abroad stress family unity and mutual help. In the United States, church and family are still, in spite of all statist assaults, the greatest welfare agencies, caring for their own. The church and the family are recapturing education from the state. Two differing cultures are clearly at war. The state commands vast powers today, but, like dying Rome, it is increasingly at war with its own people. The world of the Enlightenment is dying, bitterly, painfully, and vengefully, but it is dying all the same.

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain. (Ps. 127:1)

  1. The Myth of Socialization

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 144, October 1991

The sense of community once marked the United States, and from one area to another, a variety of cultures and communities existed. As immigrant people, we settled close to our kind, and I can remember how from county to county, and town to town, there was a distinctive character, a dominant Christian group, and a strong sense of community. I can recall, in some areas, where as many as six generations — a long time in the United States — had lived in the same house, or the same farm.

However, James Patterson and Peter Kim, in The Day America Told the Truth (1991), describe in one chapter, “The End of the Hometown in America: The End of Community.” People have lost respect for private property; they are no longer charitable; they want to be left alone; and their relationship to their children is not good.

Meanwhile, we have a militant statist effort to compel socialization in the schools, and the workplace, and in neighborhoods. Its failure is very conspicuous.

One of the major arguments against Christian schools and home schools is that the children are deprived of the necessary socialization which is seen as basic to modern education.

The words society and community have closely related meanings: something is closely shared and held, and this has, during most of history, been a common faith. The word communion tells it all: it refers to the central sacrament of the Christian faith. In the preconquest era, the English form of the Apostles’ Creed read, where we now say, “the communion of saints,” “of the saints the society.” The enduring basis of community has not been race nor nationality, but religious faith, communion in Christ for Christians.

The primary society of Christendom has been the Christian family. It has been a community of faith. Its stress has been above all, first and foremost, communion with God in Christ. The foundation of community is seen as supernatural and sacramental. No naturalistic, statist demand for community can replace its Christian and sacramental basis. Of course, the statist and humanistic hostility to the family has been anti-Christian to the core. Church and family must go, and certainly the Christian and home schools, to make way for the state as the “true community.” George Bernard Shaw wrote, in The Quintessence of Ibsenism, “unless Woman repudiates her womanliness, her duty to her husband, to her children, to society, to the law, and to everyone but herself, she cannot emancipate herself” (cited by James C. Neely, M.D., Gender: The Myth of Equality [1981], p. 141). Radical individualism has been promoted among men, women, and children to destroy the Christian family and community.

Second, in the Christian family which is truly under God, the basic socialization is with adults, parents, grandparents, and relatives. In our humanistic and statist model of public or statist schools, the socialization stressed is with other children. But maturity must be the goal, and in the family-community, the child is prepared for adulthood and maturity by the centrality of the family. Adolescence is a modern phenomenon, and it has occurred only as civilizations decay and collapse. A dying culture promotes rebellion among its youth, whereas once it meant, in stable and godly societies, the happy entrance to maturity. The rite of confirmation, once common to most churches, meant confirmation in the faith by affirming for oneself the baptismal vows made by one’s parents; it meant entrance into maturity and adulthood; and it meant that one was confirmed to change the world. Having been made a new creation by Jesus Christ, the persons confirmed were now introduced to the mature task of bringing about the Kingdom of God in their lives, calling, and community.

Where socialization with other children is the primary stress, the result is not maturity but an emphasis on perpetual childhood. Maturity as a goal is replaced with childhood as a goal. Instead of the faith governing the person, then peer pressure does. Some have held, and with good reason, that today the two governing forces among people are peer pressure on the one hand, and an anarchistic individualism on the other; neither manifests maturity.

Third, this emphasis is destructive of the family. It shifts authority from the family to either the group or the individual. Another factor has contributed to the destruction of the family: welfarism. It shifts it from the family to the state. It is not at all surprising that so many welfare families are fatherless. The man’s authority and headship are nullified, and he abandons the family and his manhood.

Fourth, socialization then works outward and downward. The pattern is not only set for the child by forces outside the family, but also by the school. With the family’s influence undermined, moral authority is replaced by immoral authority. Socialization then takes place with the worst elements in the school or area. The state school, with its emphasis on socialization with the peer group, also undermines its own influence. Its teachers are the object of disrespect and violence. The Christian and home school are attacked for lacking socialization, but what is meant by that is simply that the evil state-prescribed socialization is avoided. Fellowship with godly children and with godly parents and family members is somehow detested by these statists.

Fifth, in demanding socialization through public or statist education, these humanists are insisting that true socialization must be beyond good and evil, without any moral consideration. “The real world” for these educators is an amoral and godless world in which all Biblical considerations are invalid. The only values tolerated or taught are autonomous, self-created values. In other words, socialization for them means and begins with the tempter’s program, every man as his own god, knowing or determining for himself what is good and evil (Gen. 3:5). This type of education turns schooling into an agency of man’s fall and a perpetuator thereof.

Sixth, where peer pressure prevails, as it does in godless schooling, the moral and intellectual excellence is resented. The stress on peer equality means that superiority is out of step with the rest of the people. Basketball coach Al McGuire once observed, “I think the world is run by C students.” It is indeed, and the situation grows worse daily. Cornelius Van Til spoke of the direction of all anti-Christian thinking as “integration downward into the void.” Before long, we will feel that rule by C students is wonderful, as the D students take over. Unless we re-Christianize society, the disintegration will continue. Already, Patterson and Kim have found that among the sleaziest occupations, in the minds of most Americans, are drug dealing, organized crime bosses, TV evangelists, prostitutes, local politicians, and congressmen.

The humanistic attempts to effect socialization have left us a deeply divided people. In the name of socialization, we have hate-mongering against Christians and their schools. We have a “society” of conflict, and morality is now equated in some circles with hating Christians, businessmen, parents, employers, the military, the police, and so on and on. These people equate morality with hating various groups and persons!

The liberal myth of socialization is an evil myth. It is time to counterattack and to see it as the evil that it is.

  1. The Eschatology of Death

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 4, June 1979

The dying have no future, and they know it. They speak of, and limit their vision to, the present and its sufferings. The future of the dying is a very limited one, and, usually, they do not go beyond a few days or more than a month in their thinking. Theirs is the eschatology of death, and men without faith have no other eschatology. Death and the certainty of death blots out all other considerations or else governs them all.

The same is true of cultures. Death comes upon them rapidly when the faith of the culture collapses or wanes. The confidence which once enabled them as a small minority to dominate their world melts away, and they cannot set their own house in order nor control it. Dying cultures block out tomorrow, having no confidence in their ability to cope with growth and the problems of growth. Dying Greece and dying Rome both saw themselves as overpopulated and as overwhelmed with peoples and problems, and so too does our modern, dying statist humanism feel. It talks desperately about zero population growth and zero economic growth, because behind such thinking is a zero future, an intellectual and religious bankruptcy.

The father of modern humanistic economics, Lord Keynes, when asked about the consequences of his economic theories “in the long run,” answered simply, “In the long run, we are all dead.” The growing disaster of Keynesian economics — and a world practicing it — should not surprise us. It was born without a future, and it was a product of an age which, like the dying, lived for the moment and with no thought of the future.

The dying live for the moment because they have no future. Converted into a formal philosophy, the name of such a state of anticipated death is existentialism. For the existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, man is a futile passion who wills to be a god but is faced only with the certainty of death.

In one area after another, the eschatology of death governs our world. Yesterday, a letter came from a young man in Alaska which read in part as follows:

I’m a surveyor, but I’m not registered by the state because I haven’t passed a test, but I can’t take the test because I haven’t worked for a registered surveyor for eight years . . . At this time . . . there is no chance of employment [with] a registered land surveyor. I have to turn down work, because I can’t sign for it. I have an education in land surveying and I feel that I could pass the test . . . The registered land surveyors have legislated themselves a monopoly.

Alaska may call itself the last frontier, or a new frontier, but it was born dead, with an eschatology of death. Like dying New York City, it strangles itself with its own ungodly laws. This situation is not unusual but commonplace. In some cities and states, no young man can qualify to be a plumber, or a carpenter, or in various other callings, unless his father is an important person in the union. The dying legislate against the future.

This eschatology of death is common to all ages and classes. The old are very prone to damning the younger generations, but one of the menaces of our time is the growing demands on public funds by the aging. With the decline in the birth rate, the United States may face a crisis in not too many years when each gainfully employed person will be supporting two persons on Social Security, and other forms of aid. Such a situation will not occur only because disaster will first overtake any society which works itself into such a predicament.

The younger generations are no better, of course. They seek statist solutions for all problems: totalitarianism in the economic sphere (and therefore in the political as well), and total permissiveness in the moral sphere. This is irresponsibility, and irresponsibility is an urgent invitation to disaster and death.

Not surprisingly, humanistic education is dominated by the eschatology of death. It creates a demand for instant results and instant gratification. It teaches children to play at being a state senate, or a congress, and to legislate feelings, as though “good” wishes can determine reality. The child matures physically but remains a child, demanding instant results and gratification, utopia now without either work or faith. Education for permanent childhood means a society of incompetents, of all ages, whose politics becomes a demand politics. Because a demand politics produces disasters, the politicians who feed or gratify this demand are readily and angrily made the scapegoats for a graceless and irresponsible citizenry.

In Speech and Reality (1970), Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy wrote of the social dangers and evils confronting modern civilization. These are, he said, first, anarchy. In anarchy, people and classes “do not care to come to an agreement.” Instead of ties uniting men, there are now divisions only, with each pursuing his own interest. Second, decadence is a very great evil. Decadence is manifested at a critical point: parents do not have “the stamina of converting the next generation to their own aims and ends. Decadence is the disease of liberalism today.” The consequence is the barbarization of the younger generation. Since they are not made heirs of the past and its faith, they become the barbarians of the present. (The modern family, like the modern school, is a school for barbarians.) “The only energy that can fight this evil is faith. Faith, properly speaking, never is a belief in things of the past, but of the future. Lack of faith is a synonym for decadence,” Rosenstock-Huessy held.

Third in his list of evils is revolution, which is a consequence of anarchy and decadence. The old and the past are liquidated or eliminated as meaningless and irrelevant, which indeed they have made themselves to be, by their lack of faith and their destructive education of the young. Fourth in the list of evils is war. War is a sign of impotence. A system or philosophy of life which has no power to convert becomes imperialistic. For the zeal and faith of peaceful missionary work, it substitutes brutal terror. A failing faith resorts to war, because it lacks the contagion of faith and conviction and can only force men into its own system. War is the resort of those who lack true power and are declining.

In brief, Rosenstock-Huessy said, anarchy is a crisis created by a lack of unity and community. Decadence is the collapse of faith. Revolution means a lack of respect, indeed, a contempt, for the past and present. War is an indication of a loss of power and a resort to force to perpetuate or advance a system.

All of these things are aspects of the eschatology of death. But there is still another aspect. Because the modern taboo is death, people are prissy and hesitant about the plain facts of dying. It is often assumed, out of fear, that most deaths are costly, long, and lingering, which in most cases is not true. Death often comes quickly. It is also assumed that death comes to a bland man, again not true. It comes to Christians and to unbelievers, and with many shades of difference. Death among some of the ungodly who die a lingering death unleashes a radical hatred of the living. One man, a life-long reprobate and adulterer, abandoned his wife as “too old” and moved in with a younger widow, whom he enriched to a degree. When terminally ill, he was ordered out by his mistress, and only his wife would have him. Instead of gratitude, he daily showered her and their children with hatred, profanity, and abuse, hating them for their faith and health, “wasted” on them, he would shout, because they “didn’t know how to live.” This is an aspect of the eschatology of death, its hatred for life and the living, and its will to destroy them. At the heart of this is what Wisdom long ago declared: “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36).

We are surrounded today by dying men whose eschatology is death and whose politics, religion, economics, education, and daily lives manifest what Samuel Warner has called “the urge to mass destruction.” Of this world system, Revelation 18:4 declares, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” In spite of this, all too many professing Christians not only refuse to separate themselves but are insistent on the morality of sending their children to humanistic state schools, an act of anarchy.

We have described the nature of the dying. What about the dead? The dead cannot wage war nor revolution, nor manifest hatred. The dead have their place, and they remain within it. No corpse can outgrow its coffin, nor conquer an inch of ground beyond that which it occupies. The dead stay in their coffins.

All too often the church is like a coffin. Instead of being a training ground and an armory for the army of the Lord, it is a repository for the dead. The people within have not the life and power to occupy any other ground, to establish Christian schools, to conquer in the realm of politics and economics, to “occupy” in Christ’s name even one area of life and thought and to bring it into “captivity” to Jesus Christ (Luke 19:13; 2 Cor. 10:5). Where Christianity is confined to the church, it is dead, and it is only a corpse claiming that name but having none of the life nor the power thereof (2 Tim. 3:5).

Christianity cannot be caged into a church and confined there like a zoo animal. “It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16). Power commands; it exercises dominion, and it reaches out “to every creature” (Mark 16:15) with the good news of Christ’s redemption and lordship. It works to bring all things under the dominion of Christ, who is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). Jesus began and ended His ministry “preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14–15). That Kingdom begins with our redemption through His atonement and continues with our exercise of dominion with knowledge, righteousness, and holiness over every area of life and thought.

Coffin churches have no such gospel. Instead, they summon the living dead to enter the safety of their particular casket, far removed from the problems and battles of life. They encourage their people to gush about the peace within the coffin and to embellish the coffin with their time and effort. Coffin churches have no ministry to a dying world.

When our Lord declared, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18), He did not limit that total power which He as King of Creation exercises to the narrow confines of man’s soul. Christ’s “all power” is over all things in heaven and in earth in their every aspect, and over every atom, moment, and possibility in all of creation. He is the Lord, lord over all. To limit His lordship and power to the church is as absurd as limiting the sun to shining over Europe, or selected portions thereof. Even less than we can limit the sun to one continent or one country can we limit Christ the King to one sphere or institution. To do so is a denial of His deity and is practical atheism.

Because “all power” is His, the Lord of Creation sends His elect messengers out to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19–20). All nations are to be summoned to bow before their king, both as individuals and in every aspect of their lives, civil, ecclesiastical, educational, familial, vocational, and all things else. An eschatology of life and victory allows us to exempt nothing from Christ’s dominion and lordship.

A sickly term in Reformed theological circles refers to God’s “well-meant offer of the gospel”; the image of God it invokes is a false one. God’s Word is never a “well-meant offer” but always the command word, the word of power which redeems and regenerates, or reprobates. To be “well-meant” smacks of impotence and failure, and it speaks of men whose powers are frail, fallible, sinful, and dying. It belongs to eschatologies of death. God’s Word is the command word, the word of power, the word of life and death because it is the omnipotent word. Only of Him can it be truly said, “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up” (1 Sam. 2:6). Apart from the Lord, man has no future. In every area of life and thought, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1).

Education in its essence is always the transmission of the basic faith and values of a culture to its young. Education is thus in essence always a religious concern.

In many cultures, the basic values have been nonverbal and nonliterary, so that education, then, has not been concerned with literacy but with other skills. A few cultures only have been concerned with literacy and with Biblical faith and culture in particular, because of the insistence on the knowledge of the Scriptures. Modern humanism (as against classical humanism) underrates verbal and literary skills.

Thus, not only is education a totally religious subject, but the curriculum, its contents, and its methods are all religious, in that they reflect the faith and values of a culture.

To allow our children to be in humanistic schools is to be unequally yoked and to serve two masters.

  1. The Love of Death

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 35, December 1982

One of the most telling sentences in Scripture is Proverbs 8:36: “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” This means that the love of death marks every person and culture which is in sin against God: they are suicidal. This fact, stated so clearly by Solomon, has not lacked confirmation over the generations. In this century, Sigmund Freud, on non-Biblical grounds, held that the will-to-death is the basic and governing fact in the lives of all men, and he accordingly had dim hopes for the future of civilization.

The Bible tells us that there is an inseparable link between sin and death. Sin separates from God, the creator and giver of life: it is rebellion against God’s law and government. The consequence of this separation from the source of all life is death, and all sin means a love of and addiction to death. Jesus Christ says, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26). To accept Christ’s atonement and His lordship means that we separate ourselves from sin and death to life and righteousness or justice, and eternal life begins at once for us, so that the power of death is broken (1 Cor. 15:55–57).

Meanwhile, all around us, the world is marked by a will to and a love of death. Every day the world economic scene shows more clearly this will to death. Inflation is the planned destruction of money and of the economy.

In recent years, some people have acted as though one relatively mildly destructive habit was newly found to be harmful, i.e., smoking tobacco. But people knew that more than a generation ago, when Dr. Pearl’s studies were released. Before Dr. Pearl’s day, even the erring schoolboys knew it and called cigarettes “coffin nails”! It was definitely not a lack of knowledge. The same is true in the economic sphere. Very clearly, when Keynes was asked about the consequences of his economics, he said, “In the long run, we are all dead.” Suicidal men demand suicidal economics, and the same kind of politics.

President Reagan’s campaign speeches spelled out the consequences of deficit financing, unsound money, financing and aiding world Marxism, and more — all things he is presently doing and defending. The politics of death prevails in Washington, D.C., and all the world capitols. The dying do not plan for tomorrow or next year, and the politics of death thinks only in terms of today.

George Orwell, in 1984, depicted clearly the consequences of the politics of death. However, not being a man of Biblical faith, he failed to see the roots thereof. Modern man has denied the triune God and has insisted that the universe is a product of chance and accident. Instead of a cosmic and total meaning, his universe is one of absolute meaninglessness. If the only rationality in the universe is in the mind of man, and if the mind of man, since Freud, is simply the irrational product of man’s unconscious, then meaninglessness is absolute and total. Then to hunger for truth and meaning is a sign of foolishness and irrationality. Greco- Roman paganism saw this cosmic emptiness as grounds for hedonism: “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” The greatest celebration and most loved event of the Roman Empire was the “circus,” with its gladiators battling to death, Christians thrown to the lions, and death in various other ways made into a spectator sport. The cry of the gladiators on entering the arena, “Hail, Caesar! We who are about to die salute you!,” epitomized the spirit of Rome. Death was a game, and all courted it in their own way, and glorified it in the arena. As the Lord declares, “All they that hate me love death.”

Statist education is increasingly education for death, national death. Jonathan Kozol, in Prisoners of Silence, and the U.S. News and World Report, May 17, 1982, pp. 53–56, “Ahead: A Nation of Illiterates?” document the sorry plight of the United States. The economy is requiring more and more educated and skilled workers, and the state schools are producing illiterates who cannot hold such jobs. The illiterate and near-illiterate (or, functionally illiterate) number between 57 and 63 million. This illiteracy (and joblessness) constitutes “a form of social dynamite.” The situation grows worse annually, and the attacks on Christian schools for providing an alternative and superior education grows more intense. To criticize the state schools is in many circles the mark of fascism, superstition, religious bigotry, and more! The lovers of death resent the possibility of life and a future for any segment of the republic.

On every side, the death wish is with us, organized into intense campaigns and movements: Zero Population Growth, Zero Economic Growth, and so on. Note the passion with which the anti-nuclear-weapons movement exaggerates the potential of such weapons and its readiness to believe in the total destruction of the world (and to relish a film depicting it), while at the same time pursuing policies of disarmament which will invite war.

Within the church, it is amazing to see the passion with which men defend eschatologies of death. History, such men insist, cannot end in the Lord’s victory and the rule of the saints from pole to pole, but only in defeat. Things will only go from bad to worse, such men declare, until the end of the world. Somehow, they see it as unspiritual and un-Christian to believe in an eschatology of victory. Instead of a joyful and triumphant faith, such men manifest a sour and retreatist faith.

The love of death is very clear in the abortionist movement. Its advocates are suicidal in a number of ways. While I have no way of verifying this, a few persons familiar with abortion “clinics” tell me that there is a high rate of the use of narcotics and an overuse of alcohol among staff members.

It is important to note that the Ten Commandments, in the word or law concerning life, reads, “Thou shalt not kill.” Some translate it as “murder,” but there is another Hebrew word, as in Psalm 10:8 for murder, harag, to smite or kill with deadly intent. In Exodus 20:13, the word is ratsach, from a root, to dash in pieces, kill, to put to death; this word can mean murder also, but it is somewhat more general. The meaning of “Thou shalt not kill” is that all killing is forbidden except where permitted by God’s Word, i.e., in the execution of lawfully condemned men, in self-defense in defensive warfare, in eliminating those animals and pests which hinder farming, ranching, etc., in killing for food, and the like. In other words, all life is created by God, and the taking of any life must be subject to God’s law-word. Because we are not our own, but are God’s creation and property, we cannot take our own lives, because we are God’s possession.

One of the marks of a sound faith is a love of life and the godly use thereof, whereas a suicidal and a destructive use of our lives and of the lives of other men and creatures manifests an alien foundation.

Suicide is thus normally a religious fact. This qualification, “normally,” is necessary these days, because many medically administered drugs have deadly side effects, and, when more than one is taken, produce deadly and frightening results.

Many religions have taken a favorable view of suicide and have even exalted it as the path of honor and dignity. In some cultures, when the king died, wives and retainers competed for the privilege of being buried alive with their monarch. H. J. Rose, in his survey of suicide among non- Christian religions (Hasting’s Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 12, p. 23), held “Probably the chief, if not the only, reason for this (religious opposition to suicide) among primitive races is simply the dread of the ghost. The self-destroyer must have been greatly wronged or troubled in some way, or he would not have acted as he did, therefore his ghost will be an unusually troublesome and revengeful spirit.” However, the fact is that in these cultures all the spirits of the dead are feared as hostile. Life is seen as a realm of hostilities and suspicion, and death may even aggravate that fact. Hence, such religions manifest a fear of life as such, and they see no escape even in death from the cosmic hostilities. The cosmos is a realm of the wars of the gods, men, and spirits.

Not too long ago, I wrote Position Paper no. 25, “The Trouble with Social Security.” It was reprinted in various newsletters and magazines, and the reprints brought in some interesting mail. At present, Social Security is both morally and economically bankrupt. Arelo Sederberg commented recently, “With the graying of America, one of the ticking time bombs in the money war is the Social Security system which could make the troubles of Chrysler or International Harvester seem like child’s play” (Arelo Sederberg, “Moneyline,” Los Angeles Herald Examiner, August 31, 1982, p. A-8). The system is economically unsound, but with retired persons accounting for about 20 percent of all voters, nothing constructive is being done. It is easy to see why. The people who wrote to me were elderly persons on Social Security; facts meant nothing to them. They saw any “tampering” with Social Security as “un-Christian.” Social security has pushed France into an economic sickness and socialism, and, if the present trend continues here, will lead to an American debacle as well. No one is ready to discuss either the economic issues or the moral ones. Any and every refusal to face the fullness of reality, however, is suicidal.

The love of death is a cultural and personal fact. Where men do not have true atonement, they seek self-atonement, which means sadomasochistic activities. The result is that the culture is death-oriented rather than life-oriented. However, there is no honesty in this orientation. Typical of this fact was a young man, an artist with wasted abilities, who liked nothing more than to rant against the churches and Christians for their supposed lack of any love or enjoyment of life. He refused to see his own death wish and love of death, as evidenced in his part in the sex revolution, drug culture, and his living in flagrant contempt of common sense. He was dead before thirty, and, to the last, insisted that he was a champion of life and freedom.

On the other hand, the love of God is the love of life. Obedience to God is obedience to the laws of life. To seek to live without law, God’s law, is to seek death. The dead in a graveyard are integrated with the natural world. Those who are alive in the triune God exercise dominion over that world in terms of God’s law-word. They do not conform either to the culture of this world or to “natural” impulses, because, having been created in the image of God, it is to God’s image they must conform themselves. The image of God, in its narrow sense, is defined thus by the Westminster Shorter Catechism, A. 10: “God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures” (Gen. 1:26–28; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). In its broader sense, the image of God includes more: His revelation in Scripture is a manifestation of His image, knowledge, righteousness (or, justice), holiness, dominion, glory, law, grace, judgment, and more.

Thus, to conform ourselves to God’s image rather than to the tempter’s plan to be our own god (Gen. 3:5), means to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). There is no true life by bread alone, but rather by God’s sovereign grace through Christ, and faithfulness then to His Word. Jesus Christ is declared to be “the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). It is He who shows us “the path of life” (Ps. 16:11), and this is set forth in the totality of His Word. We cannot claim to love life and neglect the Lord and giver of life, and His Word which sets forth the way of life.

The path of life, and the love of life, means a God-ordained way in every area of life and thought. The essence of the modern perspective is that man claims to be autonomous and to seek his freedom from the triune God. All too many churchmen profess an adherence to the Lord of life while affirming an autonomous way in most things. This is antinomianism; it is also the love of death.

Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. (Prov. 8:32–35)

  1. Reality, Faith, and Architecture

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 116, December 1989

What a man truly believes will affect every area of his life and thought. Whatever his outward profession of faith, his life will reveal what governs his heart.

Outside of Christ, the motive in the lives of men is the will to be one’s own god, to determine what constitutes good and evil, law and morality, and all things else. The more power a man has, the more openly his life will reveal his heart, his basic faith. Kings and rulers over the centuries have, like master criminals, been more free in expressing their motivating faith than most men, simply because their power gives them the freedom to be themselves.

Over the centuries, architecture has been especially revelatory of men and cultures because architecture gives solid expression to a lifestyle. Not surprisingly, some have seen architecture as the central art and as the most important one in understanding an era’s ideas and hopes.

Two key architectural areas of expression from antiquity to the present have been temples (places where the gods dwell, houses of worship, places for sacrifices, etc.) and palaces (residence of kings, emperors, rulers of various sorts, parliaments, “people’s palaces” or bureaucratic centers, and so on). The palace is an imitation temple, the house where divine rulers dwell, or where the voice of the people as the voice of God comes into focus. The modern temple thus is a state building. All over the world, state buildings are now the “marble palaces” and temples of modern man, who sees salvation as political action.

It is of interest that in the earliest church buildings of the Christian era the construction was of stone; the sanctuary was a throne room of Christ the King, and the congregation stood when the King’s Word, the Bible, was read. Christians saw the Kingdom of God as the only true empire, and thus they challenged Rome’s claim to sovereignty.

As humanism began to develop in the late medieval era, the construction of churches and cathedrals began to be rivaled by the residences of kings, lords, bankers (the Medici), and other men of power. The doctrine of the divine right of kings had its architectural expression in magnificent palaces, most notably Versailles, which was built not for comfort but as an expression of power and divine right. Portraits of Louis XIV echoed the representations of Zeus, head of the Greek pantheon of gods; and lesser gods of France, the nobility, constituted the court.

Grandeur in architecture became the evidence of success and social ascent. Chairs at the dining table became so ornate and ponderous that they were an effort for a man to move. Rooms could be drafty and very, very cold, but the impression of divine grandeur, unlimited wealth and power, and overwhelming majesty were more important in these temples of godlike men.

It is hard at this distance to sense the Puritan hostility to all these pretensions. While the Puritans themselves did not abandon expensive and attractive clothing, others, like the Quakers and the other Anabaptists (the Mennonites, the Amish, etc.), insisted on plainness and simplicity as a religious matter.

In the American colonies, this new perspective found its freest expression. As some grew wealthy, larger homes became more common, but their premise was a different one than had previously governed Europeans. We can call it a difference between imagination and reality. The palace standard catered to man’s imagination of himself as a god, a lord over his domains, a man who could be lord over all he surveyed. The reality standard saw a house as a tool for living, not an eternal monument. Both wood and stone were readily available in the colonies, but men routinely chose wood. Houses were built, not to dominate their setting, but to fit into it. As a result, the house and street were located, as were barns and all outbuildings, so that they might best utilize the prevailing winds and the arc of the sun. A good house leaks air; an airtight house is not a healthy place to live! When best placed, a house’s air supply will be twice replaced in a day without any draft or discomfort and with great health advantages. Fireplaces were similarly designed to avoid problems due to winds. The roof was slanted steepest toward the winter winds, and the rooms most used faced the south.

Especially in New England and the middle Atlantic colonies, the engineering of houses became a remarkable American science and art. Eric Sloane, in his various delightful books, has given us a detailed picture of the many accomplishments of that era.

Palaces were not the objective. The devout Puritan temper created a type of housing to be a tool for living, to circulate fresh air in the summer and to conserve heat in the winter. Because the family was seen as God’s basic social unit, the house was also designed to be a home, not a palace.

The English word “home” comes from an ancient Teutonic word which may mean “to lie down.” In the colonial world, it developed two very different meanings. Outside of the American colonies, “home” meant, of generations, England, and “going home” meant returning to England. In the American colonies other than Canada, it quickly came to mean one’s house and family, and it carried a meaning of serenity and peace. It was an American who much later wrote “Home, Sweet Home.” Now damned by modern Americans as sentimental, it tellingly contrasted the American home to palaces.

The song is now in disfavor because Americans have abandoned the home idea for a miniature palace. Furniture-advertisement pictures, showroom windows, and interior decorators now set the standard. The goal is a miniature palace for the masses, and a small house of 1,500 square feet is often designed to convey a sense of grandeur. People want to make “the right impression.”

The house has ceased to express the faith and family history of its dwellers. It is usually stripped of all religious items. Family pictures, portraits of parents and grandparents, and family mementos are not there. The American house is only occasionally a home; it is an impersonal atmosphere.

Some years ago, a prominent ex-prostitute, ex-madam, Polly Adler, wrote her memoirs, entitled A House Is Not a Home. Well, a brothel indeed can be in a house, but it is not a home. Similarly, a family can live in a house which is not a home, when its center is not the Christian faith but a standard of living.

Houses now have a poor sense of reality because their owners lack one. Because living is now associated with neither faith, family, nor work, the focus of the house is on pleasure; the family wants to “live,” i.e., experience the maximum pleasures of living it can afford, and hence the house is built to cater to the pleasure principle.

Eric Sloane said, “the early American home and farm were one in much more than a casual commentary on colonial life. It was the pioneer’s creed and a basic American belief until a century ago” (American Yesterday, p. 39). Moreover, “The average home of a century ago had twice as many extra rooms (most of which are now obsolete and forgotten) as are in the complete house of today. The smoke rooms, food cellar, borning room, milk room, chapel room, keeping room, summer kitchen, wash room, and corn room are just a few of the rooms that were as standard to an old house as a coat closet is to a modern one” (p. 47). Because of their size, these houses have tended to disappear. Ironically, in the surviving ones, the chapel room becomes a large closet! The chapel room was usually located near the front door.

By the latter part of the 1800s, the reality standard which had governed the American outlook was gone. A pomposity of manner and style had replaced it. The gift for simplicity which had marked colonial and early America had given way, first, to ornateness, and then to the pseudo-simplicity in this century of Frank Lloyd Wright and others.

Architecture is a reflection of faith and life, and, given the instability and inconstancy of the modern mood, the architectural goal has too often been novelty and impression, “making a statement.”

When men profess Christ but live outside of Christ, there is then no sphere of life or thought which they can govern because they cannot govern themselves. Living in terms of “the pleasure principle,” to use Freud’s terms, means disregarding “the reality principle.” If pleasure is our goal, we are saying that we are little gods who must be pleased; the world is out of joint if we are not “happy.” If we live in terms of Jesus Christ as Lord, then whether we are rich or poor, happy or unhappy, fulfilled or unfulfilled, is of no consequence. The question is, are we faithful to Him, and serving Him?

  1. Inheritance, Barbarism, and Dominion

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 121, May 1990

In terms of Biblical law, inheritance is a means of blessing godly and responsible children. If there were several heirs, the one who was the main heir received a double portion, the care of his parents, and headship over the others. The parents had a duty to separate themselves from ungodly sons, and, if needed, to participate in their legal condemnation (Deut. 21:15–21). If no son were worthy, a daughter could inherit all (Num. 27:5–11). Inheritance was not necessarily by blood, but by faith. Sin leads to the disinheritance of men and nations, and the purpose of inheritance is to further godly dominion.

The meaning of inheritance has changed dramatically in the modern age, especially in this century and dramatically since World War II. At one time, the substance of an inheritance was land and a house, furnishings, and a family Bible. I can remember more than sixty years ago when one couple looked forward to the privilege of inheriting a battered old family rocker which had been brought to California about a decade after the Gold Rush of 1849; I can recall the happiness of others at inheriting a family Bible.

Now, inheritance is mainly in the form of money, or paper assets such as stocks and bonds. An inflationary era tends to reduce values to paper and to create a society which is rootless and prone to change.

One consequence has been a contempt for the values and treasures of the family’s past. In the 1950s, I saw a beautiful handmade kitchen table with chairs, made of poplar wood, sell at a high price. It had been built by a skilled craftsman who settled in a Western area in the mid-1800s, where no other tree existed. The fourth generation heir had no use for it; at that time, the dealer commented on this lack of appreciation by an heir. Such incidents are now commonplace. Most heirs want only money, not family heirlooms, treasures, or Bibles. The past means nothing to them, nor does the future. However much education they have, they are barbarians.

The modern barbarian may be a university graduate, a scientist, or an artist, a person of prominence or wealth, but he is someone with neither respect for the past nor roots in it, nor any concern for the future. If he receives an inheritance, he wants to liquidate it, to turn it into cash, even as he liquidates the religious and cultural inheritance of the past. What so-called artists like Marcel Duchamp did to the past, the modern heirs do to the family’s past.

A common street sign of my childhood is now rare, and, in many areas, never seen — one of the very common signs over businesses and professional offices: “A. C. Johnson and Son,” “C. N. Schaeffer and Sons,” “Emory Williams and Son,” and so on. A business or trade was proudly handed down to the next generation. Then, however, fathers began to say in bewilderment that their sons felt almost duty-bound to rebel and to seek work elsewhere, work of less satisfying character and of lesser freedom. There was a rebellion under way against the ancient forms of inheritance. Family treasures that a father and mother had once proudly inherited were regarded by their children with amused condescension. Family portraits, once part of the parlor, were now junked, as were photograph albums of old pictures. In effect, the heirs were too often saying, give us cash, not junk.

About the same time, too, the care of the older generation was being transferred from the family to Social Security and Medicare. The older folks were living too long, some held, and euthanasia advocates began to speak out.

The return to barbarism was under way.

The ancient barbarians moved steadily, looting, raping, and killing as they went. What they could not carry with them, they burned or destroyed. They despised the stability of the peoples they victimized, people who loved work and who remained rooted to family, work, and place. For the barbarian, the stable family and society were there to be victimized.

In time, the barbarian premise became the primary article of faith, in a sophisticated fashion, of the Enlightenment. Denis Diderot, in the Encyclopédie, made what T. C. W. Blanning described as the “unequivocal demand” of Enlightenment thinkers all over Europe: “Everything must be examined, everything must be shaken up, without exception and without circumspection” (Joseph II and Enlightened Despotism, p. 3). This view demanded a disrespect for the past, for the family, and for the church. Destruction became a mark of intelligence and enlightenment.

It was no wonder, then, that the Enlightenment led to the age of revolution and the systematic destruction of the past. We must not forget that the Enlightenment and the men of reason despised both the Gothic cathedrals that faith had built, and the Alps which God had made; they were both violations of rational premises.

The French Revolution was the great open inauguration of the age of revolution, and it introduced in secular fashion what the Enlightenment had longed for and worked to create, the modern state, dedicated to anti- Christianity, antifamily in nature, and erosive of heritage and tradition. The modern state began to destroy the past by means of state control of education and by taxation aimed at the destruction of the family and inheritance. The modern state is institutionalized revolution.

Given this fact, the inheritance and property taxes — and other related taxes — should not surprise us. Their purpose is in large part the dissolution of the past and present. This purpose requires that wealth, once largely land-based, trade-based, and skill-based, be converted into cash. The state’s schools teach a disrespect for the family, tradition, and the older forms of inheritance; the school graduates want cash as their inheritance, not the things once prized.

The results are sometimes insane. Heirs will at times sell valuable antiques which have been in their family for some time in order to buy other antiques which will not tie them to their past. The Enlightenment heritage leaves them unwilling to be grateful; history for them begins with themselves. They do not want grandparents and parents to complicate their lives; let them die quickly and let their cash make life easier for their heirs.

The purpose of Scripture’s laws of inheritance is godly dominion. Hence, we see Ishmael passed over in favor of Isaac; Esau, in favor of Jacob; Jacob’s older sons, in favor of Judah; and so on. The heir had to have not only faith but a character which was dominion oriented, beginning with dominion over oneself.

The Lord God does not want self-indulgent heirs. Again and again in history, He dispossesses men and nations who do not respect their God-given heritage and who assume that the past and its inheritance is there for their pleasure rather than as a stewardship to the future.

Thus far, the twentieth century has seen a steady return to barbarism. What the twenty-first century will show remains to be seen. As I have traveled back and forth across the United States since World War II, I have seen town houses, farms, and ranches, some in the same family since the area was settled, change hands. Some farms, six and nine generations in the family, have been lost because a debt-free place was run into debt, or because the heirs wanted a modern, urban life. Rootless people love a rootless life. The past is there to be used, not respected. They may be, and often are, charming, able, and likable, but they are rootless, and they are barbarians.

It was forty-some years ago when a boy, perhaps thirteen or fourteen years of age, watched a wedding party come out of a church and asked me what they were doing, and why was a marriage ceremony performed, and why was it important? At least he wanted to know, if only in curiosity! But he was a young barbarian, with no idea of the importance of the family, its religious meaning, nor its legal protection. Today, millions like him regard a wedding as a time to show off, get gifts, and have fun. The meaning of the family in God’s sight is lost to them. They live pragmatically; things are valuable to them only if they can be used advantageously, not in terms of God and the family. Behind the tinkle of the glasses celebrating the wedding can be heard, if one listens, the footsteps of judgment on this age.

  1. The Old Order

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 237

This paper was never published, but was originally numbered as No. 210, 1997

Writing in 1896, in The School of Plato, F. W. Bussell, an Oxford scholar, held that “we are about to inaugurate a regimen of severest coercion” (p. 70). At that time, the twentieth century, soon to begin, was to most the dawn of freedom and science. The world was seeing the decline of tyrannies, the rise of science, dramatic inventions, and the spread of freedom. Bussell, however, saw the end of laissez-faire and the rise of statist controls.

But the future was grimmer than the learned Bussell foresaw. In 1900, Europe and America governed most of the world; the only other power was Japan. Much of the world was either a colony of Europe or to some degree controlled by it. Only one basically non-European empire remained, Ottoman Turkey, known as “the sick man of Europe.” (At that time, Turkish power in Central Europe was very extensive.) The European imperial powers were all expected to become more “democratic.” Kings ruled much of Europe still, but they were sharing their powers increasingly with the people. To read the bound volumes of periodicals of 1899 or 1900 is to see a great confidence in the future of man under freer rule and an advancing science, technology, and capitalism.

Laurence Lafore, in The End of Glory: An Interpretation of the Origins of World War II (1970), saw World War I as an earthquake that cracked the once successful power of the old order. The events that followed were no less shattering, and they provided “graveyards” for the old order.

The old economies were faltering. The unquestioned world leadership of the white man gave way to a very different order. The world supremacy of the Atlantic community gave way to the Pacific, and the center of the world’s economy shifted to the U.S. West Coast, led by California and Alaska, to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, etc. The European Community, an effort to counteract this Pacific trend, and perhaps especially to meet the competition of Japan and the United States, tended to create new problems thereby.

It was a radically different world. The major American universities were beset by demands for preferential treatment for American black students, while Asian students were, without any preferential treatment, outdoing all other groups. The old racial myths were giving way to new realities.

Meanwhile, some Americans who spent time in Europe saw much of it as so paganized that a basic Christian missionary movement was needed there. A Christian pastor from Africa told me that America’s black ghettos were terrifying places and perhaps a growing African church might soon send missionaries to the inner city jungles.

What had happened? The West, having forsaken God, was being forsaken by God. While white American students played (and/or demonstrated) their way through colleges and universities, Asian students were supported by family and relatives and rewarded for doing well. The work ethic had left too many Americans.

I asked one man, close to the academic scene, to describe American youth. He answered in one word, “Lawless.” When I asked if that meant no regard for God’s law, he laughed. No, he meant no regard for any law, parental, academic, or otherwise. Basically, they were self-indulgent; the Asians were “unfair” competition; after all, “we’re only young once,” and college should be a happy interlude. They were, clearly, a part of the suicide of the old order.

The story does not end here, however. A growing number of Christians and homeschoolers are dedicated students and are a nucleus for re-Christianization. A network of Christian action and leadership now unites Christians of various races and continents. The Christian future which is emerging is postmodern and deeply rooted. The old political divisions are by-passed, and Christian priorities now govern. The vision now is not American or European but Christian.

One advantage is the intense hostility the Christians community increasingly faces, at least in the United States. Slowly but surely it is compelling Christians to recognize that compromise is suicidal, and that only an unequivocal and consistent Christian faith can stand in a time of testing. Thanks should be offered for the intense hatred expressed by the anti-Christians. It is waking up many to the fact that friendship with the world is enmity to God. We find that many refuse to associate with us lest they be tarred with the same hostility, which is both sad and amusing. There is no escape from testing, and to avoid commitment leads to judgment. Actually, this is a glorious time to be alive because it is a time of battle over the most fundamental issues, not necessarily an easy time, but a good time. Where do you stand? A dying world cannot be a good place to settle in! A century of death for the old order can lead to victory.

RECONSTRUCTION

  1. “First the Blade”

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 88, July 1987

One of the very important and much neglected verses of Scripture is Mark 4:28: “For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Our Lord tells us (Mark 4:26–29) that the Kingdom of God, as it develops in history, has a necessary growth and development. No more than we can plant grain and then expect the harvest at once, can we expect quick or immediate results in the growth of God’s Kingdom. If we plant grain, we must cultivate it, often water it, tend to the field, and, only after much labor, reap a harvest. To expect otherwise is stupidity and foolishness, whether in farming or in the work of the Kingdom. In fact, our Lord describes quick growth as false (Matt. 13:5–6, 20–21).

The expectations of most people nowadays run contrary to our Lord’s words. They demand immediate results, and then wonder why their harvests never come.

Within the church, this demand for immediate and spectacular results is commonplace. We need to remember that in church history, sometimes the most successful preachers over the centuries have been heretics and compromisers. Carl E. Braaten has rightly observed, “John Tetzel was surely a popular preacher. He told people what they wanted to hear and sold people what they wanted to get. He was a preacher of indulgences, and lots of peoples swarmed to hear him and bought what he had to offer” (Currents in Theology and Mission 14, no. 2 [April 1987]: pp. 111–112). Today, even the Catholic Encyclopedia speaks of Tetzel’s “unwarranted theological views.”

However, we need not go back to Tetzel. Today, preachers of all sorts, and laymen too, believe in and demand of God instant results: sow the seed and stand back while the harvest pops up at once! As a result, such men often do better at growing weeds than grain.

This mentality is common in all circles, modernist and fundamentalist, socialist and conservative. During the 1930s, I recall spending a futile dinner hour trying to persuade a fellow student out of quitting his university training. A passionate and devout leftist, he was convinced that, very shortly, the forces of international fascism would conquer the world. It was therefore necessary to go underground with the party of world revolution and work for world liberation. He was totally convinced that, once the forces of world fascism were broken, peace and plenty would flourish from pole to pole and from sea to shining sea. I believe that on that occasion I first made serious use of Mark 4:28, but it was futile.

In the 1960s, great numbers of students all over the world fell victim to the same wild delusion. They believed that, with a little action, the full ear of corn could be reaped at once. One group held that only the reactionaries prevented the immediate dawn of an automated, work-free, and war-free world. When a reporter asked one girl in the group how a work-free world could produce food, she answered with haughty contempt, “Food is!” The student movement commanded superior minds academically, but it lacked any sense of historical development and growth. God can produce instantaneous results; He created all things out of nothing. But the Kingdom of God in history moves, our Lord tells us, in a different way, even as “the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear” (Mark 4:28).

In the past ten years, I have been involved in many court trials defending the freedom of the church, the Christian school, home schools, and families. It regularly amazes and appalls me that so many Christians, before they have fought a court case or voted (so many still do not vote), are ready to give up hope or to think of extreme measures and flight. (In this, they resemble the students of the 1960s.) Only yesterday, I talked with a fine veteran of Vietnam whose pastor sees no alternative to total obedience to the state except revolution; since he opposes revolution, he insists on total obedience as the Christian duty. He overlooks the vast realm in between, i.e., voting, pressure on legislatures, the education of Bible believers (of whom 50 percent do not vote), and so on.

It is important to recognize that this inability to see the necessity of growth is a modern failing, and also to see its source. The church fathers by and large tended to neglect Mark 4:28; but Calvin noted that the parable has as its purpose to make us diligent and patient, “because the fruit of . . . labour does not immediately appear.”

It was the Enlightenment and Romanticism which produced the new mentality. According to Scripture, man’s problem is himself: he is a sinner. His original sin is his desire for autonomy, to be his own god and law, determining good and evil for himself (Gen. 3:5). However, there is nothing man wants less to face than the fact that, whatever other problems he has, he, his own nature, is his main problem. In fact, man rejects radically and totally the idea that God’s indictment of him is correct. He may approve of the motto, “In God we trust,” but he lives in terms of the premise, “In myself I trust.”

The more man develops in his sin, in his evil will-to-be-god, the more he believes that his own fiat word can make reality. If statist man says, “Let there be prosperity,” there should be prosperity. If he says, “Let poverty, hatred, and oppression be abolished,” these things should disappear.

But, the more he pursues this course as god and creator, the more the evils around him increase. As James tells us, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). Men create evils and then blame God, their environment, and other men for them.

How many politicians are ready to say, “We, the people, are responsible for the mess we are in. We want something for nothing. We want to eat our cake and have it too. We have despised God’s laws concerning debt, and much, much more, and we deserve the judgment God is bringing upon us.”

Man himself is the primary problem, and man insists that the blame must be laid on someone or something else. As a result, his problem is compounded.

The Enlightenment and Romanticism deny the Biblical answer. According to the Enlightenment, man’s reason is the solution to the problem, whereas Romanticism locates the answer in man’s will. In either case, man is the answer, not the problem.

Such thinking placed the modern age (in Europe, after ca. 1660 especially) in radical disagreement with orthodox Christianity. The modern era exalts man and his needs, and it is at total war against the faith that declares man to be a sinner. The epitome of a God-centered faith is the Westminster Shorter Catechism’s opening statement, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.”

The logic of such man-centered thinking in the Enlightenment and Romanticism led to revolution. John Locke, after Aristotle, insisted that man’s mind and being is a moral blank, neutral to good and evil. The premise of modern education is Locke’s assumption: education then becomes the conditioning of the morally blank child.

But what about adults who are no longer morally blank but have been conditioned into an evil outlook by Christianity, family, and capitalism? (This, for modern thinkers, is the great trinity of evil, Christianity, the family, and capitalism.) How are these peoples and cultures who have been conditioned by evil going to be changed? How can they be dealt with?

Revolution is held to provide the answer. Revolution is seen as personal and cultural shock therapy. We should not be surprised that psychiatrists turned for a time to electroshock therapy: it is a form of psychological revolution. All old patterns are supposedly destroyed in order to clear the mind of past beliefs and habits; then the new, revolutionary changes can be instilled. Such a “therapy” has proven to be a dramatic failure; the moral nature of the man remains. It is not that which comes from outside which pollutes and warps a man, but that which comes from within.

Political revolutions rest on the simple-minded belief in shock therapy. The French and Russian revolutions, and the Spanish and other revolutions, have all believed that destruction will free man from the chains of bondage, but all these revolutions have only enslaved man all the more. The more modern the revolution, the more destructive and vicious it becomes. The Russian Revolution murdered priests wholesale, worked to destroy the family, and confiscated property. The murder of priests became even more savage and intense in the Spanish Revolution.

The belief has been that the murder of man’s past is his liberation into a glorious future. The results have been hell on earth, but the revolutionists never blame themselves for it. It is rather the lingering mentality of the past which is to blame. Gorbachev, to “reform” the Soviet Union, has intensified the war against Christianity.

Modern man refuses to be earthbound. The proud American boast after the first space flight showed an astronaut as a newly born baby, and his umbilical cord tying him to earth being cut. Man now was supposedly transcending the earth to enter into a “space age” of freedom. With this new, godlike status, man, some held, would guide his own evolution, clone himself, and overcome space, time, and death.

Is it any wonder that evil churchmen have neglected Mark 4:28? Our Lord is very clear: the pattern of the Kingdom of God is like that of the earth which bringeth forth fruit of itself. There is an order and a progression from the seed, to the first green shoot to emerge, to the cultivated growth, and finally the harvest. Both time and work are essential.

I still recall my pity and revulsion for a prominent American pastor who, after World War II, wanted people to spend their time praying for a speedy Second Coming of Christ. He was arrogantly contemptuous of all Kingdom building as wasteful of time and money. He agreed with another prominent preacher who dismissed all efforts at Christian Kingdom action as “polishing brass on a sinking ship.” Such men do not preach on Mark 4:28.

I recall also, sadly, a very fine man, a very wealthy man, who called me to see him not too long before his death. His family and the firm’s director were now fully in charge of all his wealth. About seven years earlier, I had suggested to him that, if he had as his intention turning America around to a better direction, starting Christian schools across the country would do it. He rejected my answer sharply. Now, near death, he called me in to say that if he had spent the millions he did on Christian schools instead of in seeking a “quick victory,” the country would indeed be different.

That man was the antithesis of everything revolutionary. He had funded generously a number of anticommunist causes. He loved deeply the more simple America he had known in his youth. He loved the one-room schoolhouse of his Midwestern youth, and the country church with its kindly, neighborly believers in the old-time religion. He was a simple, honest, hard-working, old-fashioned American Christian.

At the same time, although he did not know it, and would have been outraged at the suggestion, he was a revolutionist. However much old-fashioned, he had something in common with all revolutionaries, namely, the hunger for and the belief in a “quick victory.”

Millions of American conservatives demonstrated, shortly after Reagan’s election in 1980, that they, too, were believers in the myth of victory by revolution. They acted as though the millennium had arrived with Reagan’s victory! Conservative political action groups saw an alarming decline in monetary contributions. Reagan was elected, the war was over, and the troops were leaving to resume life as usual in their now peaceable kingdom.

The mentality of instant results is all around us. It is the mentality of the modern age, and of revolution. It is the belief that the problem is not ourselves but something outside of us which an election, revolution, money, education, or some other like measure can alter tomorrow. Meanwhile, we ourselves see no need for change where we are concerned! We can maintain our modern lifestyle and make God happy with a few dollars tossed into an offering plate.

But God says to us, as His prophet Nathan said to King David, a better man than all of us, “Thou art the man” (2 Sam. 12:7). The turnaround begins with us. Then, we work in terms of God’s order on earth for His Kingdom: “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”

  1. The Wheat and the Tares

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 154, August 1992

One of the most important and influential of the parables of our Lord is about the wheat and the tares. It is a very simple parable, and our Lord Himself gives its explanation (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43). All the same, at two points people have had problems with its meaning. First, does it apply to the end of the world or not? (v. 39). The word translated as world is literally aion, or age. This means that the fulfillment of this parable is continuous in history. In age after ages, tares are in the Kingdom, and God Himself deals with this problem at the end of an era, a time of judgment. This means that there are a number of such uprootings in history, culminating in the Last Judgment. The parable applies to our time. The age of humanistic statism is nearing its grim end, and God will bring about a great cleansing.

Second, what is the field? Our Lord identifies it in verse 24 as “the kingdom of heaven,” God’s absolute and total realm. In verse 38 the field is called “the world,” the kosmos. Since the earth is the Lord’s (Ps. 24:1) and the entire creation is His handiwork, the field is inclusive of all things — the church, the earth, and all creation.

Two kinds of seeds are involved. The sower of the good seed, the children of the Kingdom, is Jesus Christ. The tares are the children of the wicked, sown by the devil. As early as in the days of the early church, Jude, our Lord’s brother, tells us that the ungodly had crept into the church (Jude 4).

Otto, Bishop of Freising, in The Two Cities: A Chronicle of Universal History to the Year 1146 a.d., said of the City of God, and the evil city of man, that the two had but one history, the church; the church was so fully mixed a scene that there was a radical confusion of what was Christ’s and what was Satan’s. The church was no longer the representative of the City of God. “I seem to myself to have composed a history not of two cities but virtually of one only, which I call the church” (prologue to the fifth book). Bishop Otto saw the Tower of Babel as the true forerunner of the apostate church!

Again and again, the tares have been sown within the church, and, in age after age, our Lord has cleansed His Temple. But this has not been a futile cycle; with each time of cleansing and reformation, advances have been made. We are therefore the heirs of the ages, heirs of the cleansing and the reforms which the Lord of the church has made through His servants.

When, however, men exalt the church and equate it with Christ, we had better beware. The church is the servant of the Lord, not the Lord Himself. In our time, we see heresies and immoralities abound within the church: modernism, indifferentism, child molestation, a hostility to sound doctrine, antinomianism, and so on and on. The church boasts of its past glories because its present life is an empty one.

Recently, two days in a row, I heard from persons subjected to harsh discipline because they had called attention to evils committed by those in authority. Although in the right, a fact none challenged because they wanted silence on the issues, they were accused of having murder in their hearts. Therefore, they had to repent and seek forgiveness in terms of Matthew 5:22! No attention was paid to our Lord’s plain condition: the anger had to be “without cause.” The twisting of Scripture to justify evil is a serious offense. To use civil law to do evil is very wrong. How much more so if we use God’s law-word to cover our evil actions and intentions?

How does the church come to so evil a position? Our Lord gives us the answer: “while men slept.” Where Christ’s law-word is concerned, the church is too often asleep. What men want of the church is an insurance policy guaranteeing heaven; having that, they want to be able to forget the fine print in their “insurance policy.”

Why is there this recurring fact of reformation and an evil infestation? The coming of Christ’s Kingdom is a process of growth, sifting, and judgment. The issues of history are not resolved in a generation, nor in an age.

In more than one parable of Matthew 13, the fact is clear that there are times of harvest. At the end of a growing season, harvesttime comes. So, too, at the end of an age, there is a harvesting. History has many growing seasons; we live in one, and we have a duty to the Lord in terms of it.

A very important aspect of this parable is the fact that the Lord forbids His servants from going after the tares, i.e., to uproot them. Repeatedly over the centuries, commentators have made clear that these words (vv. 18–30) do not forbid church discipline. What our Lord requires elsewhere is not invalidated by these words. What is meant, then? The harvest is at the end of the age; it cannot be brought about prematurely. All too often over the centuries churchmen have sinned by seeing their time as the end time, and they act on that assumption, thereby neutralizing Christian faith and action. We are required to do our vineyard work and to leave the harvesting to the Lord. It is His world, not ours; it is His church, not ours, and we had better remember this. The old saying states the matter well: the duties are ours; the results are in the hands of the Lord. Leave it there.

Meanwhile, remember, the church is not a new Garden of Eden! It is full of tares. You cannot do your duty to the Lord if you fail to recognize this fact.

Remember, too, that the good seed grows. Growth, or sanctification, is much neglected in our time. We live in an era of indecision within the church, an unwillingness to act and to grow. The church is suffering from a very serious cause of constipation: no movement! Too many church members, instead of being “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37), are less than men. They are a sluggish army in retreat and too dull to know what is happening. “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14). We are in a war, and we cannot escape it by hiding in the church: it is there.

  1. Revolution or Regeneration

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 105, January 1989

Although the word salvation is usually restricted to theological discussions, it is all the same a concern of all men, i.e., how to solve problems and make society a healthy and harmonious order. A variety of solutions, or plans of salvation, have been offered: philosopher-kings, economic doctrines, sexual arrangements, and more. One of the most popular salvation doctrines of the twentieth century has been education, mass education as the means of social salvation. This hope is still with us, but is fading steadily.

Basically, the difference between all these plans of salvation and Christianity is this: these non-Christian hopes represent a belief that the problem is not in man but in something outside of him, in his environment, family, heredity, schooling, or some like external factor. Thus, to change man, you first change the world around him. The most logical and thorough-going expression of this faith is revolution. It is held that the transformation of man must begin with the radical transformation of his social order. Then man will himself be changed. Liberation theology is the application of this faith within the church: change the world, it is held, and then man can become a Christian. This is the same faith set forth by the tempter to Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1–11).

Biblical faith holds the contrary view. For Christianity, man must be changed by the sovereign grace of God through Jesus Christ. Then the changed man can change the world. Salvation cannot come to man nor to society apart from Christ’s atonement and His regenerating power. The dynamics of society are from God to man to the world.

In recent years, there has been a growth within the church of revolutionary ideas. The power of God unto salvation has been abandoned in favor of the power of revolutionary action unto salvation. We have already cited liberation theology as a proponent of this anti-Christian doctrine.

Another common application of the revolutionary premise is the tax revolt, that concept so much loved by Karl Marx, who understood its meaning. The excuse is the godlessness of the state. But Jesus Christ and Paul lived under men like Tiberius and Nero; they lived in a time of unjust taxation, abortion, homosexuality, and more. Neither our Lord nor St. Paul counseled a tax revolt. Rather, as against the tax revolts of their day, they counseled tax-paying (Luke 20:19–26; Rom. 13:7). Not revolution but regeneration is the Christian hope for man and society.

In 1988, another revolutionary ploy became the methodology of many churchmen, the demonstrations at abortion clinics designed to violate the laws of picketing and protest and ensure arrest for impeding access. It is questionable whether or not these demonstrations saved the lives of any unborn babies: the women seeking abortions simply went elsewhere. Even more, the demonstrators set a precedent in violating civil laws of various sorts. What is to prevent pro-abortion people from blocking access to churches, or even entering them to disrupt services? If we allow lawless protest to one side, we justify it for all.

No scriptural justification is offered by these demonstrators. The closest thing to a text to justify them is Acts 5:29, the answer of Peter and the other apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” What does this mean, however? There is no civil government anywhere which does not disobey God at some points, and, for that matter, there are no perfect churches either. The best of churches fall short of perfect obedience. Are we then justified in obeying only when we believe God’s Word is faithfully observed? Then are those around us or under us entitled to rebel against our authority whenever they feel we fall short of or neglect God’s Word? Nothing in Scripture gives warrant to that. David’s respect for Saul, despite Saul’s sin, gives us another model.

Where freedom of God’s Word in the church, its schools, its families, and its members is denied, then we must obey God, not the state. We do not disobey to save our money or even our lives, but we do where God’s Word and its proclamation is at stake.

The moral anarchy which revolutionists advocate is being brought into the church by some men. Not surprisingly, they impugn the Christian character of those who criticize them, men such as Dr. Stanley, and Rev. Joseph Morecraft III.

To believe in the efficacy of violence to change society means to abandon peaceful means. Not surprisingly, peaceful, legal action is being neglected. A pro-abortion justice on the U.S. Supreme Court has said that, in a new case, abortion would lose. Such a case would require much funding and highly competent legal help. The money to do this is being spent in sending people from one end of the country to the other to take part in demonstrations, to bail them out of jail, and so on.

The methodology of such demonstrations has been borrowed from non-Christian and revolutionary sources. From one end of the Bible to the other, no warrant can be found for this methodology. To use ungodly means is a way of saying that God’s grace and power are insufficient resources for Christian action. It means abandoning Christ for the methods of His enemies.

Such methodology can be effective, but not for the triumph of grace. When the leaders of the people wanted to force Pilate’s unwilling hand, they assembled a mob to demonstrate before Pilate and to shout down all protest, screaming, “Crucify him” (Mark 15:13).

There is a long history of injustice at the hands of mobs. There is no Christian calling to create mobs and to violate laws to achieve a purpose.

The sad fact is that, once we adopt a position, the logic of that faith carries us forward. Thus, I am finding that those who approve of demonstrations, and of the violation of the properties of abortion clinics, find it easy to justify violence against the property (bombing) and against the persons who are abortionists (which means murdering them).

The power to punish murders is a civil power, not an ecclesiastical nor a personal one. Just as we must believe that the spheres of the church and of the family should not be violated by the state, so we should avoid trespassing on the state’s sphere. The early church faced many evils in the civil sphere: abortion, slavery, and more. Paul spoke against a revolutionary move against slavery but counseled the use of lawful means (1 Cor. 7:20–23). The early church took a strong stand against abortion and disciplined severely all who were guilty of it. It organized its deacons to rescue abandoned babies (who had not been successfully aborted earlier), and it took strong stands without ever suggesting violence.

Humanism gives priority to man and to the will of man over God and His law-word. If we place saving babies above obedience to God, we wind up doing neither the born nor the unborn any good, and we separate ourselves from God.

It is amazing how many people on all sides of issues are so prone to violence as their first and last resorts. They believe, when they see a serious problem, in taking to the streets, getting their guns, fighting the establishment, and so on and on, without even using the many peaceable means which are at hand. For them, violence is not a last resort when all other means have been exhausted, but a first resort. Instead of providing answers, resorts to violence mean the death of a civilization. The use of violence, whether by Christians or by non-Christians, is a way of saying that voting and the law courts mean nothing, or, that faith and the power of God are irrelevant to the problems of our time.

The resort to revolution or to revolutionary tactics is thus a confession of no faith; it means the death of a civilization because its people are dead in their sins and trespasses. They may use the name of the Lord, but they have bypassed Him for “direct action.” In doing so, they have forgotten that since day one of creation, all the power and the direct action are only truly in God’s hands. By assuming that everything depends on their action, they have denied God and His regenerating power.

And they have forgotten our Lord’s requirement: “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Regeneration, not revolution, is God’s way.

  1. Great and False Expectations

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 155, November 1992

One of the problems men have had for countless generations is their refusal to believe that history can continue much beyond their time. This end-of-the-world mentality has marked pagans and churchmen alike. Men have believed again and again that evil has so infected their world that the end must come. In science fiction, earthlings seek some distant planet for a fresh start. In the days of Rome, men like Horace (65–8 b.c.) saw no future in Rome. Horace’s solution was to sail westward in the Atlantic in search of a new and unfallen world, where all was innocence and perfection. (Rome lasted for centuries after Horace.) Petronius Arbiter (ca. a.d. 27–66) wrote harshly about the bad education of his day, the disrespect for the past, and the prevailing immorality, but he looked to a cult for hope, and his views were shallow. Men seemed to believe that, by satirizing evil and folly, men would be better.

With the coming of Christianity, these false expectations gained a new dimension. Although our Lord stated very plainly that knowledge of the end is unknown by men (Matt. 24:36), men over the centuries have speculated endlessly on precisely the day and the hour of His coming again. The results of these great and false expectations have been evil. Christian duties are paralyzed and short-circuited. Problems are not dealt with. One pastor told someone whose spouse was very plainly evil not to be concerned about it because the Rapture was due almost any day now!

This mentality has in the modern age deeply infected the humanists. Many Frenchmen in 1789 believed that a new and better age had arrived. In that year, even the British House of Commons proposed to the lords “a day of thanksgiving for the French Revolution.” The Revolution had apparently rendered the doctrine of original sin invalid. Man’s intelligence was ushering in a naturalistic millennium. Rousseau had held that man had once lived in a state of natural, primitive grace. The purpose of the French Revolution was to restore man into that grace. As Norman Hampson wrote in Prelude to Terror (1988), “The prospect of universal peace was one of the reasons why 1789 seemed to so many people the Year 1 of a new and better world.” There was a general “conviction that the millennium had already begun” (p. 126). The goal was to make all men “free and equal,” because, “How can a free man be wicked?” All evil was the product of oppression. Abolish oppression, and all men will be good (p. 35). The goal of politics was to create the humanistic millennium as visualized by Rousseau. “Politics was a matter of putting vertu on the statute books” (p. 187).

This is why Robespierre, as Otto Scott pointed out in Robespierre: The Voice of Virtue (1974), as the head of the state, saw himself as virtue’s voice, and all who disagreed with him were evil. This, too, is why the Jacobins held, “All is permitted those who act in the Revolutionary direction” (p. 205).

All revolutionary leaders since then, whether in Cuba or Russia, have been self-assured and confident that they are the voice of virtue. Worse yet, all modern politics is infected with Rousseau’s doctrine that the state and its leaders exist to establish and incarnate the order of virtue. The self-righteousness of our political candidates rests in this belief. They, rather than revolutionary leaders, are, they believe, the true voice of reason and virtue on earth.

As Hampson pointed out, the Rousseauists identified politics with morals (Prelude to Terror, p. 42). The Biblical identification of morality with religion, with God and His law-word, was denied. Morality was now an aspect of political order. Religion was now limited to purely spiritual concerns and with the hereafter. This world and its moral order were now the province of the state. In due time, given this premise, both Marxist and democratic countries began teaching a new morality, a situational one usually, in the state’s schools. The church’s protest has been scarcely more than a whisper. Reason, science, and politics have supplanted the church as the voices of morality, and the schools are their instruments.

It should not surprise us that, within a generation after the French Revolution, two new doctrines began to spread through the church. One was Anglo-Israelism, which in its extreme forms identified salvation with race. The other was dispensational premillennialism.

Wherever there was a separation of Biblical law from morality and civil law (or civil moral order) with immediate millennial expectations, there a civil and moral barrenness prevailed. Christianity went from being the shaping power of society, to become an unessential thing on the sidelines, either awaiting an end in which things went from bad to worse, or, expecting a rapture which made societal concerns irrelevant.

Whether in humanism or within the church, great false expectations have devastated the Western world in the past two centuries and have left it crippled and ineffectual.

At the same time, by mining the Bible for “spiritual nuggets” instead of seeing it as the law-word of God, the church has allowed Rousseau’s doctrine of a conflict society to prevail. As a result, every area of life has been turned into a civil war: the war of sexes, capital versus labor, the farm versus the city, parents versus children, and so on and on. Given the premise of a metaphysical conflict in all the world, there can be no escaping conflict except by death. As a result, killing one’s enemies, whether political or personal, has increased. Our world’s false expectations can sometimes be murderous in their consequences. Rousseau’s philosophy was indeed a “prelude to terror.”

We are living thus in an era where, apart from the usual problems of life, we face the great man-created evils of false doctrines and man-created conflicts. Neither contemporary politics, science, nor education can solve a problem they have created and are aggravating.

Only a return to a truly Biblical faith can give us a good future. Our present superficial churchianity has no future because it is not in submission to the whole Word of God. People who believe that they can “choose Jesus,” in the face of His plain statement in John 15:16, choose also to decide what kind of Jesus they choose. The result is a sentimental concoction, not the living and omnipotent Lord. It is this sovereign Lord of whom the Father declares, “hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5).

  1. The Menace of the Future?

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 166, August 1993

John Ferguson, in The Religions of the Roman Empire (1970, 1985), titles one chapter, “The Menace of the Future.” The title is an apt one. Imperial Rome very early lost its nerve, and it lost hope. It turned to a variety of foolish alternatives to reform in order to try to gain an occult knowledge of the future: oracles, omens, magic, haruspicy, witchcraft, and so on and on. Romans did not want true reform, only some occult formula to change their future without changing themselves.

Their “great men” were a part of the problem. Ferguson wrote of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius that he has been “overpraised.” He was a weak man. As a Stoic, he was indifferent to wealth, and he left Rome bankrupt. In one area after another, his Stoicism was an evasion of harsh realities.

The truth is that Romans wanted no clear statement of their condition nor of their needs. In their own way, they were existentialists: their motto had long been, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” They were good at expressing noble thoughts while cheering for death in the Roman arena. The “noblest” Romans were far better at dying than living.

It should not surprise us, therefore, that they saw the future as menace. While Ferguson’s comments on Christianity are not acceptable always to Christians, his analysis of the weakness and failure of Rome is very good.

When men see the future as a menace, they have no good future. There were those in the early church who saw menace and decline in the future, but the basic Christian perspective was one of hope and the expectation of victory.

Today, we face a like situation. The humanists, who once saw the future as inevitable progress, now view the idea of progress as a “myth.” Deconstructionism has become not only an ugly form of literary analysis but a corrosive approach to life, faith, and hope. Abortion is a fitting symbol of the twentieth century: the most innocent form of human life is subjected to murder, whereas capital punishment for even particularly vicious murderers is protested. Lesbians and sodomites are honored, as in Rome, and the godly are despised.

Superficially, we can see menace in the future. We see a world in the hands of evil men who honor the evil and the perverted. We face the likelihood of a depression in the economy tied to an inflation in the money supply, perhaps of a massive kind. We will see an increase in diseases and epidemics, and more natural disasters.

But these are not menaces, however grim they be, but signs of our deliverance. The existing order is being shaken and shattered so that our Lord’s eternal order may alone remain (Heb. 12:26–29). These things are evidences of God’s rule. We, too, will be shaken in the process, because there is much in all of us that needs to be separated from our lives. We are plainly told that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29), and we had better expect His fire to do His work in our lives and plans.

Ferguson, in commenting on the Roman philosophers and moralists, very aptly notes, “But the fact that for them virtue lay in a disposition of the soul, and not in action, combined with the general attitude of resignation to make them far less revolutionary than some of their professions might seem to imply” (p. 194). It is easy to be noble and moral in words, but it is another matter to live morally, nobly, and actively in good works.

The common antinomianism of the churches makes clear why they are impotent. For the churches to command the nation’s majority in the United States and be impotent on the national scene tells us that James is right: faith without works is dead (James 2:20, 26). Our Lord tells us that salt that has lost its savor “is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13).

The future is indeed a menace to the ungodly and the unbelieving. Moreover, it is a time of severe testing for the godly. This does not mean that it is other than good because God ordains it. The future comes to us from His omnipotent hands.

No worse future can be imagined than for things to continue as they now are, with the ungodly in power and tightening their control over all things. The present order must be shattered or we and our children’s children have no future.

The Lord is our future, and His will, not ours, shall be done. The Lord is our future, and His Kingdom shall prevail.

If we see the future as a menace, we leave God out of the picture, and we place ourselves in the position of the standard and test as to whether or not the future is good. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust him” (Job 13:15). Can we say that?

God’s goal is His Kingdom, in time and in eternity. The end of history will not come until “all” Christ’s enemies are put “under his feet,” until He “shall have put down all rule and all authority and power” (1 Cor. 15:24–25).

With this faith, the future is not a menace: it is the hope of His triumph and coming.

  1. Sufficient unto the Day

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 226, July 1998

All my life, I have heard countless people document the evil in the world around them, and the greater evils coming soon. How much of this is morally tenable, and how much is evil?

Certainly we need to be prepared for coming problems. Clearly the humanistic statist world order around us is beginning to collapse, but will documenting all the world’s evils make man moral? Do we not fall prey, if we document evil, to the liberal-left illusion that salvation is by knowledge rather than by Jesus Christ?

Our Lord warns us not to be anxious about the morrow. All the thinking in the world will not add an inch nor a cubit to our stature (Matt. 6:27). “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34). We have enough problems today, and the best solution for tomorrow’s evils is to meet today’s with grace, faith, and in faithfulness to God’s law. There is a vast difference between forethought and anxiety.

I have known people whose entire lives have been so dominated by a future that they believe is possible (i.e., a Marxist takeover, the “Rapture,” a world depression, etc.) that they have neither enjoyed life nor dealt with present-day problems. This is hardly a moral solution, nor is it a godly one. God is not a loser: His enemies are! To profess faith in God and to doubt His victory is a contradiction. It is also morally wrong to attempt to “correct” evil by evil means. If Scripture is right, the world will not be saved by lawless coercion, knowledge, or anything other than regeneration. Regeneration, not revolution, conversion, not coercion, is the Christian way.

There are those, however, who believe that the solution to evil is coercion. They maintain that, because abortion is evil, killing abortionists is legitimate. If they are right, then our Lord and His apostles were wrong, because, living in the great era of abortion other than our own, they did nothing about abortions in the Roman Empire. Their answer to this and other fearful evils and mass murders was not counter-murders, but the gospel. How can these people account for the silence of the New Testament on their “gospel” of counter-murders?

The source of evil is the heart of man, as our Lord said (Matt. 15:19). The restraint of evil men is the task of the state; the conversion of evil men is the task of the church and of Christian society. Too often in our time, the response to evils such as abortion is either indifference or violence, neither of which is godly. There are enough evils already at work in the world without ostensible Christians adding to them.

Our Lord’s requirements, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” is a summons to us, first, not to add to the day’s evil by committing further offenses in His name; second, it requires of us positive action to promote the work of redemption and to replace humanistic ordinances with the law of God.

Can we be amazed at the growing evils all around us when we look at the professing church? Vast segments of it are in the hands of modernists, whose gospel is humanism, and whose savior is the state. On top of that, many who profess to be faithful Christians have replaced the gospel and regeneration with a plan of coercion.

Where is your hope and mine? Is it to do nothing and thereby supposedly avoid sin, or is it not rather to move ahead with the proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ? If we do not proclaim the saving power of Christ, we will then implicitly or explicitly support the saving power of coercion. The restraining power of the state against evil quickly erodes where the church and Christian community fail to emphasize and further the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. Take your choice: what is the godly plan of action?

DOMINION

  1. Antinomianism Versus Dominion

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 9, January 1980

A contemporary historian raises the question with respect to the early church, “Why were the Christians persecuted?” The Romans pretended that the Christians were refusing to obey minor and trifling rules and regulations out of perversity and rebelliousness. The real issue, Gilles Quispel points out, “was an implicit recognition of the divinity of the state.”

Our Lord did not allow the church to forget this fact. In His letter to the church in Pergamos (Rev. 2:12–17), our Lord reminds the church in Pergamos that they dwelled “even where Satan’s seat is . . . where Satan dwelleth.” These are strong words; they come, moreover, from Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity. Pergamos was a center of emperor worship, of state worship. The Roman state was seen as the divine order; peace on earth meant the prevalence of Roman law and power. “The good life” meant the state-controlled life, a life governed from cradle to grave by the Roman state. Law was not seen as given by God but given by Rome.

Jesus Christ says, to the church in Pergamos, “These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” For us today, the point of this statement is easily missed: our Lord refers to the Roman sword and declares that He, not Rome, carries true authority. The two-edged sword of Rome was a symbol of Roman power and authority, but Jesus Christ calls Pergamos, the center of Roman power in Asia, “Satan’s seat . . . where Satan dwelleth,” and declares that true power and authority are in His hands. Rome, or Satan, has a sword in its hands, and is able to kill, but Christ can slay man, empire, Rome, and Satan with the sword or power in His hand.

Our Lord therefore condemns all who hold to “the doctrine of Balaam,” the false prophet who taught compromise and led Israel into idolatry and fornication. To be a Balaam is to be one who obeys Caesar rather than Jesus Christ.

About the time of our Lord’s birth, Rome’s cynicism began to triumph. The old religions of Rome gave way to the open deification of the state and the emperor. Its plan of salvation became statist power. In 9 b.c., Augustus Caesar dedicated the altar of peace (ara pacis) on the Field of Mars, the god of war. The only peace Rome could imagine or secure was by military force, by means of the subjugation of the peoples at home and abroad. This “peace” meant the suppression and death of all who resisted Rome’s power. Roman salvation thus came to mean submission to the “divine” coercion of Rome. Rome forced the imperial cult on all the empire, and even on its allies. Roman salvation came to mean obliteration by Roman power.

In this situation, real resistance came from only one source, the Christians. The Christians were prepared, and believed in terms of Scripture, that they were required to be obedient to all human authorities in the Lord, i.e., in terms of His law-word and His prior authority. Thus, parents, masters, authorities, and rulers were to be obeyed and honored in their discharge of their God-given duties.

What if the state ceases to be God’s ministry of justice? What if it becomes a terror to good works, rather than to the evil? (Rom. 13:1–5). Their obedience had to be “for conscience sake” (Rom. 13:5), i.e., in obedience to God, because of His Word, for “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). As a result, Christians who are faithful to Scripture have been throughout history the greatest source of principled obedience and principled disobedience, because they act in terms of faithfulness to God in both. Christians move in the certain faith that God’s Word is true when it declares, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). This is not merely a hope or a general promise, but God’s law-word. We can count on it. If we render a false obedience, or a false word in anything, we shall inescapably reap a harvest of judgment. Rome reaped such a harvest, as will the nations of our time also, unless they repent. World history is world judgment from the world king, Jesus Christ.

In our day, as humanism more and more governs the nations of the world, the nations seek increasingly to play god. Now, it is the prerogative of God, and of God alone, to have all things under His jurisdiction. In the Bible, throughout the history of Israel, church and state were kept separate but together under God. Both church and state must serve the Lord, but each in its place, one as the ministry of grace, and the other as the ministry of justice. For either to claim powers and jurisdiction beyond its sphere is a sin. All things must be under the Lord, not under the church nor the state. Many of the evils of history have had their origin in the attempt of church and state to play god over man.

The modern state is dedicated to this goal, to be god walking on earth. A god has total jurisdiction and grants bounties, gratuities, or grace to those under his sway. The state increasingly claims that every area is under its jurisdiction, and any freedom that the church, Christian school, family, college, press, or other agency may possess is dependent on a revocable act of grace by the state. Thus, in 1957, the California State Supreme Court held:

It is fundamental that the payment of taxes has been and is a uniform if not a universal demand of government, and that there is an obligation on the part of the owner of property to pay a tax legally assessed. An exemption from taxation is the exception and the unusual. To provide for it under the laws of this state requires constitutional or constitutionally authorized statutory authority. It is a bounty of gratuity on the part of the sovereign and when once granted may be withdrawn. It may be granted with or without conditions but where reasonable conditions are imposed they must be complied with.

A church organization is in no different position initially than any other owner of property with reference to its obligations to assist in the support of government by the payment of taxes. Church organizations, however, throughout the history of state, have been made special beneficiaries by way of exemptions…

The state not only claims total jurisdiction, but it often demands unquestioning obedience. In a case in Georgia, a state official, in dealing with a church which stood in terms of its God-given freedom as well as the plain wording of state law, cited Romans 13:1–5 as his “justification.” Pastor John Weaver reminded the state officer of Acts 5:29, and cited the following examples of obedience to God rather than man from Scripture:

  1. The midwives refused to obey Pharaoh (Exod. 1:15–22; 2:1–10). Would it have been better for the midwives to have murdered and thus obeyed Pharaoh, or disobey Pharaoh and obey God?
  2. Rahab refused to obey the king’s order and would not deliver up the spies (Josh. 2; Heb. 11:31). God commends Rahab for her “disobedience” and lists her in the hall of the faithful (Heb. 11).
  3. Daniel refused to obey the king’s order and God blessed him greatly (Dan. 1).
  4. The three Hebrew children refused to obey the king’s command and were thrown into a fiery furnace (Dan. 3).
  5. The apostles refused to obey “the law” that forbade them from preaching the gospel and were persecuted, beaten, imprisoned, and killed (Acts 4–6).

In recent years, all too many churchmen have stressed total obedience to the state, while pursuing a radical antinomianism or lawlessness in relation to God and His law. It is not surprising, therefore, that humanism has taken over the reins of power. Antinomianism in effect says of the Lord, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14), while saying to the state, “It is our principle and religious faith that we obey your law rather than God’s.”

Man in all his being, because he is God’s creation, is a law-creature. His life runs on required patterns of food and sleep, work and rest, and his being requires an ordered, patterned life, a law-life. Death is beyond law and structure; the life of a creature is inseparable from it. The only question with respect to the relationship of man to the law is, what law will man live under and obey? Fallen man has chosen humanistic law.

Every non-Christian state will have some form of humanistic law. Humanism believes in salvation by man, and by man’s works and laws. Is there a problem? The answer of humanism is another law, another bureaucratic agency, psychiatry, humanistic reforms, and the like. All involve one or another form of censorship, an external coercion and control, as the means of educating, changing, and/or brainwashing men. But censorship in all its forms does not work, because it cannot change man’s heart. For example, in early America, virtually no laws existed with respect to pornography; the laws have come with the rise of pornography. The earlier absence of legislation did not create pornography any more than the more recent laws have been able to suppress it. The answer to the problem is regeneration and sanctification, not humanistic legislation.

The more we rely on statist legislation to “remedy” a problem, the more power we give to the state, and the less we trust in God’s saving power and His sanctifying laws. When we trust the state, we become dependent upon legislative, bureaucratic, or judicial grace, rather than on the grace of God.

Gaines Post, in Studies in Medieval Legal Thought: Public Law and the State, 1100–1322 (1964), showed that expressions such as public or common utility, welfare, emergency, necessity, and “necessity knows no law,” as well as reasons of state or public welfare, had their origin in Roman law. Their use was to justify extraordinary power and authority. This was in opposition to another belief which held that “[t]he State itself had no rights sui generis,” that the state itself is under law. Similar developments took place in private law to justify necessity, such as using hunger to justify theft. The use of the necessity argument gave private man and the state both a priority over God’s law and a freedom from restraint. The limited exemption given by necessity to private man has been steadily replaced by the necessities of the state. The argument from necessity was to its core humanistic; it held that man’s necessity, as viewed by man, and the state’s necessity, as viewed by the state, overrule all law and all other jurisdictions. The U.S. Federal Register gives us volumes of “necessary” powers for state-determined emergencies.

This should not surprise us. When men see as the “necessary” answer to a problem statist law and coercion rather than God’s saving power and sanctifying law, the state will be the ministry of continuing necessity and emergencies, world without end.

Both church and state, and man in his every sphere, must be bound, however, by the necessity of God’s total Word. The Word of God has ceased to be the necessary and compelling law-word of God for most churchmen. Our emergencies are not seen as sins, the remedy for which is God’s grace and law, but as needs, and the state becomes the purveyor of statist bounty and grace to man in his need. Because we have a non- Biblical view of sin, we have a non-Biblical and statist view of grace.

We are all of necessity nomians, advocates of law, and antinomians, anti-law. The only question is, whose law do we advocate, and whose law do we oppose? All too many today live by the state’s law and grace, and shall perish from it, instead of looking to the Lord and His grace and law.

Grace and law are inseparable. Our salvation in Christ is an act of law: it is Christ’s satisfaction by His atonement of the law and justice of the triune God. As our substitute and representative man, as head of the new humanity, Jesus Christ pays our death penalty from the law. He frees us from the penalty of the law, from the law as an indictment and death sentence, to free us to a way of holiness, the very law of God now written on our hearts and an aspect of our new nature.

As fallen men, we sought salvation by our works. We believed that man, as his own god, could determine, in his private, social, and statist life, good and evil, or establish law, for himself. This was our depravity, and our original sin, our sin in Adam and as members of his humanity or race.

In Jesus Christ, we know by grace that we have been freed from that hostility to the Lord and His law, from antinomianism in relationship to God. We are now antinomians with respect to Satan’s program (Gen. 3:5), and every church or state which seeks to promote and develop Adam’s rebellion against God. The early church, knowing that grace, refused to submit to Caesar’s licensure, regulation, taxation, or control. They grounded their resistance on obedience to God: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” For them, Caesar was an antinomian, in rebellion against Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords. They prayed for Caesar, sought to convert him, obeyed him wherever God’s Word permitted, but they rendered obedience “for conscience sake” only, in terms of God’s Word, never in violation of God’s Word and sovereignty.

The same issue is with us today. The modern state can no more defy Christ the King and survive than could Rome, and the same is true of the church.

Howard Ahmanson has aptly called the 1980s “The Dominion Decade,” because of the rising interest in Christian dominion and reconstruction. Christ the King always has dominion. Let us exercise dominion under Him and in Him, to His praise and glory.

  1. World Salvation Versus World Domination

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 99, July 1988

An error common to many intelligent men is to assume that what they regard as outmoded is therefore obsolete and irrelevant to all other men. Liberals and humanists generally are very prone to this. Thus, they regard nationalism as a relic of past years, but, for better or worse, it is very much with us. All over the world, as in France among the Bretons, in Spain with the Basques, and elsewhere, nationalism is a powerful force. Both Wilson and Lenin assumed in World War I that internationalism was mankind’s future, and their thinking has only created chaos and warfare. Again, people who have forsaken Christianity assume that, because God is dead for them, He is really dead, and that all men will soon attain their own humanistic “wisdom.” Such illusions lead to major conflicts in history.

One of the most powerful and least known racial-nationalistic movements of the past century has been Pan-Turanism, or Pan-Turkism. It began in what is now the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan in the late years of the nineteenth century, among the Azeri Turks of that country. It was intensely anti-Armenian and also anti-Islamic. It dreamed of a Pan-Turan empire from Turkey to the borders of China. The Turkic people in 1920 numbered 40 million to 50 million; they may be twice that number now, no small power. Early in the twentieth century, the Azeris moved against the Armenians; they attacked them for their Christian faith, and, significantly, for “the oppression of the Turkish proletariat by the Armenian capitalists.”

Very early, the Pan-Turanists allied themselves to Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and their power enabled Lenin to triumph. Lenin then liquidated the Pan-Turanist leaders, but about fifteen Soviet republics were created to be small Turkeys, and two provinces of Armenia, Karabagh and Zangezur, 90 percent Armenian in population, were given to Azerbaijan. This helped to keep the Pan-Turanists in line.

Since that time, two major forces have developed as a threat to the Soviet Empire. Pan-Turanism is alive and strong, especially in the area of its birth, Azerbaijan, and hence the murders of Armenians, and the renewed pressure. For Moscow, this is a major threat: it dare not attack so numerous a people, but to tolerate attacks on the Armenians is to invite attacks next against Russians. The other major force is Pan-Islamism among the more conservative elements in Soviet Asia. The Pan-Turanists, like many Turks in Turkey, have dropped Muslim names for ancient Turkish names. The Pan-Turans detest Arabs, Iranians, and Islam generally.

The Pan-Turanists agree with much in Marxism, especially the worst in Soviet tyranny. Zarevand, in United and Independent Turania (1926, 1971), pointed out, “The Turk, a pragmatic type, thinks, not in terms of World Salvation, but of World Domination” (p. 48). This attitude leads to a contempt for Christianity and an affinity to Marxism. As Zarevand noted, “The Turks do not fear God, but that is because they like to play ‘God of Fear’ themselves. One of their favorite boasts is: ‘Biz dunyayi yilder-mishiz’ (We have terrorized the world)” (p. 62).

All the same, Pan-Turanism is essentially an anti-Russian movement; most of the Turanian peoples are under the Soviet regime. They are waiting for the day when they can kill the Russians, the Armenians, and all non-Turkish peoples and establish the Turanian state.

At the same time, the fact remains that, although most Turks in Turkey and Asia were Muslims, their leadership was rejected by Islam. The Ottoman sultans had made themselves the caliphate of Islam, but this was rejected by many groups, i.e., the Moroccans, the Afghans, the Arabs, the Sayyids, the Wahabis, the Durzis, and others. This has not been forgotten. Moreover, the Turks have never believed in equality before the law: no non-Turkish group could have the same status as a Turk.

Pan-Turanism, whose symbols are the horse-tail standard and the shewolf, claims the “right” to possess all lands wherever Turks or Turanians have set foot at any time. This means the Middle East, much of Europe, Siberia, and more.

All this is important to any understanding of what is happening in 1988 in Azerbaijan. Without understanding the Turanian nationalism and its hostility especially to Christianity, there can be no comprehension of the problem in the province of Karabagh. To assume that this is a local conflict, limited to two peoples within a single area, is to miss its significance entirely. The problem is radically racial and religious, centuries old, and it threatens not merely the life of the Soviet Union but many other peoples. It is not a problem which will be resolved by a series of conferences within the Soviet Empire, by the use of troops, or by the presence of more KGB agents.

Men cannot solve racial problems if they deny that racism exists; outlawing racism simply drives the problem underground. Men cannot solve religious conflicts when they fail to recognize the centrality of faith and its governing force.

Even more, men cannot resolve any problem when they refuse to see man as a fallen creature whose actions are governed by his depravity, not by his professed ideals.

Remember, the Turkish contempt for “world salvation” is because they believe in “world domination,” in terrorizing the world. However, the world cannot confront this evil faith because it shares it. Lenin shared it with the leaders of Pan-Turanism, and the Soviet Union continues to apply it.

In the liberal West, world domination is also the goal, despite the façade of democracy and massive foreign aid. The purpose of these liberal strategies is still a world order dominated and controlled by humanism.

Is it any wonder that the West cannot confront or deal with either Pan-Turanism or Marxism? Is it any wonder that minority and majority groups all over the world are ruthlessly victimized by the champions of world domination?

It is significant that godly man in Genesis 1:26–28 is called to exercise dominion (not domination) over the earth, not other men, to develop all things in terms of God’s law-word and to make this earth into God’s realm and domain. Fallen man does not seek dominion, which begins with his salvation and his ability to rule himself, but, rather, the goal of fallen man is domination, to control other people.

In Ephesians 5:21–33, a husband’s godly dominion over his wife is compared to Christ’s ministry and the sacrifice of His life to redeem the church. It is declared to be love: “He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.” This is not domination, yet all too many husbands who call themselves Christian still insist on replacing dominion with domination.

It should not surprise us, therefore, that Christians cannot cope with an evil world given to terror and to domination. Neither should it surprise us that too often the most successful clergymen are those who exercise not dominion but domination, because this is what the world respects.

The ways of the Turko-Tatar world are all too close to the ways of all nations, men, and groups. World domination is the goal. Pan-Turanism glorifies Genghis Khan and his conquests; its ideal is that of their great Khan, to bring “the entire world under Mongol-Tatar domination” (Zarevand, p. 28). People with more sophisticated versions of the same dream will not be able to counteract such movements. If, on top of that, they believe in the goodness of man, themselves especially, they will see every step towards world domination as a step towards world liberation. This was the view of the French minister of public instruction, Jules Ferry (1879–1881). In a speech on July 10, 1870, Ferry said that humanity would be truly emancipated “when humanity appears to us, no longer as a fallen race, stricken with Original Sin . . . but as an endless procession striding on toward the light; then, we feel ourselves part of the great Being which cannot perish, Humanity, continually redeemed, developing, improving; then we have won our liberty, for we are free from the fear of death” (John McManners, Church and State in France, 1870–1914 [1972], p. 49).

Whether we call it Pan-Turanism, Marxism, Humanism, or any other name, such beliefs in world domination really mean world death. They shall not prevail. The ruler of all nations is the Lord of life, Jesus Christ.

  1. Religious Liberty and Dominion

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 64, July 1985

When the Supreme Court, in early June 1985, ruled against prayer in the “public” schools, even if it were silent prayer, there was much jubilation in humanistic circles and some dismay in church responses. Prayer in state schools dedicated to humanism and anti-Christianity was in itself no great advantage. Prayer in these schools for illiteracy and paganism would be inappropriate, as would be mandatory prayers in houses of prostitution. How can there be a blessing on the systematic neglect of the triune God? If faith without works is dead (James 2:14–26), so too is prayer without works. We cannot ask God to bless what is against His will, nor us if we are where we ought not to be.

Some very important issues were raised, however, by the Supreme Court’s decision. Implicit in the Court’s perspective and decision was what the Stockton Record in California made explicit in an editorial on June 6, 1985, “School Prayer Ruling Sound” (p. 12): “The Know-Nothings are at it already, calling the latest Supreme Court ruling on prayer in the schools ‘an act of war against this nation’s heritage.’ The ruling, quite to the contrary, is an affirmation of this nation’s religious heritage. That heritage was religion is a private, personal matter and that government can neither promote nor proscribe its practice.”

It is emphatically true that the U.S. Constitution held “that government can neither promote or proscribe” religious practice on the federal level. In recent years, this has been extended to the states. The premise of this perspective is that God’s Kingdom cannot be controlled by the state. The early church fought for this, as did the medieval church and the modern church. Limits were thereby placed on the power and jurisdiction of the state, limits which the courts now treat as nonexistent. If the church enjoys any immunities, it is viewed as a state grant and subject to statist change and control.

The central evil of the modern view is that “religion is a private, personal matter.” This is a revolutionary idea, a product of the modern era and of revolutionary ideologies. Basic to the Western world has been the premise that, because the God of the Scriptures is the living God, the maker of heaven and earth and all things therein, any attempt to establish man and society apart from Him and His law is suicidal. Because the triune God is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), any attempt to establish anything apart from Him is a lie and a deadly venture (Ps. 127:1; Prov. 8:36). In terms of this, the free exercise of religion is a necessity in order that the wellsprings of human life be nourished, personally and socially.

To say that “religion is a private, personal matter” is to say that it is irrelevant. You and I may enjoy crossword puzzles, but such things are not public concerns, merely private ones.

On the contrary, however, the faith of a people is the most public of all concerns. In a very real sense, the life of the people depends upon its faith. What the state is, as well as its strength and virtue, depends upon the faith and character of the people, and the integrity of the church’s witness. The state can be no stronger than its people and their faith. Our problem in the modern world is that nations confuse strength with armament and with controls over the people.

When the state limits the scope and freedom of Christianity, it limits its own strength and paves the way for its destruction. It is not an accident that the de-Christianization of schools and state since World War II have been followed by a great increase in crime, drug use, illegitimacy, sexual crimes, perversions, pornography, and more.

In this process, it must be noted, the churches have had a great part. By their growing modernism, their socialist gospel, and their faith in statist salvation, they have become gravediggers for both church and state.

Religion is both a public and a private concern. To restrict it to a personal matter is to deny its truth and to deny Christianity religious liberty.

If “religion is a private, personal matter,” then religious liberty has a very narrow scope; the area of religious freedom then, as attorney William Bently Ball has noted, is the distance between our two ears. If “religion is a private, personal matter,” then it has no legitimate place on the public scene. It should then be barred, as the courts have progressively done, from the schools, the state, and all public agencies.

Of course, what is not barred is the new established religion, humanism. It is the new public faith, and its articles of faith are routinely affirmed by public figures as a public duty. The obscurantists deny that humanism exists or dominates; this does not say much for their honesty.

The Stockton Record went on to say, “It is a misreading of the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision on organized prayer in public schools and its ruling this week to suggest the court has banned prayer in public schools. It has only prohibited government involvement in a private matter. Anyone can silently pray any time, any place and for any reason; government cannot suggest such prayer or ban it.”

Again, this limits religious freedom to a purely private and personal realm. Such editorial writers are silent when Christian homeschool parents, and Christian schools, are on trial. Court-ordered testing has repeatedly demonstrated the far greater scholastic achievements of such students, but the courts show no regard for their religious freedom. Do such people really believe in religious freedom for Christians? The past decade has seen the persecution and at times imprisonment of pastors and parents. The press, which heralded this recent Supreme Court decision, has usually been silent in these other cases. Is this not hypocrisy? And how long will the state respect freedom of the press when it destroys freedom of religion? The press, by approving the court’s growing fascism, is preparing the way for its own destruction.

The Stockton Record quoted Justice John Paul Stevens (our John Paul III?) as insisting, in the majority opinion of the Court, that school prayer violates the “established principle that the government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion.” The state can have such a neutrality only after the Court can negate gravity and float in space as it renders its godlike decisions! The state rests on law; all law is enacted morality and represents as such a religious foundation and a religious faith about good and evil, right and wrong. Neutral laws cannot exist. Laws against murder rest on the premise that man is created in God’s image and must live by God’s law.

Peter J. Ferrara, in The Wall Street Journal (“Reading Between the Lines of the School-Prayer Decision,” June 11, 1985, p. 32), said: “The fact that a moment of silence is inherently neutral between prayer and other forms of meditation or contemplation should have been sufficient for the court to uphold the Alabama law. The majority’s suggestion that students would somehow be bullied into praying by the history of the Alabama statute or the expressed hope by some legislators that students would use the time to pray, surpasses fantasy. Moreover, in straining so mightily to hold the statute unconstitutional, the court communicated a message to the public of hostility to religion.”

In this century, we have seen a massive persecution of various religions (Buddhists in Tibet, Jews in the Soviet Union, Muslims in Albania, Bahá’ís in Iran), but most of all of Christianity. The Marxist states have, since World War I, slaughtered millions; Turkey massacred Christian Armenians and Greeks; Africa has seen countless massacres in recent years, as has southeast Asia; Cuba has persecuted Christians, as have many other states. The Christian victims number into many tens of millions. The world press has been largely silent on these matters, and increasingly so.

In fact, many editorial writers act and write on the premise that Christians are persecuting them when they protest such treatment! This should not surprise us: a bully with a bad conscience hates and resents his victims because he knows their presence is an indictment of him. I was told of a schoolyard bully who loved to pick on and mercilessly pummel boys smaller than himself. Then, as he started to leave, he would turn on his victim, or a bystander, saying, “You don’t like it, do you?” and, whatever the answer, beat up on them at once. Not even an unspoken dissent is tolerable to a bully. The bully press has a very loud voice, and it knows that its enemies have a very small one.

The new definition of religious liberty is tailor-made to destroy Christianity. By reducing its freedom to “a private, personal” realm, it is doing what the Soviet Union has done. This kind of “religious freedom” exists in the Soviet Union. Practically, it means that parents cannot speak about their faith to their children. In some states of the United States, parents can be jailed for educating their own children, i.e., by applying their Christian faith to education. In the Soviet Union, husband and wife are often silent about their faith one to another; in a time of trouble, such knowledge can be used against them.

As the Soviet Union defines religious liberty, i.e., as a private personal matter, it can and does boast of its record of religious freedom. What faith men hold between their two ears, they are free to hold!

But Christianity cannot be so restricted. It governs our lives, our marriages, our children, our homes, our schools, our churches, our civil governments, our vocation, the arts, the sciences, and all things else. It governs them by governing us and making us instruments of God’s law and order. It makes us dominion men so that God’s Kingdom is manifested in and through us.

To do this, Christian faith transforms old institutions into new ones and creates new agencies for the new life. It can only do this if our faith is for us a personal and a public concern, the way of life for man and for society. If Christianity does not do this, it perishes.

This is what our Lord means when He says, “I am come to send fire on the earth” (Luke 12:49). What He gives is not a purely private and personal matter: it is a transforming power which will destroy what needs destruction, renovate what needs renovation, and build what needs to be built and established.

The Lord declares, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Where men prefer their ways to God’s justice, they will resent and wage war against God’s remaking of all things. Because they see themselves as their own gods, and man as his own source of law (Gen. 3:5), they want no part of the faith. They will seek to suppress and destroy it without being honest enough to say so.

This should not surprise us. It is logical on the part of unbelievers. It has been this way all through history.

The important question is this: what will those who call themselves Christians do about this? Will they be silent, “mummified” churchmen, as General William Booth described them, or will they be the Lord’s dominion men?

  1. False Religions

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 69, December 1985

The writer, Michael Hamburger, in his poems (Weather and Season, 1963), declares at one point, surveying the seeming meaninglessness as well as the evils in the world, “Amid such omens how dare we live?” In another poem, he says, “How mind abhors a circle. Let there be laws.” Countless other writers in varying ways give witness to the need for a governing religious faith to provide meaning to life.

The critical problem is, which religion? Fallen man, left to himself, recognizes the need for order and meaning; he knows that a religion, a faith for living, is a necessity. Because of his fallen nature, however, man creates religions in his own image, in terms of his revolt against God and his desire to redefine justice in terms of his own will. As a result, the world is full of false religions.

Apart from the supernatural grace of God, man cannot know true religion; he will only reproduce and refine the false religion of the Fall, his desire to be his own god, knowing or determining good and evil, right and wrong, and establishing all law for himself (Gen. 3:5).

The problem is further complicated by the fact that, as converted men, we often carry unconverted areas of thinking into our lives in Christ. The theme song of many seems to be, “Partially converted, Lord, I am Thine. Heal and make me, partially Thine.” Too many want all that Christ can give together with all that they want. False religions are served by this fact. We cannot say, “Thy will be done, O Lord, except when I want mine.” (In many churches, too, it can be said that every heart is converted, but very few pocketbooks are. Ask any pastor.)

In brief, people want religion and they want salvation on their terms. We can view religion as our life-support system, or as the way to glorify God and to serve and enjoy Him forever.

Prominent among the false religions of history is politics. Now, civil government is a Biblical concern and an area of ministry. Paul declares that all rulers are primarily and essentially “ministers” or “deacons” of God (Rom. 13:4). Civil government is a ministry of justice and an important area of Christian service.

The problem arises when men see the state as the way to social salvation. The messianic state then begins to claim jurisdiction over every area of life and thought as the legitimate lawmaker and savior thereof. The modern state everywhere seeks this totalitarian (and humanistic) goal, and the result is an accelerating tyranny. In church and state cases, I am increasingly hearing judges insist that no religious freedom is at stake, merely a question of compliance or noncompliance with an act of the state, a regulation, or a law. The premise of the state as justice is also increasingly prominent. The state has at times been just, but history gives more evidences of statist injustice.

Liberals and radicals see the answer to current inequities as more power to the state, and this solution is powerfully furthered by most of the media. The statist solution is seen as morally correct, so that all who challenge the growth of statist power are somehow insensitive and morally wrong. In the minds of many, a link is being forged between true morality and the increasing powers of the state.

Is the alternative the solution? Was Jefferson right in declaring that the best government is the least government? Given the growing and oppressive powers of the state, it is tempting to think so. Without all the oppressive regulating and taxing agencies, how much easier our lives would be! Or would they? I once lived for some years in an area of very minimal state-policing powers, and the results were fearful. The more sinful man is, the more dangerous he is, with statism or without statism. Statism is a false religion which sees the state as god walking on earth. But to see a limited state as the answer is to forget that sin comes essentially from man, not primarily from the state! The old proverb is true: you can’t make a good omelette with bad eggs. Whether you have a big omelette or a small omelette, a power state or a very limited state, bad eggs are bad eggs, and bad men are bad men. It is false religion to believe that a rearrangement of the state apparatus will give us better men.

This is definitely not to say that it is irrelevant what kind of civil government we should have. It would be morally wrong, too, for us to say that civil government is not an area of Christian concern and calling. Rather, just as our place is under God and His law, so too is the place of civil government. Politics is not the means to salvation but an area where the godly can exercise dominion under God.

Another false religion of our time is economics. There are all too many who believe in economic solutions to the world’s problems. This is not to deny that many of our problems are in the sphere of economics. However, no more than the fact that a man has troubles with his job means that the job is at fault, do problems in the economic sphere necessarily have an economic cause.

All too many intellectuals of the modern era have held and believed that socialism or communism is the solution to man’s economic problems. The fact that every socialist state is a disaster does not trouble these people. In their view, if men would only try their brand of socialism, all would be well. In our time, economics is an area of particularly fanatical beliefs and believers.

There is here also an alternative, the free market. Very clearly, history does give us a remarkable account of the social advances brought in by the free market; it is one of history’s more remarkable stories. Given the results, why have men turned against the free market? Is it possible (perish the thought!) that man can be illogical? (One is tempted to say, the better our mind, the greater our capacities to be illogical! Can any equal intellectuals in bad logic? Ability magnifies all our errors.)

But men have again and again destroyed the free market and all its beneficent products. This should not surprise us. A free market requires free men, and the lovers of slavery demolish every threat of freedom. Economics cannot be free if men do not cherish and value freedom.

For me, an unforgettable recollection from the early 1960s is the lecture by an economist to a university audience on freedom. This scholar’s book on liberty is still in print. He was shocked when the first question raised by a student was this: “What’s so important about freedom?” The student regarded freedom as of minimal value, and almost all the students agreed.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that most men are not hypocrites when they profess to want freedom. Freedom, like religion, is more than a matter of verbal profession; it is a characteristic of our lives. Freedom does not stand alone; it goes hand in hand with other things such as responsibility, the courage to face risks, and more. The riskless life is a slave life, and the welfare state is a slave state. A slave people will create a slave state, and no free market will be other than destroyed by them.

Thus, economics, like politics, can become a false religion if we believe that economic arrangements can create the good society. Here, as in every other sphere, there is a right and a wrong economically, but the success of good economics depends on good men.

Christians as free men in Christ have a calling in economics, but it is an area for dominion, not a means to salvation. A good society begins with men in a good relationship to Jesus Christ who then in terms of the Lord exercise dominion in every sphere. To neglect economics is deadly dangerous; to expect from it what only God can supply is a sin.

Moreover, we can add that the church is no more the exclusive sphere of religion than are politics and economics. The primary locale of religion is in the life of man. Our life and our faith must be inseparable and united. Our faith must be more than what we believe; it must also be what we live.

Neither politics nor economics have given us nor can give us world peace. Bad eggs never make good omelettes, and at the heart of our world’s problems is the fallen heart of man.

Another false religion is modern education. Here, too, we encounter amazing fanaticism. Many hold that the solution to the world’s problems is education. Are there sexual problems among youth? Education has the answer, we are told, and the result is sex education. (Really now, the subject of sex deserves better than what statist schools are doing with it! This is no laughing matter, say the experts, so they are turning it into a crying matter!) Is crime increasing? We need to spend more money on education, and then we can solve the problem. Education has for many become the great way of salvation for man and society.

Going back to basic education is surely good, but not of itself. Phonics will again teach children to read, but is a barbarian who reads any the less a barbarian? Knowledge is clearly good, but has knowledge made our professors any better than the rest of the population? Do professors have a lower percentage of moral and mental problems than do farmers? We cannot neglect education, and the works of a liberal, Jonathan Kozol, have given us a telling report and analysis on how bad our schools really are. But education per se is not a way of salvation; it is a marvelous tool for faith and living when governed by a sound premise, but it can be and commonly is a false religion.

Certainly for Horace Mann and his associates it was a religion, and a messianic one. Mann expected public schools to create a better man and a better world. He was confident, with all the confidence of those early New England Unitarians, that his kind of school would eliminate crime, and, in time, save the world. We live in the shambles of the world created by the Horace Manns of the past two centuries, and it is not a very pleasant prospect. Clearly, education has often been and still is a false religion.

There are so many kinds of false religions — more than we can take the space to discuss — but we should mention art. Many are convinced that art will civilize and elevate man, and, in many cities, the arts have become the new religion for many prominent women. How eagerly they work “to make the world a better place to live in” with their sponsorship of the arts. I once heard a woman speak of the ghetto classes in painting and dancing she and others were sponsoring; she was sure it would create better children and bring culture to the ghetto. Well, some children were no doubt entertained, and perhaps an occasional child found a calling, but cultural activities become false religions when we seek to transform society through them.

False religions all expect more of man than man can ever give; they are men at work, and their works manifest their limitations and their sin.

The meaning of true religion comes out clearly in the last question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism: “What is the meaning of the word ‘Amen’? Amen means: So shall it truly and surely be, for my prayer is much more certainly heard of God than I feel in my heart that I desire these things of Him.” How intensely we sometimes desire and pray for certain things! Yet we are told that God’s hearing our prayers, and His concern for us, far, far exceeds any desires on our part. Jesus Christ is God’s assurance of that fact. In true religion, more power and wisdom are always at work in us and around us than we can ever fathom or imagine.

  1. The Roots of Environmentalism

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 118, February 1990

Environmentalism has become a religion for many, and world salvation is seen as dependent on the environmentalist’s gospel. Salvation by means of man’s control of the environment is an increasingly militant faith held by many. It is, moreover, a very anti-Christian faith.

Biblical laws give us regulations concerning sanitation, the care of Sabbaths of the land, the protection of trees, and more, and a remarkable record of reclamation and conservation marks church history. Desert areas of Europe were made productive, dikes were built, and amazing acts of changing the face of the continent performed by the medieval monks and their successors. The environmentalists, however, see Christian man as the destroyer and so-called primitive man as the preserver. They choose to ignore the fact that tribesmen regularly burned vast tracts of forests and lands to drive animals towards them for an easy kill.

The roots of environmentalism are in the fall of man. Adam and Eve both pleaded not guilty to their sin on the grounds that someone in their environment made them do it. Adam, for example, blamed both Eve and God: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Gen. 3:12). Men and women ever since have been ready to blame one another, or God, or their environment, for their sins. One of the most common of all statements that I have heard from sinners in counseling sessions is this: “Well, that’s the way God made me; my wife (or, my husband) will have to take me as I am.” I cannot believe that God will take lightly the habit of many in making Him the scapegoat for their sins.

Essential to this perspective is, first of all, a refusal to be responsible. Someone else is to blame, ultimately God. The Bible depicts man as made in the image of God, and created to be a responsible creature, although a sinner because of the Fall. Environmentalism views man as a victim, a product of his environment, except where it chooses to blame man, as we shall see.

Second, this refusal to be responsible means a refusal to acknowledge guilt. The premise is, “I am not guilty.” My parents, my environment, my heredity, my race, i.e., something in my world is responsible for my sin. Someone or something above, below, or around me is guilty. I am a product of their influences. Clarence Darrow, in defending the murderers Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold for the murder of Robert Franks, said, “They killed him because they were made that way. Hence, they were not to blame for it.” He added, “Is Dickey Loeb to blame because out of the infinite forces that conspired to form him, the infinite forces that were at work producing him ages before he was born, that because out of these infinite combinations he was born without it (i.e., without ‘emotional feeling’)? If he is, then there should be a new definition of justice . . . Is he to blame that his machine is imperfect?” Darrow was actually eliminating any possible definition of justice by denying human responsibility. (The Plea of Clarence Darrow, August 22nd, 23rd and 25th, 1924, in Defense of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, Jr. on Trial for Murder [Chicago, IL, 1924], p. 55). Darrow insisted on an environmental and hereditarian causality which totally eliminated personal responsibility. Darrow actually questioned whether man has a mind; everything depends “on infinite chances” (ibid., p. 67). It was all due to “some sort of chemical alchemy” (ibid.) Such thinking has had a powerful influence on the Western world. Man is simply a reflux product, not a responsible being.

This leaves open a question. Where in this vast chain of causes is blame to be fixed? Who is guilty? This led, third, to affixing blame on God, the Creator, on civilization, meaning Christian civilization by Rousseau and his followers, and in blaming in each case “the old order.” In France, Russia, and elsewhere, God and the old order were to blame. For many now, the “old order” is capitalism: therefore, whatever the ills of nature or society, capitalism is to blame. The definition of the “victim” is now limited to a segment of humanity who, because of their membership in the “old order,” are somehow responsible for all evils. In the new demonology, they are the total cause of all the world’s problems, and the rest of humanity are their innocent victims.

This means, fourth, that environmentalism has close links with Phariseeism, with an elitist mentality which sees itself as the self-chosen arbiter of all society. The environmentalists speak as the voice of truth and as the hope of the world. They believe that man can destroy the world — other men, that is — and only they can save it. There is an amazing arrogance in the environmentalist belief that man is capable of destroying the earth. It is an assumption that humanistic man is the new god, with vast capabilities of creation and destruction.

Then, fifth, environmentalism has close links with many ungodly thinkers. The ties to Rousseau are very great, but we must not forget Albert Schweitzer and his pantheism. Schweitzer’s doctrine of reverence for life placed equal value on an earthworm as on a man’s life. For him, killing deadly bacteria to save a dying man was an unhappy compromise. Many environmentalists are ready to sacrifice other men to “save” the environment. The goal in their thinking is a new world Eden which is virtually free of people. For them, the restoration of purity means the restoration of nature to an imagined prehuman estate, with themselves as the caretakers. Babies can be aborted, but rattlesnakes cannot by killed. Like Marx and Lenin, these people are utopians. Lenin believed that revolution would free mankind for an era of unlimited prosperity: he had no program for “liberated” Russia. The Soviet structure he borrowed hastily from an American socialist, Daniel de Leon.

Sixth, the environmentalists share with the socialists a static view of wealth: there is so much wealth in the world, and no more, and the capitalists control it. Seize that wealth, and all men will be free and prosperous. They fail to understand that wealth requires intelligent work and thrift, and a development of the earth’s natural resources. The entire planet is a gigantic mass of natural wealth, and we have barely scratched its resources. Just as in the last days of Rome, when many believed that the earth’s resources were exhausted, so, too, many now make the same assumption. We are rather approaching the dawn of resource development and wealth, not its end.

The static view of wealth is applied to strange areas. For about a century and a half, some Americans have calculated and predicted the death of all American forests. The fallacy in their calculations has been a failure to reckon trees as a renewable resource. Trees are cut down, and other trees grow and take their place. The alarmist predictions of several generations have proven false, but this does not trouble these people. Fanatical in their humanistic faith, they are determined to compel all men by law into their particular religious beliefs. Their excuse is that the future of man requires it.

Of course, all persecutors have reasons which they find very compelling. Their necessities, however, are somewhat unrelated to reality.

Can man do damage to his portion of the earth? Of course he can, and men have done it, over and over again in history. At the same time, other men have reclaimed such areas. The sad fact is that where farming and foresting are concerned, these people, the environmentalists, can only chronicle the negative aspects of the scene. Nothing is said about the great advances in knowledge and practice.

Environmentalism is a religious faith, and it is a false religion. The Biblical requirement is that we recognize that the earth is the Lord’s, the fullness thereof, and all things therein (Ps. 24:1–2), and it must be governed by His law-word. It is our calling to subdue the earth and to develop it as God’s stewards. We are accountable to Him for it, as for all things else. There is a vast world of difference between environmentalism and godly stewardship, and we had better recognize it.

  1. The Future Is the Lord’s

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 18, December 1980

Peter F. Drucker, in Managing in Turbulent Times (Harper & Row, 1980), calls attention to some very significant facts about the Soviet Union. He believes that only a bold man will predict that the Soviet Union will still be in existence by the year 2000. European Russia has the world’s lowest birthrate, whereas Asiatic Russia has a very high one and will have a population predominance.

Other sources have added to this forecast. Asiatic Russia is predominantly Muslim, and, very soon, the Soviet Union will be the world’s major Muslim power. There will be internal problems by 1985, as the army faces the consequences of the low birthrate among European Russians. The draftees will begin to be more and more Islamic; getting them to obey European officers will be a problem.

Alexandre A. Bennigsen and S. Enders Wimbush, in Muslim National Communism in the Soviet Union: A Revolutionary Strategy for the Colonial World (University of Chicago Press, 1979), trace the history of Muslim communism. From the days of Lenin, the Muslim communists were nationalists and strongly (in most cases) Islamic. They saw Marxism as a means of dealing “a death blow to Europe.” Many religious leaders among the Muslims agreed with this. The end of European supremacy could be effected by means of Marxism, and the Muslim nations freed to pursue their course. “A significant number of Muslim leaders did lend their support to the revolutionary forces during the Civil War” (p. 31). These nationalistic Muslim communists were suppressed by Lenin and his successors, but their population increase, and the decline of the European Russian birthrate, have revived new currents of Muslim hope for the overthrow of Europe, including Soviet Russia. An oftenheard warning from Asiatic Soviet Muslims to Russians in the streets of Central Asia is, “Wait until the Chinese come. They will show you!” The Russian leadership of the Soviet Union is aging and approaching senility. Population trends are destroying the Russian character of the Soviet Union and giving it a Turkic and Muslim character. After World War I, Turkey strongly promoted Pan-Turanian ideas, i.e., a union of all the Turkic peoples to create a great world power. This is an alternate theme to a pan-Islamic power. The Armenian massacres were an aspect of this Pan-Turanian dream.

Add to this factor within the Soviet Union an external factor, the rise of Muslim nationalism and Marxism outside of the Soviet Union, in Asia, the Near East, and North Africa, and you have all the ingredients for social turbulence, war, and revolution.

There is, however, a grim nemesis to Muslim hopes in the very nature of their faith. Bennigsen and Wimbush mention in passing “the ‘past-centered awareness’ which is common to most Muslims (in contrast to Christian awareness which projects a ‘Golden Age’ in the future” pp. 98–99). Iran is good evidence of this fact. The revolutionists in Iran dream of a golden age, in the mythical Islam of Ali, a time long-gone and more a product of imagination than reality. Moreover, their concern has been more with “the sins of the Shah” than with current and pressing problems. This past-bound nature of Muslim faith and thought gives it a proneness to hope and denunciation where work and action are needed.

But this is not all. Not only is Islam past bound, but, we must add, paralyzed because its concept of power and progress is a bureaucrat’s dream. Islam sees unity and government from the top down. Mohammed was strongly drawn to the Biblical doctrine of the Kingdom of God, of God’s rule over the world, and this is what Islam purports to be. However, from the beginning this kingdom was seen as coming by imposition from above, by military conquest, centralized rule, and concentrated authority. The result was a caliph, or powerful Muslim rulers, who concentrated all power in their hands. In Turkey, Baghdad, Iran, and elsewhere, it meant autocratic rule. Whereas in the Christian world, the revolutionary direction of history was to challenge centralized power in church and state, and to base the faith in the heart of man, the Islamic tendency was and is to equate strength with centralized power.

The triumph of Christian theological development, as it appeared in the West, was to formulate the creed into an intensely personal form, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, etc.” Whether recited with two or three, or with thousands, each believer in the Western tradition says, “I believe.” It is personal. This is in line with Scripture, where the first required confession began with the personal pronoun: “A Syrian ready to perish was my father,” or “My father was a wandering Aramean” (Deut. 26:5). This confession concluded, “And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me” (Deut. 26:10). The emphasis is particular and personal in Scripture.

“Progress” in paganism, and in Islam, was spasmodic and superficial; it depended on a superior ruler, and it usually ended with his death. It had no roots in the life of the people. The Muslim revolution thus has no future because it is too past-bound, and too authoritarian.

Having said this, however, it is necessary to add that our world today is reproducing this same evil. The answers of statism are sterile and rootless, seeking to remake man from the top down. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy spoke of John Dewey and his philosophy as the Chinafication of America, i.e., as the reproduction of all the evils of old China and its radical relativism. We can similarly speak of the growing centralization and bureaucratization of the Western nations as a reproduction of the narrow and decadent world of old Turkey, of the harem world and the intriguing eunuchs who ran the empire.

To command the future and to exercise dominion in the Lord’s name, it is urgently necessary for Christians to recognize the essential nature of Christian self-government to freedom, the function of the tithe in godly reconstruction, and the necessity for the Christian dominion man to take back government from the state.

Marxism has no future, nor does Islam. Similarly, humanistic statism is declining and perishing. The Marxist Muslims are right in seeing its days as numbered. The Christian must separate himself from humanistic statism, its schools and ways. The summons is, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). The future is the Lord’s, and only ours in Him.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

  1. Faith and Understanding

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 221, February 1998

St. Anselm is one of the great but neglected men in the history of philosophy. Anselm (1033–1109), born of a noble family in Aosta, Lombardy, made his mark in the culture of monasteries, and later became archbishop of Canterbury. In his day, the monasteries, long central to thinking, were shortly to give way to the universities, and the result was also seen in a shift in presuppositions, to an Aristotelian foundation. Thus the work of a great theologian and philosopher did not receive the attention it deserved. Anselm was profoundly Pauline in his theology, and he has been called the last of the church fathers, and “the second Augustine.”

In various areas, notably the doctrine of the atonement, he is the key orthodox theologian. In philosophy, his premise was, credo ut intelligam, I believe in order that I might understand.

As against this, Abelard, an Aristotelian, sought to understand in order to believe. Whereas for Anselm faith precedes understanding, for Abelard (1079–1142) understanding must precede faith; rationalism must establish what we can believe. For Abelard, all things must be brought to the bar of reason for verification, whereas Anselm began with the Christian faith; for him a basic faith, premise, or presupposition must undergird all reason. For Abelard, because of his rationalism, free will was basic because reason gave to man a sovereign autonomy of judgment. Every teaching of the church should be doubted until its truth is ascertained.

But Abelard had begun with faith, although he did not quite say so. Abelard’s faith was in rationalism rather than in God and His enscriptured Word. Now, Abelard held that he could prove the dogmas of the church by means of rationalism, but, in so doing, he shifted the center of authority from God to man’s rationality. Anselm was the more profound philosopher and reasoner; but, by opposing rationalism, he came to be viewed by some as simply a confuser of issues. For rationalism, knowledge is obtained by reason, which has a higher authority than sense perception and especially more than revelation. The empiricist will use rationalistic means to accompany his sense perception; like the rationalist, he is independent of external authority, God in particular.

For Anselm, no more than a blind man can see the light, can a man without faith know God. Anselm was not always consistent in his presuppositionalism, but his basic premise bore fruit later in John Calvin, and in his followers. In the United States, Cornelius Van Til has been the great figure in this presuppositionalist school of thought.

For presuppositonalists, no more than the Bible tries to “prove” God does the theologian or philosopher try to do so. God is the foundation of all reasoning and proof. The scientist Harold Clayton Urey (b. 1893), a chemist, once noted, “Not one of the existing theories about the origin of the world does work without the presupposition of a miracle.” The evolutionist must presuppose, with the rationalist, billions and trillions of miracles.

Dmitri Kessel and Henri Peyre, in Splendors of Christendom (1961) — a book given to me by my associate, Andrew Sandlin — carry this quotation from the American writer, Allen Tate: “Man is a creature that in the long run has got to believe in order to know, and to know in order to do.” Tate’s comment echoes Anselm, Calvin, and the Puritans. It is commonplace to characterize the culture of the United States as pragmatism. This is a truncated observation. The Puritan theology echoed Anselm and Calvin. It gave faith the priority, and its intense practicality came from its abandonment on the popular level of all rationalism in favor of action. Paul, in Romans 2:13 declares, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (see also James 1:23–27; 2:20–26). The basic premise of Christian Reconstruction is this emphasis on faith with works, “to know in order to do,” in Tate’s words.

The sterility of rationalism is that its goal is debate and more debate, contentiousness as a way of life. It produces monumental works of reasoning, and little more. Men cannot be reasoned into heaven, although they can be put to sleep.

Rationalism shifts the center from God and His law-word, His summons to believe and obey, to man as rationalist, sitting in judgment upon God and man. The arrogance of rationalism is its assumption that man the philosopher can sit in judgment over God and man, and all things else. We cannot be Christian on our terms, only on God’s terms. Our conversion is not the result of a bargain with God, but rather our total submission on His terms only. Man is a creature, God’s creature, and he must use his reason to think God’s thoughts after Him, not to attempt to establish what God has already ordained, not to seek to provide independent premises for knowledge.

For Calvin, man’s conscience has a noetic function; it is an aspect of God’s witness in man’s being whereby man, even in his depravity, knows the judgment of God. Sin and conscience both have their noetic effect; they shape man’s knowledge and his relationship to God. Rationalism creates an artificial man, one in whose being neither sin nor conscience have any part. Such a man does not exist.

  1. The Use and Abuse of Worship and Prayer

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 127, November 1990

An historic distinction in law, dealing with the responsibility of man for accidents, is rapidly disappearing. Traditionally, the law has recognized two categories of catastrophe beyond the control of man: “acts of God,” defined as natural disasters, and “inevitable accidents,” disruptions caused by other forces beyond the power of any human to foresee or overcome with ordinary prudence.

The loss of these distinctions has been very obvious in some recent accidental oil spills; men and corporations have been held to be criminally liable for accidental events. In one case, metal tanks opened up; the liability was not ascribed to the steel company, or the tank builder, but to the oil company because it had more money. In any case, accidental events and acts of God are disappearing from law, being replaced by a belief that some man or company must be guilty in all such cases. This should not surprise us. If God is remote to us, or no longer believed in, then no acts of God are real to us anywhere. All we have are acts of men.

This was one of the deadliest aspects of paganism, this belief in exclusive human responsibility. For this reason, for example, doctors in antiquity, in Greece and elsewhere, were usually slaves. If the patient died, the doctor died.

There were remnants of this belief among the Indians in my missionary days. The peyote medicine men were adept at avoiding responsibility. When they saw that a patient was going to die, they took strong exception to any comment by a family member, got them into passionate argument, and then told them to take the patient to the white man’s hospital if they did not trust him. The patient then died in the hospital, the peyote medicine man was vindicated, and the white doctor had another black mark on his record!

This paganism is reviving all around us. We see it with attitudes concerning oil spills, floods, medical practice, politics, and more. We also see it with respect to prayer.

True prayer acknowledges the sovereignty and omnipotence of God. Its heart is: Thy will be done (Luke 22:42). It does not put its confidence in nagging God, techniques in prayer, prayer chains and large numbers imploring the Lord, but in God’s grace and mercy. Prayer cannot be a substitute for obedience and action but must be their companion. When Joshua prayed earnestly after the defeat at Ai, God ordered him to get up and correct the evil in Israel (Josh. 7:10–11).

We must beware, in talking about “the power of prayer,” of this dangerous habit of transferring power from God to our praying. The efficacy of prayer rests not in our praying but in God; He can give us our request or deny it in His sovereign wisdom. The focus of prayer must always be on the acts of God, never on our act of praying, or how many we enlist in passionate prayer. To pray assuming that the power to gain, change, or alter things depends on our prayer, or how we pray, and how many unite with us in prayer, is to transfer the center from God to man. We then look, not to the act of God, but to the acts of men.

When men claim too much power, they also at the same time tend to deny their responsibility. This should not surprise us. When Adam sought to be his own god, he at the same time denied his responsibility for his actions (Gen. 3:4ff.). Then, too, we over-rate Satan. As Flip Wilson used to say, “The devil made me do it!” We are sinful enough to sin on our own without any help from the devil! John Donne astutely wrote on our habit of “tempting Satan to tempt us.”

One of the clear reasons for the powerlessness of many churches and believers comes from this habit of overrating what prayer, man, and the church can do and underrating God. One of the blasphemous things common in some circles is what amounts to bragging about how God answers their prayers, as though it is their merit, or their prayer know-how, that brought the answers rather than the grace and mercy of God. In some communities, special prayer groups are regarded as super-pipelines to God: to get results, call their number. This is painfully sad. “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:18). These qualifications we can all meet and be near to God.

But men love their forms, their pipelines! Their way of access means, they believe, power with God. This is true of worship as well as prayer. I recall some years ago the strong disagreement in some areas between the old German Reformed churches and those of Dutch origin. The Germans, who came early to the Western states, lived on isolated farms where roads were few; going to church was a major trek, and hence services were held once each Sunday; the Dutch, coming later to better roads, worshipped twice each Lord’s Day, and each found fault with the other. In the South, one Baptist group of churches, deep in the woods in early America, came together once a month for a day of worship, and they still maintain this custom (with family worship at home the other Sundays). Many like examples can be cited of variations in worship, in forms of worship, times, numbers of services, etc. Too many churches attach efficacy to their form rather than to the Lord they worship. “Our” form becomes a means of clobbering others, and loyalty to forms remains when doctrine and faith are eroded. I can still remember the righteous indignation of a woman, about thirty-seven years ago, on being invited by a neighbor to a Presbyterian church. She made it very, very clear that she had no use for Christianity, for preachers and priests, for churches (“a racket”) and for church people. “Besides,” she added in conclusion, “I’m an Episcopalian.”

Neither worship nor prayer can command God. They are, rather, our necessary response to His salvation and His continuing grace and mercy. Because God “is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands,” it follows that “to him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience, he is pleased to require of them” (Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 2.2). Angels, who need nothing, still worship God (Rev. 5:12–14). The essence of true worship is seen in the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3). Least of all can we make ourselves those “other gods.”

“Prayer is to be made for things lawful” and can be made in any place and at any time where it is done “in spirit and in truth.” Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Tim. 2:1); and, that it may be accepted, is to be made in the name of the Son (John 14:13–14; 1 Pet. 2:5), by the help of the Spirit (Rom. 8:26; Eph. 6:18), according to His will (1 John 5:14), with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance (Gen. 18:27; Ps. 47:7; Eph. 6:18; Heb. 12:28; James 5:16; etc.); and, if vocal, in a known tongue (1 Cor. 14:14). So declares the Westminster Confession of Faith in Chapter 21.

Worship and prayer must be both God-centered. To shift the focus to man and his forms is to stress the acts of man rather than the acts of God.

Now, in sound law as in good theology there is emphatically a place for both the acts of God and the acts of man. We cannot eliminate either one. We are responsible creatures. The acts of man are important in God’s sight. Adam’s act in revolting against God has continuing effects all around us. Our problem today is that God’s sovereignty and priority are overlooked in all spheres, beginning with worship and prayer. The forms of our worship and prayer are important and valid only if their focus is God-centered, and only if they are faithful to His requirements as established in His law-word. Nothing we are, or do, or establish can be the norm or the center. The power center is not man, nor our prayer, nor our churches, although God can and does use all these things and more.

The prophet Amos reminded Israel that, however much He had used them, they were no different in His eyes than the Ethiopians, the Philistines, and the Syrians (Amos 9:7), and He could tomorrow use any one of them. He can tomorrow set us and our nations aside for a people we do not know. We cannot control God; He controls us. We dare not therefore be arrogant in prayer or worship.

  1. Against Much Praying

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 91, November 1987

One of the familiar and very much neglected comments by our Lord has to do with prayer. We are commanded to pray, and to pray quietly, without ostentation, and “in secret,” i.e., not to publicize our praying. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). Note that repetitions are not forbidden, but vain repetitions are. The widow in our Lord’s parable was much given to intense repetition (“Avenge me of mine adversary”), but it was not vain repetition but rather a repeated and passionate prayer for justice (Luke 18:1–8). He condemns “much speaking” or praying which has as its purpose a desire to impress God.

This is especially a great temptation in our time. We live in what some call the democratic age; even tyrannies function in the name of the people. They hold mock elections in which everyone must vote, even though all candidates run unopposed, as in the Soviet Union. The people must all favor what has been predetermined for them. Even the Soviet Communist Party leaders, who know that the elections are a formality, go through the sanctimonious ritual of voting. It is a religious duty for the people to express their common will!

Given this mentality, now, more than ever, people are impressed by numbers. More than a few organizations add thousands of worthless names to their mailing lists because prospective donors are influenced by numbers!

In the years just after World War II, a very fine Christian layman began a small organization to stem the modernism then arising in his church. The “fellowship” was remarkably effective in its early years. Then some members agitated for an increased membership. The founder insisted on a maximum of fifty members; most insisted on thousands in order to make an impact. Those favoring a large membership won out, and, before long, the association was a model of impotence. Its stance had been compromised, its publication became moderate and conventional, and it was incapable of decisiveness.

The demand for numerical strength continues unabated, despite a world filled with examples of failures. Even worse, this mind-set has infected prayer. The assumption is that, if we can get one million people, or even 10,000, praying zealously for something, God will give it to us! The assumption is that God is guided, not by His knowledge and wisdom, but by our nagging.

The results are tragically evil. Devout Protestants, who view the medieval endowments for continuous prayers by monks and nuns with horror, now create “prayer towers” where for twenty-four hours daily, a number of people are gathered to pray for all prayer requests. One evangelist on television has said that as many as 35,000 people have tried to call his “800” number in a single hour.

Somehow, people believe that God will hear them more readily if 500 or 5,000 people are praying for them. Whatever happened to the priesthood of all believers? Must a professional praying-person pray for us before God hears us?

A good many years ago, a sick man asked me to pray for him. I knew the man well, and that he was afraid of death and admitted it. I told him to do his own praying, and to begin by confessing his very serious sins. He refused. He wanted healing, not communion with God.

Today, however, certain electronic ministries stress strongly their prayer ministries for people. They invite people to call in, and they speak of the large number of people manning telephones (or should I say, womanning telephones?) to hear our prayer request and to pray for us.

One young pastor recently was left feeling very uncomfortable when someone demanded to know whether or not the church had a prayer ministry! Perhaps, very soon, we may have churches with blinking neon signs advertising twenty-four-hour prayer ministries with no waiting!

Now, St. Paul tells us that “we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25). We pray for our family members, our friends, and our fellow church members out of love and concern. Here at Chalcedon, we thank God for our supporters; we have come to know many of you and pray for you when we know of your problems. But do we have a department of prayer, or a formal prayer ministry? No. Much speaking carries no weight with God.

Moreover, all too often, prayer ministries concern themselves with personal wants, not the Kingdom of God. How many of those prayer-ministry or prayer-tower groups are concerned about persecuted Christians in the Soviet’s power, or with American parents persecuted in the courts for homeschooling, or for sending their children to a Christian school?

Even more, how many concern themselves with God’s Kingdom and justice? Yet our Lord tells us, in Matthew 6:33, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness,” or justice. Are not unending “gimme” prayers insulting to God? Do they not become more insulting when we line up great numbers of people to nag God?

Our Lord gives us His model of prayer in Matthew 6:9–13, declaring, “After this manner therefore pray ye.” We are to begin by hallowing His name. Our paramount request must be, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

God wants His Kingdom to rule and reign as fully on earth as in heaven, and we have a duty to pray for this, and to work for it. He has given us the laws of His Kingdom, and we must obey and apply them.

As we are faithful, so He, too, is faithful. He will give us our daily bread, and He forgives our debts “as we forgive our debtors.” Prayer has as its companion obedience and action. The focus of prayer is wrong if it is our needs primarily rather than God’s Kingdom.

If we pray essentially for ourselves rather than God’s Kingdom, it will not make our prayer more effective to have 500 people unite with us in saying that “my will must be done.”

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God declares to Solomon, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” The priority in prayer is clearly not our wants but God’s will.

Let us look again at our Lord’s words in Matthew 6:7, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do.” Clearly, our Lord is warning us against the pagan forms of prayer. E. N. Fallaize, in James Hastings’s Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, defined “primitive” prayer in these words: “In its simplest and most primitive form prayer is the expression of a desire, cast in the form of a request, to influence some force or power conceived as supernatural” (vol. 10, p. 154). The word “influence” tells us all. This is “heathen” or pagan prayer, a belief that God can be influenced. This is not Christian prayer: we enter into communion with God through Christ in order to find our place in His will and Kingdom and to receive His blessings.

Too commonly, the fostering of mass prayers is to compel God’s attention and to influence Him by numbers. This is paganism.

Our Lord identifies another aspect of “heathen” prayer: “vain repetition.” The pagan’s “vain repetition” was associated with magic. Certain repeated incantations could influence and command the spirits or gods. The “heathen” prayers our Lord refers to were really more spells, magical formulae, than prayers. They were seen as magical words of power, and they would have more power if certain persons repeated them for us, shamans, medicine men, and the like. In some instances, these spells had to be repeated at various hours of the day to be effective, and this is what our Lord also meant by “vain repetition.”

The goal of such pagan “vain repetition” was to control a supernatural power by exercising and commanding a greater power. In 1 Kings 18, we have a classic example of pagan “prayer.” The priests of Baal sought to control the powers over earth by numbers, by shouting “vain repetitions,” and by mutilating themselves. Perhaps at the same time as this was happening at Mount Carmel, all the priests of Baal at the various sanctuaries may have been using “vain repetitions” to help the priests at Mount Carmel! Against all this, as James notes, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Elijah’s concern was God’s Kingdom and God’s justice.

It is worthy of note that paganism usually has had a specialized “praying” class. To have influence with or control over the forces of nature or the spirits, an expert technician had to be used.

Among some American Indians, for example, communion with the spirits was an elitist fact, reserved to the limited number of members of a secret society. Such a power made them sometimes feared because of the damage it was believed they could do, using the spirits.

More “advanced” religions in antiquity had rituals and prayers which often are quite remarkable. They seem at times close to a Biblical emphasis. They stress penitence, a strong moral sense, and a desire for communion with the gods. There is, however, a significant difference between all such pagan rituals and prayers, and Scripture.

The stress in these “advanced” pagan religions is on self-reformation and self-commendation. The “worshipper” presents himself as one who has repented and reformed himself, and he then proceeds, with “vain repetitions,” to nag the god or gods for acceptance and for his petitions. The stress is on the human initiative, the self-reformation, and the self-qualification. The man says, I am here, O god, ready to receive. How can you refuse me, and why do you? In Egyptian religion, the worshipper presented himself to the gods after death with a litany of self-praise and with a recital of all his virtues.

This was the “heathen” model against which our Lord warns us. It was present all around Him, and it is all around us today, and sometimes in us. This is why the Lord’s Prayer is so important for us to use: it teaches us the true perspective in prayer. We dare not use the Lord’s name in pagan prayers.

The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is Biblical. It rests on the premise that believers are members of God’s covenant and family and therefore in faithfulness to their Lord and in communion with Him. Prayer or communion is thus a common privilege of all Christians, and of all who seek God’s face in repentance and faith.

  1. Perfection

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 134, April 1991

Words change their meanings, sometimes with unhappy results. It tells us something about the fact of man’s fall that words usually deteriorate in their meaning.

One problem word, a problem because of the misunderstandings associated with it, is perfect, and perfection. Two much-abused instances of its use in the New Testament are Matthew 5:48 (“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”), and Matthew 19:21 (“If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me”).

The word translated as perfect is in both cases teleios. It means mature, finished, complete, having reached its goal, mature. Thus, to be perfect in this sense does not mean sinlessness but maturity with respect to our God-given calling and talents. It implies that a goal is in view, and we live in terms of it. The completed aspect does not mean ended; rather, it means living fully in terms of a goal.

The word teleios comes from telos, meaning an end, conclusion, or goal. It is a culminating point, according to R. Schippers in New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (vol. 2, p. 59), and it can refer, for example, to marriage; a goal is reached, and life is now lived with maturity in terms of it. Thus, “both a doctor and a thief can be perfect.” We sometimes call a man a “perfect fool.”

This Biblical meaning of perfect long governed the thinking of Christendom. In the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, the purpose of the document is “to form a more perfect union.” In terms of current usage, this is bad grammar. In terms of its times, it meant “a more mature union.” According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, perfect as a verb meant to finish or complete, and, as an adjective, finished, or completed. In grammar there is a perfect tense which gives us expressed completion.

The word perfect now has an often different meaning due to two influences, Arminianism and Romanticism. In Arminianism, denying as it did the doctrine of total depravity and often affirming Pelagianism, the word came to mean a totally sanctified and sinless state. The Christian was to attain total sanctification and be without sin. This was, of course, an unrealistic hope and belief. But that is not all. The emphasis at the same time was shifted from the Kingdom of God to the individual’s perfection. The result was a gradual withdrawal of these Christians from the world into their inner realm. People from diverse backgrounds are now calling attention to this fact. For example, Dr. Donald E. Wildmon, in the January 1991 AFA Journal, wrote: “I am amazed that any minister can preach week after week, month after month and year after year, and never directly address many of the great issues which face the Christian community today . . . It hurts to say what I am about to say; I say it not with malice. I say it with hurt born of love. Quite often I am asked whose fault it is that our society finds itself in the moral mess it is in. In all honesty I am compelled to respond: ‘It is the fault of the Church.’” False ideas of sinless perfection have not improved the moral character of churchmen, nor have they improved the world of our time. However “noble” our goals may be, if they are not Biblical, they lead to ignoble ends. Men who will not acknowledge their depravity and sin are ready to see themselves in idealistic terms. The church, by pursuing pietistic perfectionism, has made itself morally derelict and generally irrelevant. The church today is strong in members but weak in the faith and the power of God.

Romanticism also stressed a non-Biblical doctrine of perfection. Perfection was seen in nature and in the natural (or, fallen) man. If the natural man is perfect, then the imposition of Biblical law and morality on man is not only wrong but very evil. Man’s natural bents define what is good for him, not God. Because of Romanticism, there was a steady attack on the very idea of morality, and men who saw themselves as intellectuals began to speak rather of mores, social customs. Morality was replaced by mores, and mores were of little value. Such doctrines as utilitarianism, pragmatism, and instrumentalism, and, supremely, existentialism, replaced morality. Not only morality but meaning was attacked, as in deconstructionism. Romanticism revived with fervor the famous premise of Protagoras that man is the measure of all things, and it did not mean rational man.

With Romanticism, perfection became self-expression. Alfred de Musset, a French Romanticist, expressed the romantic agony: he desired every woman who caught his eye but trusted none; to be dependent was alien to him. He wrote, “I must experience everything,” and this meant that everything was good because he was. Aurore Dudevant (George Sand) believed in catering to public appetites and saw no wrong in it: “Monsters are in fashion. Let us make monsters.” Napoleon had declared to the Council of Five Hundred, “Make way, I am the god of the day.” This was the Romantic temper. Sin was held to be an obsolete concept. George Sand said of the evils she had done, “I don’t believe it is due to wickedness, but to ignorance” (Frances Winwar, The Life of the Heart: George Sand and Her Times [1945], pp. 91, 104, 283).

What Romanticism did, among other things, was to create the youth movement. If nature is perfect in this modern sense, and if the natural man is the perfect man, then the child and youth are closest to perfection! The poet, William Wordsworth (1770–1850), in his Ode: Intimations of Immorality, held that we are born “trailing clouds of glory” and that “Heaven lies about us in our infancy.” Age perverts us: “Shades of the prison-house begin to close around the growing boy,” and that prisonhouse is civilization. Given these premises, youth soon felt it had a “duty” to correct and even overthrow its elders, who represented the “corruption” of Christian civilization. Rebellious youth was a creation of the Romantic doctrine of perfection.

However, if civilization is the source of evil, then “the less civilized” peoples are the most good, according to this doctrine. Western white youth had once been the voice of natural goodness and the zealots for perfection, and their motto, in the 1960s, was, “Never trust anyone over 30.” Almost at once, others seized the torch of this new faith. In the United States, black youth attacked as evil white leadership, no matter what it did: these people were “honkies” and evil. Since then, a new definition of blasphemy has emerged: Thou shalt not call attention to any sin of Martin Luther King, for this is the unforgivable sin.

This doctrine was not lost on various peoples of the Third World. While treating blacks (or, African-Americans) with politically-motivated friendliness, they were contemptuous of them as “de-tribalized” and overcivilized peoples. What we have had in process is an example of what Dr. Cornelius Van Til called integration downward into the void.

Of course, the environmental movement is a clear example of this fanatical Romanticism. It has become a new and fanatical religion, impervious to rationality. In many instances since the 1980s, foresters have allowed raging forest fires to burn; they are after all, a natural fact, and nature is perfect!

False perfectionism has led to unreasonable and even insane demands. All the achievements of the past are treated with contempt: the new “wisdom” of these perfectionists is seen as infallible truth. They believe, like Job’s sorry friends, that wisdom was born with them and is in danger of dying with them (Job 12:2). Such an attitude leads to the kind of insubordination which today marks families, businesses, churches, and all kinds of groups: every underling resents the fact that he is not in control and that his wisdom does not direct things! In this antinomian age, few pay attention to God’s law: why, then, should we expect them to obey men?

The psalmist, however, prays, “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths” (Ps. 25:4). Again, “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness” (Ps. 143:10). These are among the many prayers to be conformed to God and His law. This is what Biblical perfection is about: finding our purpose under God, then moving faithfully in His way. This is maturity, and our completeness. It is the antithesis of rebelliousness and lawlessness. This is the way: walk ye in it.

  1. The Heresy of Unconditional Love

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 140, July 1991

Paul in Romans 6:23 makes a very important and interesting statement: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is commonly misread and misinterpreted to mean that the punishment for sin is death, whereas Paul tells us that it is sin’s wages or salary. We receive a grim pay, death, for sin.

Now, God’s law is very specific about wages. According to Leviticus 19:13, and Deuteronomy 24:14–15, God’s law is very strict about prompt payment in terms of an agreed salary. Paul tells us that God lives by His law: He pays us off for our sins according to His contracted or covenant law-word.

Because God’s relationship with mankind is covenantal, and His law gives us the terms of the contract, there is no escaping its terms. All men, within and without the church, are paid in terms of it. James, the brother of our Lord, tells the church that “wars and fightings” amongst them come from their sins and will lead to God’s judgment or payoff (James 4:1–4). Men who pray for peace when sin abounds are praying falsely and for their own judgment; they should pray for peace with God, without which men cannot be at peace with one another.

Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1–4 asks that we pray for rulers and all who are in authority. This is a sadly abused text. Does it require us to say, God bless the governor, president, or prime minster, when they are evil and ungodly men who favor abortion, homosexuality, and other evils? Are not such prayers asking that sin be blessed? Paul tells us in verse 4 the purpose of praying for all such authorities: God “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Thus, we should pray for their salvation, or for their judgment, that Christ’s Kingdom be advanced.

God, by His sovereign grace, with no merit nor good thing on our part, redeems us and makes us members of His covenant. A covenant is a contract or a treaty: it is always conditional upon faithfulness or obedience. It is antinomianism and heresy, a rejection of the doctrine of the covenant, to call God’s love unconditional. Grace and lawlessness do not go together. It is asking for grace as freedom to do as we please, and to do evil.

Such thinking is very much with us. As covenantalism declined in the church, and as antinomianism replaced it, the world rejoiced and carried to its logical ends this evil doctrine of unconditional love. It became “wrong” to call evil people what they were. Supposedly, they had “a good heart,” whatever sins they committed. Our Lord calls this the doctrine of “false prophets” and “ravening wolves,” to deny the relationship between the heart and the actions of a man, between a tree and its fruits (Matt. 7:15–20). We can always know them by their fruit.

But people want God and life on their terms. Edna St. Vincent Millay, one of this century’s most gifted poets, expressed this ungodly faith in the opening line of “Moriturus”:

If I could have

Two things in one:

The peace of the grave,

And the light of the sun . . .

This is a common hope: the irresponsibility and the peace of death, and all the privileges of life — with no drawbacks.

I recall a flagrantly adulterous woman who insisted that, if her husband truly loved her, his love would be unconditional; it would allow her the freedom to “be herself.”

This is what people are telling God when they speak of His unconditional love. They want the freedom to forget His covenant law and to obey God only where it suits them. A few years ago, I encountered two pastors who “unchurched” any woman in their congregations who ever wore slacks anywhere; they use a text wrongly to justify their acts. Both pastors were militant antinomians, but they reserved the “right” to use or misuse an occasional law as it suited them. This is sin, and its wages remain death.

The meaning of Romans 6:23 applies to both men and nations. Can nations despise God’s law, persecute His people, and supplant justice with evil, and expect to endure? Without repentance and obedience, greater wars will come, and cities will disappear all over the world, as well as here. Declarations of war, respect of civilian populations, just treatment of prisoners, these things and more are virtually gone. We may see, as some believe, unmarked planes, without any declaration of war, obliterating cities and peoples they hate. And why not? Without God, all things are possible, as Dostoyevsky predicted. The New World Order, man’s modern Tower of Babel, is being planned, and soon “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Gen. 11:6).

The world is moving towards collecting the pay due to it from Almighty God. The Lord God is a good and faithful paymaster, as the Bible and all history make clear. Paytime is not far ahead.

But Paul says more in Romans 6:23, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The church needs to recognize that God’s relationship to His redeemed people is covenantal or contractual, which means that we must be faithful to His law and fulfill His dominion mandate to bring all men and nations to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and to establish the Lord’s dominion over every sphere of life and thought.

There were antinomians in Rome and elsewhere who wanted God’s love to be unconditional. Paul’s response was clear-cut: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom. 6:1–2).

There are many churchmen who insist on God’s “unconditional love” for Israel, in spite of its unbelief. What they are also insisting upon is God’s “unconditional love” for themselves, despite their heresies, sins, and arrogances. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), but not to give us license to continue in sin! The doctrine of unconditional love is antinomianism, and it is heresy. It binds God, but not man! God must go on loving such people, whatever they do, but men are not bound to obey God, or even to believe in Him, according to R. B. Thieme (A. J. ten Pas, The Lordship of Christ, pp. 19–20).

The Lord God is a gracious Redeemer; He is also a strict Paymaster, and the heresy of unconditional love will draw its wages, death.

  1. The Heresy of Love

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 160, February 1993

One of the more persistent heresies that have plagued the church has been the heresy of love as the redemptive and holy force. One of the “fathers” of this faith was the medieval abbot, Joachim of Fiore. He divided history into three dispensations. The first was the Age of the Father and of law, justice, and wrath. The second was the Age of the Son, and of grace and mercy. The third age or dispensation is that of love and of universal peace.

Joachims’s thinking influenced many heretical groups, and, in the modern era, has also influenced Hegelians, New Age peoples, the hippies and “revolutionaries” of the 1960s, and more.

A profound locale of influence in the United States was the Unitarian Movement. For example, Moncure Daniel Conway (1832–1907), a Unitarian pastor (an ex-Methodist pastor), wrote in My Pilgrimage to the Wise Men of the East, of Kwan-yin, the Chinese goddess of mercy, as the truly holy being, saying, “She is the woman who refused to enter paradise so long as any human being is excluded. ‘Never will I receive individual salvation,’ she said, and still remains outside the gates of heaven” (p. 71).

Another Unitarian, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, in his Christus: A Mystery, First Interlude, with the Abbot Joachim speaking,

I am in love with Love,

And the sole thing I hate is Hate;

For Hate is death, and Love is life,

A peace, a splendor from above;

And Hate, a never ending strife,

A smoke, a blackness from the abyss

When unclean serpents coil and hiss!

Love is the Holy Ghost within,

Hate the unpardonable sin!

Who preaches otherwise than this,

Betrays his Master with a kiss!

Given this new faith, Unitarians soon found much of the Bible unloving and untrue. They quickly found the exclusiveness of Christianity and its belief in Jesus Christ as alone man’s Savior, to be intolerant and unloving, and all religions were embraced with equal fervor — or, should we not rather say of Unitarians, with equal coldness.

Unhappily, the fundamentalist churches in the main have, in recent years, been closer to Longfellow than to St. Paul. They hold, with as much intolerance as do the modernists, to the need to be loving. (Sad to say, I have found, over the years, that they get a bit testy if I ask how much love they showed for Hitler and Stalin!) They refuse to agree that God, who is love, is also wrath, law, justice, mercy, and more. They have, in effect, altered the statement; “God is love,” to mean, love is god! They have also, in the name of love, become accomplished haters. Usually, our most hateful mail comes from these “love babies”!

Love without law becomes an indulgence of sin. If the murderer, rapist, or thief is simply a person who needs love, we are saying that his or her act was not a consequence of an evil nature but a response to the environment, or miseducation, or poor heredity and a bad home, and so on and on. The love heresy refuses to see sin as sin; but as 1 John 3:4 tells us, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

Longfellow said, “Love is the Holy Ghost within.” The Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity, had been replaced by a human emotion, man’s frame of mind. Man was thereby replacing God, and man’s feelings were now a saving power. For Longfellow, not God but this love in our hearts is life. Moreover, “the sole thing I hate is Hate.” This means that it is not sin we hate, but hate; evil is our non-loving attitude.

The shift from Jesus Christ as Savior to love as our redeemer is very clear, but, in many, it is concealed. Jesus Christ is made into a false image of humanistic love, a false idol. The real Jesus Christ denounced sinners and sins; He manifested wrath towards hypocrites; He was unloving towards the scribes, Pharisees, and others. Most of His recorded words are angry, unloving denunciations! In fact, most of the Bible is hard, blunt language. In a world of sin, this must be the case. Jeremiah denounced in God’s name as false preachers all who spoke, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14; 8:11).

Love is neither truly love nor godly unless it is in terms of the Word of God. What God requires from us is not pious gush but Christian action, our faith applied to the world around us. “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isa. 1:16–17).

This false doctrine of love is humanism, not Christianity. It makes man paramount, not the whole Word of God. It eliminates from the Scripture everything that doesn’t conform to this “gospel” of love.

The Biblical doctrine of love is first and foremost concerned with God’s love to men, an undeserved love given to us who deserve nothing from Him but judgment. It is covenant love: it gives us God’s covenant law as our way of life. It demands of us an exclusive allegiance, because God has in His mercy chosen us.

Then, second, Biblical love means God’s love to us gains the response of man’s love to God. This means that we love and obey God. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Instead of being rebels and lawbreakers, we reveal our love of God by our obedience, for love for God is our response to God’s love, our gratitude shown by our obedience and faithfulness. Our love of God is God’s Spirit working in us (Deut. 30:6), so that the God who chooses us also governs us.

Third, the Biblical doctrine of love means our love to other men in terms of His law. It is not a lawless love (as adultery, for example, is), nor a self-seeking love. It is a love of our neighbor and fellow man in terms of God’s requirements. It is a practical, working love. It means that we put into force the second table of the Ten Commandments, and all related subordinate laws, in all our dealings with our neighbors. It is not a sentimental or an emotional love but one in faithfulness to God’s law.

Humanistic love is not godly. As Solomon said, “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10). The humanistic love of our day is too often an indulgence of evil and a false substitute for Christian action and charity.

Moreover, the heresy of love is all too common in pulpit and pew. Too many of its advocates are themselves guilty men who need the forgiveness of their sin in Christ but pursue instead an antinomian love as salvation.

Longfellow said, “The sole thing I hate is Hate.” This means that, in the name of virtue, the “love babies” believe they can hate all who do not share their gospel of love! Their self-deception is very great.

This false gospel leads to silliness also. Longfellow took his love of love seriously. When he married, his friend Charles Sumner (famous later as an abolitionist senator) was so upset over “losing” his friend that Longfellow took him along on his honeymoon! On the train trip, Sumner read to the newlyweds Bossuet’s funeral orations!

If “Hate” is the “unpardonable sin,” as Longfellow held, meaning hating another man, then the hatred of God is demoted to a minor status, and the focus of all morality becomes what man does to man, a humanistic doctrine wherein the measure of all things is man, not God. And this is where we are now. But without God’s grace, there can be no truly moral love, because godly love is God’s grace working in and through us. We have a world full of evil, much talk about love while evil proliferates, because too many people have replaced Biblical faith with the heresy of humanistic love.

  1. Absolutizing the Relative

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 130, February 1991

One of the great sins of any age is to absolutize the relative, and this evil is especially common in our time. We are told of God that He is perfection, all-sufficient, eternal, and unchangeable; He needs neither correction nor change.

Over the centuries, men have repeatedly tried to force a fixity on the human scene as though perfection exists or can exist among men. This means absolutizing the relative; it means requiring a fixity of men and institutions which is ungodly.

An important area of such a demand for fixity has been the state and its rulers. In the medieval area, many thinkers, much influenced by Greek philosophy, began to stress such an uncritical acceptance of the status quo. Although more than a few theologians spoke of the moral necessity of opposing tyrants and tyranny, all too many contributed to the growing political doctrine of the divine right of kings. The subject, it was held, owed an unconditional obedience to the monarch. James I of England was a passionate adherent of this doctrine in the seventeenth century, and Cromwell was its enemy.

This doctrine is not dead; it has simply taken other forms. In the trials of Christian schools and churches in the late 1970s and into the 1980s, I found some clergymen radically opposed to any and all opposition to the state as a violation of Romans 13:1ff. They viewed resisters as ungodly men and violators of Scripture.

More than a century ago, Charles Hodge, in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, dealt with this basic issue in his observation of Ephesians 5:21, with respect to the obedience of wives to their husbands: “It teaches its extent, not its degree. It extends over all departments, but is limited in all; first, by the nature of the relation; and secondly, by the higher authority of God.” Nothing in this world can command our unconditional love nor our unconditional obedience. Not even God’s love for us, nor His mercy, grace, and patience are unconditional; all are covenanted and are subject to the terms of God’s covenant.

Because our thinking has become noncovenantal, and even anticovenantal, we absolutize the relative.

One of America’s finest Christian thinkers wrote in mid-1990 on “When Is It Right to Leave the Church?” and concluded that it is never right, no matter how deep the faithlessness. Oddly enough, he quotes Calvin, who broke with Rome. Of course, our Lord and His disciples broke with the church of their day! We cannot give to the church the unconditional loyalty which belongs only to God.

To absolutize either the state or the church is to de-absolutize God in one’s thinking; it means a rejection of the covenant, that God-given contract of law and grace. The absence of covenantal thinking is a prominent aspect of the church today.

A sad example of this is the Tenth Annual National Christian Prayer Breakfast to “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem,” January 30, 1991, in Washington, D.C. Besides prominent members of Congress, this gathering is to include major churchmen. The stated “purpose” of this breakfast meeting is “[t]o honor Israel by demonstrating our Lord’s unconditional love for His ancient chosen people.” Unconditional love? This statement nullifies the law and the prophets! Our Lord plainly said to Israel, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43). The churches today face a like judgment for their presumption in affirming a noncovenantal, unconditional love on God’s part for them.

One noted preacher of unconditional love has said that, once we say “yes” to Jesus, we bind God unconditionally. He writes, “You can even become an atheist; but if you once accepted Christ as your Savior, you can’t lose your salvation.” “Do you know that if you were a genius, you couldn’t figure out a way to go to hell! . . . You can blaspheme, you can deny the Lord, you can commit every sin in the Bible, plus all the others; but there is just no way!” (Cited by A. J. ten Pas, The Lordship of Christ, pp. 19–20.)

Another area where we commonly find men absolutizing the relative is marriage. The “no divorce” doctrine is becoming common among evangelicals, and, as I travel, I see the disasters it creates, and the evils. In one case a woman was told that she must not leave her child-molesting husband, even though he was molesting their own child as well as others. But marriage is a covenant, and most marriage services still retain the covenantal wording: “I do vow and covenant.” A covenant is a treaty and contract. It requires obedience to the terms, and it can be dissolved when the terms are violated. To make marriage unconditional is to absolutize the relative and to hand over power to the evil partner.

The same is true of parental authority. Paul, in Ephesians 6:4 warns fathers not to provoke their children to wrath; their authority is conditional. Remember, too, that the commandment is to “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exod. 20:12); an aspect of honor is godly obedience where due. Paul says, in Romans 13:7, “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” In every sphere of life, all relationships are under God’s covenant law and are totally subject to His Word and will, not man’s.

The drive everywhere to make all things unconditional means that we demand a continuation of the status quo, not godly reformation and change. Too often, it is the wrongdoers who insist on unconditional love, obedience, allegiance, and so on. A few years ago, a friend of Chalcedon, after careful investigation, confronted a nationally known pulpiteer with his financial crimes with church funds. The pastor’s response was: How dare you criticize me? Don’t you know I am the Lord’s anointed?

This is the common refuge of scoundrels: You have no right, no grounds, no reason. Why? Supposedly because God has unconditionally guaranteed their status and power.

To insist on an unconditional love or obedience or anything on the human scene is to deny God’s covenant and to become a covenant-breaker, an outlaw in God’s sight. If the covenant, which is basic to Scripture (indeed, the Bible is the book of the covenant), means anything, then those who absolutize the relative place themselves outside of God’s covenant. God requires our unconditional obedience to Him, not to church, state, husband, employer, or anything else.

Our Lord is emphatic on this matter: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10). Submission to human authorities is required of us “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Pet. 2:13–16), to further godly order and to use our liberty “as the servants of God.” We are not called to be revolutionists but a dominion people in Christ. We know that man’s wrath accomplishes no good. We neither rebel against things, for we are called to be peacemakers, nor do we submit to evil out of cowardice. We must be governed by the covenant and its law. To absolutize the relative means that we are governed by the human scene rather than by the covenant God and His law. It means that preserving the status quo is more important than God’s righteousness or justice.

It is an ironic fact that those who most insist on absolutizing the relative create the most rebellions, whether in church, state, marriage, or any other sphere.

The doctrine of unconditional love, obedience, loyalty, or whatever else men seek to fix as unchanging becomes usually a greater instrument of change because the temporal cannot be fixed nor absolutized in God’s world. Henry Dwight Sedgwick (1785–1831), in the North American Review, October 1824, expressed the Unitarian hope of his day for a humanistic law. He wrote, “When the law shall have become thoroughly conformed to the spirit of the age, authority will become of double value and efficacy.” However, replacing God’s law with man’s law has destroyed authority and created lawlessness and crime. The legal revolution has absolutized the relative by denying God’s higher law; it has treated Biblical law with contempt and statist law with reverence, but instead of doubling the efficacy and authority of this law, it has eroded it. We live in the shambles of this humanistic revolution which first created the Renaissance and, later, the modern age. The church has too often imitated humanism: it has become antinomian, relativizing God’s law, while at the same time transferring the absolute to the human scene. The result is judgment.

  1. Holiness Versus Perfectionism

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 61, April 1985

A Biblical incident rarely preached on is 2 Kings 5:18–19. The Syrian general Naaman, healed of his leprosy by the prophet Elisha, had made a profession of faith. He had a problem, however. The Syrian king, in his infirmity, required a man to lean on as he went to worship in the Temple of Rimmon. Naaman was that trusted man. For a general, who could easily seize the throne, to be so trusted indicates how highly Naaman was regarded. But Naaman was troubled. When the king bowed to his god, Naaman had to help him to do so and himself bow in the process. Would the Lord pardon Naaman for this? Elisha’s answer was affirmative: “Go in peace.” Naaman was not summoned to a life of perfection but of holiness, and there is a difference. Naaman was not compromising his faith but performing a minor duty in a major career.

The idea of perfection is in essence a pagan doctrine. The word perfect as it appears in Scripture has a different meaning than in pagan cultures. Several Greek words are used in the New Testament. In Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which in heaven is perfect,” the word is teleios matured, reaching its appointed goal, completed; other words translated as “perfect” have related meanings. For us to be perfect in the Biblical sense means to mature in our calling, to do God’s will for our lives, and to serve Him with all our heart, mind, and being. Perfection in this sense is a process. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution uses “perfect” in this theological sense and thus speaks of forming “a more perfect union.” In the modern sense, this is absurd: what can be more perfect than perfect?

Perfection in the non-Biblical sense has long been a goal in various pagan religions, and it has been essentially linked to the idea of autonomous man. To use Neoplatonic terms, man must incarnate in himself the principle of being and attain perfection. This is in essence a solitary quest, because to attain true spirituality or intellectuality, to be pure mind or pure spirit, one must divorce oneself from the material world and from other people. People are a troublesome burden, endlessly concerned with their trifles, and an impediment to the realization of the principle in one’s being.

This pagan concept of perfection separated the person from the world and from society. It created hermits, monks, and detached people. In one pagan faith after another, the true goal of life is detachment, a world and life negation. Eastern religions in particular have been dedicated to this goal of detachment, but its influence has been powerful in the West also. Most of the desert hermits of the early church, many monks, and much popular piety, both Catholic and Protestant, have been dedicated to this ideal. In the fourteenth century, the monks of Athos believed that fasting plus concentration could enable them to realize the uncreated essence of God. The concentration came from navel-watching. When Barlaam opposed the “navel-souled ones,” a synod was called to condemn him.

The way of perfection is the solitary way. It is often associated with mysticism. In its forms within the church, its goal is the vision of God, or, in other forms, pietism, the perfection of one’s personal piety. It is, in any case, an autonomous exercise, not a social one. In relation to the world, it seeks escape and anonymity. Perfectionism and self-absorption go hand in hand.

The doctrine of holiness is radically different. When our Lord summons us to be “perfect” or mature, i.e., to grow in terms of our God-appointed end, He is summoning us to serve God with all our being, and to be holy unto Him. “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine” (Lev. 20:26). Holiness is always unto the Lord. Moreover, as Revelation 15:4, in the great “song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb,” declares, “for thou only art holy.” God alone is holy; we are holy to the degree that we separate and dedicate ourselves to Him and to His Kingdom. To abide in Him means to bring forth fruit (John 15:2); to love God means to keep His commandments (John 15:10, 14). Our goal, thus, is to do the will of our Father, to serve Him with all our heart, mind, and being, to love God and our neighbor.

The Reformation, and especially the Puritans, defined this work of holiness as the Kingdom of God, as a ministry in Christ’s name, with the goal being, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). This goal was present from the earliest days of the church and was strong in many medieval movements, although the Neoplatonic perfectionism gained an ascendancy.

The rise of Pietism again subverted this priority of holiness in the Biblical sense; perfectionism took over. With the rise of perfectionism, impracticality has often been associated with perfection and a pseudo-holiness. Modernism, even more than Catholic and Protestant orthodoxies, has been very prone to perfectionism, and it has done much damage the world over. Pacifism is one form of this perfectionism; hostility to armament in any form is another. In one seminary, it was enough to dismiss from consideration as a worthy Christian a prominent churchman for the professor to say, “He has a collection of guns and loves to hunt.”

The prevalence of perfectionism in the Western world has been part and parcel of incredibly stupid foreign and domestic policies. It means moving in terms of assumptions which are unrelated to reality, because the ideal must be assumed in order to make it real. Perfectionism sees man as the creator and the world as his will and idea.

Modern education is perfectionist. It teaches students that the world can be remade if we believe men are naturally good and peace-loving, and that, if only we treat them so, they will be as hoped for. As one prominent “theologian” believes, if we surrender to the Soviet Union and greet their troops with smiling faces, love will triumph.

Churchmen equate their “good intentions” with perfection. To end poverty is good; therefore, to call for the redistribution of wealth means to favor a godly society and a perfect solution to the problem of poverty. The solution to economic and other problems is seen as political, i.e., the issuing of political fiats which will supposedly change the world.

Perfectionism believes in cheap remedies. The great perfectionist, Satan, had a simple solution. God was requiring men to learn the discipline of work, science, and dominion in the Garden of Eden as the first step towards exercising dominion over all the earth (Gen. 1:26–28). This was seen as a painfully slow process which would require centuries and much effort. How much simpler it would be if man would, like God, issue a fiat word, determine good and evil for himself, and be the creator of his own world (Gen. 3:1–5). God’s way required holiness, a total dedication and obedience to God’s law-word, and the slow process of maturation (the Biblical meaning of perfection). The tempter offered a simpler route, perfection, not holiness, not obedience to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4), but being one’s own god and decreeing the perfect world. (So modern politics was born.)

Perfectionism also trusts in religious or devotional exercises as the way to power with God. Isaiah speaks very bluntly (as do other prophets) about the evil this can be, saying that God declares, “Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; and the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday, And the Lord shall guide thee continually” (Isa. 58:5–11).

What the Lord requires of us is holiness, but holiness is not gained by saying, Go to now, I shall be a saint. Rather, holiness comes as we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness or justice (Matt. 6:33). We do not become holy by seeking holiness in and of itself. The Lord is the Holy One, and we are holy if we do His will. Christ is holy because He is the obedient Son: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me” (John 6:38). Twice in Hebrews we are told of our Lord that His avowed and ordained purpose was this: “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:7, 9). This must be our purpose, too, as members of His new humanity. We are not saved to retire to our own devices but to serve, glorify, and enjoy God forever. We are summoned to be holy, which means to love, serve, and obey the Lord with all our heart, mind, and being, and to love our neighbor as ourself.

Holiness is too often seen as mere negation. As one man said recently, echoing an old sentence, he had lived for years on the premise that he was a Christian because, “I don’t smoke, and I don’t chew, and I don’t go with girls that do.” Holiness is not merely nor essentially negation; it requires separation, but it is false to see it merely as separation from sin. Our Lord describes false separation tellingly. A man rid himself of an unclean spirit and cleansed his life of many things, but his zeal for perfection and a negative holiness left the “house” merely “empty, swept, and garnished.” As a result, the unclean spirit returned with “seven other spirits more wicked than himself,” with the result that “the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Matt. 12:43–45). This parable by our Lord explains why some supposedly converted people are so great a problem.

True holiness is a dedication to the Lord’s service with the totality of our being. It is not a concern with our perfection, but a concern for the Lord’s work. As David says, “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Ps. 69:9), a sentence finding total expression in our Lord (John 2:17). David’s sins were very real and were judged by God, but David’s zeal for the Lord’s work was honored and blessed by God because David sought God’s Kingdom and glory.

Remember Naaman and Elisha’s word. What would some of our modern perfectionists, with their false holiness, have said to Naaman? Or to Abraham, Solomon, Peter, and many another saint richly blessed by God?

There is much talk today about holiness, but it is a warped and perfectionist doctrine which is too often stressed. The result is negation, and, instead of powerful men of God, it is mousy churchmen who are the results of such teachings.

The church must be a training camp and barracks room, sending soldiers of Christ into the world, each in his or her own sphere, to exercise dominion in the name of the Lord. A good army is not trained for exhilaration and parade but for action.

Our God, who is alone holy in and of Himself, is a God of action and power. Our holiness comes in working in obedience and faithfulness to His law-word.

  1. Maturity

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 111, July 1989

One of the long popular hymns of the church is, “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts.” It is attributed by many to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, but an eleventh-century manuscript attributes it to a Benedictine abbess. Most hymnals now use only five stanzas of the hymn; it was written with fifty-four stanzas. Many older hymns had many more stanzas than hymnals carry now.

Similarly, many popular novels of the past century had long descriptive passages at the beginning and throughout. Very recently, I reread a boy’s book written in 1889 and once very popular. It began with a foreword, and then almost seven pages of description and stage setting before a single instance of conversation; it ended with a Latin quotation. Dickens, Scott, and other popular writers are now edited to eliminate the long descriptive sections.

Another illustration: about forty years ago, shortly after the war, I heard an Episcopal bishop from India preach: his sermons lasted two hours and forty minutes, routine in India at the time. In Scotland, in the 1800s, preachers spoke two hours and more routinely, with forty to fifty points in their sermons. During the week, parishioners could routinely recite every point in order as they discussed the sermon.

Modern man’s attention span is shorter! I myself do not favor a return to long sermons, or long anything! I am interested, however, in what has happened.

People now are less attuned to words, to reading and listening, and more attuned to action and sound. It is important to understand why.

The legitimate theater was for centuries a narrow realm, limited mostly to major cities and to a limited audience. The stage requires overstatement; the actors speak to be heard in the last row: this means an element of overacting without appearing to do so. The slow pace of life must be stepped up to tell a story in a short time. This means also a heightened emotionalism to sustain interest.

The film industry began without sound — silent films. Overacting and action were increased to carry the meaning and story. With sound, the overacting was simply enhanced, and new technologies made more dramatic action possible.

All of this has led to an interesting result. Films have affected life. People, shaped because they lack a strong faith, became more emotional and more prone to dramatize themselves. Both children and adults are given to emotional outbursts. What fifty and sixty years ago would have embarrassed old and young is now routine with both. The decline in reading skills because of the growing failure of statist education has also aggravated the problem.

One of the marks of maturity is self-control. A child cries when hungry; this is natural enough in a baby, but maturity begins when the child learns to conform his appetites to the family’s hours; the child is also taught to control his bladder and bowels; his temper tantrums are rebuked and are gradually replaced with intelligent behavior, and so on.

What we see now with adults is all too often a continuation of infantile behavior patterns. Maturity is less and less an ideal, and more and more evaded by all too many people. In the 1970s, I wrote, in a Chalcedon Report article, about the absurd and painful appearance of a woman well into her eighties in a bikini bathing suit, imitating a teenage girl. The response was amazing. Some were highly emotional as they insisted on the “right” of a woman to act as a teenager, whatever her age. Of course, I never denied her freedom to do such a thing; I did question her lack of common sense and maturity! A few years later, I referred to this incident again in the Chalcedon Report, and I received another angry letter!

I find such things amazing. Is no one interested in the joys of maturity any more? Is it any wonder, with the lust for perpetual youth (or, continuing infantilism, take your choice), that the attention span of old and young is shorter?

Life at every stage is wonderful. St. Peter (1 Pet. 3:7) speaks of “the grace of life.” Life can only be a grace when it is lived under God with a readiness to grow in Him. We can then enjoy each stage of life with the knowledge that each has its problems and challenges, and the goal is eternal life in Him. Romans 8:28 tells us that, in Christ, all things are made by God to work together for our eternal good. The immediate event or burden may not be felt to be good, but we know it is used by our Lord for remarkable and blessed goals.

Paul in Romans 5:1–5 tells us that our troubles or tribulations produce patience. Patience gives us a mature experience, and experience increases our hope, because our faith has matured. The Berkeley Version (Verkuyl) of Hebrews 11:1 tells us that then “faith forms a solid ground for what is hoped for, a conviction of unseen reality.” Then, too, we are no longer children, tossed about by every wind of doctrine, and so childish that we are the pawns of men (Eph. 4:14). Maturity is something which does not come from a television set, nor from emotional outbursts. Our growth in sanctification produces maturity, something to work for and enjoy.

  1. Hypocritical Guilt

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 102, October 1988

On one occasion, Otto Scott and I met a young man who lost no time in telling us of his burden of “guilt.” His forefathers had been Southern slavers, dealing in the transport and sale of black slaves. We quickly gathered that he was a sensitive soul who wore his “guilt” as a badge of nobility.

On another trip, I was told of a young white woman, about twenty years old, who had been raped by a black hoodlum. She refused to report this crime or to tell her parents of it. Like her father and mother, she was a liberal. To report the rape, she felt, would confirm “a racial stereotype,” and this she could not do. She spoke of understanding “the suppressed rage of oppressed black men.” She, too, was a “noble” soul who took upon herself the guilt of past generations.

Of course, all this is a false virtue which rests on a hypocritical guilt for past sins which they themselves did not commit. Neither of these two persons, nor others like them, feel any guilt for present sins in themselves. Instead, they claim a false nobility and virtue for their hypocritical guilt for the past of their people. As a student, I knew a wealthy young man who made it clear that his father’s business practices (whatever they were) were repugnant to him. This was his claim to a high moral ground. His immediate personal life was very bad, but he felt virtuous in condemning his father, whose money he used freely.

We have a new form of Phariseeism today which looks at the past and says, “I thank Thee, Lord, that I am not as one of those insensitive souls.” When our Lord says, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34), He forbids us to borrow troubles (or guilt) from both the past and the future. To borrow either problems or guilt from the past or the future is ungodly.

Even more, guilt is personal. It has to do with one’s own sins of commission and omission. To confess our parents’ sins, or our ancestors’ sins, rather than our own is Phariseeism and a claim to being spiritually sensitive at their expense. It does not deal with one’s own sins!

Some people feel very virtuous in “confessing” other people’s sins. They are experts in correcting everyone around them. I regularly hear from such people about myself! Now, bad as that is, I believe it is even worse to confess our forefathers’ sins and not our own. It is a violation of the law requiring us to honor our father and mother.

Paul speaks of some who have their “conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2), who claim a higher holiness than others. They refine their moral stance to give themselves a holier and higher way than others. To have one’s conscience seared with a hot iron means to be insensitive to God, while sensitive to one’s own will. It means that these insensitive people claim a higher sensitivity. Such people become adept at confessing other people’s sins, and then we see whites confessing black sins, blacks confessing the sins of whites, Orientals confessing Western sins, and so on. People love to catalogue the sins of other nations, of the United States, Japan, South Africa, Guatemala, Britain, and so on and on.

All of this means devaluing sin and changing its seriousness. It is routine now in much so-called evangelism to assure people that their sins are forgiven before they have admitted to or confessed sin. It is no wonder that such “converts” are routinely moral problems. Cheap forgiveness shows contempt for the cross. If our sin required Christ’s atoning death, to treat sin and forgiveness lightly is a very serious offense against God’s grace and mercy.

David understood the seriousness of sin and forgiveness. He wrote, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight” (Ps. 51:3–4).

Confessing other people’s sin, the sin of our forefathers or the sin of our nation in the past, is a common evasion of responsibilities in the present. One women’s club revels in hearing speakers who regale them with the sins of everyone outside their own “enlightened” circles. They know more “dirt,” or fancied “dirt,” about more people and groups than one can imagine! They are a happy lot of Pharisees who believe that they grow in virtue as they grow in their information about the sins of others!

Such Phariseeism is common on the right and on the left. It is very popular politics. It adds nothing, however, to the moral direction of society.

All morality rests on a religious faith, and it results in action: no action, no morality.

Today we have a world in which everybody seems eager to correct or regulate everyone else. Whenever a congress, legislature, or parliament meets, it seeks more controls over others. (The U.S. Congress, as an accomplished body of Pharisees, routinely exempts itself from the laws it passes to bind all others!) This is Phariseeism, and it is evil.

Our Lord condemns Phariseeism above all else. He accused them of shutting up the Kingdom of Heaven by their warped teaching. He declares, “ye shall receive the greater damnation” (Matt. 23:14).

At the same time, our Lord requires us to seek first His Kingdom and righteousness (or, justice) (Matt. 6:33); this is Christian Reconstruction. The emphasis is on what the Lord would have us do, and it requires a faith with results, a faith which moves us to service and to faithfulness. When Paul was converted, his first words were, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). He did not sit back to wait for heaven; he became a vineyard worker for the Lord. To be converted, to be regenerated, means to be made alive in Christ to serve and obey Him.

  1. The Sins of the Fathers

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 168, October 1993

One of the fundamental premises of Biblical law is now being radically set aside. One very superior professor of law, Herbert Titus, is almost alone in upholding it, which he does ably, and at a price to himself.

This law is set forth in Deuteronomy 24:16: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” Ezekiel 18:20 restates this: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.”

To illustrate the implications of this, two or three years ago, I spoke at a conference, by invitation, in Washington, D.C., as did a black I had met about twenty five years previously. He was then obviously intelligent and well educated. Now he used a “black English” that was aggressively semiliterate. His purpose was simple: enormous reparations had to be repaid, he claimed, to all American blacks for the suffering in slavery of their ancestors. My answer was, first, that my parents came to the United States as immigrants in late 1915, and I had nothing to do with his past. Second, some of my wife’s ancestors gave their lives to free his slave ancestors, and she resented any implication of guilt on her and their part. (Should the blacks pay reparations to the descendants of Union Soldiers in the Civil War? The logic of such thinking is dangerous to all!)

But such thinking is commonplace. It usually is targeted at deep pockets, like the United States. For many, many centuries before the European slave trade, black slaves were sold by black rulers to the Muslim world and the Far East. This trade continued after the American trade and still exists. The trade to the West was a trickle compared to the eastern trade. But the United States has money, and a mush-head leadership and people! The same kind of thinking is common to nonreligious Jewish circles — not the Orthodox — who know God’s law. Despite some brutal times, it is still true that Jews were often protected from evil peoples by Christian rulers and popes. But neither the good nor the bad in our Christian past can be credited to us; we stand or fall before God in terms of our righteousness, not a borrowed one.

The same is true also of many churchmen, especially modernists. They acquire virtue in their own eyes by condemning past sins, not their present ones. There is no virtue before God in confessing our forefather’s sins as though this makes atonement for our own!

We live in a time when the confession of other people’s sins is a popular religious rite, while the confession of our own sins is forgotten. We are very conscious of past sins, of our forbears’, and of present corporate sins of various races, corporations, nations, and groups, but we are too seldom as ready to confess our own sins.

But our generation is unusually active in confessing the sins of the forefathers. If you refuse to join in this ritual, you are somehow at least morally retarded, if not evil! I have actually seen liturgies written for special occasions when one and all took part in an orgy of confessing the sins of previous generations, as though they had not enough of their own!

Almost none now use the old Office of Compline, in which the general confession reads, “I confess to Almighty God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and before all the company of heaven, that I have sinned, in thought, word and deed, through my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault: wherefore I pray Almighty God to have mercy on me, to forgive me all my sins, and to make clean my heart within me.”

I was in my twenties when I first read the sharp language of the Books of Homilies, from the 1500s, in a sermon, “Of the Misery of all Mankind” (pt. 1), on man’s Phariseeism and his devices in justifying himself: the sermon calls on all the earth to hear the word of the Lord and to humble themselves before the Lord, confessing their own sins. The magnificent concluding sentences read, “Wherefore, good people, let us beware of such hypocrisy, vainglory, and justifying of ourselves. Let us look upon our feet; and then down peacock’s feathers, down proud heart, down vile clay, frail and brittle vessels.” Amen.

THE FAMILY

  1. The Family

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 8, December 1979

The modern age has created a new view of law. Law is seen as confronting two realms; the one realm, the public sphere, belongs to the state and its law and jurisdiction. The other sphere is the private realm, which is outside the law of the state. The distinction is a modern fiction, created by the statists. Moreover, the right to define the extent of the public realm is reserved to the state. Naturally, the state has steadily increased its claims to the detriment of the private sphere, which has grown steadily smaller.

Furthermore, the state feels free to redefine what is public and what is private. Abortion was until recently in the public sphere, and legislated; now, it is more or less transferred to the private sphere, and a matter of opinion and private choice, not legislation. Homosexuality has been largely transferred from the public sphere, and legislative control, to the private sphere, and to free choice. Attempts are under way to make a similar transfer from public to private with prostitution, incest, and bestiality.

At the same time, other areas are being moved from the private to the public sphere: the family, especially children; the church and Christian school; medical practice, and much, much more.

At the heart of the evil of this current definition of law is the arrogant claim of the state to be the sole source of public law and the only definer thereof. This claim is as old as paganism, and yet it is fairly new in Christendom and is a product of the humanism of the modern age. Christian civilization has recognized several realms of public law, and the most notable of these has been family law. Other spheres of public law have included church law, (Christian) school law (as in the medieval university and since), merchant law, and more. The state held one sphere of public law among several, and it had no legitimate claim over other spheres.

The triumph of Christianity was also the triumph over the ancient pagan equation of the state with all public law. It was the fundamental principle of the pagan state that it was the sole public sphere, and its right to govern all of life, including the private sphere, was full and free. Plato’s Republic presupposes the right of the state to govern everything; this claim was not new to Plato; it was only his form of it that was different.

The early church resisted this claim at every turn. It rejected the claim of Caesar over the church, family, school, and more. The rapid change of Europe after the fall of Rome was due more to faith than to collapse. Europe moved from the centralization and the totalitarianism of Rome to a decentralized society. Flandrin has observed, “Christianity seems to have brought about the disappearance of the powers of the State over the child, and thereby increased the responsibilities of the parents as regards their maintenance and their education. These responsibilities were, at the same time, shared between the father and the mother” (Jean-Louis Flandrin, Families in Former Times: Kinship, Household and Sexuality in Early Modern France [New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1979], p. 176). Step by step, society was altered to conform to the Biblical pattern, to become the Kingdom of God. This conformity was never more than dimly or at best moderately approximated at any point, but the benefits are with us still. In particular, the family became the central public sphere.

In Scripture, the family is the basic institution of society, to whom all the most basic powers are given, save one: the death penalty. (Hence, the death penalty could not be executed on Cain.) The family is man’s basic government, his best school, and his best church. The decay of the family is the decay of civilization.

To review briefly the basic powers which Scripture gives to the family, the first is the control of children. The control of children is the control of the future. This power belongs neither to church nor state, nor to the school, but only to the family. This power is in the modern era, from the early 1800s, increasingly claimed by the state and its schools. Flandrin cited the disappearance of all statist powers over the child with the triumph of Christianity; today, with the retreat of Christianity into pietism, we see the increasing power of the state over both the child and the parents. Nothing will affect the disappearance of that power except a revival of Biblical faith.

Second, power over property is given in Scripture to the family. Modern man is used to thinking of two kinds of property control, private ownership and state ownership. The Bible affirms that “the earth is the Lord’s,” and God gives control of property into the hands of the family, not the state, nor the individual. We have survivals of this form of property control in various community property laws, which mean family property. Community here has the older sense of family. Here too, however, the state claims vast powers: to tax, to confiscate, to control, and in various other ways to play god over property. Community property laws are all too often simply a relic: the man sees the property as his, but as legally his wife’s only because of a legal necessity, not because his thinking is familistic.

Third, inheritance in Scripture is exclusively a family power, governed by God’s law. The eldest son gains a double portion, unless he is godless and or incompetent. The godly seed are blessed by an inheritance, and God’s Kingdom flourishes as a result. Now, however, the state claims prior right to the estate as the true elder son, offers to care for the surviving parent by means of welfare (which is usually needed, when the state claims its share), and makes itself the real executor of the estate. It supplants God’s laws of inheritance with its own.

Fourth, welfare is the responsibility of the family, beginning with the care of its own. Paul says plainly, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). The family’s duties towards fellow believers, strangers, widows, orphans, etc., are all strongly stressed in God’s law. However much neglected by the modern church, they are basic to Scripture. Paul declares of all who do not care for their own that such have “denied the faith.” Again, the state has moved into the area of welfare, not because of any godly or humanitarian concern for people, but to gain power over man and society.

Fifth, education, a basic power, is given by God to the family as its power and responsibility. The modern state claims the right to control and provide education, and it challenges the powers of the family in this area also. Education in the modern age is statist predominantly. Statist education in the United States has led to the highest illiteracy rate in its history.

Today, the attack on the family is being stepped up. Humanistic statism sees control of the child and the family as basic to its drive towards totalitarianism. Every revolutionary movement sees control over the family and the child as central to its goal. This goal was set forth by Fidel Castro as the creation of a new man, a fundamentally humanistic, altruistic man, a perfectible man. The family must give way to the Family of Man. In a speech on July 26, 1960, Castro said: “In a Communist society, man will have succeeded in achieving just as much understanding, closeness, and brotherhood as he has on occasion achieved within the narrow circle of his own family. To live in a Communist society is to live without selfishness, to live among the people and with the people, as if every one of our fellow citizens were really our dearest brother” (cited in Marvin Leiner, Children Are the Revolution: Day Care in Cuba [New York, NY: Viking Press, 1974], p. 16). As Leiner noted, “The Cuban early-childhood education program, therefore, is only the first step on the road to educating the entire population” (p. 6).

Various groups in the United States and Europe have been producing manifesto after manifesto, setting forth “Children’s Rights,” “Youth Rights,” “A Child’s Bill of Rights,” and like pretentious documents. These are presented as the last word in liberalism and radicalism. They are, in fact, reactionary, going back to the worst in paganism and in decaying cultures and civilizations. These set forth the supposed right of the child or children to sexual freedom, which often means the “right” to be exploited by others; the right to political power, i.e., voting, office-holding, etc.; the right to divorce themselves from their parents, and so on.

These plans must be taken seriously. With the International Year of the Child, every state save one is issuing pronouncements which strike at the heart of the Biblical doctrine of the family. The one exception is Alabama, where a superior governor, who believes that Christian faith means profession with action, has turned to Christians for the state’s guidelines with respect to the child. What these revolutionary plans on the part of the enemies of the family call for is really the end of Biblical laws governing the family, the abolition of the family, and a “new man” created by humanism and in terms of humanism’s goals.

The sexual revolution was in large measure a revolt against God’s laws concerning sexuality and the family. Its goal was far less love and more obviously hatred, hatred of God and man alike. It called for the depersonalization of sex in order to depersonalize man, i.e., to dehumanize man in the name of humanism. Very early in the sexual freedom movement, one prominent advocate called for the same freedom demanded by the Cynics of ancient Greece, to copulate openly in public like dogs.

When the state claims totally the public realm and denies any of it to the family and the church, it destroys man in the process. By obliterating all other claims, it reduces man to a creature of the state, under the public law of the state. Man becomes then public man, even in his copulation!

But man is created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26–28), and neither man nor the state can alter that fact. Efforts to do so destroy those who attempt it. History is littered with civilizations which undermined the family. The family is God’s ordained life for man, and it endures.

  1. The Family

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 208, January 1997

Boswell, in his biography of Samuel Johnson, tells us that he observed to Johnson “of the little attachment which subsisted between near relations in London.” Johnson answered, “Sir, in a country so commercial as ours where every man can do for himself, there is not so much occasion for the attachment. No man is thought worse of here, whose brother was hanged.”

Owen Chadwick, in The Popes and European Revolution (1981), called attention to the use, at one time, of papal nephews as cardinals to assist the pope. This was common at one time and approved of, because a pope needed a close associate who would be loyal. The moral duty of family loyalty was very important, and it was held that a pope needed a loyal associate. This system at times led to problems, but it was also very often the best solution to problems.

At a later date, opinion turned against such officers in church, state, or business, and it was called nepotism to employ relatives. The culture of institutions had shifted to a bureaucratic one.

Now, there is no question that every system ever employed has led to problems, both the use of relatives and nonrelatives being subject to the same temptations of sin. Some powers, such as Byzantium, tried to keep the bureaucracy pure by employing only eunuchs to avoid the temptation to self-aggrandizement.

But no system has been immune to sin, and the family system has worked better than is today admitted. True enough, over the years congressmen have at times padded their rolls with nonworking relatives, but also with non-relatives. The real issue is whether or not the present hostility to nepotism is valid.

Today, of course, preferring your “own kind” is viewed adversely, but people of all nations and races tend to do this. Evil begins when they treat other groups with hostility and resentment.

But loyalty is important. Too often we hear of employee problems caused by a total lack of loyalty. For example, a young man not unlike many others, with a pregnant wife, stole from his employer routinely, was caught, and fired. He felt no obligation to be honest with a stranger; what he had never done to friends and family, he did casually with his employer. Samuel Johnson was right. In modern culture, there is an erosion of loyalty — in some areas even within the family.

The state and modern culture have eroded the family in many strata of society, and the erosion is now devastating to communities. In some families, there is a distrust of one’s own children.

As against this, homeschooling and Christian schooling are strengthening the family greatly. A familiar sign in small towns in my childhood read, “John Doe & Son,” or the “Johnson Brothers.” Family enterprises were highly regarded in business and in the professions.

Christian faith was then still sufficiently strong that to honor father and mother was not only commonplace but highly regarded. Parents commonly regarded a high standard of performance as necessary, and the children were expected to maintain the family’s honor when working for others.

In most cases, what is now called “nepotism” was then seen as the most exacting kind of work. I can recall many comments by sons working for their fathers about the strictness of the requirements made of them. This was true of Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Jews. If a young man went to work for someone else, the admonition was, “Now don’t disgrace!”

The family was a strict and efficient teacher. It has now, in many quarters, become indulgent and careless, with sad results.

The family is God’s basic institution for us. We are now seeing a return to the centrality of the family, only a beginning, true, but a real one. But anything other than the family leads to a culture of death, to social demoralization such as we see all around us. With some, it means a downgrading of their own future. At times, young men will abandon the opportunity to continue their father’s line of work, even though they like it, under the mistaken notion that they need to strike out on their own!

But to defend and uphold the family is to defend the future of civilization.

  1. The Attack Against the Family

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 23, August 1981

Earlier this year (1981), I was a witness in the trial of some fathers for having their children in a Christian school which refused to submit to state controls. Some of the fathers were prominent citizens of that county. The charges against them were criminal charges. The state’s attorney general granted immunity to their wives, who were then compelled to take the stand and testify against their husbands or face contempt of court charges.

At two points, this step meant a radical break with Biblical law. First, according to Scripture, husband and wife are “one flesh,” a community of life, and members one of another (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5–6; Eph. 5:22–33). As a result, the one cannot testify against the other; spousal testimony for the prosecution is thus barred. Second, the testimony must come from two or more witnesses (Deut. 17:6; Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15; John 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28). Confession in itself is not enough to convict; there has to be corroborating evidence, as in Achan’s case (Josh. 7:20–23). As a result, enforced confession is rendered meaningless, because corroboration and witnesses are required.

As a result of these laws, very early, despite abuses, justice reached a remarkably high level in Israel. Torture had no place in the law, and the burden of proof was placed on witnesses and the court. This Biblical principle had difficulty establishing itself in barbarian Europe. Legal processes were much simpler, given the “right” to use spousal testimony, or the “right” to torture. Historians for many years treated all victims of such legal procedures as necessarily innocent. Now, some scholars are finding that the evidences indicate a high rate of guilt. Then as now, a high percentage of those arrested were guilty men; because conviction was held to be desirable, ungodly and evil means were used to secure it, i.e., torture, enforced confessions, and spousal testimony.

The Fifth Amendment, and the legal bars against spousal testimony, represent one of the slowest yet most important victories in legal history. That victory is now being compromised, and the door opened to legal terrorism.

Many Americans were delighted, a few years ago, when members of criminal syndicates were brought before congressional committees, granted immunity, and ordered to testify. To have testified meant death for these men from their cohorts; to refuse to testify meant jail for contempt of court. A clever ploy, that, most Americans thought, failing to realize that the same tactics could be used against them. Moreover, few realized that the horrors of Tudor and Stuart England, and such instruments of tyranny as the Star Chamber proceedings, now have their revival in the arbitrary powers of congressional committees and bureaucratic agencies. Congress and the bureaucracy are the old tyrant writ large.

Moreover, at the same time, several states are relaxing the laws against spousal testimony. The stage is set for the kind of tyranny which prevails in the Soviet Union. It is dangerous there for a husband and wife to know too much about each other: it can be forced out of them. As a result, there is little exchange of confidence, in many cases, and yet, even with that, there are coerced false testimonies.

Even worse, some very foolish churchmen refuse to see that a problem exists. Legal convictions are more important to them than the doctrine of Christian marriage, and the moral value of freedom. It is important to remember that the goal of the law is not conviction but justice, and, in Biblical law, justice is not only a matter of righteousness in life and society but also in all procedures of law. God’s law specifies the laws of evidence, hearings, and more, because justice is basic to every step of the conduct of the agencies of law, in church and state alike.

Moreover, to endanger the family is to endanger the basic institution of society according to Biblical law. The family is under attack. First, as we have seen, the unity of the twain as one flesh is being attacked by the weakening of the laws against spousal testimony. Such a step reduces marriage to a matter of sexual and economic convenience rather than the basic God-ordained unit of society. It is an anarchistic and atomistic step.

Second, abortion legalizes murder in the life of the family at the option of the mother, so that the cradle of life becomes a place of death. God gives to the family all the basic powers in society (control of children, property, inheritance, welfare, and education) save one, the death penalty. This is the reason why Cain was not executed for murder; all those then living were his immediate family. Ancient paganism, as in Rome, gave the father the power to destroy his own children. Our modern paganism, humanism, is even worse: it gives this power to the mother, so that the very womb or matrix of life becomes also the place of murder. (Will the children of mothers who aborted a brother or sister as readily espouse euthanasia for their parents in the days ahead?) Abortion goes hand in hand with a contempt for the Biblical doctrine of the family. As Kent Kelly (Abortion: The American Holocaust [Southern Pines, NC: Calvary Press NC, 1981]) points out, abortion has taken more lives than all the wars in our history, which, from 1775 to 1975, took 1,205,291 lives, whereas deaths by abortion are ca. 8,000,000.

Third, the family is under attack because its Biblical legal powers are being replaced by statist powers over the family. The Biblical family is the basic law order, so that it is more than a sexual arrangement. If the family is not more than a sexual arrangement, then any and all sexual arrangements can claim equivalent privileges, as they are now doing. The Bible, however, sees the union of man and woman as the basic law order and the fundamental unit of society. Marriage creates a new unit: the twain become one flesh. As such, they have powers and responsibilities possessed by no other element of society. The family is the matrix of the future, and as a result God entrusts the control of the future to the family, not to the church or to the state. Both church and state have a duty to protect the family, not to control it. Biblical law, by giving control over children, property, inheritance, welfare, and education to the family, ensures that it will be the matrix of the future (see Chalcedon Position Paper No. 8, “The Family.”[2])

Because the state is given the power of the death penalty, it is the most dangerous agency of all for man to entrust any planning to; the state plans by means of coercion, so that its planning for the future inescapably involves repressive legislation, taxation, controls, regulations, and, sooner or later, the death penalty. For the state to be made the agency for planning and future development is a form of social suicide: the hangman has one solution to social problems, and it is a swinging one. Without agreeing with all that he meant by it, we can echo Martin Luther’s comment that the prince or the state is God’s hangman. To make the hangman our caretaker and planner is the height of stupidity, but it is also a folly that modern man is very much addicted to.

Fourth, the family as the basic unit is being replaced in some circles by the atomistic individual. The rise of this social atomism has preceded much of what we are describing. The Playboy philosophy and mentality is an example of this atomism. The ultimate arbiter of all things becomes the atomistic and anarchistic individual. Early in the 1970s, Dorothy and I met a young woman in her mid-twenties; her beauty was remarkable and startling, and her two little daughters shared her beauty. Her husband had left her; he said frankly that he had no complaints: she was “tops” in every department, but he was “bored” with living with one woman and supporting a household. He wanted freedom to use his money as he saw fit and to do as he pleased without a “guilt-trip.” Such moral anarchism is widespread and increasingly vocal. It is simply original sin, the desire of man to be his own god and law, determining for himself what constitutes good and evil (Gen. 3:5).

Such moral anarchists talk much about the separation of church and state. For them it means freedom from religion, and the enforced silence of Christians on all matters of law and morality (see Frank Brady on the Playboy position in Hefner [1974] pp. 219–220). Such people want to abolish religious freedom in favor of religious toleration. Toleration was the position of ancient Rome: a religion was tolerated if it submitted to licensure, regulation, taxation, controls, and certification, and, with all this, was silent where Rome wanted religion to be silent.

It was apparent, after the November 1980 U.S. election, that great segments of the press and U.S. federal government want to abolish religious freedom in favor of religious toleration. This is clearly the policy of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (and not even as outwardly tolerant as the Turkey of the murderous Sultans).

No small contributing factor to the rise of this atomism has been the rise of pietism in the modern era. Christianity was reduced to the experience of the individual soul. Now, certainly the conversion of the individual is the starting point, but it is the starting point, not the sum total, of Christian faith and life. To so limit Christianity, as pietism has done, is comparable to limiting all literature to the alphabet and abolishing all poetry, history, law, and more, in the name of the purity of the alphabet.

We began with a court case, and the compelling of spousal testimony. People who fail to see the far-reaching implications of that case have retreated from the world-encompassing scope of our Lord’s word, power, and government to a small-scale god and religion. They may love their family, but they fail to see its meaning under God.

This is the key: all things must be viewed, not from the perspective of the state, nor the individual, but in terms of God and His law-word. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Ps. 36:9). This is as true of the family as all things else.

The modern age is given to absurd humanistic platitudes to justify its moral idiocy. Isadora Duncan, for example, once said, very self-righteously, “Nudity is truth . . . Therefore, it can never be vulgar; it can never be immoral.” This she said in Boston, from the stage of Symphony Hall, whereupon she tore her tunic down and bared one of her breasts. What her sententious spoutings failed to say was that people can be vulgar, and people can be immoral, and Isadora Duncan was both vulgar and immoral.

The world is full of such nonsense in all quarters. Cotton Mather, who should have known better, wrote, in Manuductio ad Ministerium (1726), “My Son, I advise you to consider yourself as a Dying Person . . . I move you, I press you, To remember how short your time is . . .” What he should have said was: Remember, you are a living person under God, accountable for all your talents and days. If you are faithful and responsible in life, you have nothing to fear from death. The best preparation for death is life, and the God-ordained matrix and locale for life is the family. Therefore, rejoice in the wife of thy youth (Prov. 5:15–21); praise God our Savior, and serve Him in all things with all your heart, mind, and being.

  1. Social Planning and the Family

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 177, July 1994

In the middle of the fourth century a.d., history’s most radical communist revolution occurred in Persia. What had been a powerful civilization was overthrown by the Mazdakites, who instituted a total communism of all wealth, property, and women. Proof of agreement with the revolutionist was required: this meant incest, mothers with sons, fathers with daughters, to demonstrate agreement with the Mazdakites. This revolution, antifamily to the core, was finally overthrown after some years by Khosroes Anosharvan II, but the damage had been done. In time, the Turks overthrew Persia.

Eleven centuries later, Sir Thomas More (1478–1535) wrote Utopia (1516). He reduced marriage to its physical level. A man inspected his bride naked before agreeing to marry her. (More used the same method with his daughter.) While More professed to be a devout Catholic, his career revealed him to be a dedicated statist.

In the nineteenth century, John Humphrey Noyes (1811–1886) was the founder of the Oneida Colony, an experiment in voluntary communism. All his followers pooled their property; Oneida became famous for its sexual communism, but few realize that Noyes at first planned on celibacy, like the Shakers, before turning to free love.

This raised an important question which is basic to any understanding of various social experiments. They are usually very hostile to marriage and the family. They prefer to favor celibacy, “free love,” homosexuality, group marriages, and other expedients as an alternative to monogamous marriage. The reason for this is a very important one.

The Biblical family controls all the basic powers of life other than the death penalty. The Biblical family controls children, property, inheritance, welfare, education, and more. It has more powers than state or church. It is the most powerful force in society, and it governs the future.

Every institution seeking to dominate society and to shape the future must work against the family, or else recognize it as the basic institution.

At present, state schools, statist welfare, state control and taxation of property (which is anti-Biblical), inheritance taxes, and more, all challenge the family’s priority and seek to further the growth of state power. Legislation and taxation penalize the family while favoring “alternate lifestyles” as legitimate.

Sociologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and others have seen the family as the nursery of neurosis and evil. Freud, for example, saw the family and sex as the root of personal problems, but he failed to write about the family’s potential for good. One of the first objectives of humanistic education is to sever the tie between the student and the family. Whereas freedom and family life were once equated, now our intellectuals see freedom as deliverance from the family and its morality.

Again and again in history, social and political revolutions have been preceded by a war against the family. The Ancién Regime in France did not realize that their Sadean ways, their contempt for sexual virtues, and their treatment of marriage as a joke prepared the way for their execution. They had eroded the major anchor in society for stability and character. By making the family an object of contemptuous humor, they prepared the way for the erosion of all things save the power state.

The war against the family often has very “idealistic” goals. Social life as against family life is stressed. World brotherhood, as against the supposedly narrow ties of family and blood, is promoted. It is held that world harmony, peace, and brotherhood require the bypassing and downgrading of family and blood ties. Men like Charles Horton Cooley have held that human nature is a group nature. It is not a product of creation nor of a fall of man, but of society. Human nature is a group nature. This means that a primary goal of education must be socialization. As a result, it is held that Christian schools and especially home schools are dangerously inadequate in failing to provide the desired socialization.

The Christian family sees itself as under God, not under the state, and this is offensive to the statist. The Christian stresses chastity strongly because it means loyalty to the family and to God: it is a virtue in the old sense of the word, a strength because it reinforces family life.

If, however, the family is seen in terms of humanistic statism, chastity is absurd and unduly possessive. It is, for the statist, replaced by the uncompromising faith in a one-world state, in the family of man, and in personal fulfillment, not under God nor in marriage, but in humanity and its unity. Humanistic “chastity” is its total belief and devotion to the family of man and its worldwide social order.

Thus humanism can be very tolerant of all kinds of sexual deviancy, but it reacts instinctively against the family because it cannot tolerate a rival faith. Chastity has behind it God’s mandate, i.e., a supernaturally required order and way of life, and this is anathema to the statist. The question is, whose order shall prevail, God’s or man’s? John Humphrey Noyes saw the issue: either celibacy or “free love,” anything except Biblical marriage. He knew that he could not command diverse peoples if he allowed the institution of monogamous marriage to exist.

The war against the family goes on all around us. The best way to eliminate the church is to eliminate the family. Utopians have tried repeatedly to eliminate the family as the center by stressing values such as art. More than a few colonies with art as the focus were started by the hippies and their successors in the 1970s. One group stressed in their artwork “animals and people holding hands with each other” (Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Commitment and Community [1972, 1973], p. 43). Kanter noted, “to many Utopians, monogamous marriage also represents a barrier in the road to brotherhood. Marriage is seen as exclusive possession, a kind of slavery, as well as a source of jealousy and tension” (ibid., p. 44). Ironically, the utopian colonies commonly became centers of jealousy and tension! And why not, when those who excel, such as doctors, are required to put in much time as janitors!

Their goal is to make a vision become reality. The dream assumes the goodness of all peoples, given the opportunity. The utopian group seeks to replace the Biblical family with a broader family, but the fact of sin warps and destroys the utopian colony.

Every social experiment that seeks to destroy the family in time destroys itself. God’s fundamental order cannot be legislated out of existence. Man is God’s creation and creature, and neither church, state, school, nor any other agency can subvert or overturn that fact.

The social planners have repeatedly over the centuries tried to eliminate the Biblical family, and they have always failed. God’s plan predates theirs, is inescapable, and is predestined to prevail. What God has ordained no social planner can long put asunder.

  1. The Definition of Man

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 58, January 1985

One of the problems of our time is the inadequacy and failure of men to be truly men under God. The popular images of masculinity are caricatures, and the “macho” idea ludicrous and absurd.

Because God created man, only God can define a man. The humanistic definitions are thus perversions which warp all who live by them.

According to the Bible, “man” was created by God in His image, and “male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). This tells us two things: first, the word “man” here is inclusive of male and female, so that, despite the difference in the time of their creation, male and female are alike comprehended as “man” and as a unity in God’s purpose. Second, although there are differences, both male and female are created in God’s image. The Shorter Catechism (Q. 10) tells us, “God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures” (Gen. 1:27–28; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24). The Larger Catechism (Q. 20) tells us also that the providence of God toward man includes responsibility, marriage, communion with Himself, the sabbath, and the covenant of life with its requirement of “perpetual obedience.” Thus, man is defined by God in terms of and in relation to Himself.

For men to seek a self-definition is a sin, and for men to define women in terms of themselves compounds the sin. In Ephesians 5:21–33, we have a much abused text concerning male and female. It is important to note that the command to love is given to the man concerning his wife, not to the wife concerning her husband. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Even as Christ is the head of the church to protect and care for it, so too must the husband be. His headship is not a “Gentile” fact, one of lording it over his wife. The general command to male and female, to all Christians in their relationships, is in “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” There is for both a hierarchy of authorities, first of all God, and then the community. In their human relationships, they are to be “members one of another” (Eph. 4:25), and, because of this, submit their will to the common good in Christ.

We are called and required to serve God unquestioningly. We cannot, however, serve any man so, for such an obedience would be a form of idolatry. Scripture presents Sarah as the model for wives (1 Pet. 3:6), and certainly Sarah spoke plainly and bluntly to Abraham (Gen. 21:9–10), but God on at least one occasion told Abraham, “in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice” (Gen. 21:12). For a woman to be silent and obedient to evil is a sin; it is morally wrong, and it makes her an accessory to the evil.

Unhappily, we have too many people promoting the idea of an unquestioning and servile obedience by wives to their husbands; this is to promote idolatry in the name of faithfulness. Some wives are guilty of a superobedience as a part of a false piety; they expect God to bless them and give them miracles if they make doormats of themselves. God created the woman to be man’s helpmeet in the dominion mandate (Gen. 2:18), not to be his slave, doormat, or idolatrous servitor.

Moreover, the calling of man, male and female, is to be responsible and accountable, supremely to God, but also to one another. Our Lord says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). This means that both male and female, although especially males, have very great responsibilities and an accountability one to another: they are not their own: they belong to Christ (1 Cor. 6:19–20), and, after that, to one another, so that mutual consent is the premise in all things, including sexual abstinence or activity (1 Cor. 7:5).

This premise, that we are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19), is thus applied to all human relations, and especially to marriage. Male and female are accountable one to another in marriage; headship thus on the human level involves “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21). The greater the responsibility, the greater the accountability, and the greater the realm of accountability. The accountability of a senator is great, but not equal to that of the president. The accountability of the husband is greater than that of the wife.

Reality is hierarchical. Modern man, with his radical equalitarianism, is unwilling to see that there are gradations of authority and ability in all the world. One of the first things dropped by every equalitarian revolution, including the Russian Revolution, is the practice of equality. Equalitarian demands are usually the prelude to a new realignment of status and the coming to power of a new elite.

Elitism is the insistence and attempt of self-appointed leaders to assume a total power over society. Elitism is opposed to the idea of hierarchy, because hierarchy means sacred rule, i.e., authority in terms of a God-appointed order. The authority of a father and mother is God-ordained and to be used in terms of God’s law: it is hierarchical. Elitism sets man-made standards and requires others to meet them; it means that man plays god and requires the world to bow down to his word.

Because man is created by God and defined by God, man’s authority is hierarchical. Both male and female have a hierarchical power which is basic to life and necessary to social order.

In all authority, the primacy of God is the foundation. If God’s primary and absolute authority be denied, all authority crumbles. All men then seek to do that which is right in their own eyes. If men will not be ruled by God, they lose the capacity to rule. Men who will not be ruled by God cannot rule themselves nor others. They can at best or worst be tyrants, not authorities.

Moreover, to deny God means ultimately to deny definition and meaning in every realm. The sexual chaos of our time is a logical one, for to deny God is to deny the meaning of all things, including male and female. The effort by men to define themselves apart from God is suicidal, because it substitutes an empty, humanistic perspective for the Biblical one. Because God is the creator of all things in heaven and on earth, only His order is the natural one. To depart from God’s order is sin, a disturbance of the natural order of life.

Furthermore, because, as Paul says, we are members one of another in Christ, for men and women to put down one another is to put down themselves even more; because in marriage male and female become one flesh, a community of life, they cannot take advantage of one another without harming themselves. Life is not ordained by God to be lived in isolation from God and from one another. It is “not good” for man to be alone, God tells us.

But loneliness is much more than being alone. A man can be lonely in a crowd, if his life is out of focus. Loneliness is most deadly when we are out of touch with life, and to be out of touch with God is to be out of touch with life. We cannot see reality as it is unless we see all things as God’s creation and of necessity understandable only in terms of God’s law-word. Without faith in the triune God, our lives and vision are out of focus, and we are not in touch with reality.

Our Lord tells us, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness (or, justice)” (Matt. 6:33). If we seek first our will and our hopes, we warp our lives and our perspectives. Failure to live in terms of reality and an insistence that our will constitutes the real and the true is insanity, and this insanity is endemic to fallen man. It is basic to our world’s problems and evils, and also to our own. Our Lord says plainly that it is God’s rule and justice we must seek first, i.e., above all things else. Only then, He says, will “all these things (which you desire) shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). In other words, our hopes have no place in God’s purposes unless His rule and justice have priority with us.

Males who seek their own will first warp every area of life which they touch. Whereas Christ, their model, “loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25), such men make themselves, not their families, the center of their lives. They thus impose a warp on the lives of their families, and on all who are either associated with them or under them. Precisely because in God’s order the family is the basic and central institution in life, to warp the family at the central point of human authority has repercussions of a radical sort. Society as a whole is then distorted and rendered ungodly.

Our calling requires us to give God the glory and the priority in all things. David tells us that God made man “a little lower than the angels, and . . . crowned him with glory and honour” to have “dominion over the works” of God’s hands; “thou hast put all things under his feet” (Ps. 8:5–6). When men deny God the Lord, they deny also their calling. As a result, instead of having dominion, men fall under the dominion of sin. Their moral universe is turned upside down, and their true strength denied.

Julianus Pomerius (ca. a.d. 497), in The Contemplative Life, wrote that “faith . . . is the foundation of justice.” For there to be justice, or righteousness, in the world, there must first be faith, men of faith. Faith, and its consequence, justice, make us aware that we are not our own, that we are part of a God-created order with a responsibility to God and to one another. As Julianus Pomerius added, “From justice equity also flows, which makes us call the necessities of all men our own and makes us believe we were born not for ourselves alone but also for mankind in general.” “Born not for ourselves alone!” Man in his sin sees the whole world as existing for his pleasure, to be used as he wills it. But “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” For this we were created, for this we were ordained and born. To deny our nature and calling is to destroy our true freedom and to warp our being. As God’s creatures, we are also called to love one another, and to be members one of another.

Our Lord tells us that the meaning of God’s law can be summarized in two commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22:37–39). These two sentences tell us what all of God’s law deals with; the law gives us the specific ways in which our love of God and of our neighbor is to be manifested. God’s law, James 1:25 and 2:12 tells us, is “the perfect law of liberty.” An attempt recently to place an animal heart in a human baby was a disaster; the human body rejected the alien heart. When man is given an alien law, any law other than God’s law, an even greater rejection factor is at work. Instead of liberty, the alien law produces death. The more a society departs from God’s law, the closer it is to death.

The macho male and feminist female images warp life and replace liberty with social suicide.

In this development, false theology has played a key role. As Ann Douglas, in The Feminization of American Culture, shows so tellingly, America’s departure from Calvinism led to a feminization of both theology and culture, as well as of the clergy.

Not surprisingly, the liberal clergy was regarded as effeminate, and people spoke of the three sexes, men, women, and preachers. We now see the consequences of that long and unhappy development. One of the common problems across the country is the oppression of the clergy by whining and complaining parishioners. The pastor is expected to serve the whims of sniveling men and whining women, not Christ the Lord. If he fails to do their bidding and play his sanctimonious part, the complaint is that “he is not a spiritual man.” Some peoples redefine man and the church in terms of themselves. (A particularly fine pastor was recently told by a nasty old wretch, “You’re not doing enough for us senior citizens”; the complainer had only one demand of the church, that it serve him, not that he serve the Lord.)

Until men define themselves in terms of the Lord, His Kingdom, His law, and His justice, our society’s troubles will only increase. Man has no right to define himself. God did that on the day of creation.

  1. The Failure of Men

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 36, January 1983

The roots of every cultural crisis rest in personal crises. The failure of a culture is the failure of the men in it. A society cannot be vital and possessed of an on-going vigor if the men therein are marked by a loss of faith, a retreat from responsibility, and an unwillingness to cope with personal problems. A culture loses its will to live and to conquer if its members manifest a spirit of retreat and surrender.

In the cultural crisis of our time, the role of men is particularly significant. When we say “men” in this context we mean males, not humanity as a whole. How little true masculinity they in general possess is manifested in their predilection for role-playing. The macho image is cultivated in dress, speech, and behavior; the façade of a man replaces a man. Role-playing is basic to our times; people play a part, they act out a role, because the reality of their being is far less important than their public image. The roots of role-playing go deep into the modern mentality.

The foundations of modern philosophy are in Descartes. His thinking made the individual consciousness the world’s basic reality and the starting point of all philosophy. Man’s ego, the “I,” took precedence over God and the world. Not surprisingly, the logic of this led to Hume, who dispensed with God and the world as epiphenoma, and even the mind was eroded to the point that it was only momentary states of consciousness rather than a reality. Immanuel Kant went a step further; things in themselves, i.e., realities, are unknowable and only phenomena can be known. The real world is thus not a valid area of knowledge, because we can only know appearances. As Schopenhauer put it, the world is will and idea.

Philosophy thus set the stage for the substitution of role-playing, i.e., phenomena, for the real man, the thing in itself, reality. It could thus be said that clothes make the man (or woman), and that a good front is essential; appearances become everything.

Appearances began to replace reality in personal relations as well as in national policy, both domestic and foreign. The results have been devastating. Role-playing in the theater ends commonly in a curtain call and a paycheck. In real life, politics, role-playing leads instead to disaster.

The result is the failure of men, of males. Early in the modern era (only in the nineteenth century in the United States), men abandoned the family and its responsibilities to their wives, and religion was similarly relegated to women as their concern. Men chose irresponsibility, and the double standard became a way of life. Of course, men insisted on all the Biblical authority given to a man while denying its responsibilities, forgetting that all human authority in Scripture is conditional upon obedience to God. No absolute authority is given to man in any sphere, and all authority has service to both God and man as its purpose, not self-promotion or aggrandizement.

The women’s liberation movement is simply the attempt by women to claim the irresponsibilities which today constitute male rights, for themselves. The purpose of the children’s liberation movement is to claim like privileges of irresponsibility for children.

Logically, men who cannot govern themselves will not be able to govern successfully their families, vocations, or nations. The most famous American president of the twentieth century could not handle his money nor his own affairs, but he sought to rule the world. More than a few presidents have been like him. Of another man, twice a candidate for president, his ex-wife wrote a poem to the effect that men who cannot rule their nanny, wife, children, or nurse, are prone to seek to rule the universe! Not surprisingly, our worldwide cultural crisis is rooted in the failure of men. The remarkable fact of our era is not that we have had an, at times, aggressive women’s liberation movement but that the vast majority of women have patiently endured the willful immaturity of men.

As a high school student, I was interested in athletics and earned two or three “letters” on the team of one sport; as a university student, I had no time to watch a single game. Since then, I have had an occasional interest in some sports. What amazes me is that men who never played while in school, nor showed much or any interest in sports then, will now show a startling devotion to televised sports. It almost seems as though any refuge from maturity and reality is desired, and spectator sports are a good substitute for the real world and its problems.

The pleasures of maturity and reality are to be found in family and work, in worship and in growth in the faith. If maturity and reality are not desired and seen as fulfillment, then role-playing, which stresses a public image and perpetual youth (or immaturity), will be basic to man’s way of life. (For the Chalcedon Reports since September 1965, one of the ugliest and most hostile reactions I have received was to a one-sentence reference about the pathetic absurdity of a woman over eighty dressed in a bikini! I was told that it was evil for me to question her “right” to play the role of a teenager!) Although role-playing is common to men, women, and children, it is the failure of men because of their role-playing which has the deepest roots and the most tragic consequences. The abdication of men from their responsibilities as husbands and fathers is having sad results in family life.

This abdication does not end in the family. Again and again, all over the country, I have heard men say that they welcome union rules which prevent or make difficult the firing of any man. The responsibility of telling a man that he lacks competency is something they do not want. Some have closed down a particular department and laid off two or three good men to get rid of one incompetent one. An engineer in a plant dealing with federal contracts said that hiring was on a wholesale basis with new contracts; it would quickly become apparent that many of the engineers were only paper shufflers, but nothing would be done, because the contract would terminate in a year! At the end of the year, another plant with a new contract would hire the same unchallenged incompetents; no man ever had a bad record follow him. Whether in business, in the academic community, or in civil government, nothing is done that is decisive. Presidential candidates promise cuts and clean-ups but as president do nothing. Being role-playing men, they are good candidates and very poor executives.

The Madison Avenue approach has triumphed; advertising an appearance and playing a role have replaced reality. Manhood is now a front, not a reality, to our culture in its popular manifestations. Manhood is popularly defined, not in terms of God, calling, and family, but in terms of money and status, i.e., in terms of ability to present the right public image.

The church has done much to further this trend. Instead of an unswerving insistence on the unity of faith and works, profession and action, it has been ready to stress pious gush and surface instead of the reality of faith. As a result, pulpit and pew are given to role-playing. Now role-playing by churchmen is first of all an attempt to con God, the supreme act of arrogance. It has long been known that “con” men are most readily victimized by other “con” men. This is no less true in the church. The old proverb is true: like priest, like people, and also, like people, like priest. The role players find one another, or, to cite another good bit of proverbial wisdom, birds of a feather flock together.

Our Lord says, “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20), a sentence constantly evaded as excuse makers try to offer a profession of faith (role-playing) for the reality thereof. Labels replace reality. If a man labels himself Christian, we are told we must take him for one. If a man calls himself a Christian lawyer, or a Christian politician, we are told it is wrong to call attention to the discrepancy between his profession and his actions. To do so is “judgmental” and a sin, it is held; the practical consequence is that those who are judged are they who expose sin, not those who commit it!

The result is a strange religious climate of surface faith. The church is full of millions who profess this surface faith, whom Paul describes as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof (2 Tim. 3:5). We thus have people who want no tampering with their religion, while they refuse to allow their religion to tamper with them! One of the most obvious facts about God, however, is that He does more than tamper with us! He breaks us to remake us.

Our cultural crisis rests in the retreat of males from the responsibilities and duties of manhood. The faith has been sentimentalized, and a sentimental faith is unable to produce more than pious gush. The richness of life’s spheres and all the varieties of institutional responsibilities have been eroded. Men do not see themselves as priests, prophets, and kings under God. Biblical law emphasizes the local and personal origins of government. All men are to be elders, rulers, under God, rulers over families, vocations, and the institutions of which they are a part. Over every ten families, there is to be an elder over ten, then over fifty, a hundred, thousands and so on up. The hundreds were once a basic unit of law and court structures. All men had to be men or pay a price for their refusal. In Scripture, the man who chose to live by subsidy had to have his ears pierced as a public witness to his rejection of a man’s responsibility and freedom in favor of security.

The ironic fact is that when men cease to be men, they commonly pretend to be men, the macho role, or, more often, they seek to play God. Man’s original sin is to try to be as God, every man his own god, knowing or determining for himself what is good and evil (Gen. 3:5). Some scientists have tried to use science to gain this goal. Dr. Joshua Lederberg holds that we shall enter a post-human age, one in which science will, through genetic engineering, create superhuman men, man-gods, who will have none of the infirmities of present-day men. Science will be able to regrow defective organs such as a liver or a heart, a uterus will be implanted in a male body to produce a child, and so on and on. Because of the respect for the status of such scientists, their fantasies are not subjected to the ridicule they deserve.

Let us assume for a moment that these mad dreams are possible. Will the human predicament be any better? Will man’s moral dereliction be solved, or will it not rather be enhanced to produce a demonic world order?

Moreover, will the men who do these things, and the men to whom they are done, be more-responsible men? It is clear that our scientific community shows no advantage over the rest of the population in integrity, responsibility, and a capacity to function as a husband and father! The dreams of these scientists solve no problems; they evade them.

One reason for the uneasiness of many men at the feminist challenge is that the indictment strikes home. However, conceding to the feminists is no substitute for responsibility but a further abdication.

Margaret Wade Labarge, in her study of Henry V (b. 1387), comments on the state of things in that era. Religion had become a superstructure, taken for granted by all. Everyone was given to conventional religious practices with neither commitment nor much concern. The clergy was dedicated to a “decent formalism.” Henry V perhaps took his faith a bit more seriously than most, and, as an administrator, he sought to keep all things functioning in their proper order and place. One would have to say that he functioned better than most heads of state today and that society had a better focus on justice then than now.

There was, however, a silent and growing erosion, the erosion of faith and therefore of men. The crisis in English society was deferred, not resolved.

In our time, the crisis is past deferment. The time has come for men to ground themselves in the whole counsel of God, to be responsible, mature, and venturesome. There can be no resolution of our world crisis without a resolution of the crisis in male responsibility. To blame conspiracies (however real some may be), special problems, the past, and more, are all evasions if men do not assume their responsibilities today as a privilege and a duty under God.

  1. The Place of Women

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 47, February 1984

One of the chronic problems of men is that too often they react instead of acting. The terms and nature of the problems of life are set by their opposition rather than by themselves, and the reactions are foolish.

This has all too often been true of the reactions of men, both Christian and non-Christian, to the women’s liberation movement. The results are sometimes painful. Two examples will suffice. In one church, some of the women came together to study Scripture. The women were of varying ages but with a common need to know the Bible better in its application to their everyday problems. The church ordered the meetings ended, although no problem had arisen. The concerns of the study were not ecclesiastical, and the meetings were not a part of the church’s work nor limited to church members. By no stretch of the imagination can any text of Scripture be made to forbid women to study Scripture together.

In at least several other churches, the women are held in an un-Biblical subjection which treats them as children, not adults. The Bible declares Sarah to be the model wife in her obedience and subjection (1 Pet. 3:1–7). We cannot understand the meaning of that without recognizing the fact that, on occasion, Sarah, confident in the godliness of her position, gave Abraham an ultimatum (Gen. 16:5; 21:9–13), and God declared, “in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice” (Gen. 21:12), a sentence men rarely if ever use as a sermon text!

Moreover, as Charles Hodge said with respect to Ephesians 5:22, the authority of the husband (or any human authority) is not unlimited. “It extends over all departments, but is limited in all; first, by the nature of the relation; and secondly, by the higher authority of God. No superior, whether master, parent, husband or magistrate, can make it obligatory on us either to do what God forbids, or not to do what God commands” (Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, pp. 314–315).

But this is not all. The stupidity of all too many men is nowhere more apparent than in the assumption that subordination means inferiority. Most of us have at some time or other, and, usually, most of the time, been subordinate to very inferior men. In a fallen world, this is routine. The world commonly appraises a man’s position in terms of very limited criteria, such as wealth, birth, education, and the like. The natural aristocracy of talent and character usually does not prevail in a sinful society! To assume that preeminence in position and power is preeminence in intelligence, character, and ability is to assume that the men who rule in Washington, D.C., and in the Kremlin, are the cream of history! Such a perspective would be sheer idiocy, but it is a kind of idiocy all too many men have in relationship to women.

One aspect of this idiocy, proudly taught as gospel by some such churches and pastors, is the blasphemous assumption that the husband is the mediator between God and the wife. Scripture tells us that the husband is the head of the family, not a mediator, nor a little Christ. In relationship to the Lord, husband and wife are declared to be “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7); the husband is not declared to be the central heir, nor the recipient of greater grace or wisdom. We are not told that the wife’s prayers are hindered or void if she fails to pray through a mediator-husband. Too many men want a lovely and charming wife to serve them and then to be a silent zombie the rest of the time! Peter tells us that the prayers of a husband and a wife are hindered if either is false with respect to their duties under God.

Some churches give men a cheap and false religion which justifies keeping a wife in line while the man is free to be his fallen self. Men find such a religion very palatable!

When God ordained marriage, He also gave us a sentence to set forth its meaning: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This is the opposite of what too many see in marriage: the woman is viewed as leaving her parents and cleaving, or adhering to, her husband. That she does so is true enough, but the Bible stresses the requirement that the man make a break and cleave to his wife. Moreover, Jesus Christ declares that this is God’s own statement (Matt. 19:5). Why, then, are commentaries and preachers silent about its meaning? It is clear that headship is given to the husband. Is it not here equally clear that a particular and very great centrality is given to the woman, who is “the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20)?

Man is of the bones and flesh of his father and mother, as C. A. Simpson has pointed out in The Interpreter’s Bible, to become, in the act of marriage, one flesh, one community of life, with his wife. In the Hebrew, the word “cleave” means to cling close together, to be joined together, stick, or follow closely after. Given this meaning, it is most significant that it is the man whom God in particular requires this of. Since headship is given to the man, the human expectation would be that woman must adhere to the man and cling to him. God, however, places another requirement on marriage: the man must be joined to, cling to, or cleave unto his wife.

Man, it should be noted, is given dominion over the earth, over the fish, the birds, and the animals, and he shares the exercise of that dominion with his wife (Gen. 1:26–28). Man’s headship is in the exercise of that dominion. When Sarah called Abraham “lord” (1 Pet. 3:1–7), it was because Abraham was the head in the exercise of their dominion under God’s covenant. In other words, a man is given headship over his wife in the exercise of dominion, not dominion over her.

A man’s relationship to his parents is a blood relationship. He is genetically bone of their bones, and flesh of their flesh. This, however, is the relationship he must “leave” to “cleave” unto his wife, a non-blood relationship. This new nongenetic relationship must still become bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh (Gen. 2:23–24).

It would be dangerous and false to push the point too far, or to see it as more than an important Biblical analogy, but the analogy to circumcision is there. In circumcision, the organ of generation is made the covenant mark by its circumcised status, signifying that man’s hope is not in generation but in regeneration, a new life in the Lord. Circumcision, as Geerhardus Vos, in Biblical Theology (1948), pointed out, “stands for justification and regeneration, plus sanctification” (p. 105) (see Rom. 4:9–12; Col. 2:11–13).

In some sense, marriage is also comparable to a new life. The twain become “one flesh,” a new community of life. In terms of this unity, Paul uses marriage as a type of the unity of Christ and His church (Eph. 5:21–33). By this analogy, we are told that husbands must love their wives as Christ also loved the church, “and gave himself for it.” This, plainly, calls for sacrificial service to the new entity or life, the family. The headship of the husband is one of a comparable radical love and sacrificial service, not a tyrannical power. Headship in Scripture means service, as our Lord makes clear: “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:11). In the foot-washing episode, our Lord says, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). For men to seek the blessings of Christian marriage with pagan doctrines of headship is blasphemous.

The family thus creates a new entity: the twain becomes one flesh. Two bloodlines and faith-lines come together to create a new union, one which unites two heritages. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, in The Multiformity of Man (1936), called attention to the fact that, in the old days, a bride went from her father’s house to a new house with a unity of faith and heritage. “She was not exposed to any other man’s doctrine or ideals or values.” This is now completely changed by public or statist education. The state imposes many fathers on a family’s sons and daughters; these teach creeds and values antagonistic to those of the pupils’ families. The result, said Rosenstock-Huessy, is a polytheistic education. “Thus, a modern man is not marrying one man’s daughter, but many men’s pupil,” and the same polytheistic education is true for the young man.

The result is that, instead of marriage creating a new entity, it creates another carbon copy of a machine-stamped, factory-assembled, statist model. With the teaching of sex education in these “public” schools, carbon-copy techniques are carried to the marriage bed, where performance is by the book-model, and in terms of the most recent sexological research! That problems result should not surprise us.

One of the reasons for Christian schools is to preserve the priority of the family in the life of the child. The state school undercuts the Christian family and is anti-familistic and thus is the poorest kind of training ground for marriage.

The Biblical family is by nature future-oriented. Because it requires that there be a continuity of faith and honor, it maintains its roots in the past. “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exod. 20:12). This “honor” means continuity and love. At the same time, there must be a departure: leaving father and mother to cleave unto one’s wife. Past, present, and future, are from God and under God.

A statist world is different. The goal of the state is control and the restriction of change to the state. Instead of the individual or family as the source of innovation, change, and entrepreneurship, we then have the state in control of all these things. The state, however, when it becomes this powerful, becomes a vast bureaucracy, and it gives us a frozen, prearranged world, not a future.

The family, not the state, is the true wellspring of the future, and the woman is the key to it. The statist school is a citizen-producing factory designed to manufacture people whose every loyalty is eroded. No family ties bind the well-taught statist school product. Thus, all competing institutions or loyalties of family, faith, and heritage are eliminated. The result is a mass man; such a man is easily a rebel, a malcontent, or a drone, but he is not capable of anything but a statist answer to problems, because for him no other agency has any stature or viability. He is a factory product with standardized reactions and responses.

The Biblical family, however, is future-oriented. It begins under God as an act of faith, not as a trial experiment in living. It is governed by a faith and by a way of life that ties the past to the present and to the future. The grandparents and the parents alike share a concern for the children’s future, and for a continuity of faith and life. At the same time, they have a concern that there be progress for the children.

Some economists have somberly predicted that the current and coming generation will be the first in American history whose standard of living will be lower than that of their parents. If statist controls continue and increase, this may well be true, because statism seeks a frozen prearranged world order, not a free one.

Scripture orders a man to cleave or adhere to his wife because the godly woman is the mother of life. To cleave to one’s wife means that one clings to, or follows closely after, not his parents but his wife. To cleave to one’s wife means that a man sees the future with her and in terms of her, not in terms of his past, nor in terms of the state. We are definitely not told to cleave to or follow closely after the state, our president, governor, or prime minister. All too many men are more married to the state and its promises than to their wives, and the result is what can be called orgasmic politics. The future hope is then political, not personal.

Marriage is a personal act between two persons creating a very personal “one flesh” under the very personal God of Scripture. The future created by the family in Christ is not the impersonal monster-world of statist planners but a free society in the Lord.

The dominion mandate of Genesis 1:26–28 is followed by the institution of marriage, Genesis 2:20–24. These are not unrelated. The second implements the first.

The headship of men does not mean the shelving of women. The Pauline epistles tell us plainly how real and extensive the role of women was in the New Testament church. Men who seek to make a woman the mere adjunct of themselves are stupid, foolish, and un-Christian. They pass up the wealth of God’s way for the poverty of their ego. The churches which relegate women to a limbo of irrelevance are guilty before God. Subordination does not mean irrelevance nor incompetence. If this were true, every corporation would be better off if all the staff and employees were fired, and only the chairman of the board remained! It would commonly mean the departure of intelligence.

In terms of Scripture, the women’s liberation movement is nonsense, but so too is the position of all too many churchmen. Genesis 2:24 tells us something we dare not forget. Beginning with the first couple, Adam and Eve, God requires a leaving and a cleaving. There is a natural and happy cleaving by women to their husbands, to godly husbands. But there is the cleaving which is central, is commanded by God, and is at the heart of true marriage; it is by the husband to his wife.

  1. The Paradise of Women

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 98, June 1988

Slander shifts its ground readily, because it is concerned with what will hurt rather than what is true. In different eras, different charges hurt the most. What in one period may be a hurtful accusation may become a compliment in another day.

This was certainly true of Calvin, and of Geneva in Calvin’s day and in his time of influence. As Gillian Lewis and Roger Stauffenegger have pointed out, Calvin’s Geneva came to be known as “the paradise of women” (“Calvinism in Geneva in the Time of Calvin and of Beza (1545– 1605),” in Menna Prestwich, ed., International Calvinism, 1541–1715 [Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1985, 1986], p. 49). There were good reasons for this. Calvin was strongly protective of “women’s rights.” Under his guidance, church consistories went after wife abusers. They prosecuted guardians who had misappropriated trust funds of widows and orphans. Deserted wives were protected, and so on. Prestwich has referred to “the attraction of Calvinism for women” in that area (“Calvinism in France, 1555–1629,” ibid., p. 96).

In that era, and for centuries before, powerful and prosperous elderly men and women contracted marriages with very young women and men. The families of the young complied with these arrangements for their personal advantages. Calvin felt strongly that such marriages should not be allowed. In January 1557, the consistory dissolved a marriage between a woman of “more than 70” with a man of 27 or 28. (Philip E. Hughes, ed., The Register of the Company of Pastors of Geneva in the Time of Calvin [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1966], p. 321). Rules were published to protect both men and women in marriage. To avoid deception, many rules were established. Thus, “strangers coming from a distant country” could not be permitted to marry in Geneva until a careful investigation of their past and their family were made (Hughes, p. 75). A woman persecuted for her faith could legitimately leave her husband (Hughes, p. 197).

It would be an error to say that the pastors of Geneva were always wise in their judgments in cases involving women. What is clear is that Calvinist Geneva was seen in its day as “the paradise of women” because of the receptivity of Calvin and others to their plight and their need for justice.

There was a reason for this attitude. It was the revival of the Old Testament as an inseparable part of the Bible; the New Testament was read as an essential part of the Old Testament.

Because the Old Testament solidly links holiness with the law, and the law is concerned with everyday life, the result was what Henri Hauser called the “secularization of holiness,” i.e., holiness was made a matter of everyday life for all believers. Holiness now was the pursuit of all Christians. It was, in Luthy’s words, an “insistence on saintly life as the duty of every believer” (Herbert Luthy, “Variations on a Theme by Max Weber,” in Prestwich, p. 381). Calvin said of Luke 6:35 (“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and the evil”), that it is our duty to do good, expecting nothing; we are to exercise a royal goodness, not a mercenary one; having received grace, we should then manifest grace (Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke, vol. 1, pp. 302–303).

We have a remarkable fact here in Calvin’s reformation of Geneva. It was a city rightly called in its day “the paradise of women.” This is an aspect of the Reformation which has been given insufficient attention. The reason is that these reforms in civil and church law which made Geneva so remarkable in its day are now associated with patriarchalism, and patriarchy is a hated word to the feminists in both skirts and trousers. It suggests visions of male oppression, domination, and rule. It has become a symbol of past and present evils.

The significant fact, however, is that patriarchalism was not male-centered but faith- and family-governed. Modern men in the atomistic family often have more power, if they choose to exercise it, than did patriarchal man. The reason was a very clear one: patriarchal man was a trustee from the past to the future. In 1 Kings 21, we see that Naboth did not feel that he had the right to sell the family land no matter how much money King Ahab offered. The land was not his except as a trust from his forefathers to the generations yet unborn.

The appeal of existential living is that it limits all right and power to the present moment. Existential man sees no responsibility to the past nor to the future, nor to anything in the moment other than his will and desire. This is why, given any opportunity, existential man is always tyrannical and oppressive: he will do what he can safely do without incurring immediate judgment. Both power and “right” are limited to the moment and to his will.

Not so with patriarchal man. He is linked to responsibilities, to the family, and to other people. His wife is his partner and vicegerent in responsibilities, and both must be future-oriented.

Feminism, like masculinism, is existentialist and present-oriented. It has no sense of community nor the harmony of interests. Both feminists and masculinists believe in a war of the sexes and are out to win in that war. As good Darwinians, they believe in the survival of the fittest in a cosmic war for survival. Since the universe has no law nor morality in their faith, the fittest are simply the survivors, those whose radical ruthlessness and contempt for morality enables them to survive.

To all such people, patriarchy is a trap, because it presupposes, despite the fall and man’s depravity, the ultimacy and triumph of God and His law. The universe is thus a moral universe. As Deborah declares in her song, “the stars in their courses fought against Sisera” (Judg. 5:20).

A Biblical, patriarchal culture sees the essential conflict in life as a moral conflict, not a personal one. As a student, I heard a professor, who not in favor of patriarchalism, call its central characteristic hospitality, and openness to people. He cited as revelatory of patriarchalism Abraham’s response to the three strangers: he invited them in to share his “salt” or life (Genesis 18).

Modern social atomism, however, sees all men as enemies and turns the world into a hostile place. Class is set against class, and race against race. Woodrow Wilson, as a student at Princeton, shared in the hatred of students for town boys, called “snobs” at Princeton, and wrote, “We will have to kill some of those snobs yet before they will learn prudence” (Jonathan Daniels, “Woodrow Wilson’s Pious Young,” New Republic, October 29, 1966, p. 28). Wilson, of course, had no such murderous plan, but he liked to think in such terms. Not surprisingly, he helped advance the cause of class conflict. Even as he dreamed of a one world made safe for democracy, he advanced social divisions by his thinking.

Biblical, patriarchal culture is now very much despised by those who, as humanists, hate moral solutions. For them our problems are not to be diagnosed as a rebellion against Christ and God’s law, but as a matter of economic conflicts, class tensions, and sociological conditionings of a regressive and sociopathic nature. Calvin is for them a symbol of bad answers, and a recent book sees Calvin as essentially a “sick” man! The book tells us more about the author than Calvin.

I have on occasion cited, in speaking, the work of the bishop, St. Charles Borromeo, whose charities included “giving marriage dowries to penniless girls whose fate would otherwise have been the streets,” and, in addition to the hostel for the street people of his day, orphanages, a home for reformed prostitutes, and a home for unhappily married women (Margaret Yeo, Reformer: St. Charles Borromeo [Milwaukee, WI: Bruce, 1938], pp. 115, 228–229). The reaction is sometimes a cold one. “Social” problems, many hold, should be dealt with by the state, not by “amateurs.”

When we depersonalize the problems of men and women, we also depersonalize ourselves. We reduce people to mathematical ciphers whose answers lie in acts of Congress or Parliament. We deny Christianity and Christ in favor of the state and its social workers. Borromeo in Milan and Calvin in Geneva gave us another answer.

But for many today, Geneva could not have been “the paradise of women.” After all, Geneva had no Equal Rights Amendment or law!

Paul tells us, however, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17), and it is the Spirit who gave us the law and the gospels.

If we do not seek our answers in the Lord and His Word, we are a part of the problem.

ECONOMICS & CAPITALISM

  1. The Doctrine of Debt

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 72, March 1986

The doctrine of debt is an important and neglected emphasis of Scripture. The Lord God having created us and redeemed us, we are totally His creation and possession, and absolutely in debt to Him. We are therefore not our own, but the Lord’s (1 Cor. 6:19–20). We cannot legitimately treat ourselves nor our possessions as our own. As Paul tells us, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7). Our Lord makes it clear that we can never put God in our debt: “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).

Because we are God’s property and in debt to Him for everything, God’s law does not allow us to incur long-term debt to men. The seventh year must be a sabbatical from debt, among other things (Deut. 15:1–6), because debt is a form of slavery (Prov. 22:7), and we are called to be freemen in Christ (John 8:36). While short-term debt (six years) is permitted as a need at times, the normal premise is to “owe no man any thing, but to love one another” (Rom. 13:8).

If men obeyed the Biblical laws on debt, there would be no inflationary society. Debt makes men past-oriented in their work, in that a sizable portion of their income ties them to debt, past spending, decisions, or commitments. Debt-free men can command the present and the future. The economic ramifications alone of God’s law concerning debt, money, interest, and other economic concerns, if applied, would give us an inflation- free and prosperous society, which is the intention of God’s law. We can see all around us the economic chaos created by humanistic law.

With John Law (1671–1729), the monetary policies of nations began to change. What had previously been practiced as a form of theft now became “good” monetary policy. The repeated failures of paper money since Law’s day have not changed men’s minds, because Law’s economics give men the opportunity to play god and to create monetary values on their fiat word. The hope of these humanists is that eventually, given enough power, they will make it work. As a result, what now stands behind paper currencies is debt, not wealth in the form of gold or silver. In the lives of the people also, debt has become a form of pseudo-wealth, and true wealth is confiscated by statist controls and policies.

In another and very much neglected area, a major change in the doctrine of wealth came into focus in the nineteenth century. The name Peter Lavrov (1823–1900) is little known today; he was in his time a major force in Russian thought and abroad. He was a friend of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, while not in full agreement with them, and his ideas on a revolutionary party formation had a decisive influence on Lenin. The Russian Revolution owed more than a little to Lavrov.

Our concern with Lavrov is in a related area, the concept of debt. In his very influential Historical Letters (1840, also the year of Lenin’s birth), Lavrov wrote with a strong moral burden. The privileged minority, he held, owes a debt to “the people.” The privileged classes owe their advantages to the exploitation of the poor. Like all socialists, Lavrov could not see wealth and technology as something created by the intelligence, character, foresight, thrift, and industry of some men, but rather purely as exploitation and expropriation. This perspective of Lavrov’s Historical Letters now governs the world, is taught in our schools and universities, and governs the nations.

Given this “debt to the people,” it followed for Lavrov and his successors that this debt must be repaid. A debt, it was held, ought to be repaid. As a result, while sociologists generally deny any moral absolutes, at this one point they are absolutists: “the debt to the people” must be repaid. It is, in fact, an article of faith from Lavrov to the present that “historical necessity” will effect the payment. A form of economic and social predestination mandates the repayment of the debt to the people.

The earlier Russian populists favored a romantic view of the people. The peasants and workers were the innocent peoples, the good ones, and the rich were bad. Later, the peasants and workers were seen as exploited fools whom the elite revolutionary cadres had to control for their own good. No change took place in the view of the capitalists: they were by definition evil.

The influence of Lavrov’s Historical Letters was dramatic and far-reaching. A. O. Lukashevich said of its influence in 1871–1872: “The latter book, which quickly became a special sort of gospel among the young people, placed before us very vividly the thesis — which stirred us profoundly — of the irredeemable debt to the people owed by the Russian intelligentsia” (Peter Lavrov, Historical Letters [1967 ed.], p. 49).

Lavrov’s thinking spread across the world as a new gospel of debt and salvation. It went hand in hand with humanism. Lavrov, in his “First Letter,” held with Hegel that man was now taking a great step forward: “Man again became the center of the entire world.” Given the tremendous inequity of society, and the need to repay “the debt to the people,” Lavrov wrote in favor of terrorism. The use of violence to destroy evil would hasten the triumph of good.

The terrorists of our day have not heard of Lavrov, but they are his heirs and successors. They unite with their atheism and moral relativism this one “great moral demand”; the debt to the people must be repaid, and terrorism is justified as a means of righting ancient wrongs.

The politics of the world is now the politics and morality of Lavrov. The Marxists states apply Lavrov’s doctrine of the debt to the people logically and systematically. The democracies agree with Lavrov but are slower in paying the debt, and hence they are morally weaker versions of the Marxist states.

American foreign policy since World War II is infected with Lavrovian thinking. Throwing money at poorer nations is viewed as a moral necessity and a debt to be paid for being a successful nation. The intelligentsia, the press, the media, and the women’s clubs for the elite treat even modest cuts in foreign aid as a moral offense and as proof of evil in those who propose them. If Congress were true to its convictions, it would order a statue of Lavrov to be placed in the halls of Congress!

The churches, too, have adopted this doctrine of a debt to the people. The Bible tells us that we are totally in debt to the Lord God, that we owe Him as our Lord the tithe as a minimum, and our lives as living sacrifice. The new doctrine of debt turns the moral universe upside down. The poor replace God as the focus of moral concern.

Now, the Bible requires that we care for the poor, for widows and orphans, the alien, and all in need. This concern is mandated for the Lord’s sake, not for the poor’s. It is obedience to God, our debt to the Lord, not a debt to the people, which must govern us. It is therefore God who judges us, not the poor, nor the elite revolutionaries.

Because of this shift in the doctrine of debt from God to man, there is also a shift in the nature and necessity of judgment. In Scripture, God settles all accounts, rights all wrongs, and repays all debts on Judgment Day. The books are then opened, and there is a final and full accounting. History ends in total justice, and a new heaven and earth begin.

Humanistic socialist faith also has its doctrine of judgment and of the repayment of all debts. Its name is the revolution. The Revolution, in every country, is a bloody affair, in that sharp and savage judgment is meted out to all the “privileged” classes. No punishment or torture is too much for them. “The moral debt to the people” requires the obliteration of all its “enemies,” and it is the revolutionaries who decide who the enemies are. If you deny this doctrine of a “moral debt to the people,” then you are the enemy, whether you are rich or poor. If you feel that your work entitles you to what you yourself grow, to sell or to use, then you are an enemy. The peasants of Russia, the “Kulaks” of the Ukraine, and others were poor people, but by retaining a Biblical perspective on work and debt, they became enemies and were murdered by the millions.

What about Lavrov? The academicians alone remember him. They disagree as fellow intellectuals with him on various points, but he is treated with respect as a fellow member in the great fraternity of anti- Christian thinkers who plan a brave new world.

All over the world today, people are brutally oppressed and murdered in the name of paying a moral debt to the people. This evil doctrine of debt is one of the governing moral truisms of the twentieth century. It no longer belongs to one man, Lavrov. It has become the common property of journalists, teachers, preachers, professors, legislators, the media men, and children. It is a part of the humanistic plan of salvation.

But God is not mocked. We either live by God’s law, or we die by it; in the long run, it is death for all, and the world is marching towards a self-inflicted judgment.

Knowing about this evil doctrine is necessary, but it is not enough. We must know God’s doctrine. Our debt of judgment and death is paid to God the Father by Jesus Christ in His atonement. Our debt of service must be paid all our life. Because we are now alive in Christ, we must follow the way of life, His law, and we must see ourselves as saved to serve, to love and to obey Him.

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. (Ps. 116:12–14)

  1. The Love of Money

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 157, November 1992

In 1 Timothy 6:10, St. Paul writes, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred (or, been seduced) from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” In understanding what Paul tells us, we must avoid two errors. First, Paul does not say that money is the root of all evil, but rather that the love thereof is. Second, we must not neglect to understand why the love of money is so singled out as “the root of all evil.” After all, according to Genesis 3:1–5, original sin, the root of all evil, is man’s desire to be his own god and to determine good and evil, law and morality, for himself. How is this related to the love of money?

Notice that St. Paul does not say that the love of wealth is the root of all evil. Wealth has had a variety of definitions. A man strong in faith is wealthy, because he has riches too many men lack. Again, in much of history, wealth has been defined in terms of a strong family and clan. In some cultures, a man without a family cannot find work and is regarded as an outlaw because he has no family to vouch for him or to make good on any wrong he commits; a man who leaves his family is in such a society an outlaw.

The same is true of friends. For some cultures, a network of friends is wealth and security; they will help or defend you, as you will, them. The strength of feudalism was the fact that it was a network of obligations, duties, and ties. Men were not alone.

In the material sphere, the major form of wealth in history has been land. Land provides both home and a source of potential food. A landed man over the centuries was a free man. (Our tax structure has put an end to that, and this has been done deliberately.) It was once true that, “A man’s home is his castle,” and a man’s land was immune to trespass. In my lifetime, more than a few Western ranchers held that they had a right to shoot a trespasser. Their thinking had ancient roots.

St. Paul speaks against none of these forms of wealth. They are, in fact, thoroughly Biblical in character. Why did he single out money?

Money has a curious history. True money is gold or silver, whereas base currencies and paper money represent the statist counterfeiting of money. Rome has a long history of debasing its coinage.

Why was money so dangerously evil in Paul’s sight? The root of all evil is man’s will to be his own god and his own determiner of reality, of good, evil, everything. The love of money has the same deluding power: it distorts or destroys reality. In the past two years, one well-known churchman tried to tell me I had no right to an opinion, and he told me how much he was worth, and he asked, “And how much did you make last year?” This man has long been seduced from the faith by his love of money; he is now being stripped of his money, is pierced by much trouble, but he lacks godly sorrow. The love of money destroys a man’s awareness of reality. Virtue, friends, family, and all other forms of wealth are despised in favor of money.

Moreover, it is interesting that, as material wealth has shifted towards money in the thinking of people, it has shifted from true money, gold and silver, to counterfeit coins and paper money. There is a reason for this. Paper money gives man the opportunity to play god, to “create” wealth by printing paper currencies, and to supplant God’s reality with man’s new order.

But paper money self-destructs. It winds up destroying its creators and users and the false social order they have created. The essence of sin, the will to be god, means a radical distortion and falsification of reality. It creates an inflationary social order in which man substitutes his own paper-created assets for true and enduring wealth.

The older forms of wealth meant a network of duties and obligations. It meant an awareness that we are all dependent on one another and on the land: “the king himself is served (or, prospered) by the field” (Eccles. 5:9).

Money as wealth, or paper money as wealth, not only is subject to the whims of a planning society and inflation, but it also strips a man progressively of all true forms of wealth unless he is a strong man in the faith and mindful earnestly of the social obligations of his wealth.

One of our very fine Chalcedon friends was an heir to an estate, 300 years in the family, with a village and many farmers. Two deaths, one after another, led to the loss of it because of death taxes. The people on the estate saw with grief their transition from a closely knit and caring family government to a socialist state. It was a disaster and a grief.

How do we change all this? It means a strong faith in Christ as our Savior and governor, and in God’s law-word as our charter of freedom. It means that wealth has a new definition for us, and it begins with our faith.

How rich are you?

  1. Karma, Debt, and the Sabbath

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 22, June 1981

The doctrine of Karma is one of the most important religious doctrines invented by man. Its origins are Brahmanic, but its great development is Buddhist. Perhaps no other non-Biblical doctrine is more important and more perceptive, however deadly. Karma is the law of cause and effect as it regulates the present and future life of man. Karma says that what a man sows, that shall he also reap; every man inherits his own burden of sin and guilt, and no man can inherit the good or evil acts of another man. Karma holds that sin cannot be destroyed by sacrifice, penance, or repentance, but only by self-expiation. A man thus spends his life (and future reincarnations, according to this doctrine) working out the atonement for sin. The important fact about Karma is that this doctrine does justice to the reality of cause and effect; it recognizes the reality of sin in man, and the burden which sin imposes on the present and the future. Modern humanism is unable to cope with this fact of causality and chooses to ignore it. It does not escape causality thereby and only compounds its problem.

According to Karma, the past determines the present and the future. Man’s sin most surely finds him out and will not let him go.

The Karma faiths have no savior, but they are at least aware of the reality of sin and its demand for expiation. Their doctrines of self-atonement are ineffectual, but their realism as to man’s condition make them wiser than those moderns who choose to deny causality.

The doctrine of Karma was current in the world of the Bible, especially the New Testament era. The Bible speaks emphatically of causality, and the consequences of sin (Gen. 2:17; 3:7). Moses declares, “ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). Paul warns, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). However, rather than an abstract world of causality, for the Bible the cosmos is the creation of the personal God. This fact creates a vast gulf between the Bible and the doctrine of Karma.

But Karma does stress a fact that the modern world chooses to forget: causality. It is this fact that Keynesian economists choose to forget. Keynes himself, when asked about the long-run consequences of his economics, replied, “In the long run, we are all dead.” Because of its disregard for causality, Keynesianism creates an inflationary economy; long-term consequences are dismissed in favor of short-term benefits.

The average American and European is not familiar with Keynesian as a body of economic thought; they are familiar with it as a way of life, their own way of life. In Keynesian terms, all sin is assessed in terms of present benefits, not in terms of long-term consequences. As a result, debt living has become a way of life. From a moral liability at the beginning of the century, debt has become now an asset, and the word “credit,” which once meant reliability, now means the ability to contract debt. The world’s monetary systems are no longer based on the gold standard but on debt; paper money represents debt, not wealth.

The modern Keynesian world is a rejection of the triune God and His law-word, which prohibits debt beyond a six-year limit, and then for necessities only, which requires covetous-free living, and which regards debt as a form of slavery. Between 1945 and 1980, many fortunes were built (and many lost) by pyramiding debt.

But debt, like sin, has its consequences. Karma holds that past sins govern our present and future lives. With its concomitant doctrine of reincarnation, Karma holds that thousands of generations or reincarnations may be necessary in some cases to work out the self-expiation necessary. The burden of sin and guilt is not lightly discarded simply because man wills it. Causality rules all things unrelentingly.

This brings us to the deadly aspect of the doctrine of Karma. Because of its unrelenting doctrine of causality, the past rules the present and the future. Only insofar as we have a better past or Karma can we have a better future. The world of Karma is a past-oriented world.

The same is true of the world of debt. For those who are in debt, the past governs the present. The first claimant on their monthly check is the past: the house payment and other debts have a fixed claim on their income before either they or God can touch it. One of the most common questions I encounter with respect to the tithe is this: “How can I tithe, and still meet my payments on my debts?” The house is on “the never-never plan”; the car and furniture get old and shabby before they are paid for, and man’s days are dominated by the past.

Modern man may not believe in Karma, but he has created a new world of Karma in debt.

The same is true in politics. Cause and effect in politics has brought the world’s many nations to the raw edge of judgment. In politics, this has brought some vaguely conservative parties and administrations to power. All are looking for cosmetic solutions and avoiding the long and ugly chain of causality which has led to the present crisis. The Karma of modern politics threatens them like a crumbling cliff over a cottage, and all are offering a more modest table fare as the solution.

All around us a host of things have created a vast chain of causes and effects which threaten our world: debt, the minimum-wage law, statist education and the new illiteracy, welfarism, and much, much more. The world may say, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” but God says, “Tomorrow the judgment.” (One is reminded of the cartoon, picturing a sad-faced man carrying a sign on a busy street, reading: “We are all doomed: the world will not end!” Man has no escape from his sins in any way of his own devising.)

When the past governs the present, it has a paralyzing effect on it. As J. Estlin Carpenter pointed out many years ago, the doctrine of Karma froze society and led to the caste system. Basic to the dogma was this principle: “a man is born into the world that he has made.” The present is read in terms of the past.

Our current Karma culture is also seeing a like stratification. Despite the talk of equality, the premise of welfarism and more is the incapacity of vast numbers of peoples. The ghettos of America have seen successive waves of immigrants come and go as they worked their way into more advanced positions. Now we have, as a policy of state, an assumption that a permanent ghetto resident is a fact of life. (Of course, because of environmentalism, we now seem to hold that a man is born into the world others made for him.)

The two principles of Karma are, first, “A man is born into the world that he has made,” and second, “The Deed does not perish,” i.e., consequences continue until they are fully expiated. Karma cannot be destroyed, either by fire, flood, wind, or the gods. It must proceed unrelentingly and unerringly to its results. A man might briefly postpone the workings of his Karma, but he could never frustrate nor destroy them. All else passes, but acts and their consequences remain. Destiny, Karma, reigns and rules. The word deva is gods, and daiva, derived from it, means destiny, and, for the Buddhist, destiny is simply past acts, according to L. de la Vallée Poussin. Since Karma includes in its unrelenting causality mental acts as well, man’s waking thoughts as well as his dreams in sleep govern his life and add to his Karma. Only through good acts can man expiate his past sins, and “the good act has three roots: the absence of lust, of hatred, and of error” (Poussin). Thus, we have a negative idea of good, so that its essential function is to diminish the retribution for the vast accumulation of past acts.

The very clear fact which emerges from this is that, in the world of Karma, there can be passivity and withdrawal, but definitely not rest. The Biblical doctrine of the sabbath is thus unique. We are commanded to observe the sabbath in Deuteronomy and to “remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). Redeemed man can rest because he knows that the Lord has saved him. The meaning of the cross is not that the consequences of our sin are simply overlooked, but that Jesus Christ makes full expiation for our sins. The causality is worked out on the cross; atonement is made for our sins, and we are free from the guilt and the burden of sin. Where men deny the causality of sin, they deny also the atonement, and they become antinomians.

But only Christ’s atonement can free man from sin and death and give him rest. The answer to the doctrine of Karma is the atonement and the sabbath rest which the atonement creates. The sabbath law follows the Passover event, and it sets forth the salvation-rest of the Old Israel. The Christian sabbath follows the atonement and the resurrection, the first day of the week, and it celebrates the salvation-rest of the New Israel of God.

The redeemed in Christ now are governed, not by the past, not by their sins, nor by Karma, but by the Lord, who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). They are to live righteously, to render to all their due honor, to love their neighbor as themselves, and, as a normal practice, to owe no man anything, save to love one another (Rom. 13:8).

The true sabbath enables us to rest, because, first, it is Christ’s finished work of atonement and continuing work of providence that is our life, not our deeds and past acts. Second, we can rest, because we are not past-bound and past-oppressed and haunted. We can say with David, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Ps. 4:8). We have the blessedness of restful, trusting sleep. Instead of a burden, the past has become an asset in the Lord, who makes all things work together for good to them that love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose. (The converse of this is that all things work together for evil for those who hate God, Jer. 50:29; Lam. 1:22; Obad. 15.)

Third, because we are now future-oriented, we become dominion men, working for godly reconstruction in every area of life and thought. Our lives are dominated, not by past burdens but by present responsibilities and the assurance of power (John 1:12). Together with Joshua (and the apostles, Matt. 28:18–20), we have the assurance: “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you . . . There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Josh. 1:3, 5).

The sad fact today is that many church members profess Christ but live in the world of Karma. To illustrate, one church officer, an able and talented man but a despiser of God’s law, has twice been bankrupt, several times a failure in business because of lawless policies and debts, and is a sour and critical leader whose ways are oppressive to many. There is no sabbath in his life, nor any freedom and power; he has the aura of a hunted man, and, in his work, he is a “plunger,” one who prefers risks to sound practices. We have all too many pastors whose sermons are trumpets always sounding defeat, and echoing with the oppressiveness of sin, not the freedom and joy of victory and redemption. Their sermons echo the death of the tomb, not the triumph of the resurrection.

To all such we must say with Paul, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14).

The Congregation of the Dead (June 1981)

According to Solomon, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain (or, find rest, or end up) in the congregation of the dead” (Prov. 21:16).

To wander out of “the way of understanding” is to wander away from Jesus Christ and His every word, the whole of Scripture. It means trusting in our own understanding rather than in the Lord (Prov. 3:5).

Practically, what does this involve? When we come to the church and demand that it meet our needs and our desires rather than the Lord’s purposes, we have forsaken understanding. We have then become humanists as well: we want the church to please man, not God.

The great answer of Dr. John Henry Jowett, sixty or more years ago, still remains the telling one. When a foolish woman asked him what he thought about God, he answered quietly, “Madam, I think the question is, What does God think about me?”

The important thing thus is not what we think about Christ’s church, nor about God, but what the Lord thinks about us. Remember, the congregation of the dead is made up of those who lean on their own understanding.

  1. Man and the State

Position Paper No. 165, July 1993

Julius Goebel Jr., in Felony and Misdemeanor: A Study in the History of Criminal Law (1937, 1976), analyzes carefully what happened in the medieval era as church and state took over jurisdiction from kinship groups. The state in particular increased its powers substantially. Goebel’s concern was a study of the development of laws. In describing the Carolingian system after the Charlemagne, he sums up what happened in a devastating sentence: “The objective is no longer peace and order; it is primarily fiscal” (p. 133). In other words, the state no longer saw the protection of the people from war and lawlessness as its main reason for existence: its reason for being became taxation, shearing sheep.

Whenever the state gains great powers, its own existence becomes its goal, and the people then are primarily the source of money, not an asset to be guarded. Civil governments, as they grow in power, grow in their distance from the people. One young man, a scientist in an important arm of the state, told me that 85 percent of all the personnel in that bureaucracy regard the people as the enemy. Instead of being a people to be defended, the state sees its people as the enemy. Instead of seeing the only division among the citizenry as the one between the lawless and the law abiding, the state rules by creating division. The rich, the middle class, and the poor are set one against the other; farmers, manufacturers, and workers are seen as hostile groups, and various racial minorities are encouraged to seek their “rights.” A divided people makes possible a strong state.

A national budget is a modern device whose purpose is to appropriate nonexisting funds. A state does not tax and then, with funds in hand, decide how to spend the money. Rather, the various state agencies submit their ever-increasing demands, and a budget is drafted in terms of these expectations. If the revenues then fail to meet these enacted demands, then borrowing, via bonds, usually makes up the difference. This means a growing national debt.

The absurdity of this routine process can be understood if we apply it to ourselves. Can we begin the new year by stating that we “need” so much money during the next twelve months? Can we then proceed to spend in terms of that supposedly “need” budget? Can we shift the resulting debt on to our relatives and neighbors? If we cannot do it, why can the federal government?

It should be apparent that the handling of money is a moral fact, and we are surrounded by peoples and civil governments who are moral failures. How we plan the use of our money, as persons and nations, will determine whether we are living morally or immorally. Our lives and our nations should be dedicated to furthering a moral order, but we are in fact creating an immoral order. We can then, in anger, demonstrate, riot, and kill, but we are part of that immoral order. James 2:10 tells us that to break God’s law at one point is to be guilty of all: a chain is broken; a law order is destroyed.

Men and nations can budget in terms of money they have, or money they want to have. The difference is between virtue and sin. Obviously, sin is more popular than ever in our time. Carolyn Webber and Aaron Wildavsky, in their History of Taxation and Expenditure in the Western World (1986), point out that “[m]odern budgeting is allocation plus control” (p. 77). When wisely and morally done, it is an exercise in self-control. When immorally done, it is a means of controlling others. State inflation controls us by overtaxation, and by inflation, which robs us by reducing the value of our income, among other things. Neither men nor nations are nowadays given to self-control.

The modern power state, according to Webber and Wildavsky, is a product of Enlightenment rationalism, and “rationality in government means centralization” (p. 317). Reason synthesizes, and, where divorced from Biblical norms, it centralizes. It also rationalizes theft. In 1908, Lloyd George still reflected enough moral order to call his tax plan theft, saying, “I have got to rob somebody’s hen roost next year. I am on the look-out which will be the easiest to get and where I shall be least punished, and where shall I get the most eggs” (p. 315). To make such theft appealing, the state on varying occasions appeals to various special interest groups to take part in the theft by receiving some of the loot. The people are made part of the looters’ league, and their moral indignation is thereby undermined. The expanding role of the state is the result. The modern state exists to tax and to control more than to provide peace and order. The harmony of society has disappeared or is disappearing.

We cannot expect the state to control its taxation and the increase of its national debt when we do not exercise fiscal self-control. Immoral states are the expression of immoral peoples.

“We, the people,” are dedicated to long-term debt in violation of God’s law. Debt-living is the American way of life. We are dedicated to nontithing, and we expect God’s blessing for refusing to pay His tax. Our prayers are given to complaining (we need so much) rather than to praise. We are “a mess,” and we wonder at the mess the world is in.

The modern state is indeed an enemy to God and to man, but simply because the people have drifted from the Lord and His Word. Yes, the modern state is an enemy to man, but only because modern man is his own worst enemy.

  1. The Trouble with Social Security

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 25, October 1981

The Social Security system can be criticized on both economic and moral grounds.

Economically, the system is cruelly unfair. Thus, if a man pays in $75,000 to Social Security between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five, the likelihood of getting his money back is poor. His life expectancy after sixty-five makes it unlikely that he will get back all or half the amount he paid in for forty-seven years. If he dies, his widow’s benefits again are too small to add up to any significant return on his “investment.” The combined amount paid in by the employer and employee adds up to a very considerable sum, and the returns on it are small. The only real gainer from Social Security is the federal government. In 1969, Edward J. Van Allen, in The Trouble With Social Security, pointed out that a young worker who began paying into Social Security at age eighteen and retired at sixty-five would have to live to be one-hundred-eleven years old to break even. If any insurance company or pension plan gave as poor returns, or misused funds as does Social Security, the managers thereof would quickly find themselves in prison!

The Social Security system, according to the federal courts, is not an insurance or pension plan but a tax. It gives us no claims nor rights; Congress can alter the benefits at will, or cut us out of them, and for some, this has happened. Moreover, because the federal government uses the funds as they come in, instead of saving them, we must pay interest (in the form of extra taxes) on the federal bonds which have replaced our payments.

Moreover, the Social Security system promotes insecurity. It limits our ability to save; it prevents us from investing in sound pension plans, and it fuels inflation. If, instead of a federally operated system, the law required free-market insurance and pension plans to provide the benefits, we would then have a sound and stable system.

There is, however, another aspect to Social Security, the moral and religious factor. A simple historical fact tells us much at this point. Some years after the War of Independence, the U.S. Congress passed a pension plan for all veterans of that war. All veterans desiring a pension were to apply at designated places, submit evidence of their military status, and dictate to a court clerk their memories of the war. Those brief memoirs give us sometimes vivid glimpses of George Washington, Putnam, and other leaders of that era. The stories, however, come as a shock to any Christian reader. Were there no Christians in the Continental Army? Almost uniformly, the veterans showed no interest in the faith or the church in their mature years.

The answer to that question is a very simple one. No Christian veteran applied for a federal pension, and the churches were united in their opposition to any such application. They believed that Christian participation in a state or federal pension plan was morally wrong. They based their stand on many texts in Scripture, from the Old Testament and the New, and they saw their position as summed up and required by 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” From the days of the early church until this century, and definitely through the first half of the last, Christians saw this as a binding duty and law. For them it meant, first, that every Christian has a duty before God to care for his own family, especially those in his own household or under his roof. This did not apply to those who, like the prodigal son, had denied the faith and separated themselves. The family is more than a blood institution in Scripture: it is a faith bond. Indeed, where a son is an incorrigible and habitual delinquent, the family must witness for the faith and against the son by denouncing him to the authorities (Deut. 21:18–21). On the other hand, all believing members must be cared for. Our Lord denounces all who refused to provide for their parents and felt that the money for parental support could be better used by the Temple or God’s ministry. He equates this with cursing one’s parents, which the law says requires the death penalty (Mark 7:9–13). Very clearly, failure to provide for one’s needy kin is a fearful offense in the sight of God. The Social Security system is a welcome fact for all such sinners, who are readier to see this tax increase than to care for their parents.

Second, the “family” of which Paul speaks in 1 Timothy 5:8 includes our fellow believers. Very early, following Old Testament practices, the disciples took steps to provide for the needy widows and other like persons in the church. In Acts 6:1–3, we do not have the institution of such a practice; it was already a “daily ministration.” Rather, what we have is the organization of a diaconate to provide an efficient and well-organized ministry in this area. The work of the early church in this area was remarkable. No charity beyond one day was given to able-bodied men, but work was found for them, or work was made for them on subsistence wages. Indeed, one of the telling “advertisements” for the early church throughout the Roman Empire was their care one for another. Hence the saying, “Behold, how these Christians love one another!” To be a Christian meant to be a responsible person and a member of a larger family. This is one aspect of what Paul means when he says, “we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:25). It was not a light thing to be a Christian: it meant joining, or rather, being adopted into, the family of Jesus Christ as a working, obedient, and responsible member.

We cannot appreciate the significance of all this unless we realize that the New Testament was written, and the early church lived, in the context of the Roman Empire. Until our time, Rome provided the world’s most massive social security and welfare system in history. It was “bread and circuses,” i.e., food, housing, and entertainment. As in our day, the state was seen as god walking on earth, the source of providence and providing. Rome resented the Christian insistence that Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord, and the Christians’ care one for another. Such care meant that the government of another ruler than Caesar was determining the lives of man, and that a god other than Caesar was the provider.

Third, the early church was mindful of the poor outside the fold. As early as in the days of the twelve disciples, there was a treasury for the care of such poor. We have a reference to this in John 12:1–6, and to the fact that this fund was in Judas’s care, and he was a thief. What people have not bothered to note is that funds were obviously being given to our Lord, i.e., tithes and offerings. These were apparently apportioned for various purposes, the care of our Lord’s ministry and its expenses, perhaps the support of the disciples’ families at home, as well as the poor. There were thus perhaps several treasurers, one for each cause.

We do know that one of the great conflicts of the early church with Rome was over abortion. Not only did the church strongly oppose abortion, but it did more. Abortion was then crude and primitive and not always successful. Unwanted babies were then abandoned, in Rome itself under the bridges, where wild dogs consumed them. Christians quickly began to collect all such abandoned newborn babies and then passed them around to member families. This added to the rapid growth of the Christian population. It also embarrassed Romans, who spread stories saying that the babies were collected to be eaten in the communion services, and their blood drunk.

Much more can be said. Hospitals began as an outgrowth of the Christian ministry, and, until fairly recent generations, all hospitals were Christian. Schooling goes back to the Levite schools (Deut. 33:10), and statist education is a recent, humanistic, and socialistic step. All welfare was once Christian, and so on and on. The Bible provides for the world’s only sound social security system, spiritually and materially, and Christians once applied it. It begins with salvation, and it continues with being members one of another. The Lord requires it of us.

Social Insecurity (October 1981)

One of the ironies of history is the fact that every age which has sought social security has produced instead dramatic insecurity. This is not to say that security is not an important and worthy consideration. To live securely in one’s home, to be in safety on the streets, to have protection from assault and theft, and to have a stable monetary and economic order is clearly a positive and obvious good. It is an aspect of the Messiah’s world peace that men convert their weapons into productive tools and live peacefully, “every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid” (Mic. 4:3–4). The desire for security is a religious and a godly goal. To condemn it is clearly wrong.

The trouble begins when security is detached from its moral and religious context. When we regard security as a product of man’s order rather than God’s order, we undercut the very foundations of security. I repeatedly have heard statements like this, from people in very good housing as well as in “depressed” areas: My neighbor’s boys are on drugs, and they act like animals. We are afraid to leave the house empty, because they vandalize it.

Because we have a statist school system which denies God’s Word and law, we have produced a lawless generation and dramatic social insecurity. (Not a few Social Security checks fall into the hands of these new vandals, as they rob the elderly.)

The psalmist thus sees the essence of social security in godly faith and order. Unless the society is God’s construction, based on His law-word, it is “vain” or futile:

Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. (Ps. 127:1–2)

Our society is very insecure. Recently, a very liberal gun control man, after some serious episodes, bought handguns for himself and his wife. Such incidents are becoming commonplace. However, such a step gives only a limited although real protection. The society of our time is in decay; the lawlessness is increasing, and countermeasures do not alter the developing anarchy around us.

Moreover, most people, including churchmen, too commonly see the threat as from one direction only, i.e., from lawless peoples. The even greater threat is from Almighty God, from the triune God. It is His law which is broken, His Word which is despised, His name which is blasphemed, and His person that is bypassed and neglected. Nothing can produce greater social insecurity than the judgment of God!

Unhappily, the very word security has been debased in our day by being given, in its primary sense, a limited meaning. It has come to mean, first, an insurance against economic hazards and dangers. Its meaning is in this sense economic. The Social Security system, according to one definition, “conveys the assurance of freedom from the dangers of a penniless old age, unemployment without compensation, etc.” (Dictionary of Sociology). Second, security has come to mean also a psychological stability from fears and neuroses. The hunger for this psychological security has made various forms of psychotherapy one of the great growth “industries” of the twentieth century. The intense concern about both these forms of security witnesses to the intense insecurity of modern man. They also witness to his very limited view of security.

God’s promise to the faithful is very plain: “There shall no evil befall thee” (Ps. 91:10). Note that the promise does not say, no trouble shall befall thee, but rather no evil; there is a difference. In an age certainly not lacking in problems, Thomas Aquinas defined security as freedom from evil in this Biblical sense.

There is another meaning to security which seems at first glance peripheral but is actually basic. Security in this sense is a deposit to secure the payment of a debt, or the performance of a contract. In this sense, our security is a theological fact. The Lord God, having already given us His only-begotten Son to effect our redemption at the price of His blood, finds it surely a small thing by comparison to care for us. He is in every sense of the word our security.

In a fallen and sinful world, to expect the kind of security politicians too often promise is fallacious, illusory, and dangerous. It leads people to an avoidance of the basic source of insecurity, the sin of man. Man’s depravity is the root of evils in every sphere — marital, political, economic, and so on. No political system can side-step the implications of man’s nature. Man’s sin manifests itself in the family, in the spheres of capital and labor, in politics and education, as well as in open criminality. Man’s nature is not changed by his choice of a profession or calling. Being a clergyman, politician, bureaucrat, capitalist, or union man sanctifies no one. Only God who made man can remake him. An age which looks to man’s way rather than God’s for the dynamics of social change can only increase its disorder and insecurity.

  1. The Militarization of Life

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 100, August 1988

Reality is unpleasant for fallen man because it is not his creation. “A world I never made” is what most people do not want. As a result, they prefer to live by their own myths, in terms of what they imagine reality to be, or what it should be. Because the twentieth century seeks aggressively to live without God, to live profanely, it is especially prone to myths. Myths can kill you, because falsifications of reality mean the risks of disaster and death.

More and more, various states are built on myths. A common myth insists that all wealth comes from the workers, and that capitalists are parasites who contribute nothing and take almost everything. This myth is common to most nations. Thus, in the United States, when students and voters have been asked what corporate profits amount to, the answers run from 25 to 75 percent of the net. In reality, during better and freer years, they ran 4 to 6 percent, and they are now commonly 2 to 2.5 percent. “Excessive profits” are usually a myth.

When the Russian Revolution resulted in the Bolsheviks’ triumph, and the seizure of businesses and factories, this myth led to remarkable incidents. The workers expected to find vast wealth in gold and paper in the seized offices and found nothing. They searched carefully for all the “ill-gotten wealth” supposedly seized from the workers’ sweat and blood, and they found none. The Communist workers filed reports like this: “I arrived at the factory and began to exercise control. I broke open the safety vault but could take no account of the money. There was no money to be found there” (James Bunyan, The Origin of Forced Labor in the Soviet State, 1917–1921 [1967], p. 24).

The Communists tried to run the shops and factories, but they failed to recognize the central role of capitalization and management in production. As a result, production collapsed, and the Soviet Union was very quickly in a major crisis. They had the workers, and they had the plants, but no production.

If myths had not governed the Bolsheviks so thoroughly, they would have recognized the fallacy of their theories. This they were not ready to do. The fault could not be in Marxist theory, which, in their thinking, was reality. As a result, God’s reality had to be corrected to conform to Marxism.

The problem, created by Marxism, had to be resolved, but only on Marxist terms. This was like saying that the cure for poison is more poison. Lenin by late 1919 recognized the vast dimensions of the crisis and the growing economic collapse. He turned to Leon Trotsky, who was then the people’s commissar of war and chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic. Trotsky came up with a plan, with twenty-four propositions or theses in good Kantian-Hegelian-Marxist style. The essence of Trotsky’s plan was the radical militarization of all Soviet labor, urban and rural, commercial, industrial, scientific, educational, and agricultural. This meant the end of the freedom to change jobs at will, an end to all strikes, and an end to any freedom for labor.

Later, of course, Stalin and Trotsky clashed, and Trotsky lost. The Soviet Union, however, never has abandoned its Trotskyite militarization of all labor: it is basic to the Soviet Union. The slave labor camps represent the ultimate in the militarization of labor. Because of Trotsky’s logical development of Marxist theory, the workers’ destiny in “the workers’ paradise” is slavery. Of course, productivity has declined in every segment of the Soviet economy. Slavery has never been an effective form of labor, and the Soviet Union is a classic example of its incompetence and inefficiency.

The premises of Marxism, however, were not the exclusive property of Marxists; they were shared by Western liberals, such as the British Labour Party, and the followers of Woodrow Wilson in the United States.

Thus, when President Franklin Roosevelt took office during the Depression, he turned at once to the military model. He also turned to an army officer, General Hugh S. Johnson, to head up the National Recovery Act, 1933–1934. Johnson proceeded (he was a lawyer also) to lay down the law to businessmen like an occupation-army chief. Very few, like Walter Chrysler, were ready to stand up to him. Roosevelt’s military model destroyed many small businesses before the Supreme Court voided the NRA.

Faith in the military model did not die, however. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have turned to it repeatedly, and the courts now view it benignly. The military model is thus being applied to every sphere of life, business, education, religion, everything. Controls are the answer to all problems. American productivity has declined, as has American education.

This same decline — with the same cause, the militarization of national life — is occurring in countries all over the world, and with the same ugly results. In no country do the politicians seem ready to recognize the stupidity of the Trotsky plan for productivity.

Ironically, the militarization of national life has gone hand in hand with the demilitarization of the military! In the Soviet Union, political commissars saturate the military with their presence and hamper military common sense.

In the West, the military has also been politicized in one country after another, in some nations to a startling degree. In the name of civilian control, the military have been politicized. In all this, only one group apparently retains power and trust: the theoreticians. Where reality has its slimmest hold, there the greatest power resides!

In all this, it is clear that, first, God has no place. Men are determined to play god. They believe that their theories can create a new and better reality, and they see wisdom as born with them. For freedom to militarize men and institutions more effectively, the “superstitions” of Christianity must be eliminated, they maintain. In one nation after another, the war on Christianity begins with an attack on cults, and the definition of cults is soon expanded to include Christianity. The U.S. Congress is now talking about the need to do something about “cults.” If, as Congress insists, it must be “neutral” with respect to religions, why should some be labeled “cults” and singled out for national hostility?

Second, the militarization of society means a radical distrust of freedom. Almost twenty years ago, I was one of three men speaking at a well-attended forum, with a distinguished professor presiding. My subject was freedom in education. When the session ended, one state-school teacher, who had not gained recognition during the question-and-answer time, came up indignantly to accuse me of quackery for talking about freedom. She said, “In the modern world, freedom is obsolete.” In a scientifically governed social order, all factors had to be controlled to produce valid results, and freedom was thus an obsolete and nonvalid concept. This is the faith of all too many today.

Of course, most such believers would resent the Trotskyite term of militarization; they prefer to use the concept of a scientifically governed and controlled social order. Whichever term is used, the results are the same: freedom is replaced with controls.

The controls are man-made controls; they are means whereby man seeks to create new terms and conditions for living, and to remake the world. Man’s dream “reality” or utopia replaces God’s creation. Instead of original sin as the problem, such men see God and His law as the problem.

In October 1837, the United States Magazine and Democratic Review carried a long statement expressing the Jacksonian democratic faith. The author was probably the political editor, John O’Sullivan. He held, “Democracy is the cause of Humanity. It has faith in human nature. It believes in its essential equality and fundamental goodness.” This for him was the governing principle in terms of which “[a]ll history has to be rewritten.” At the same time, other theoreticians of Jacksonian democracy were asserting, as Gilbert Vale did in 1832, and again in his Manual of Political Economy: A Supplement to the Diamond in 1841, “We find it gravely asserted, and almost uniformly acted upon, that the majority should govern the minority; and this is the key to all the miserable legislation in the world, and the foundation of most of the evils; this is the father of the religious and political persecutions, and the grand impediment to improvement . . . What is this governing majority but a subversion of all justice.”

Thus, long before Trotsky, and in terms of Rousseau, men were promoting the suppression of the popular will in favor of an imaginary general will. Their ideas, from Rousseau on, called for one “logical” solution: the militarization of life and society.

The conclusion to all such efforts, however, is not life but death. It is the fool who says in his heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). God, who sits “in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Ps. 2:4).

  1. Ownership

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 120, April 1990

According to Scripture, all property belongs to God, the earth, its peoples, and all their possessions. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Ps. 24:1). God declares, “all the earth is mine” (Exod. 19:5; cf. Ps. 49:10–12, 17). “I am God . . . For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:7, 10). Such statements are repeated in the New Testament (1 Cor. 10:26, 28; 2 Cor. 5:18). God in particular specifies the land and its gold and silver as His (Hag. 2:8).

Because God gives man the duty to “subdue” the earth and to exercise “dominion” over it (Gen. 1:28), man has God’s permission to use the earth as a steward under Him. No man nor nation has an absolute and perpetual right to anything, however. As the U.S. courts declared, “The idea of absolute property forever in any particular owner . . . is a fiction. There can be no such thing . . . as absolute property forever, in the true sense of the term” (Harvard Law Review, vol. 11 [1897]: p. 69).

In trying to understand the Biblical meaning of stewardship-ownership, we have some gaps in our knowledge, and also some specific data. The conquest of Canaan had apparently several aspects. First, not all of Canaan was conquered at once. Some pagan enclaves remained, to be conquered later, or to merge with Israel by conversion. Some texts, like Psalm 87, celebrate the conversions of aliens to Israel. Second, at the conquest, the land was divided among the tribes (or clans) and their families. It was a division of land in terms of covenant membership. Third, the land was covenant ground; therefore, “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev. 25:23). Urban properties could be sold, but rural lands could only be leased out until the next jubilee year. The rural population was thus a conservative element with roots in the place, as witness the case of Naboth (1 Kings 21).

Land ownership was a covenant fact; it required covenant membership. Aliens to the covenant could lease land, but they could not own it. Thus, the stewardship-ownership of property was a covenant privilege; it did not require blood relationship but faith and covenant membership. The people were to be a religious unity, in covenant with the Lord. The covenant land could not be alienated.

In Deuteronomy 28, we have a powerful statement of covenantal status. For faithfulness to the Lord, the people and the land would be pursued by inescapable blessings in every sphere of their lives. As a people holy unto the Lord, they would be eminent among the nations, and feared. They would be lenders, not borrowers, “the head and not the tail,” and God’s blessing would be poured out upon them (Deut. 28:1– 14). If unfaithful, they would be accursed by God; the weather and the earth would confound them. They would face captivity and the loss of their land, and every kind of evil would overcome them (Deut. 28:15–68).

By God’s law, the covenant people were and are strictly barred from being unjust to any alien (Exod. 22:21, 23:9; Lev. 19:33; Deut. 1:16, 10:18, 23:7, 24:14; Mal. 3:5, etc.).

The alien, however, could not be a member of the community apart from covenant faith and, if from certain “national” groups of very degenerate cultures, this could mean that a record of covenant membership of three or ten generations was in certain cases required. The alien had a specifically protected status, but so too did the covenant land.

This means that land possession as a covenant stewardship is placed by God’s law not on a racial or nationalistic basis, but on a faith and covenant basis. Israel, after all, was very much a “mixed multitude” when it left Egypt, with many foreigners in its midst who had become covenant members (Exod. 12:38). Long before that, Abraham had fought a battle with 318 men “born in his house,” but not of his blood (Gen. 14:14). When Jacob’s family moved from Egypt, they numbered seventy blood kin and their wives (Gen. 46:27), but, with all those born of Abraham’s men, who were not of his blood, they were so numerous that the land of Goshen was given to them (Gen. 47:27). Israel was thus a people in a covenant of faith, not of blood. Land possession was not a matter of blood membership but of faith and covenant membership. When they forsook the Lord and His covenant, God the Lord dispossessed them.

All of this is relevant to our time. The newspapers are full of articles about the increasing foreign ownerships of American properties, and magazine articles regularly supply us with data on the subject. At one time, some states restricted land ownership to certain groups; these laws were nullified after World War II. Historically, such laws have been found again and again in history.

It is important, however, to recognize the difference between such laws and Biblical law. The non-Biblical laws have made a difference in terms of nationality or race. The modern concern is a sterile one, because it “protects” a particular national or racial group. There is no religious stipulation of faith or character. What advantage is there in being protected as an American if the word “American” is inclusive of men of evil character, perverts, hoodlums, and so on? Racial and nationalistic grouping are not moral divisions. In Amos 5:19, we have a particularly vivid and dramatic picture of false security: it is “as if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.” Serpents in the house are commonplace now that we have placed citizenship on a nonmoral basis!

We cannot (and must not) change the matter by new laws on property and its possession, because such laws are unrelated to moral facts. We are not a covenant people, and laws passed by Congress cannot make us moral or covenantal. We are not interested in converting the alien but in clobbering him. In fact, too many American church people are not even interested enough in the conversion of their children to put them into Christian schools. If they object to foreigners “buying up America,” it is because they want “our kind” to own it, and “our kind” has gotten us into our present griefs and disasters. Too often the church itself has a false concept of membership.

The first and basic step towards a Biblical doctrine of ownership is to recognize that “the earth is the Lord’s,” not ours, nor is it the property of “our kind.” History is a process whereby God disinherits one group to test another, and the whole world is now in a time of testing and judgment.

Second, not only is the earth the Lord’s, but also “all they that dwell therein.” That means us. We are God’s property, and He can and will do with us whatsoever He pleases. All of us are full of ideas as to what God should do to everyone else in the way of judgment, all the while expecting Him to bless us! We need to think God’s thoughts after Him, concerning ourselves and everything else.

Third, we must recognize the God-centered and covenantal basis of all ownership. What God gives to us, whether possessions or talents, is in terms of His ownership and purpose, not for our personal benefits. Our stewardship of all property includes our stewardship of ourselves, and we are accountable to Him for all that we are and have. Whether we like it or not, we shall be required to give an accounting.

Fourth, we must restore the covenantal basis of all life, and we must recognize that the covenant is a law covenant given to us as an act of grace, for our benefit and welfare. God’s requirements of us are not intended to punish or deprive us, but to bless us. We are too often poor stewards of property, but God is not, and His chastenings have as their purpose the recalling of men and nations to His way.

We are His property and possession. His plan for us is better than anything we can imagine. We must bring ourselves and the aliens in our midst, and then our countries into His covenantal grace, mercy, and peace.

Fifth, Scripture is very clear about the alien within the country; he must be treated the same as a covenant man, even if an unbeliever. As a believer, he is free to intermarry with covenant families. The alien outside the covenant country has no property rights within the land. Ownership is a form of responsibility, and responsibility within the covenant land is to the covenant God. No unbeliever can exercise such responsibility; hence, he cannot buy into the land. The firstfruits of the earth, and the tithes on agricultural and commercial increase, belong to the Lord. Today, we see the increase in terms of taxes to the state and of profit to the owner. God and His covenant are divorced from ownership, and our responsibility to God is seen as a private option; for many people, to give or not to God is their decision, not God’s law. Having separated God from the ownership of the earth, God is separating men from control of the land and of the city.

  1. The Decapitalization of Mankind

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 145, November 1991

The older meaning of capitalization meant the ability to convert one’s holdings into cash and other assets. A more modern meaning, in accounting, tells us how far we have strayed: it has come to mean the number of shares and debts outstanding.

By contrast, decapitalization is the loss of assets and holdings. I recall, after the 1971 earthquake in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, that many office buildings lost many windows. A glass-walled bank in Westwood lost all. Someone said that this was all good for business! It was, in fact, decapitalizing, because money that would otherwise have gone into productive uses went into massive repairs of various kinds.

Decapitalization is more than material and financial. It is also moral and religious. There are obvious examples of this. Abortion is a form of human, moral, and religious decapitalization. Before abortions were legalized, there were serious declines in the life of people: they had decapitalized themselves religiously. Only a Christian renewal can recapitalize people. Remember, in the Wichita, Kansas case, the abortion clinic was owned and operated by a doctor who is a member of an “evangelical” church whose pastor disapproves of abortion! Homosexuality is another form of moral decapitalization, as are ungodly films and television shows.

To abhor these things on humanistic grounds is far from enough. I know humanists who hate homosexuality and are against abortion. They are themselves a part of the decapitalization of humanity. We must be governed by God and His law-word, not by humanistic feelings.

A major source of decapitalization all over the world, from the simplest tribal society to the major power states, is envy. Envy resents any and every kind of success; it hates any and all who are one’s betters or superiors. It cannot even accept help from more successful men without hostility.

One of the major business successes of our day has been the “fast food” chains. Their founders have developed a standardized cuisine based on careful studies of tastes, costs, and popular appeal. Some have even developed a standardized architecture which most efficiently promotes work and sales. Whatever one’s opinion of their food, one must admit that they are a merchandising success. But they are not without problems, and it takes a special person to operate a “fast food” place successfully. The temptation is to think that one can improve on a tested success! The temptation is to add one’s own “wisdom” to the operation, and the results are usually very, very bad.

People are unwilling to say that others know more than they do, are wiser than they are, and also are better experienced. I have been disgusted more than once at the envy shown by assistant pastors and staff members for the senior pastor. Of course the senior pastor has faults; none of us is perfect. Of course there are some things that can be improved on; what is there that cannot be? But subordinates are hired to do a specific job, not to correct their superior. All their purported “wisdom” is usually another name for envy. The same is true in Christian schools, businesses, institutions of various sorts, and so on.

Envy destroys progress. It decapitalizes the envious man and also his society. Some old American proverbs, now forgotten, spoke accurately of envy: “The dogs of envy bark at a celebrity.” “As a moth gnaws at a garment, so does envy consume a man.” “The envious die, but envy never.” “After honor and state, follow envy and hate.” “The dog with the bone is always in danger.”

In Scripture, Proverbs 14:30 tells us, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” Many people and many societies now are suffering from “rottenness of the bones.” Proverbs 27:4 says, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” We are told that Pilate, faced with the arrested Christ, and the leaders of Judea, “knew that for envy they had delivered him” (Matt. 27:18). Out of envy, in the church today all too many suffer greatly, among both the clergy and the people. As a result, we have a decapitalized church, rendered weak by envy, which is itself a manifestation of little or no faith, and a contempt for the Holy Spirit.

One of the dramatic successes of the modern age has been industry, business, farming, and ranching, i.e., the whole realm of production. The hostility manifested towards this sphere is amazing. To speak favorably about their productivity is seen by many as evil, or as a sign that one has “sold out.” All this is grounded in envy, in a hatred for anyone more successful, more intelligent, or more wealthy than we are. Education today is too often indoctrination into envy, so that our schools are schools for barbarians.

Envy decapitalizes mankind because it strikes at the best men in every field and seeks to level them to the same status as failures.

There is not much hope for the future of the Soviet Union countries, nor for Central Europe, unless they can cast off envy. This is also true of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and including the United States. Modern politics are the politics of envy. As a result, no matter who wins, we usually go from bad to worse. Our political messiahs all have a common gospel, envy. Satisfy the envy of evil men, and paradise will be restored.

Not without reason, very early in church history theologians and pastors classified envy as one of the seven deadly sins. It is indeed a deadly sin, because it destroys every institution and every social order it commands.

People are envious because they are sinners, some saved, some lost. Basic to our original sin is the will to be our own god, knowing or determining for ourselves all law and morality, what is good and what is evil, and all things else. Not being a god, we cannot so reorder the world, however much we try, and so we show our sin by trying to strike at all who are above us. How dare they excel, or be rich, when we are not?! But, as an old Russian proverb has it, “If your face is ugly, don’t blame the mirror.”

Envy destroys man; a man’s body may be in fine shape, but is if his heart dies, he is dead. Envy does this to man. An old proverb common to many Christian countries says, “The Devil does not come until he is called.” With envy, we are calling up the devils of destruction.

The decapitalization of the world is in process through envy. People on all sides manifest hostility to anyone more successful than they. Envy builds the coffin of every culture governed by it.

There are many good Biblical texts on envy. How sad that it is not the subject of preaching.

  1. Wealth

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 26, November 1981

The modern attitude towards wealth is a most ambivalent one. Man’s materialistic bent makes him desire wealth and hunger passionately for it. Modern advertising appeals to this lust for wealth, and much of current selling and buying is motivated by the urge to appear wealthy, while appearing unconcerned about wealth. To be wealthy is seen as a reproach by the very people who hunger for wealth. In their envy, they try to make wealth into the great sin of the times. Wealth is presented as the product of exploitation; it is depicted as evidence of unconcern for the poor and needy and as something to feel guilty about. Modern man has a love-hate relationship and attitude towards wealth.

The matter is even more complex than that. The contemporary view of wealth has no awareness of the fact that wealth in different areas has meant different things. A man with many (and godly) children and grandchildren can and commonly has felt very rich, although having relatively little money. Moreover, money has not always been an evidence of wealth; more often, land has been the index of wealth, and sometimes position. Then, too, people can sometimes be rich and feel poor. A few years ago, one of America’s wealthiest women married one of America’s wealthier men. Both had jealous regards for their money, and they agreed, before their wedding, to share equally all living costs. The marriage foundered, because the bridegroom, worried about the high cost of honeymoons, tried to make his bride share the cost of their honeymoon, beginning with their first breakfast! Despite all his wealth, he was in the true sense of the word, a very poor man.

Mental and religious attitudes thus are thoroughly intertwined with our ideas of wealth. What we believe can make our wealth a blessing or a curse in our eyes, and in the eyes of others. We can feel that wealth gives us a privilege and responsibility, or we can regard it as something to apologize for, as though we had some unfair advantage because of it. Wealth can be a blessing in a godly era, and a burden in an age of envy.

It is important to recognize that the main word for wealth in the Hebrew, chayil, means strength. Another word means substance, another, good; still others mean power, things laid up, fullness, rest, prosperity. Clearly, the Bible does not see wealth as the problem, but the problem is what men do with it, and what the possessors of wealth themselves are. At times, some very harsh things are said about rich men, but wealth itself is seen as a blessing (Deut. 8:18). It is trust in wealth which is strongly condemned (Ps. 49:6–8). The love of wealth can lead men into grave injustices towards their poorer covenant brothers (Isa. 5:8–10). It is not money but “the love of money” which “is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

The idea of wealth has changed from age to age, and the concept of poverty also. Philippe Aries, in The Hour of Our Death (New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 1981), notes that, in the Middle Ages, wealth was not seen as the possession of things; rather, it was identified with power over men, whereas poverty was identified with solitude (p. 136). Each concept of wealth creates its own culture, and its own advantages and problems.

Later, wealth was identified with cultivated lands and houses, and the wealthy families of Europe were not necessarily rich in money but in land and in castles or manor houses. Whatever gold or silver they acquired went into furthering their landed wealth. This attitude carried over into Colonial America, and, as rapidly as possible, bullion wealth, gold and silver, which was in excess of current needs, was turned into utensils. Much of Paul Revere’s work in silver represented such assets, made for his contemporaries. In times of need, the silver teapots, trays, and other items were simply melted down into bullion for monetary use.

The Industrial Revolution redefined wealth. Capital wealth was less and less land and houses and more and more the means of production. It meant mines, ships, railroads, looms and mills, and the like. The social standard was still the older one, and the new capitalists, as they grew wealthy, bought country estates and married their children to the older families in order to gain status. Wealthy Americans bought English estates in order to feel truly rich! In time, however, the older doctrine of wealth began to decline. Both wealth and power were now industrial in orientation, and the future was defined, not in terms of land and houses, but in terms of industrial production. Thus, Henry Ford hated horses and worked to mechanize farming; he saw man’s products as superior and promoted “soybean milk” and synthetic foods (John Cote Dahlinger and Frances Spatz Leighton, The Secret Life of Henry Ford [Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1978] pp. 170–177). As a part of this same temper, for years oleomargarine was promoted as a better and healthier food than butter. At World Fairs, the wonderful world of plastics was presented as a great hope for man and as the new road to cheap wealth for all. Manufactured products as the key to popular wealth, and the means of production as the instrument of great wealth, played an important part in the development of the twentieth century and its technology. Few doctrines of wealth have had a more revolutionary impact on the world.

This new idea of wealth meant a more fluid and liquid conception of riches, and it moved quietly and steadily to another concept, one to which the market investor and speculator, while playing an important part in the development of industrial wealth, contributed greatly. The new wealth was monetary. It meant, not simply the ownership of the means of production, but money, millions and even billions of dollars in money. The idea of money as wealth was being separated from the production which created it.

Less and less in the popular imagination was the really rich man the producer, and more and more the nonworking investor and playboy. Since World War II, we have seen the rapid development of an anticapitalist mentality. Ludwig von Mises has written with especial effectiveness about the implications of this phenomenon in The Anti-Capitalist Mentality (1956). At the same time, an unprecedented number of people have become “investors” in the stock market; large numbers of these new “investors” have a hostility to the free market and demand regulations of industry. They seem to regard the stock exchange as something like Las Vegas and a slot machine, or, better, like a race track and horse betting. The idea of money has for many separated itself from the means of production.

The consequences of this have been far-reaching. Wealth has come to mean money, not land, houses, and the means of production. The idea of wealth has become highly liquid, and the new money is equally liquid. It is fiat money, paper money.

A society which separates wealth from the realities of land, houses, and the means of production on the one hand, and the capital of work and thrift on the other, will soon have a money which is inflated, because its idea of wealth is inflated; it has no substance.

At the same time, the doctrine of wealth will shift from a production orientation to a consumer orientation. Service industries begin to predominate over production industries. The social structure stresses wealth while producing less and less of it.

At the same time, a change takes place in the uses of wealth. We have already noted the prevalence of the consumer mentality in an inflationary culture. There is, however, always another use of wealth, for benevolence. Men in every age have in varying degrees shared their wealth with others; in particular, this has been a basic aspect of every culture which to any degree has been influenced by Christianity. Philanthropy becomes a major social force.

The care of the poor, the sick, and the hungry was in the Middle Ages the function of Christian foundations. Monasteries provided for a variety of social needs, and, whatever other criticisms were made of the church, a lack of charity was rarely charged or valid.

However, charity, like wealth, can be variously defined and often has radically different motivations. Helmut Schoeck, in Envy (1966), has shown that, in many cultures, not only is envy the basis of law but also of charity. To avoid the destructive forces of envy, the men who accumulate riches regularly divest themselves of all that they possess. Because, as Schoeck demonstrates, “the envious man is, by definition, the negation of the basis of any society” (p. 26), “charity” in such a society is counterproductive and is socially destructive. Prince Kropotkin in Mutual Aid chose to see such “charity” as evidence of a universal moral character in men, and in this he followed Darwin’s suggestion in his Descent of Man. However, as Schoeck shows, the desire for an equalitarian society comes from envy, not from any noble motive, and, as a result, the private and statist “charity” created by envy is socially ruinous.

In Buddhism, charity has in large measure a contempt for life. A very popular tale among the Buddhist peasantry is that of King Sivi, who gave away his eyes, and Vessantara, who gave away his kingdom, all his possessions, and even his wife and children. Many of the classic tales of Buddhist charity have a strongly suicidal character.

This suicidal motive is an important fact. Whenever and wherever envy becomes a governing force in charitable giving, suicide becomes a ruling factor. In the United States, for example, many heirs to great fortunes are so heavily influenced by the politics of guilt, pity, and envy, that their charities had a strongly suicidal element. Such persons seek to absolve themselves of guilt and to escape from envy by becoming advocates of radical politics and instruments of charities designed to allay envy. Such charities do not stifle envy; rather, they feed and justify it.

In this there is a relationship to Hindu charity, which, as A. S. Geden showed, has a religious motive, “the desire to secure personal advantages and reward in the future life” (James Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 3, p. 388). Not generosity but a desire to escape from Karma and the cycle of reincarnation governs such charity. The goal of society and of charity is thus not community and love but an escape from this world. The rich give to expiate past sins and to improve their karma and their future reincarnations.

The goal in these various forms of non-Biblical charity is thus man-centered. Man seeks by his giving to gain a personal advantage: deliverance from guilt, social approval, a mitigation of karmic burdens and an improvement of future lives, and so on.

In other words, many of these charities are past-oriented, and others are death-oriented. In past-oriented charities, the donor is seeking to make atonement for past sins and guilt, by himself or by his parents. The present world is essentially a place wherein atonement is made for the past. The inheritance of wealth is seen as a burden which must be expiated for and justified by a course of guilt-governed charitable giving. Much of modern humanistic giving has such a motive. Great fortunes lead to great foundations whose function is to rehabilitate a bad conscience or a “bad name.” The giving of such foundations is thus essentially on a false basis.

Other charities are death-oriented. There is a link between wealth and death; the old saying has it that “you can’t take it with you,” but death-oriented giving seeks to evade the force of that fact. Death-oriented charities seek to build up points for the afterlife, either by their effect on the afterlife, or by their effect on one’s name and reputation here on earth. In many cases, charities and foundations are both past-oriented and death-oriented.

Biblical wealth and charity have as their focus the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). Both acquisition and dispersion are governed by God’s law and justice. Their function is to capitalize the present and the future under God and to further covenant life. When a man gives to justify or to atone for his wealth, his giving is self-serving and counterproductive. When he acquires wealth and gives of it in terms of God’s calling and Kingdom, his activity furthers community. He then functions as a member of a covenant community, and his relationship to all who are outside the covenant is one of justice and mercy.

In such a perspective, wealth is not seen as power over men, nor as lands and houses (however desirable), nor as the means of production, and certainly not as fiat money. What a man has is the blessing of the Lord, and to be used in terms of God’s law-word. All that we are and have is of the providence of God and to be used in terms of His calling, justice, and law. St. Paul states the matter simply and bluntly: “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7).

The wealth we have received from God may be material or intellectual; it can be money, lands, graces, aptitudes, and callings. This wealth can be accompanied by money or come without it. In any and in every case, we all have a common obligation to use it to God’s glory and purpose. “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22). Note that it is neither money nor land that makes us rich in the Biblical sense but “the blessing of the Lord.” We cannot have that blessing or richness if we see only money as wealth, nor if we are eaten by envy. What we have, we must give. Our Lord is emphatic on this: “freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). If we do not, we are very poor indeed, poor in our very being. Rich man or poor man, which are you?

  1. Wealth, Responsibility, and Cowardice

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 93, January 1988

In recent years, a very important fact with great repercussions has marked our society. At one time, for better or worse, men of great wealth exercised important powers and positions in society. Their gifts created charities, subsidized the arts, and governed many areas of life. In more ways than one, men of great wealth set the pace.

In this century, this has steadily become reversed. In part, this is due to the democratization which Alexis de Tocqueville feared would subvert Western civilization and lead to a barbarization of society.

But this is not all. There are other factors which are far more important which have been at work. There is a very clear religious dimension here which we must never overlook. The Bible is clear that wealth brings with it responsibilities. Our Lord sums up the meaning of the law and the prophets in these words: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). The history of Western civilization and Christendom cannot be written apart from these words. Both the medieval church, and the Reformation churches, have unleashed vast sums of giving by their insistence on the duties of all who prosper, whether little or much, towards others. In every part of the world, such Christian giving has made an impact unequalled in all of history. It warps history to make no note of this fact.

In recent years, however, some signs of change are readily apparent. The patronage of the arts is an obvious realm in which the difference appears. The ultramodern, avant-garde art, really pretentious junk art, has a patronage perhaps unequalled in history. To gain respectability, our corporations great and small buy such junk art for their office and corridor walls, and to store in their warehouses. The corporations are the mainstay of the various purveyors of junk art. At the same time, television has on its “public” channels all kinds of programs financed by corporations.

Two things can be said. First, all such funding, including much funding of the left, wins no friends for the corporations. Their money is taken, and they continue to be reviled. They in effect finance their own condemnation. Second, the corporations are careful to give little or nothing to Christian churches and agencies which are evangelical or Reformed. Except for a few men, they act as though some kind of sin against society would be committed by such a gift. Some executives justify this, saying, our shareholders are not all Christian, so it would mean problems if we gave such gifts. But many of their shareholders are Christians: does their stand and faith count for nothing? Moreover, how many of their shareholders would favor their gifts to leftist causes?

The problem lies elsewhere. First, too many corporate executives are men without faith. They may belong to “mainline” churches, and, in some parts of the country, are expected to join them for public relations purposes, but they are still men without faith, often in churches without faith. Recent studies have shown that, whereas most Americans affirm a Christian faith, a very great majority of the men in the communications media do not. Moreover, many are strongly anti-Christian. It would be interesting to see if a study of corporate executives would give like results. Of course, for public relations purposes, many such executives would perhaps routinely give dishonest answers.

Second, without faith, a man finds courage drained out of his system. For him, then, the world is without meaning, and, in such a world, what is worth fighting for? To such a man, easy and evasive solutions are the best. Not surprisingly, cowardice has become very common among corporate executives. Nowadays, to find a courageous executive usually means that he is a believer, whether Christian or Jew. He does not evade responsibility: he assumes it as a privilege. Most, however, have much to lose and no faith, and hence are timid and cowardly.

As a result, most corporate leaders today are supportive of power, whoever holds it. They reject any stand on the basis of beliefs and morals, and hold to a pragmatic position.

As a result of this lack of faith, and this cowardice, men of wealth have abandoned their responsibilities to society. Some such men have organized various councils to deal with a variety of social and political issues, but all these groups are models of impotence. If a problem arises, and a group or people become threatening, the “solution” is to throw money at them. Hence our foreign aid program, and hence, too, our insane bank loans to countries incapable of repayment. The solutions of these councils are the “solutions” of bankruptcy — moral, intellectual, and financial.

Because of this, we have seen the rise of underground man, of the lowest elements in society. They are the new revolutionary element! They are bold, because, having nothing, they have nothing to lose. And they are bold because they can smell the fear of them by the rich, and also by the middle class.

Moreover, because the rich, and the middle class, are marked by a weak faith or no faith at all, they are cowardly when challenged. The underground people, sensing this, push as much as they can.

Once underground man was confronted with the challenge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, money is thrown at him in the vain hope of buying him off.

Cowards find talk of conspiracies comforting. Conspiracies have always existed, but men of faith have conquered them again and again over the centuries. Now, as someone has rightly observed, the homosexuals have come out of the closet, and the Christians have entered the closet. Every kind of group grows bolder as the rich, the middle class, and the lower class show a weak faith and much cowardice. Cowardice is no respecter of class or status.

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Our generation has been given much, and the Lord requires much of us. We have been schooled to demand much of others, however, and we demand to be saved! I am regularly amazed by the fact that people who have never contributed a penny to Chalcedon will write to demand hours of thought and work from us at their bidding! One such person wrote twice thereafter, very indignantly, to indict us for failing to answer to his every demand! As a professor of history told me about fifteen years ago, we are witnessing the death of civility.

Much is required of this generation, and the time of reckoning draws near. We have a calling to serve the Lord with all our heart, mind, and being. We have a work to do, or a judgment to face. As against all that we face, we have the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). If we know Christ, then we know the power of His resurrection (Phil. 3:10), so that we are summoned, not to continue in weakness or cowardice, but in His almighty power.

  1. Wealth and Heirship

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 27, December 1981

One of the most powerful, corrosive, and destructive forces in all of history is very much at work today in all the world: envy. Envy is, in terms of Biblical faith, very clearly a sin, but in the modern age, it comes disguised as a virtue. The motive force in much of the equalitarianism of our day is not a sense of brotherhood but an envy which seeks to level all things. Envy also masks itself as a concern, very commonly, for social justice, and it lays claims to saintly character while promoting hatred, revolution, and murder.

Envy wars against status, but every revolution in the modern age has promoted a new elitism and established a social order more static, fixed, and class-conscious than those orders it displaces. Envy claims to promote equality, justice, and democracy, while in practice working to destroy all three of these things. Envy capitalizes on issues, not on principles. The world being a sinful and fallen order, the best of societies have glaring defects in need of correction, but envy capitalizes on these defects while avoiding principles. Envy does not correct: it destroys.

Because envy is sin, it wars against virtue and character. While capitalizing on the weaknesses of, let us say, the middle class, the doctors, technicians, press, clergy, and so on, it seeks in reality to suppress and destroy their character and strength. It says, in effect, let none be better than myself. (Some years ago, as a young man, I saw in a particular church an evil family champion a pastor of bad character. In one incident, I learned that they liked him for his sins, because it “justified” them, whereas every godly man was slandered and resented by them.) The unwritten law in the hearts of envious men is, let no man be better than myself.

Because envy is evil, it resents the good and is hence very destructive socially. It reduces church, state, and society to the lowest common denominator. Aristides the Just (ca. 468 b.c.), an Athenian statesman and general, was ostracized from the city in part because many people were resentful of hearing him called “the Just.” Then and now, many people prefer a corrupt politician to a good and honest man: they resent excellence and superiority.

The role of envy in many spheres and with respect to many things could be cited at length, but our concern now is with a key area for envy: wealth and heirship. It is commonly said that we live in a very materialistic age; Pitirim Sorokin called it also a sensate culture. The lust for wealth, or at least the appearance of wealth, is commonplace. A variety of things such as furniture, automobiles, and clothing, sell less for their durability and more for their utility in creating the proper image, the image of careless and assumed wealth.

Together with this lust for material and monetary wealth goes a resentment for the wealthy. The tacit premise is that, let no man be wealthy if we cannot all be wealthy. Hence, the revolutionary urge is to destroy wealth and then try to recreate it for all, an illusory hope. The result instead is a wealthy group of social planners who will not allow any man to transcend their control or status.

At the same time, there is an intense envy and resentment of heirs. How dare anyone inherit wealth! Over the years, from professors, students, and a wide range of peoples, I have heard expressed a radical hostility to heirship. Our estate and inheritance taxes witness to this hatred, and today this uncontrolled envy of heirs has made the robbing of widows and orphans a matter of state policy. The estate of the father may be a limited one and of consequence only because of inflation, but envy strikes increasingly lower and lower, from the upper class to the middle class, and now increasingly lower on the economic scale. The income tax is similarly a consequence of envy.

Many churchmen are very much a part of this world of envy, and they promote it as gospel. The word “rich” (by which they mean richer than I) is for many the ultimate insult. Our Chalcedon mailing list friends report some examples of this. One clergyman said that it was immoral for any man to have an income in excess of $20,000 a year; another, several hundred miles away, said that an annual income of over $40,000 was un- Christian and a sin. (It takes little imagination to guess what their own salaries were!)

If a goodly income is a sin, how much more so an inheritance in the eyes of these men! An heir receives money he has not earned, we are told, and therefore does not deserve. Such money should be taken from heirs and given to “the needy.” In practice, taking money from the rich means giving it to an even richer state, not to the needy. Moreover, if failure to earn the money is the heir’s problem, then why is it proper to give this money either to the state or to the needy, neither of whom have earned it? We have, in all envy and its social programs, a double standard.

There is one point, and a necessary point, which we must grant, and, in fact, we must insist on granting: the heir’s money is unearned. This is a crucial point theologically, as we shall see. However, before proceeding to that fact, let us stop briefly to stress an important distinction. There is a very great difference between unearned wealth and unjustly gained wealth. My father left me no money, being a poor pastor, but he left me some books (a very important form of wealth for me). I have a personal library of 25–30,000 books, many of which I inherited from my father, and from two other pastors (and many of which I bought). I did not earn many of those books (although many I did). Am I unjustly the owner of the unearned books? They were given to me as acts of love and grace, and I am happily and gratefully their present possessor. My books are a form of wealth for me, and they have been so also for friends and associates who have used them in their research. Only if I were to have some stolen books in my library would these be an illegitimate form of wealth. The distinction between legitimate and illegitimate wealth must not be obscured.

Now we are ready to deal with the key question, the unearned nature of wealth which is inherited. The modern world, being anti-Christian, is very hostile to heirship, whereas the Christian must regard it as central to his faith. There are far-reaching theological implications here. Very centrally, the doctrine of grace is involved.

The language of “rights” is basic to our humanistic age, which at the same time is the most murderous era in all history, very often in the name of the rights of man. Modern man assumes that he has a right to many things, and, with each decade, the catalogue of rights is increased, as is the scale of oppression and totalitarianism in the name of rights.

Theologically, however, man has no rights as he stands before God. All that he has is of grace, sovereign grace. Both man and his world are the creation of the triune God. No man is born into an empty world; we are all born heirs of our history, and we inherit the riches and the devastations of our forbears. We are what we are by the grace and the providence of God. St. Paul, in a key verse, struck at the pretensions of man, saying, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7).

St. Peter says that life itself is a grace, a gift of God (1 Pet. 3:7). We are not the authors of life, nor the determiners of the conditions thereof. Life is a grace, a gift from God, and, for better or worse, we are all heirs. Our inheritance is often a marred one because of sin, but, all the same, we are heirs, redeemed or unredeemed. If we fail to recognize God’s grace and purpose, or fail to bow before His sovereignty, we are judged and disinherited.

But, if we are the redeemed, we are heirs of the Kingdom of God, confirmed heirs, heirs together with Christ, we are repeatedly told (Rom. 8:17; Gal. 3:29, 4:7; Eph. 3:6; Heb. 6:17; James 2:5, etc.).

The Bible requires that we recognize the fact of grace and heirship. They are essential to the doctrine of salvation, and also to the Biblical way of life. What we are, we have received, and we are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19). “Therefore let no man glory in men” (1 Cor. 3:21) for any reason, neither in other men nor especially in ourselves. We are not only created by the Lord but also bought back and redeemed at the price of Christ’s blood (1 Cor. 6:20).

The envious man of today refuses to see all this. The world is a product of chance, and, in that realm of chance, man has struggled, fought, survived, and advanced himself. He has come so far that he can now self-consciously control and direct his future evolution. We have here the most radical doctrine of works in all history. The works involved are “red in tooth and claw.” And man evolves by destroying lesser forms, including the abortion of unwanted and also potentially defective unborn babies, he believes.

This envious humanistic man feels justified also in striking at the born, heirs especially, in order to further his concept of social advance and justice. Because he is at war with God, this humanistic man rejects radically the idea of grace and heirship in any and every realm, from the theological to the societal. He does more than reject it: he wars against it, and it is a total war.

Some scholars write as though Social Darwinism were a thing of the past. Their works are simply a fraud. What has passed away is the Social Darwinism of the men of Carnegie’s day and class, i.e., the Social Darwinism of the powerful and largely non-Christian or anti-Christian industrialists who believed in the manipulation of the state for their purposes. In their place, we have the Social Darwinism of socialism and modern democracies, a disguised form thereof but real all the same. Behind the façade of benevolence, the modern state applies a legal guillotine to all whom it deems unfit to serve.

In such a situation, more than ever, it is imperative for Christians to revive the Biblical doctrines of grace and heirship. In a world of grace, we are all heirs: we have received unearned wealth without any work or works on our part. Heirship imposes upon us a major task of stewardship. The whole of the law gives us the pattern of stewardship for the heirs of grace. Our Lord sums it all up in six words: “freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8).

This commandment was given to the disciples, and to us. It applies to all, whether rich or poor according to man’s reckoning. We are all too prone today to assume that the duty to give freely or generously belongs to the rich, and the rest of us have the duty of receiving! It is, in fact, basic to envy that it demands that the envied give and the envier either receive or determine the disposition of that which is given. We have seen a great variety of peoples see themselves as the necessary recipients. The various minority groups believe that they have a right to gifts. So, too, do the elderly, and, along with the state school personnel, they constitute our most powerful lobby. Of course, industry, agriculture, and labor all seek subsidies or gifts. Envy leads to the world of coercion.

The Bible, however, says that all men begin with the grace of life. The redeemed are doubly the recipients of grace, and they are the heirs-designate of all things in Christ. They have received freely, and they must give freely.

The Christian position is thus founded on heirship and grace. We must recognize that we have received freely and that the Lord requires us to work for the reconstruction of all things in terms of God’s law-word. This reconstruction requires that we give our lives, time, thought, effort, and money to that end. When James speaks of us as heirs (James 2:5), and as joint heirs with Christ the King, princes of grace, he summons us to fulfill or keep the royal law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (James 2:8).

We are told, “thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18). We are told, “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land” (Deut. 15:11).

Envy is divisive and destructive. It creates a world of conflict and hatred. Hatred of the rich is as much a sin as hatred of the poor is. When we are commanded by God to love our neighbor, no qualifications are made exempting us from loving him if he is rich or poor, black or white. We are to fulfill, i.e., keep the law in relation to him by respecting the sanctity of his marriage, life, property, and reputation, in word, thought, and deed (Rom. 13:8–10), and to see him as our God-given neighbor.

Some neighbors will indeed be problems, of that there is no question! However, we must remember that in this world of grace and heirship, among the things we often inherit are problems. We have them because God intended them, not for us to complain about but to meet in His grace and by His law-word. We must face them in the confidence of Romans 8:28, that indeed all things do work together for good to them who love God and are the called according to His purpose. But to be called of God means that we are fulfilling His calling.

If all is of grace, there is no place for envy. We are heirs by the adoption of grace in order that we might give of that which we have received in order to be faithful citizens and members of the Kingdom of God.

Let us leave the world of envy for the wealth of grace and heirship.

  1. Wealth and the City

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 28, January 1982

The word society comes from socius, an associate. A society is a family group in some sense, a community of people who feel some kinship. Historically, the binding tie in a society is a common faith, and obedience to the law of that faith. All who deny that faith and law have been in the past called outlaws.

The locale of a society has historically been a city, not the city as a civil structure but the city as a faith center. In the ancient world, in the “middle ages,” in the Puritan village, and elsewhere, the center of the city has been the temple, cathedral, or church.

The city as the faith center for an area has thus also been the wealth center. A people’s life, wealth, and faith are closely linked. As our Lord says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). If a people’s treasure is their faith and in society of faith, then their hearts and their material wealth will be there also, in the same locale.

For ages, that center of faith, society, and wealth was also walled, to protect the concentration of treasures in the forms of faith, lives, society, and material wealth. The walled city was thus a symbol of a common faith and life, and also of security. (When the Huguenots lost their walled cities, it was the beginning of the end for them.) At the same time, the walled city became a target for every enemy, and every thief. The strength and wealth of the city attracted the attention of the lawless.

Faith, wealth, family, land, and the city have often been associated as means of strength and security. Thus, Proverbs 10:15 reads, “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.” As R. N. Whybray, in The Book of Proverbs, noted, “wealth protects a man from misfortune just as a strongly fortified capital protects a king from his enemies.” On the other hand, Proverbs 18:10–11 tells us that there are two different ways to obtain security in life: to trust in God, or to trust in wealth. The separation of wealth from faith is the destruction of man and finally of wealth. The same is true of the walled city: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Ps. 127:1). Apart from the Lord and faith in Him, the city can be a death trap, and so can the countryside, too.

A city gives men proximity one to another, but without the moral bond of a common faith, the city and its government become aliens and then oppressors of the people. In the ancient city, citizens were all who partook of the lustrations or whatever other rite of atonement they adhered to. In other words, atonement made the city and the citizen. Hence, to attempt to change faiths (and atonements) was an act of revolution. The new faith had to be either incorporated with the current one, or destroyed. Hence the persecution of the early church. Its lord was not Caesar but Jesus Christ, and its atonement was not from the civil religion but the cross.

Modern man has worked self-consciously to throw off the shackles of the past, most notably to discard Biblical faith and all its restraints. The modern city is to be the work of man. No less than the builders of the Tower of Babel who sought to build a social order without God, have the builders of the modern city, and the modern state, sought a nontheistic order. The modern state and the modern city united to assert a neutrality and an autonomy from God. Neutrality commended itself as a restraint upon the clamor of various churches to be established. Under the merits of antiestablishmentarianism, a separation from Christianity was effected. This supposed neutrality with respect to the claims of all religions served to mask an allegiance to another religion, humanism, which is the new established religion of states, courts, and state schools of the modern age.

At the same time, the claim to autonomy was advanced. The city and the state are supposedly independent of God; they constitute a free zone where God’s power and law do not extend, and where man as man is his own god and law. The autonomous city sees itself as the free city, free to plan and chart its course in terms of purely humanistic considerations. The modern city was determined to be the City of Man, not the City of God.

A fundamental assumption of this new faith has been at worst the moral neutrality of man, or at best the goodness of man. All the centuries of slow and painstaking work to civilize the barbarian peoples by means of faith, and to order their lives by means of God’s law, were viewed as a great aberration. Man will be most good when most natural, it was declared. As against the redeemed, twice-born man, the once-born man was championed. As against supernatural man, natural man was seen as the hope of the world.

Men like Horace Mann were enthusiastic about the prospects of mankind. The natural man, reeducated out of the superstitions of the past, would produce a crime-free, poverty-free world in which man would be his own lord. Disagreements were prevalent in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as to the best means to this golden age of man. Some believed revolution and massive destruction were needed; others advocated democracy and mass education as the way to the great City of Man, the “Great Community” of John Dewey and others.

But a problem arose, however unacknowledged. Whether in the United States or the Soviet Union, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, or elsewhere, man remained not what the ideologists and theoreticians said he was, but what God says man is, a sinner.

The new City of Man was to be a product of humanistic education, the new technology, and autonomous wealth. Humanistic education has produced a new barbarian, and mass illiteracy. The liberal Jonathan Kozol, in Prisoners of Silence (1980), cites federal data which reveals that 54 to 64 million Americans are not truly literate, and of these 23 million are illiterate. Natural man, moreover, was not only now increasingly illiterate but also immoral and lawless. The city was becoming a dangerous place, and more and more parents feared their own children. In perhaps the safest of America’s very largest cities, over 60,000 homes were robbed in 1981. The city was now breeding its own destruction.

Wealth without faith was proving to be wealth without principles, immoral and arrogant, even as the poor had also become, as well as a derelict middle class. Technology has indeed been creating marvels, but the people who dwell among them, and use them, are increasingly like marauding barbarians in an ancient city. Neither technology nor the bobby pin have served to make man one whit a better man in any moral sense.

The new humanistic man is a parasite. Whether farmer, manufacturer, worker, or unemployed, he wants subsidies. The modern city is a subsidy center. The earlier mercantilism worked to create the humanistic, producing, urban center by means of protectionism and tariffs. A new kind of wall surrounds the city. The ancient city was walled against thieves and enemies. The modern city is walled against competition and the free market.

The United States, in its earliest years, faced a choice here. It could become the great supplier to the world of food, minerals, and other resources. It chose, however, to follow the very European pattern it had in part fought against, protectionism aimed at subsidizing industry and the city. Given the virtues of industry and commerce, protectionism all the same perverts them and renders them a source of continuing problems. Thomas Jefferson protested against these policies until he became president, whereupon he and his followers became Federalists and protectionists. The protectionism became a major contributing cause of the conflict between the North and the South, and of war in 1860.

Protectionism and subsidies do not stop. It was a natural development of this premise that led, step by step, to welfarism, to Medicare, to cradle-to-grave subsidies for all. How dare one class complain about subsidies to another class when all are increasingly becoming beneficiaries?

Thus, we have the grand climax of the modern age. Having destroyed the city as a faith center, it has converted the city into a welfare center. It is routine now for our major cities to have a welfare population of a million or more. These are simply the recipients of actual welfare checks. Others receive subsidies, and some are heavily penalized to provide subsidies to others. The subsidy program now extends into all the world in terms of foreign aid to nations. It includes subsidies to foreign industries by restraints upon U.S. producers (i.e., in oil, cattle, etc.) which handicap them. The faith city has been supplanted by the welfare city, a lawless and selfish place.

The result is a debauchery of men and money. Protectionism must be paid for, and it is paid for by deficit financing, mortgaging the future to pay for the present. Inflation and debt are basic to the modern city. (If only the debt-free buildings and homes were to remain in our big cities, and all others suddenly disappeared, our cities would suddenly become small towns.)

Men, too, are debauched. Helmut Thielicke, in Nihilism (1961), wrote on the fact that atheistic states always become totalitarian. The premise of atheism is that “without God, everything is lawful,” and men then act on this, and no man can trust another. The state becomes a police state, because the people can only be held in check by stronger and stronger controls, and by terror. (Also, the state begins to play god.) Law then becomes what the state says it is, and the result is the breakdown of law, because it has no roots in the nature of being. The city then begins to resemble a nightmare.

Past history gives us many examples of the sacking of cities by invaders. One of the worst instances was the sack of Rome by the armies of Spain. These sacks were prompted by war and by enmity. Now we have a different kind of sacking, one by the people of the city, the poor, minority groups, youths, and college and university students. The second half of the twentieth century has seen more cities sacked than centuries before. The modern city is indeed a wealth center, but it is not a society, and it is being sacked by its own children.

When Rome was first sacked by the barbarians, many people, when the hordes passed, went back to life as usual. The rich villas of southern Gaul continued to be the locale of gay parties, music, poetry, and fox hunts by the wealthy, literate, and cultured old Romans, but, little by little, their lights went out, only to be relit out of the ruins and among the barbarians by Christianity.

What had happened was that the City of Rome, the wealth center, had become the poverty center. This was physically true in that welfare mobs ruled the city, to the point that emperors found it much more expedient to live elsewhere. For Roman emperors, Rome had become an unsafe place, a place of assassinations, riots, and unruly mobs.

Well before that, however, Rome had become, morally and religiously, a poverty center. The old Roman faith and virtue had given way to degeneracy and perversion. In time, as Rome’s intangible wealth began to disappear, so too its tangible wealth followed and waned.

The wealth of a city begins and ends with its faith. If the city is not a faith center, it will cease to be a society and will become a conflict and poverty center.

One key form of wealth which has left the modern city is justice and vengeance, godly vengeance. One of the key facts of Scripture is God’s declaration, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense” (Deut. 32:35; Ps. 94:1; 99:8; Isa. 34:8; Jer. 50:15; Ezek. 25:14; Nah. 1:2; 2 Thess. 1:8; etc.). We are commanded not to avenge ourselves, for “Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).

The Greek text of the New Testament is as clear as to the meaning of vengeance as the church is confused. The word is ekdikesis, very literally, (that which proceeds) out of justice. When God says that vengeance belongs to Him, He is very plainly declaring that only His law is justice, and that no other law can be used to attain justice. When He forbids us to avenge ourselves, God is saying that we can have no law nor justice other than His own, and through His appointed means. This is the plain meaning of the statement in Scripture.

Clearly, justice is gone out of the city, the state, the church, and man. Humanistic doctrines of justice and the enforcement of justice prevail because the city is not a faith center, nor a justice center as Biblical faith requires it to be, but a man-center.

For a city to be a faith center means that it must be a justice center. Justice is a key form of wealth. (One Hebrew word for wealth is a good thing.) The modern city is thus an impoverished place and a poverty center in every sense of the word. Not until the pulpits of the Word of God again become central to a city, and the Bible its word of justice and vengeance or that which proceeds out of justice, will the city again be a center of true wealth.

That restoration is under way, slowly but surely. The humanistic city still has its worst days ahead probably. However, out of its decay, the City of God will emerge. We are beginning to see the stirrings of a strong faith, among minority and majority groups alike. We are seeing the rise of Christian schools and agencies, manifesting a renewed literacy, and a greater Christian compassion than we have seen for years. We are witnessing on all sides the growth of Christian Reconstruction, and the applications of God’s law-word to every area of life and thought.

We live in an exciting era. True, it is a time of conflict and of stress, a bloody and murderous age. An old “order,” humanism, is in decay, and its strongholds are crumbling and collapsing. It is a time for building in the certainty of our Lord’s triumph. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

  1. Wealth and the State

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 30, March 1982

A key aspect of idolatry is that an often otherwise legitimate aspect of this world is made absolute. Very commonly, the state, which has a very limited but lawful status under God, is made into an idol and becomes, in Hegel’s terms, God walking on earth. This is idolatry. However, it is equally false to see the state as absolute evil and the source of sin. It is the heart of man which is the source of sin, and the state reflects our sins and our envious desires.

The same is true of wealth. It is not in and of itself good, nor is it evil. It is man who makes wealth either a good or an evil. Wealth can be a blessing from God, and a means whereby we can bless others, or it can be a witness to our lust for power and a curse to others. Private wealth can capitalize a society, as it has in Christendom, or it can decapitalize a society, as in old India, where the vast wealth of the rajahs served only their pleasures.

Attempts, therefore, to think of wealth in isolation from God and His purposes lead us readily into idolatry. Wealth is made into an ultimate good or an ultimate evil, and the latter is becoming all too common in our day. For some churchmen, the ultimate evil is to be rich, especially a rich Christian in a hungry world. Some pastors actually declare that it is a sin for any man to be paid more than $20,000 a year, or, as another holds, more than $40,000 a year, which may be his way of saying it is a sin for others to make more than I do!

Wealth, like all things else, must be understood in terms of God’s purposes. Any consideration apart from that is not faithful to Scripture, Again and again, the Bible speaks of God’s concern for the poor, and while we are told that the poor man is our brother, it would be absurd to conclude that poverty is seen as a happy goal for man! Rather, we are told, if God’s people are faithful to His law, “there shall be no poor among you; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it: Only if thou carefully harken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day” (Deut. 15:4–5). God thus designates the abolition of poverty as the goal of His law-word. To avoid the force of Deuteronomy 15:4–5, all too many will cite Matthew 26:11, “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” All this means is that the Lord told the disciples that, during their lifetime, they would always have opportunities to minister to the poor, but not to His physical person and presence.

Over and over again, the Bible stresses the fact that the godly seed must inherit the wealth, and that God’s purpose in time is that all the world’s wealth pour into the Kingdom of God: “ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves” (Isa. 61:6). God’s purpose is that wealth capitalize the godly, and through them, His Kingdom. This capitalization of the Kingdom of God means conversion, knowledge, technology, and godly progress in every area of life and thought.

The modern world, however, is deeply committed to decapitalization because of the reign of envy. Envy says, if I cannot be rich, let no other man be rich. Modern politics and economics is governed by envy, and envy cloaks itself in the name of the welfare of the poor.

The world is now seeing the economic consequences of decapitalization. Through taxation and inflation, men’s assets have been watered down and decapitalized. We hear much talk about the wealth of the “big” corporations, and too little about their precarious existence. Martin D. Weiss, in The Great Money Panic (1981), points out that in 1973 General Motors and its subsidiaries had an interest cost of 36 cents of every dollar of net profits. In 1979, interest costs were 93 cents of every dollar of net profit. The cost of borrowed money was almost equal to the money earned. The situation since has grown worse. In varying degrees, all of the 500 major corporations in the United States save one are in the same predicament. Probably the largest of all American corporations is General Motors. How “big” is it? The press, the university, the pulpit, and the media promote the idea of gigantism, as though our major corporations are rivals in size and wealth to the United States. However, as Michael Novak, in Toward a Theology of the Corporation (1981), has pointed out, “Running a multinational corporation in the Fortune 500 is, in most instances, about equivalent to running a major university.” The smallest of the 500 has only 529 employees; the largest, General Motors, has no more than 14,000 employees in Michigan; add to this its over 200 units in over 177 congressional districts, and General Motors still does not equal in size and wealth the University of California. The problem with the corporations has not been their size and power but their cowardice in the face of federal power and their too frequent compliance.

The corporations have been decapitalized by controls, taxation, and inflation, and the people also. As long as inflation and fiat money continue, this decapitalization will continue. Each succeeding presidency has furthered this decapitalization in the name of remedying it. To rob the people, every political scoundrel pleads a great concern for the poor and the needy while never giving to any need out of their own often considerable wealth.

The central guilt, however, belongs to the church. There is scarcely a seminary where liberation theology, a sentimental form of Marxism, is not taught. Catholic and Protestant seminaries and missionary agencies are too often cesspools of liberation theology.

The pulpit, too, is radically delinquent. Where do we hear sermons on Matthew 23:14, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation”? Our Lord here thunders out against an evil which was small compared to what is commonplace today, our confiscation by estate and inheritance taxes of the properties rightfully belonging to widows and orphans. It is easy, in such contemporary instances, to feel a rage against the Internal Revenue Service, but this is to miss the point. The IRS is the agency of the voters’ envy. Through Congress, we enact envy into law, and now that envy reaches into our pockets, we are angry. This is not to say that the IRS is without guilt, but that the primary guilt rests with Congress and the people. The fact is that the majority of the people want out of envy to see their superiors hurt, even if it means their own hurt. A friend, while in a country in Europe, was discussing the confiscatory taxation of that nation and called attention to its destructiveness. His hosts defended the taxation, while agreeing as to its threat. Their reason? It’s good to see the high and mighty humbled.

Octavio Paz, in The Labyrinth of Solitude (1961), said, “Marx wrote that all radicalism is a form of humanism, since man is the root of both reason and society. Thus every revolution tries to create a world in which man, free at last from the trammels of the old regime, can express himself truly and fulfill his human condition. Man is a being who can realize himself, and be himself, only in a revolutionary society.”

This revolutionary society is the goal of every humanistic state. Some hope to achieve it by violence, others by democratic change. In either case, the goal is the same, man as god or, more specifically, the humanistic state as god. Since one attribute of God is creation, the modern state seeks to create wealth, cradle-to-grave or womb-to-tomb security, and also to create money. Modern money, fiat, paper money is the result. It is state-created money which is used to erode all traditional forms of wealth, and to place all wealth under the control of the state. We see today small family farms, in the same family for generations or from the colonial era, being sold because of taxes. This disaster is also taking place in Britain and elsewhere.

Godly wealth in Scripture is in terms of the faithful development of potentialities under God. God created the world, and He created the possibility of wealth through its natural resources, the earth’s fertility, and the mind of man. Creation and all its ingredients are the handiwork of the triune God and none other. It is His law, therefore, which is the only true ground for godly wealth. The Lord condemns all trust in wealth as a form of humanism, as a kind of worship of the creation of our own hands rather than the Creator of all.

This, however, is the kind of wealth the modern state regards as alone acceptable, a state-created, humanistic wealth. Instead of being defined in terms of some God-given aspect of creation, gold, silver, land, or other assets, all wealth is to be reduced to state-created paper. Now the value of money is its liquidity which makes for its ready and easy use. When the modern hyper-taxing state creates a paper money inflation, it thereby requires every other form of wealth to be equally liquid. The family farm is no longer an inheritance from the past to the future generations; it is converted from a stable form of wealth to a highly unstable and liquid form by paper money, inflation, and taxation. In the years of limited state power, the tax on a family farm in many areas was a few dollars at most. After World War II, many farmers were shocked when their taxes hit $25 and then $50; now they run into the thousands of dollars. At present, a growing number of American farmers are in serious trouble because of the combination of high taxes and debts they cannot repay. In the United States, every economic crisis has been preceded by a farm crisis.

Decapitalization is a worldwide fact today. In the Soviet Union, it is far gone, and not for the first time. In 1939, Stalin’s Russia was bankrupt; by means of World War II, it recapitalized itself through an act of piracy approved by Roosevelt and Churchill. The Soviet Union was allowed to seize Central Europe, cannibalize East Germany and Poland, and more. Since then, the Soviet Union has been recapitalized annually by aid from the United States, and from American and European banks. These loans have been even more profitable than the seizure of Central Europe, perhaps. However, both by its foreign and its domestic policies, the United States has been decapitalizing itself. A socialistic economy is a parasitic one: its continued life depends on the life of the host. Both the Soviet Union and the United States are today parasites living off the American people. There is no future for the American people until they rid themselves of the parasites, which means a radical change of perspective with regard to the nature of civil government.

Unless we have freedom under God and in obedience to Him, our definition of wealth is born of hunger, not of bounty. One American, long a prisoner in the Soviet Union, saw wealth as one potato, and two potatoes as undreamed of wealth. A refugee couple from Cambodia celebrated their wedding anniversary in the Cambodian jungle with an unexpected and welcome gift in their hunger, a rat’s skin shared with them, to boil into a broth. A decapitalized (and unfree) society redefines wealth in pathetic terms. To each according to his needs, Marx held, and the Marxists have reduced the level of needs to beggarly dimensions. They have redefined wealth to make it the legitimate possession of the state and none other.

Redefinition has occurred in many areas. Students are routinely taught that there is an economic distinction between consumption and investment. Franklin W. Ryan, and Dr. Elgin Groseclose, in his excellent America’s Money Machine: The Story of the Federal Reserve System, show otherwise. (The family is called by them the greatest production enterprise in society, and yet we are today at war against the family.) If I feed myself and my family, I am investing in our future; if I use junk food, I am making a poor investment. Whatever money I spend on the family is either a good or bad investment or consumption. To indict the idea of consumption is absurd; there is good consumption and unsound consumption.

The point of it all is that we are seeing an assault on and an erosion of the Biblical doctrine of wealth and stewardship. In its place, the state as the new god wants to remake man and society, and it believes that it can also create wealth by legislation, taxation, redistribution, and controls. What the modern state is accomplishing instead is the erosion of true wealth, and morality as well. The modern state has become history’s great devourer of widows’ houses, while it talks piously of a love for the poor, and the church is largely silent in the face of this growing evil. The sure promise of God to all such is judgment, unless men separate themselves from these evil ones to the Lord, Who says to us today as Moses did when Israel worshipped the golden calf, “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me” (Exod. 32:26).

HISTORY

  1. Our Doxology

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 107, March 1989

We are very clearly told in Acts 6:7 that, in the earliest days of the church, “the word of God increased; and the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” The religious control of Judea was firmly in the hands of Rome through collaborators. As a result, men of faith were routinely shelved by Rome and the Sanhedrin in favor of pragmatic men. The goal of these pragmatists was freedom for Judea, but meanwhile, an astute policy of resistance and compromise prevailed. Until the Jewish- Roman war of a.d. 66–70, the Roman and Jewish leadership maintained an uneasy alliance.

The Christians, with their faith in Jesus Christ as the world’s Messiah, and in terms of His Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20), were outsiders to this situation. However many Jews they converted, and priests as well, the Judean goal was at odds with their purpose. Caiaphas, the high priest, had expressed clearly the national perspective: “it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50). In Judea, as well as throughout the Roman Empire, the Christian converts were largely Israelites.

Dr. Jakob Jocz, a brilliant Jewish Christian scholar, has described Judaism as believing in man’s ability to save himself, with help from God; “man only sins, but is not sinful.” Man at birth is pure and sinless, not fallen. It is a religion of self-salvation whose essence is ethics; “the covenant of God with man is never broken.” “Israel’s sufferings sufficiently warrant their redemption, regardless of repentance.” Righteousness is not imputed but attained. Hence, in Judaism and Christianity, we have “two worlds diametrically opposed to each other” (Jakob Jocz, The Jewish People and Jesus Christ [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, (1949) 1979], pp. 264–286).

It is easy to see why there was conflict between the two faiths; it was inescapable. The question is this: after the close of the New Testament era, was the conflict only an intellectual one, or did it continue to be one in which Jewish Christians were in a charged emotional conflict against their unconverted brethren? Did Jewish conversions dwindle after the fall of Jerusalem, or did they continue? Were only the Ebionites and a few others left of Jewish Christianity, or did the conversions continue, and the absorption into the world faith of Jewish Christians become an influence of note, or was it only the Hellenic converts who then shaped the church? Were the Jewish Christians only a remnant of Israel, or were the unbelievers the remnant? These are questions which cannot be answered with certainty, but they need to be asked, and some direction determined, if possible.

We do know that many churchmen over the centuries were converted Jews. Eusebius, in Constantine’s day, gave a list of a number of Jewish bishops. Earlier, Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho made it clear that Jews were very much a part of the faith and that the debate, tension, and conversion factors remained very much as in St. Paul’s day. Much later, Jewish popes appeared from time to time, indicating the continuing presence, zeal, and importance of Jewish Christians. Early in the eleventh century, Hildebrand became pope as Gregory VII. Jewish descent has been ascribed to him; whether this is true or not, we do not know. We do know that, in a crisis, he raised an army, with “the help of financially gifted Jews” (J. P. Whitney, Hildebrandine Essays [Cambridge University Press, 1932], pp. 10, 22).

But there are other indications of a close tie between church and synagogue. In the twelfth century, we find that one of the great Armenian Church fathers, St. Nerses Shnorhali, a writer of hymns, produced hymns which link him to Rabbi Jehuda Halevi of Spain (and, briefly, Egypt). There are too many links like this to be ignored.

The great authority here in a specific area was Eric Werner, a professor of liturgical music, who in 1959 published his findings, titled, The Sacred Circle: The Interdependence of Liturgy and Music in Synagogue and Church During the First Millennium. We know that the earliest term for the church was synagogue, as we see in the Greek text of James 2:2. The synagogue officers and structure were taken over by the church. But, Werner showed, so too was the liturgy and music. The use of musical instruments was dropped by the synagogue after the fall of Jerusalem. Instruments such as the organ were too joyful for a people in mourning over the fall of their city and country. The old forms were retained in the church, both of the Temple and of the synagogue. The Christian church sought to be faithful to the Old Testament church because it saw itself as the true continuation thereof. After Paul, the church saw itself as “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). In its better moments, the church’s call to the Jews was to come home.

This influence and faithfulness to Old Testament liturgical practices continued. Thus, in the Reformation, a notable figure was John Immanuel Tremellius (1510–1580), a converted Jew who was born in Ferrara. He became a Catholic about 1540, and his godfather was Cardinal Reginald Pole, later archbishop of Canterbury. In 1542, Tremellius became a Protestant and a Calvinist. He was then in England, in Lambeth Palace with Cranmer, and also Cambridge, before going to Germany when Queen Mary’s persecution began. He returned to England in 1565 and concluded his teaching career at Sedan. In England, Tremellius helped frame the Thirty-Nine Articles and assisted in the formation of the Book of Common Prayer. The unification of worship sought by the English reformers meant faithfulness to Scripture and to the Biblical precedents in the worship in the Temple and the synagogue.

The ugly side of the relationship between church and synagogue is often told, i.e., enforced baptisms, compulsory Jewish attendance at times to Christian preachings, and so on. At times, the worst in hostility to the Jews were Jewish converts, or men of Jewish ancestry, such as King Ferdinand of Spain, and Tomas de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor. All the same, the “come home” motive was also very much a fact. When, shortly after World War II, Pope Pius XII said that spiritually we are all Semites, he was echoing a centuries-old theme.

The heretical influence of Marcion led to a division between the Old and New Testaments, to antinomianism, and to a hostility to the Jews. As against this, there was always also a belief in the unity of Scripture, plus an insistence that faith without works is dead (Matt. 7:16–20; Rom. 3:31; James 2:14–26), and an adherence to the Pauline hope and summons to “come home.”

This aspect of church history is of more than academic interest. It is important to know how deep our roots are, that the church is “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), and that our worship echoes that of Old Testament saints and is linked to the victorious song of the church triumphant (Rev. 15:3).

In the early church, the Greek intellectuals expressed contempt for all music which did not follow the standards of classic Greek music. They were thus not congenial to the Christian (hence strongly Hebraic) music. Many held to Pythagorean doctrines, such as the cathartic power of music; this was the theory set forth in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, a strongly Masonic opera. Hebraic-Christian music was not men-centered; its goal was not a humanistic cathartic result but the glory of God. We can perhaps call the doxology the epitome of truly Biblical worship and song because it centers on God, not man. Although it is trinitarian, the doxology echoes Scripture, the Temple, and the synagogue (see E. Werner, The Sacred Circle, pp. 273–313.) The spirit of the doxology and of Hebraic, Biblical music is well summarized in the first statement of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” It is also joyfully expressed in a Christian hymn with an Old Testament root and an ancient Hebrew melody (“Leoni”), the magnificent “The God of Abraham Praise.”

The church was not born with us, nor with our rebirth. Men who despise their past also despise their future. As Christians, we are the heirs of the ages, and heirs in Christ of all things (Rom. 8:17; Gal. 3:29; 4:7; Eph. 3:6; Heb. 6:17; James 2:5, etc.). We have a doxology to sing which resounds across the centuries and is the music of eternity.

  1. The Pagan Critiques of Christianity

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 176, June 1994

Almost at once, the early church attracted hostility and soon had pagan philosophers attacking it as a threat and a danger. C. N. Cochrane, in Christianity and Classical Culture, has given us a remarkable analysis of that debate.

Our purpose here is a humbler one. What were some of the simple, practical arguments against Christianity? On this level, we can see the contrast between Christianity and paganism in a dramatic way.

Perhaps the most offensive aspect of Christianity to the Greco-Roman world was its exclusiveness. The Roman Empire was ready to tolerate any new religion as long as it accepted the supremacy and priority of the Roman state. It regularly gave legal status to one new religion and cult after another, always subject to their acceptance of imperial supremacy and emperor worship. The various religions borrowed at times from each other, but, whatever else was done, Roman supremacy was maintained.

The Christian refusal to mix or unite with other faiths was taken as evidence of their ill will and their dangerous exclusiveness. The Jews previously had been disliked for their religious exclusiveness, but, after the Jewish-Roman War, a.d. 66–70, and the subsequent failure of the Bar Kochba revolt, they were not a significant factor. Moreover, the Christian rejection of compromise was so radical that Rome was concerned with this dissident force in its borders.

Syncretism, the blending of various religions, was a way of life for the Romans. It was held, by men like Aurelius Symmachus, that there are many paths to the gods or God, and various peoples find one or another path most to their tastes and aptitudes. Thus, a variety of ways to God is a stimulus to religion, and it opens the doors to God to more people.

This position was essential to the argument. For the pagans, the way to the gods or God depended on human initiative. Given this fact, different men had varying natures, and a variety of religious choices gave men not only more freedom of choice but also a greater opportunity of finding a way suitable to themselves.

The battle over this point was critical. The Christian rejected all attempts by man to find God. The essence of Christian faith is that God finds wayward, sinful man. Man seeks to flee from God, and it is God who arrests man’s flight, and, by His sovereign grace, redeems him. Quite naturally, some of the earliest Christian apologists stressed predestination, God’s absolute initiative in choosing men.

This was a total rejection of every man-made religion. There were not many roads to God. Rather, there was only one, from God to man, and the name of that route is Jesus Christ, the only way (John 14:6).

The pagan plea was for toleration; the Christian insistence was on truth, Jesus Christ. If truth is absolute, then there can be no other way. Error can at times be tolerated, but it cannot be accepted.

Next, Christianity was seen as antistate. Now the Christians were, as Tertullian and others pointed out, the empire’s most loyal and honest citizens, but they could not worship the emperor. At this point, the debate reversed itself on the matter of tolerance and intolerance. The Christians did not tolerate nor compromise with other gods, religions, or moralities. The Romans did. The Christians, however, while unhappy with a non- Christian state, were obedient to it. But they could only give priority to the triune God. They saw themselves as citizens of the Kingdom of God. They held that Rome was under Christ the King, not the church under Caesar. At this point, Roman intolerance was severe. Every system of life and thought has its areas of intolerance, and, for Rome as for the modern state, the priority of the state is central, and deviations from that are not permitted.

Christianity insisted that for all time, it is the only catholic or universal faith, whereas “eternal Rome” saw itself as the true city of man, and it rejected the ultimacy of God and His Kingdom.

In the best sense of the word, both Rome and Christianity were imperial: they had a faith that circumscribed all things. The conflict became one between the holy faith and the total state.

Michael Grant called attention to the statement of Pliny the Elder: “Chance is our god.” This meant that for the Romans the empire, the state, is the principle of order, not anything beyond the state. In such a view, the state, then, must be determinative: the state is the principle of order.

For the Christians, God and His predestination, not the state, provide order. The state must be instead a minister of God, serving Him (Rom. 13:1ff.). If chance is god, however, then the state must control and predetermine all things. Such a view requires a totalitarian state, then and now. The modern state, like Rome, seeks total control in all spheres. It was not an accident that some of the earliest Christian apologists stressed predestination. Quite logically, too, Cicero stressed the need for the state to use religion to control the people.

No pagan died for religion in Rome. Many died for art. Murders on stage were real, not fictitious. In a play, Death of Hercules, which Tertullian saw, the actor representing Hercules was burned to death as a part of the show. Human sacrifices for the Roman state were numerous, but only Christians died for religion!

There was another area of conflict, sex. The Romans saw sex as essentially related to personal satisfaction, whereas Christians saw it in terms of the family. (Philip Schaff gave ten pages to a sketchy report on the family revolution created by early Christianity.) The Roman poet Ovid, in Michael Grant’s words, “reduced wide areas of human relations to the level of sexual seduction” (Michael Grant, The World of Rome [1960], p. 230).

In our time, we have a similar critique of Christianity by a paganized world. Rome then committed suicide, as the world around us is determined also to do. It becomes urgently necessary for us to stand without compromise for Christ and the faith. The choice is between life and death.

  1. The Failure of Church History

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 142, September 1991

Church history has been a failure in at least two important aspects. First, in most seminaries, it is the least respected subject and often the dullest. In this respect, I was privileged to be a student of Dr. George Huntston Williams, in whose hands church history was not only the most exciting subject but the focal point of Biblical and theological studies. Second, church history has been a failure in the sense that the church has commonly viewed the history of Christianity as an institutional history, as the development of ecclesiastical forms, power, and movements, all centrally controlled.

Nothing more clearly reveals the evil than the term “parachurch ministries.” Such ministries are resented by many churchmen; they are regarded as illegitimate because they are outside the control of the church. Whether a seminary, a college or university, a missionary group, a publication, a youth work, or anything else, it is regarded as morally wrong if not church controlled.

This is totalitarianism in the church. Just as the state seeks, when totalitarian, to have total power over all things, so the church totalitarians demand that no Christian work exist outside their control. Many such groups are Protestants who out-Rome even Rome at its lowest ebb: total control by the church is their goal.

Now, this was the dream of the pagan state. Nothing had the right to exist without its permission. No institution had the right to an independent existence; no unlicensed meeting could be held, and no unsupervised and nonregistered activity could take place.

Recently, one very able businessman found that among his many fellow associates, all young men, a number were interested in the faith. He invited them to his home for an introductory statement by himself and a question and answer session. There were sixteen young men who came. When the leader’s well-known church learned of the meeting, he was called in for a rebuke. He expressed his willingness to allow an associate pastor to lead the group. He was told that he had no right to ask any such thing, only to cease and desist all unauthorized meetings. He left the church. Such church totalitarianism is not unusual. I know of enough incidents to compile a book of them.

The church’s conflict with Rome was over this issue, freedom from state controls for the church, the Christian family, its educational and welfare work, and more.

I was amazed a while back to read a study by a fine man of Philip’s work. Philip became a deacon (Acts 6:5) in order to assist in the charitable ministry of the church. In Acts 8:5ff., we find him preaching in Samaria. According to the writer of the study, Philip had been commissioned apparently to a ministerial task by the apostles! But Acts 8:3–4 tells us that Philip was one of the Christians “scattered abroad” by Saul’s persecution. No formal act by the Jerusalem church had empowered Philip; persecution had given him an opportunity, and he took it. The freedom of the church community permitted this.

A few centuries later, with the earliest ecumenical councils, the church met to define Biblical doctrine, not to compel union.

In recent years, Christianity has again outgrown — as in every time of strength — the church. Christian schools and home schools, independent of the church, have spread from coast to coast. Many teaching ministries, such as Chalcedon’s, have arisen. Work among drug addicts, juvenile delinquents, ministries to the elderly, to prisoners, and much, much more have developed, usually in independence from the church. These are creating major social changes. The totalitarian-minded churches which oppose these movements are denying Christian freedom and attempting to restore the total controls which marked paganism.

Is it any wonder that both church and state are in disrepute? Both are marked by strong drives towards totalitarian controls.

To cite one example, one large church, I have been told, has “a total program” for the Christian family. The children go to the church after school for guided help in homework. The parents come in the evening for a church dinner. Then, youth meetings, a nursery, special programs for all, young couples meetings, and more keep all safely in the bosom of Mother Church until bedtime. This is ecclesiastical totalitarianism. It is destructive of family life, and it is not Biblical.

Remember, God’s purpose is that both church and state be limited in their powers. The state tax was limited to half a shekel for every male from age twenty up; the Levites, who were the instructors of Israel (Deut. 33:10), could receive the tithe; they then tithed the tithe to the priests for worship (Num. 18:26). A man could personally administer his tithes, firstfruits, and offerings, as did the man from Baal-shalisha (2 Kings 4:42).

The true church history is not an account of the development of an institution, its formalization of structure, worship, and polity, but rather, it is the history of how Christianity has revolutionized every area of life and thought. It has created a variety of institutions and also a variety of movements and forces which are not institutionalized.

Because true Christianity is a living faith, it cannot be confined to institutional walls without dying. It must express itself in every area of life and thought, freely and variously. Totalitarianism in the church leads to strangulation and death.

One very fine and overworked pastor was confronted by a woman whose children were no longer at home, and who was still young and healthy; she told him of a real need that called for Christian action. The pastor quietly commended her for her vision and then suggested that she inform other women of the problem and, together with them, take independent action. The woman resented the answer and was thereafter critical of the pastor.

Confronted by problems, too many citizens say, “Why doesn’t the local, county, state, or federal government do something about it?” The result is our rapid drift into socialism. Similarly, confronted by problems, too many church members say, “Why doesn’t the church do something about it?” The result is the steady rise of church totalitarianism.

You and I belong in the history of Christianity by our daily lives, stands, faith, and activities. Paul speaks of those who assisted him, in no formal capacities but in devotion to the faith, as ones “whose names are in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3). In Revelation, “the book of life” refers to all who are faithful to their calling in Christ (Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 21:27). God’s account of church history is not institutional: it has to do with the expression and power of faith in all of life.

  1. Latitudinarianism

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 125, September 1990

Latitudinarianism is not classified as a heresy, although it has been a greater problem to the church than any single heretical group or doctrine. Heretics have usually been marked by a passionate adherence to a false doctrine; some heretics have been ready to die for their faith.

No latitudinarian has ever been ready to die for anything, least of all for the Christian faith. The name “latitudinarian” was first given to the men, prominent clergymen, in the Church of England who were indifferent to what they regarded as petty issues which divided Puritans and high church men. They professed belief in all the doctrines of the faith but attached no great importance to most or even any of them. Their priorities were not in the Christian faith but in matters of state and of science.

Latitudinarianism was first a formal body of thought in the Church of England because of various factors common to that church. It was a state church, and all Englishmen were members, so that unity rather than truth was a primary goal for many. Because it was a state church, policies of state had priority over theological issues.

However, the latitudinarian attitude was not new. One of its greatest exponents was Erasmus, and many Catholics shared his view. In every communion, the latitudinarian attitude, in time, prevailed.

An example of a latitudinarian divine in the seventeenth century is John Wilkins (1614–1672). Wilkins was warden of an Oxford college, later master of Trinity College at Cambridge, a brother-in-law to Oliver Cromwell, a founding member of the Royal Society and deeply involved in the new study of science, an advocate of “natural religion,” an early experimenter with the idea of a universal language, and more. He became close to Charles II, a bishop, and a power in Parliament after the Restoration. He slipped easily from a Puritan to a royalist position, from Calvinism to Arminianism, from a belief in predestination and sovereign grace to salvation by works. He was not hostile to Socinianism (or, Unitarianism), and so on (Barbara Shapiro, John Wilkins, 1614–1672. [n.p.: University of California Press, 1969]). It would be easy to charge Wilkins with hypocrisy, but it would be wrong. The latitudinarian, then and now, simply does not believe that the precise articles of religion are worth fighting for; this is the heart of the latitudinarian evil.

Moreover, the latitudinarian position, as it seeped into all the churches, led to antinomianism, because God’s law was not seen as too important. The advancement of science and society was given priority. In time, this meant a hostility to “fine points” of doctrine; sociology replaced theology. It meant an adaptation to the theological climate of indifferentism. In time, for example, the followers of Richard Baxter became Arminian, and then Arian, and, of course, antinomian as well. The surviving Calvinists of later years saw latitudinarianism as a non-Christian faith at heart. George Whitefield said of Archbishop Tillotson that he “knew no more of true Christianity than Mohamet.” As Wallace commented, this statement represented “an earlier tradition concerning the true nature of Latitudinarian religion” (Dewey D. Wallace Jr., Puritans and Predestination: Grace in English Protestant Theology, 1525–1695 [n.p.: University of North Carolina Press, 1982], p. 190). Of course, as time passed, the latitudinarians, as they gained control of all the churches, became very short on love and toleration for their orthodox and evangelical brothers who insisted on fidelity to the faith! They became advocates of minimalism with respect to faith and doctrine and maximalism with respect to “loyalty” to the church.

The early latitudinarians, i.e., those within the Church of England, opposed what they called “rigid Calvinism and rigid Catholicism” in favor of “the middle way,” which meant taking nothing too seriously. After all, who has perfect knowledge of perfect virtue? We must therefore be tolerant and indulgent of other positions.

Within the Scottish church, the latitudinarians called themselves “Moderates.” John Witherspoon noted with disgust that these “Moderates” were tolerant of those who believed less, not those who believed more.

The churches today represent the triumph of latitudinarianism. Witherspooon’s comment is more valid than ever. Such people prefer modernism, feminism, socialism, homosexuality, abortion, and more. They are ever tolerant towards the practices of humanism, while intolerant towards Christian orthodoxy. They allow latitude in one direction only.

According to Shapiro, in Bishop Willkins’s day, there was an “alliance between latitudinarianism and science.” The two movements “shared a theory of knowledge,” and members of both became the principal proponents of a rationalized religion and natural theology” (Shapiro, John Wilkins, p. 228). This alliance led to the ready acceptance of the view of higher criticism on the supposed origins of the Biblical texts. Whatever the supposedly scientific study of the texts concluded was immediately received as the higher wisdom.

The same was true in all other areas. “The latitudinarians’ approach to church government was pragmatic rather than Scriptural” (ibid., p. 156). There was an emphasis on morality rather than theology, and morality was steadily detached from Biblical law and attached to humanistic norms. In this century, this separation of Biblical law from morality has been largely responsible for the legalization of abortion. The latitudinarians in the churches earnestly support abortions as “the moral choice,” because morality is now faithfulness to personal values rather than to God’s law.

A seventeenth-century definition of a latitudinarian was, “a Gentleman of a wide swallow.” Such men were widely suspected of hypocrisy and dishonesty. Such charges missed the mark. For a zealous believer to compromise the dearly held faith would mean cowardice or hypocrisy. For an Erasmian or a latitudinarian, the faith was not that important.

Another great evil propagated by latitudinarianism was “the placing of piety in the context of the church as an institution” (Wallace, p. 183). This contributed greatly to the rise of pietism. In our time, it is called also “Sunday religion.” The relationship and total concern of Christianity for every idea of life and thought gave way to a retreat into private devotions. Catholic and Protestant manuals for personal, internal piety began to proliferate. Whereas previously Christianity had provided the norms for civil government, education, capital and labor, science, and everything else, it was now restricted to the inner life. Leonard Trinterud called it the “dying” of “the clerical world,” i.e., of the church as the norm setter and center of all society. Men now looked to science and the state, and the latitudinarians led the way.

Theologically, the latitudinarians sided steadily with the compromising theologies; thus, in the Church of England, these men favored Arminianism over Calvinism and eventually weakened both. In time, this meant the “reduction of the Christian religion to some simple moral essentials” (Wallace, p. 165). “The path that led in England from Latitudinarianism to Deism was already in full view in the 1670s” (ibid., p. 171). A “rational religion” was the goal. A. S. P. Woodhouse held that “Arminianism was preeminently the doctrine of Christian rationalism and Christian humanism, rereading the stern pronouncement of the Reformation in the mellow light of the Renaissance.” In fact, he said, Arminianism “represents a shift towards a rational theology and a humanistic, even a humanitarian, religion” (Woodhouse, Puritanism and Liberty, p. 54).

For very, very different theological reasons, both Calvinism and Roman Catholicism in that era stressed works, either as the necessary fruits of grace, or as an accompaniment to faith. With latitudinarians, this emphasis was eroded in both communions. Two things began to replace the works of faith. On the one hand there was pietism, with its stress on heart religion, on devotional exercises as the works of faith, and on emotionalism. On the other hand, many stressed reason, the rational government by man of himself and his world. In either case, the center was and is man, whereas the doctrine of sovereign grace stresses God’s free and gracious gift and man’s grateful response of obedience.

Preaching also changed from proclaiming without equivocation the sovereign word of the Lord, from “thus saith the Lord,” to appeals to man’s reason or to man’s emotions. John Wilkins, for example, preached four sermons during Lent before King Charles II, and the king ordered three of them to be published. All three sermons “appealed to the self-interest of his audience. Religious duty and self-interest coincided” (Shapiro, p. 180). Since then, preaching has stressed psychology, politics (or, the social gospel), and other forms of self-interest under the façade of God’s Word.

Latitudinarianism scuttled interest in God’s law, interest in clear-cut doctrinal statements and concerns, church authority and discipline, and much, much more. No heresy has done more to harm the church, nor captured so much of it, as latitudinarianism. It has become a part of the intellectual air that we breathe. Few are aware of how much we have lost to this movement, or how pervasive it now is in the churches.

Christianity and latitudinarianism are antithetical beliefs, because the one is God-centered and the other man-centered; the one gives full priority to the Word of God, the other to the word of man.

Because of latitudinarianism, we see an increasing toleration towards evil, but no toleration towards Christianity.

The return to a Christian culture requires the end of latitudinarianism.

  1. The Dark Ages

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 150, April 1992

One of the enduring myths is that Europe, after the fall of Rome, entered “the dark ages.” Before Rome fell, as far back as the times of Livy, that writer could say, “Wherever the publican penetrates, there is no more justice or liberty for anyone.” Livy’s dates are 59 b.c. to a.d. 17. The tax collectors were about as destructive of Rome as an invading army. Historian William Carroll Bark, in the Origins of the Medieval World, said of Rome’s fall: “Few observers of this period of history can have failed to ponder the fact that millions of Romans were vanquished by scores of thousands of Germans. According to Salvian, it was not by the natural strength of their bodies that the barbarian conquered, nor by the weakness of their nature that the Romans were defeated. It was the Roman’s moral vices alone that overcame them. Narrow as it is, this judgment by one very close to the event remains respectable” (p. 184).

There were two kinds of people in Rome. First, there were the moral degenerates, strongly favorable to abortion, homosexuality, immorality in general, a belief in an all-powerful state, and excellent only at complaining about conditions while doing nothing. Second, there were those who were moral, godly people, but who felt there was nothing in Rome worth fighting for.

The true dark ages preceded the fall of Rome. Only if one identifies statism with light and civilization can one regard late republican and then imperial Rome as other than dark ages.

Of course, the term “dark ages” was in origin theological, used by Christians to describe times and places outside of Christ. In terms of this, Washington, D.C., London, Moscow, Paris, Rome, and other great cities are in the dark ages. In many cities, whether in the Marxist realms or in the West, public copulation, dangerous streets, and high crime and murder rates are common and growing worse. In one inflation-ridden country, the middle class is gone; many people live in the streets; children live by thievery, and at night these children are hunted down and shot. The dark ages? You are living in them now, and it is getting darker.

The historians who coined the term “dark ages” for the years after the fall of Rome at first included all the centuries until the Renaissance and its revival of paganism and statist tyranny. Later, they limited the term to a few number of centuries. Some now have wisely abandoned the term.

The centuries after the fall of Rome were dark only if the absence of a powerful imperial tyranny and a torturing tax collection system constitute light. After the fall of Rome, there were no strong states; neither was there any Biblical tax on land and property. While the barbarian tribes which overran Europe did not represent light, their tyrannies were not equal to those of imperial Rome. Moreover, Christian missionaries, the light-bringers, were slowly but steadily civilizing by Christianization these barbarian peoples. The remarkable Irish monks, and in some areas Syrians, were notable in their work.

Step by step, with times of regression, Europe became Christendom. Even though the Renaissance and the Enlightenment returned to pagan premises, it was not until after the French Revolution that the revived paganism began to reach the peoples at large. By 1850, it was beginning to penetrate Western civilization, and, with the two world wars in the twentieth century, it took over.

Those of us who can remember the era between the two world wars can remember that Christendom’s order still prevailed. One could walk the streets of London, New York, or San Francisco safely at any time of the day or night.

The triumph of statism is the triumph of darkness. It means that people’s lives are no longer governed by faith and morality, but by coercion. People no longer rely on their ability to work to ensure their future, but make demands on the state. Legislation replaces work and morality.

Before World War II, I listened at dinner to a visiting medical missionary describe his work. He had trained native nurses and men to do amazing things. He spoke of the sure hand of some of his native associates, who could perform delicate surgeries, often better than physicians here, but only under his directions. Diagnosis was beyond them, because they never really grasped the nature of disease, but their sureness of hand was phenomenal. Those medical missions are now commonly in ruins. The physical dexterities of the doctor’s aides did not have behind them the understanding and knowledge to command the hand when the American doctors were gone.

Technology, great or small, does not save a culture. Roman roads and aqueducts stood for centuries after Rome fell, but the organizing, working, and minds were gone.

  1. H. Plumb, in The Death of the Past (1970), wrote: “The historians of the Enlightenment could discover with delicious joy the antique past that beckoned them in Greece and Rome; the multiplicity of historical worlds that rose above their intellectual horizon — Egypt, Persia, India, China — gave them new stimulus, fresh ideas, and a deep sense of recovery, of escape into a fresher more viable historical understanding. Alas, such an experience cannot revitalize the historian of this century” (p. 139).

Having given up on the past, men have looked to the future. Revolutions have had as their goals a new world order. Writers like Bellamy (Looking Backward) have given a glowing picture of the world of the future. When Bellamy’s “golden age” arrived, men like H. G. Wells and Aldous Huxley, and also George Orwell, saw it only as a nightmare world. Science fiction, in dealing with the future, has shown us technologically governed hells with mindless wars and terrors. Whether looking backward or looking forward, our modern intellectuals can give us no hope.

This should not surprise us. We were warned of this long ago: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Ps. 127:1). When and where the state replaces the triune God as man’s hope of salvation, security, and freedom, we have a dark age. We have a collapse of faith and morality, and we see society give way to coercion. It is communion in one faith which creates community, not superimposed force.

William Holmes and John W. Barber, in Religious Emblems (1846), compared false premises to icebergs, tall, sparkling, dazzling, and capable of crushing things in their path, but unable to take the heat of the sun or adversity. God and His truth they compared to a giant rock:

Firm as a Rock, God’s truth must stand,

When rolling years shall cease to move.

Semper idem,” always the same, is God and His truth. We are in a war which we must and shall win. We have a duty to proclaim the whole Word of God and to bring all things into happy captivity to Christ. We have this sure word: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

“Except the Lord build” means that we too must be builders in Christ. Too much activity is spent in “exposing evil,” not in doing good. What the “muckrakers” began at the beginning of the twentieth century, too many churchmen, conservatives, liberals, and even Playboy and Penthouse have continued — namely, exposing evils. But exposing evils makes no man good! Certainly, evil must be exposed, but it is futile unless accompanied by stronger efforts to do good, unless the power of God to do God’s work is manifested.

The dark ages are very much with us. Where do we stand with the Lord God and His redemptive grace and sanctifying law?

  1. Wealth, Time, and History

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 29, February 1982

Theft is a crime which increasingly creates a general uneasiness among people. Its prevalence is frightening to many. One woman, a political liberal, reacted emotionally to the sight of a burglarized home on her return: “I felt personally violated.” This is a very common reaction. The privacy and safety of a home once broken leaves a psychic uneasiness and fear. Theft is all too common a fact of life in our time.

This uneasiness has had dramatic consequences in many directions. One of these is in city life. Until recently, the elite lived at the center of the city. Around the central plaza were clustered the main church, court or palace, and the great homes of the rich and powerful families. The central city was the place of freedom and security. The poor lived in the outskirts or suburb of the city. Look at almost any city and the evidences of the closeness of the great homes to the center is in evidence, except that now those great homes are either offices or slum dwellings. Taxes and lawlessness have robbed the city of its ancient character.

Theft, however, is not of material goods alone. It can involve a theft of time and history. As bad as the rise of common criminality has been, the theft of time and history has been far greater, and much more devastating. It began with the philosophers and historians, and it was put into harsh practice by statist educators.

Edward Gibbon (1737–1794) is a landmark figure in this development. His History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1788) reflected the spirit of the French philosophes, and he regarded them as his teachers. The philosophes mocked Christianity and regarded the past as a long night out of which reason had delivered them. They laid down a fundamental premise of modern thought which has ever since distorted historiography. Everything in the past must be viewed with cynicism, and every evil in the past must be magnified, made to be a product of Christianity, Christianity must be equated with superstition, and reason and modernity exalted. As a result, today, if anything in the past is exalted, it is usually because it was hostile to Christianity. Voltaire is an example of this. As a writer and thinker, he was of little consequence and usually dishonest in his presentation of facts. This, however, is precisely why Voltaire is seen as important: he was a successful enemy of Christianity.

Gibbon took this premise of the philosophes and applied it rigorously to history. He venerated Roman antiquity only to denigrate Christianity. The importance of Gibbon and his work is that he worked seriously, and methodically (unlike the French philosophes), to reconstruct history and the past in radically non-Christian terms. Man was now to be explained and understood in terms of man only, not God. The stage was set for a “scientific” view of man in purely naturalistic terms, as supplied about seventy-five years later by Darwin.

Gibbon was still very much a product of a Christian past. He viewed history moralistically, in terms of good and evil. A humanistic moralism was the result, leading to the nineteenth-century liberal fervor to right all wrongs. The new temper also led to a new joy in discovery, the discovery of non-Christian pasts. All over the world, funds, energy, and zeal were poured into archaeological and other research into the pagan past. Egypt, India, China, and the Americas saw intense research into a past “innocent” of Christianity and the Biblical God. The nineteenth century saw the monumental research and publication of such literature as the “sacred” books of the East.

Humanism, however, continued its logical development. Max Stirner very early saw that all morality, all ideas of good and evil, represented a hangover from a Biblical past. Nietzsche called for life beyond good and evil, and, in the 1970s, Walter Kaufmann logically attacked the ideas of guilt and justice as relics of the Bible and called the tempter’s premise of Genesis 3:1–5 the true basis for human life.

Historians reflected the same development. They began to speak of the meaninglessness of history. Providential history was not even a possible option for them. The world or universe had arisen out of a meaningless nothingness; it had neither purpose nor direction, and its destiny is universal death. Such men found a Christian declaration of total meaning a particularly offensive fact. (At one collegiate conference, a professor from a major university graduate school was deeply offended and horrified because in my address, I spoke of the total rationality of creation and history, because it is the handiwork of the totally rational God. He held that the universe had in it only a thin and temporary edge of rationality in the mind of man.) Thus, for modern man, because the world and the past are meaningless, so too are the present and the future. This attitude has infiltrated the modern mind through the state school’s social studies program and its radical relativism.

The result is the great theft, the grand heist, of all history: modern man finds life robbed of meaning. Instead of a universe created, governed, and filled by the triune God, and peopled with God’s heavenly hosts and guardian angels, it is an empty world. No robbed householder, returning to find his home stripped of its valuables, finds a more empty dwelling than does modern man. By the time he finishes his schooling, the world is for him an empty room. Even in a crowded place, he is surrounded, not by men and women created in the image of God and under His government, but empty faces and empty minds. Life is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Modern man thus, although he has inherited a great technological history and development, is very poor. He has no meaningful and purposive history. The uneasiness felt by people whose house has been robbed is an example of the disquiet modern man feels as he views life, time, and history. It is the feeling which once marked the dying of Greece and of Rome, and it expressed itself in the old proverb, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

The Christian today is commonly infected by this same temper. The spirit of the age has a widespread contamination. The contemporary Christian may believe in God, and in the Bible from cover to cover, but the Lord seems far away, the communists and the IRS very near, and what is a man to do? The real presence of the Lord is not very meaningful to him; it is the real presence of the devil which seems to be most important to all too many Christians.

Early in this century, Holbrook Jackson, in The Eighteen Nineties (1913), ably characterized the new spirit. The whole attitude of the new decadence he saw contained in Ernest Dowson’s famous poem on Cynara. He called it “that insatiate demand of a soul surfeited with the food that nourishes not, and finding what relief it can in a rapture of desolation.” In the same era, Oscar Wilde expressed the modern will to perversity in his life and in his epigrams. One such epigram is very revealing: “I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.” And why not? If life has no happy endings because it is meaningless, why should a novel have one? In my student days, a professor took some time to rail against happy endings as unrealistic and not true to life; his own life manifested a wilful destruction of every possibility of happiness.

We see the consequences in modern literature. It is a long war against meaning, an assault on morality as a myth, and a declaration of war against all who hold to Biblical faith. Modern literature manifests a hatred of progress and industry, of patriotism, fidelity, and love as against sexuality. The new frontier for literature was now the moral underground and underground man. In 1871, Edmond de Goncourt manifested the new temper in his comment: “The riff-raff have for me the particular attraction of races unknown and undiscovered, something of that exotic quality which travellers seek in far-off lands at the cost of many hardships.” Other men were still excited by ancient Troy, Egypt, India, and China, but the artist and the writer now had a new world to explore, the world of the underground. Hence, for Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet became Saint Genet. Norman Mailer lionized a convict, secured his release, and the result was a killing. The moral underground has become holy ground to modern writers, and the only thing that stirs their wrath is Biblical faith and morality.

The empty world was made even more empty by the poets and writers who began to insist that meaning was anathema to a work of art. Symbolism began to be popular, greatly reinforced by Freudianism and the doctrine of the unconscious. Rational and coherent meaning had to give way to vague expressions of underground impulses and intentions. Not only was the world emptied, but now the mind also! Mallarme’s Herodias said, “I await a thing unknown,” an expressive line, because modern man continually awaits the unknown, never the sure hand of God. Arthur Rimbaud, in a letter to Paul Demeny on May 15, 1871, wrote, “The poet makes himself a seer by a long, intensive, and reasoned disordering of all the senses.” The goal of much literature since has been to produce the same disordering in all of us.

The result of all this has been the impoverishing of man. Man’s greatest and surest wealth lies in the religious realm, in the meaning which Biblical faith provides. The Bible tells man that the world witnesses to the glory of God (Psalm 19). The rainbow is a reminder to men who will see it that God will preserve this world and finally renew it into an eternal glory. The rainbow signifies God’s providential peace towards the very inanimate creation.

The sabbath requires rest one day in seven, and one year in seven. It is a sign that the future essentially rests, not on man’s shoulders, but on God’s government and grace. Thus, man’s future is not man-made but either God-blessed or God-cursed; in either case, the handiwork of God. The sabbath thus calls on man to leave the government on God’s shoulders and to recognize that the Lord governs and rules man’s own life better than man can ever dream of doing. God’s signs tell us that God the Lord is closer to us than we are to ourselves. We are not alone, nor in an empty universe. Francis Thompson (1859–1907), in his wonderful poem, “The Kingdom of God, In No Strange Land,” expressed this beautifully. In the second stanza, he wrote:

Does the fish soar to find the ocean,

The eagle plunge to find the air —

That we ask of the stars in motion

If they have rumor of Thee there?

The poverty of modern man is thus very great. He lives in a dead and empty world, he believes, but the deadness and the emptiness are in his own soul.

The psalmist tells us, concerning Israel in the wilderness, that, “They soon forgat his (God’s) works; they waited not for His counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request: but sent leanness into their soul” (Ps. 106:13–15).

Leanness is very much in the souls of modern men, however fat their bodies. But now, inexorably, the consequences of their apostasy are beginning to come home to them. The economics of humanism lead always to disaster. Fiat money is sooner or later no money at all, and the inflation-created wealth deflates into disaster. The economic chickens are coming home to roost with a vengeance. We will see more inflation, and more dislocation as well. Today, more and more Americans are unable to buy either houses or cars, because the price is too high. The humanists are trying to solve the problem with more inflation, which will only increase the gap between affordability and purchase price. This gap will set in, not only with respect to automobiles and houses, but other things as well. As a consequence of this gap, one segment of the economy after another will cease to be affordable to more people, and unemployment will increase.

The emptiness which humanism has brought to time and history will become an emptiness in the pocketbook and at the dinner table.

Modern man is singularly unprepared for trouble. He has too meager a reserve of inner strength to cope with problems. On top of that, he is at every turn harried by his new god, the state. When the state fails him, as it most certainly shall, and his money fails him also and becomes very cheap paper, the poverty of modern man will be very great, and it will be an evil poverty. The treasures of humanism are corruptible ones, and they are now steadily appearing for what they are. We are summoned to do otherwise: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:20–21). Our greatest and surest treasure is God the Lord, His grace and government. We are not alone. We are the people of the King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). We have been called to victory, knowing that “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world . . . even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

God’s victory requires the destruction of the present world order, and He will destroy it. God laughs at the plans and conspirings of His enemies: “the Lord shall have them in derision” (Ps. 2:4). His victory is sure and inevitable, and His presence and government fills all heaven and earth and transcends all things.

  1. Social Amnesia

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 153, July 1992

It was, I believe, Pitirim Sorokin who years ago warned people of the growing social amnesia, the loss of the past, and the growing ignorance of the foundations of our civilization. I was reminded of this recently as I listened to the comments in the media by black and white leaders with respect to the rioting and looting that erupted first in Los Angeles over the Rodney King case.

The problem of social amnesia is compounded by the deliberate amnesia of much of the media. Consider, for example, the facts that Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. called attention to in his “Opposing View” in the April 23, 1992 edition of USA Today: Rodney G. King, with a criminal record, raced through residential areas at 115 mph. When finally stopped, Rockwell reported, “the muscular, 250-pound perpetrator danced maniacally, made sexual advances toward a policewoman and refused to do as he was told. The police had good reason to think King was on PCP, even though he was simply an alcohol consumer of historic proportions. Did he have a gun? He wouldn’t let himself be frisked. The cops tried to subdue him with an electric stunner, but he was unaffected, something cops rarely see.” These facts and more were available to Governor Pete Wilson and President George Bush, as well as to all the media and to politicians. Virtually all chose to make “politically correct” statements and to disregard the very clear evidence presented at the trial. This is deliberate amnesia, and it is very prevalent.

Deliberate amnesia leads to social amnesia on a massive scale. People have no real past, because it has been supplanted by fiction. Consider, for example, this statement by Lawrence M. Mead, in The New Politics of Poverty (1992), that in the depression of the 1930s, there was no problem among blacks because they were ready to work, and they were ready to take lowest wages (pp. 32–33). Today, most immigrants get work on their first day in the United States (p. 91ff.). In the 1930s, there was discrimination against the blacks that no longer exists, but there was also a different character. Our history is being rewritten.

Social amnesia is a loss of the past. Amnesia is a loss of memory: it reduces a man to a mindless state because he remembers nothing and does not know who he is. This is what is happening to mankind today, especially to Western man.

Drunkenness has a somewhat similar effect, except that it cuts off a man from the present and leaves him disoriented. People today, by their false thinking, have cut themselves off from the past and the present — and therefore from the future.

Social amnesia and drunkenness in a social order produce mindless thinking. In a May 1992 Letter to Pro-Lifers, Phyllis Schlafly quoted a woman leader in a Republican proabortion group who argued thus: “What about natural rock formations that look like people? Just because something is formed in that shape (i.e., a fetus, an unborn child) does not necessarily mean that that’s what it is.” In this statement, the amnesia means a loss of logic and common sense, a very common failing today.

Most people living today were born after 1950; the overwhelming majority was born after 1940. More people are alive today than have lived and died since Adam’s day. More people have, by a falsified education and media, been cut off from their past: they have a social amnesia. Think of yourself as suddenly having no memory, no known past, nameless, and surrounded by people who are in the same condition. This is where we are historically.

Worse yet, the churches have helped get us there because they have forgotten their faith and their origins. It is ironic that theonomy is regarded as novelty by the churches when it was once normative, the faith of virtually all and regarded as basic to the historic faith.

The church’s roots are a historic revelation that goes back to the beginnings of man and history. For the church to neglect the faith, law, and history that Scripture is, means to deny its Lord and itself. The amount of instruction in the Bible (as against about the Bible) is very low in most seminaries. (I recall one student who boasted that he had gotten an A in his Old Testament course without ever reading the Old Testament: he read all the required textbooks and took careful notes of the professor’s lectures.) The church may sing the hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers, Living Still,” but in too many cases it knows neither the faith nor the fathers.

To cut ourselves off from the past is to destroy our present and our future. It turns us into barbarians. Studies of various so-called primitive peoples have shown that they are not interested in “abstract” thinking; they have no desire for any knowledge that serves no immediate and pragmatic purpose. Their intellectual aptitudes may be high, but their interests, beyond curiosity, are present-oriented. They will not apply their minds to anything other than immediate and practical concerns.

Our modern world is more given to entertainment and fiction than any previous era. Books, magazines, radio, movies, and television feed this will to fiction, and there has been a steady increase in the amount of sensations and shocks needed to satisfy the public’s appetite. As a result, people have not only lost their past, but they have surrendered the present to the existential moment.

Christians must, through church and school, reestablish a sense of history, and the Bible is the key book to all history. Christians must see their calling as one of “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). Samuel Johnson said that many people were bubble chasers and “an assembly of beings counterfeiting a happiness they do not feel.” The expression, “redeeming the time” means literally buying for yourselves the season, time, or opportunity: it is a mandate for Christian Reconstruction. It means that we pay a price of work and self-sacrifice to redeem our time or season of history. If we have social amnesia, we lose the time and our own souls. If we redeem the time, we are blessed by God, and we leave a godly heritage to our children’s children. We must redeem the time!

  1. Living in the Past

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 70, January 1986

Living in the past is a favorite and chosen pastime of many people everywhere. Individuals and classes, nations and races, regions and localities, all are addicted to their version of the Golden Age in the past.

This is not all. Being surrounded in many cases with the achievements and glories of the past, people assume that these things are their own accomplishments. Men without faith have lived near the cathedrals of the Middle Ages and other monuments of the past and acted as though this past greatness somehow accrued to them. In the United States, the monuments of a Puritan culture are treated by descendants and present inhabitants as their present merit, even while they despise the Puritan faith. Throughout the Western world, we have all too many pygmies living among the ruins and relics of the past as though past greatness means their greatness, too.

Europe and America are not alone in this. All over the world, some segments of various cultures look back to the past, a past they never made nor can reduplicate, and act as though the past were their accomplishment. At the same time, such people are an impediment to the development of a better today and tomorrow.

Rome in its dying days was sure that so great a past ensured an enduring future, but Rome was dead and never knew it. “The old order” in many cultures is a handicap to the very values it professes to believe in. As one American of colonial origins and long standing roots once sadly remarked to me, “Our old families act upset over what is happening here, but they themselves are the worst element, because they have power and yet they use power to conspire against our future. Every ugly power group is loaded with ‘our kind’ of people.”

But this is not all. Again and again, those who claim to be the heirs of past greatness invent a mythical past to suit their fancies. A sad example of this is Ireland. The greatness of the early Irish church is an exciting fact, but Irish nationalism in the late 1800s passed over this in favor of an invented past. The folklore romantics who began their work in Germany had a profound effect on some Irish romantics. An Irish past was invented, filled with little people, leprechauns, witches, hobgoblins, the evil eye, and more. Every little scrap of peasant belief was converted into a national treasure. In due time, more and more people of Irish descent became convinced that such things as “second sight” were “in their blood.” Men like George Russell and William Butler Yeats created a new image of the Irish, and many since have been trying to live in terms of that image.

The Irish were by no means alone in this. What makes the Irish change so notable is that it occurred in a country so devoted to its faith. All the same, Ireland was converted from a Catholic culture towards a nationalistic one which stressed the mystical qualities of Celtic blood.

At the same time, of course, the national character of many European countries was molded into new characteristics by the folklorist and nationalist impulses.

This movement has not been lacking in the United States, a nation of immigrants. Many of the immigrants changed their names on arriving on American shores out of anger and resentment at what their native land had become. Their descendants now romanticize the country of their origin and have made a spiritual emigration to the country their ancestors renounced. At a safe distance from the poverty and oppression of the past, these heirs can fly in comfort to the places of their remote origin and talk glibly of their heritage. However, the more men live in the past, the less relevant they are to the future.

In fact, we need to see changes as opportunities sent to us by the grace of God. To cite but two examples, the American South and the American West have changed dramatically and radically since World War II. However much we may have liked the past, we need to recognize that it is gone, and that the present comes from the hand of God and is a challenge to new growth and greatness. If we are not in Christ, we are dead men, and all our todays and tomorrows will only emphasize the fact that we are dead and irrelevant.

Some years ago, when I began the studies which led to the writing of The Messianic Character of American Education (1963), I was greatly interested in the role of New England men in the development of the United States. In the early years, New England’s Puritan faith had its impact in other colonies, in England itself, and in the formation of the United States. By the early 1800s, the New England influence had shifted from Christ to politics in terms of a new hope of salvation by political and social action. In 1830, thirty-six members of Congress, one-eighth of that body, were born in Connecticut, and that state by population was only one-forty-third part of the United States. Of these thirty-six congressmen, thirty-one came from Western states to which they had migrated. New England men were moving westward to assume leadership in the states in politics, and then in education. Much of the Western radicalism was New England radicalism.

In California, New Englanders like John Swett, state superintendent of schools, 1863–1867, one of many such men to head west, left their names on many streets and institutions. They also brought Unitarianism to California as to other places. Swett’s life’s motto came from Horace Mann, another Unitarian: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” This was now the New England god, not Christ but humanity. Swett saw private property as the property of the state, and the children in California as “the children of the state.” The sons of the Puritans were Yankees and statists.

Nothing stands still, however. William Hale Thompson Sr., a prominent descendent of a New England family, was on the staff of Admiral David G. Farragut. While on leave in 1865, he married Medora Gale, a member of a pioneer Chicago family, whose father was one of the thirty-eight original incorporators of the town of Chicago, and whose grandfather, Theophilus Smith, was a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. Two notable families were thus united. Their second son, William Hale Thompson Jr., was born on May 14, 1867; he was to become Chicago’s most notorious mayor.

Earlier, New Englanders had left Christ for the gospel of salvation by the state, or for salvation by education. Now another step was taken, the quest for power as such. “Big Bill” Thompson, born into prominence and culture, vulgarized himself progressively to become “a man of the people.” He was Chicago’s mayor in the corrupt Al Capone era. His morality was expediency. Thus, in campaigning for Len Small for governor, he attacked Small’s able opponent because he was a Jew. When Thompson’s Jewish friends protested, “Big Bill” was bewildered and told them: “You know I’ve been a friend to Jews. Look at the record of my appointments. I’m saying what I’ve got to say to make Small win. That’s the only thing that’s important here. Len Small has got to win!” Thompson ran repeatedly on a “reform” platform; he had the churches on his side during his early years. For Thompson, politics was an invigorating game, and the meaning of his life for him was the enjoyment thereof. He introduced religious and racial bigotry into some of his campaigns, not because he personally had any such feelings, but in order to exploit existing suspicions and hostilities. It is likely that, as far as Thompson was capable of having a sincere belief, he was appreciative of the American past. Certainly he was a professional patriot and flag-waver. He took America’s power and success as a natural fact of life, and, like Lake Michigan, something to be used and exploited.

The history of “Big Bill” Thompson is revelatory of the history of New England and, in miniature, of the United States, and of other countries as well. The age of faith, which established its greatness, gave way to non-Christian faith, statism, political action as salvation. New Englanders moved across the United States to mold the frontier areas while working at the same time to destroy the old South. These humanistic reformers gave way in time to the exploiters, political bosses, and men of expediency in one area after another. Boston, once the center of Puritanism, became after some generations a city better known for political corruption.

All over the world, people like the New Englanders, Englishmen, Germans, Hollanders, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Italians, Austrians, and others sit among the disappearing relics of a great past like pygmies. They identify themselves in all their pettiness, triviality, and unbelief with past greatness, as though honor and greatness are inherited with land and buildings. I have walked across the grounds of famous colleges and universities and had professors speak proudly to me of past glories as though they were a present fact, when a casual acquaintance with the school made clear its intellectual and moral bankruptcy.

Living in the past is very comforting. Its problems are gone, and only its monuments remain. In every country, men live proudly and nostalgically in terms of their past. In the United States, New Englanders, Easterners, Southerners, and even some Westerners, who have very little past, can tell you how wonderful things were before “they” came in and destroyed them. It is a superficially comforting way to live, but its promise is death. To arrest the past in any country or place is to turn it into a cemetery, or, at best, into a museum. This seems to be the goal of much of the Western world. An expression of a few years ago aptly stated this frame of mind: “Stop the world. I want to get off.” This is a will to suicide.

One cannot live under God without living in terms of the present and the future, albeit with a respect for the past. Some years ago, Nathan R. Wood, in The Secret of the Universe (1936, 1955), spoke of the movement of time from the future to the past: “Tomorrow becomes today. Today becomes yesterday. The future becomes the present. The present becomes yesterday. The future becomes the present. The present becomes the past. The future is the source, it is the reservoir of time which will some day be present, and then past . . . The Past issues, it proceeds, from the Future, through the Present.”

This concept has been formulated by a few writers in terms of scientific theories. For us, it must be a theological fact. Given the Biblical doctrine of God and His plan of predestination, the future goal of the triune God determines the present and the past. The crucifixion, Second Advent, and the new creation determine all history back to Adam, and behind Adam to day one of creation. To live in Christ is thus to live in terms of the present and the future. The graveyards of history are the places for those living in the past. We have a future, and it comes from the Lord.

EDUCATION

  1. Aristotle versus Christ

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 238

This paper was never published, but was originally numbered as No. 220, 1998

In the mid-1950s, I began studies in statist education which led to the publication of Intellectual Schizophrenia (1959) and The Messianic Character of American Education (1963). The latter work was done on a research grant. Today, a grant for such a work would be unlikely as too controversial. At the time, statist education seemed to have triumphed, and more than a few persons felt that I was wasting my time trying to bring about a separation of schools and state. The Messianic Character of American Education was not reviewed by any periodical, but some state boards of education asked for a report on it! Now, with the dramatic growth of Christian and homeschools, statist establishment of schools is seriously questioned.

It is important to raise a more basic question: Why did the state get into education?

The origins of the concept of state control of education have pagan roots, and they are best set forth by Aristotle and his Politics. For Aristotle, the state “is the highest (good) of all, and . . . embraces all the rest” (bk. I, 1). He sees man as simply “the best of animals” and “a political animal” (bk. I, 2; bk. III, 6; etc.). Moreover, “the citizen should be moulded to suit the form of government under which he lives.” Furthermore, “Neither must we suppose that any one of the citizens belongs to himself, for they all belong to the state, and are each of them a part of the state” (bk. VIII, 1). Education for Aristotle must be regulated by the state, and for him this was beyond question (bk. VIII, 2). This should not surprise us. All non-Biblical cultures of antiquity were radically totalitarian.

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle simply intensified his position. In Book VIII, he discusses sex as a biological phenomenon which is no more a matter for moralization than hunger or thirst. Attempts to Christianize Aristotle’s thinking are futile. For him, “God” was an idea, not a reality, a philosophical limiting concept to avoid the idea of an infinite regress by positing a first cause and a beginning.

In the Bible, priest and prophet were outside state control. St. Paul saw himself as an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20); he did not ask men to pray to the king, as the person or agency of God, but to pray for the king, that he conform himself to God (1 Tim. 2:1–2). The church, as the embassy of Christ the King was beyond state control. The roots of the medieval and modern church/state conflict are in this Biblical premise. The world of Aristotle and Plato is an alien, totalitarian realm.

We have thus two radically different doctrines of man: each is the antithesis of the other. For the Christian, man is a creative being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–28); for Aristotle, man is at best a political animal. For the Christian, salvation is only possible by Christ’s atonement. For Aristotle, salvation is statist to the core and is by means of education. For the Christian, education cannot be salvic or messianic, because only Christ can regenerate and save man. In the tradition of Aristotle, the state by education can remake man. These two views are mutually exclusive, and it is only man’s propensity to avoid conflict that leads him to attempt the reconciliation of Aristotle and Jesus Christ!

This reconciliation is what all who place their children in state schools are attempting to do. This syncretistic effort has led to the steady retreat of the church and to its adoption of alien “gospels” such as humanism. All efforts to merge the two plans of salvation are doomed to fail because God is God, and His truth is unchanging and unchangeable. At issue is more than a matter of forms of schooling. Rather, it is the basic question: Who is man’s savior, Christ or the state?

  1. Education and Decadence

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 77, August 1986

On June 19, 1986, USA Today carried an editorial on the “crack” epidemic. “Crack” is a form of refined cocaine which the editorial said “causes convulsions, brain seizures, heart attacks, respiratory problems and severe vitamin deficiencies. It leads to paranoia, depression, suicide and homicide.” In a “sampling” of opinions from coast to coast, seven persons were quoted as to the answer to the question, “What can we do about the ‘crack’ epidemic?” Three of the seven called for more education of our students; three called for stricter law enforcement (one of these three called for more information to children from their parents), and the seventh felt the solution was “to have a Hands Across America to fight drugs.” None mentioned Christian faith and life as the solution. All believed in the great delusion of our time, namely, that human problems can be resolved by technical means rather than by faith and character.

It can with merit be argued that our law enforcement agencies, other than the courts, are better now than fifty years ago. There is no lack of zeal on the part of the police in many areas to enforce the law. Even if the courts were as good as we would like them to be, this still would not alter the delinquent and suicidal bent of youth and adults alike. No man who takes Scripture seriously can believe so. Proverbs 8:35–36 tells us plainly: “For who so findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”

Law enforcement is a necessity in any godly society, but it protects rather than creates godliness. When the lawbreakers far outnumber the police, a society is in trouble. When besides lawbreakers, we have an antinomian population which pits a lawless love against God’s law, we have death facing a society. Pour all the antibiotics and drugs you can into a dead man, and it will not heal him. Too often also a body without the will to live resists curative medicine but gives ground readily to a disease, because its resistance is gone. Societies, too, can reach a point where their sickness is more prized by the body politic than any cure. Evidence for this fact can be found on most editorial pages. Whether or not this truly represents society in the main will be determined in the next decade.

Education today is a part of the problem, not the cure. Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This means that the neglect of God and His Word is the beginning of ignorance and death, because the fools have despised the source of wisdom. Therefore, it can be asked if our state schools today are not educating for death, since Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Statist education today is suicidal in its impact because of its emphasis on evolution and equalitarianism. If evolution is true, then all things are the product of chance. Instead of absolute truth and order undergirding all creation, we have chance and meaninglessness as ultimate. This means that “truth” is an evolutionary and changing thing, and we cannot be bound by past truths as we face the future. Law is then the evolving experience of mankind, and the criminal is perhaps an evolutionary pioneer, as some have held. To further evolution, it becomes necessary to break up old forms of law and order to facilitate evolutionary growth. Such a perspective reduces past, present, and future to meaninglessness. Instead of being the great force for progress, as early evolutionists believed, the doctrine of evolution has worked to destroy the belief in progress. Reason also has come to be seen, since Freud, as another fallen idol.

Equalitarianism has been no less destructive, especially when linked with evolutionary faith. Equalitarianism cuts the ground out from under authority and obedience. Given equality as an article of faith, every man is as good as everyone else, or as bad. If we are as good as the next man, why submit to his authority? When, then, should we obey him? We have on all sides, both in the church and out of it, a general spirit of rebelliousness, a refusal to submit to authority. In Sweden today, we see the extremes of this: it is illegal to maintain discipline and authority by spanking one’s daughter, but not illegal to have sexual relations with her; the one act asserts authority and the need for obedience, the other applies equality.

Thus, we see everywhere savage disagreements and even court contests because people refuse to submit to authority where only minor matters are involved. One woman took after her husband with a butcher’s knife because, seeing the sinks and drainboards piled high with dirty dishes, pots, and utensils, he dared to suggest that perhaps she ought to wash the dishes. Her statement later was, “How dare he lay down the law to me? Who does he think he is?” If no one is higher in authority than we are, how then can anyone tell us what to do?

Given this perspective, the proposed Children’s Bill of Rights is logical. Children have as many “rights” as their parents do! Given, too, the fact of evolution, the next generation must be “free” to express itself and to develop without the governance of “the dead hand of the past.”

Equalitarian education is thus a training ground for social anarchy and chaos. It is a form of social suicide, since it subverts the normal order of education, the importation of the learning skills, and the faith of the past, in order to provide for stability and growth tomorrow.

Moreover, modern education, in terms of Dewey’s philosophy, sees truth as pragmatic and instrumental. Truth then becomes whatever works for us. The consequences of such a belief are far-reaching and deadly. If “truth” is a pragmatic and instrumental thing, it changes as circumstances change. There is then no fixity of good and evil. Men will not willingly die for a truth which may change tomorrow, and neither will they live for it. Men and societies then see bare survival as the only value, if a value at all; for them, nothing is important enough to make a stand for because all things are equally meaningless.

Otto Scott has wisely observed that a people are decadent when they will no longer defend themselves and their culture. Our era is cynical of the concept of decadence. Richard Gilman, in Decadence (1975), called the concept the refuge of “the shallow, the thoughtless and imitative, the academically frozen: monkey-minds.” This is a simple device to rule out all who disagree! With respect to Oscar Wilde, Gilman held that to think of him as “decadent” was very wrong; it “would be to abet the conspiracy through which our icy, unyielding moral technology maintains its power to settle things, to bring complexity to heel.” Gilman agreed with Wilde’s comment to a friend in a letter about his condition, which Gilman called “besieged and mysterious.” Wilde had said, “I was a problem for which there was no solution.”

If good and evil are equal, equally valid or invalid, then there are no solutions to any problems, whether they be Wilde’s homosexuality or anything else. If there be no right nor wrong, there can be no answer to any problem, no solutions, and finally, no problems. There can then be no judgment and no answer, hence nothing worth fighting for. This is decadence, and it is very much with us.

It is also a basic part of statist education. If God’s absolute authority and Word do not undergird our education, then there is no solid ground for judgment. If the concepts of good and evil, of morality and immorality, of social strength and decadence, are invalid and are the refuge of “the shallow, the thoughtless . . . and . . . monkey-minds,” then children and youth in their education are open to all possibilities. Even more, they are directed against Biblical faith by the pragmatic or instrumentalist philosophies which undergird statist education today. Moral judgment is denied validity, and the student is encouraged to establish his own values, not to follow those of church and family.

Education then becomes education for decadence. To yield up one’s children to state schools is to surrender them to a major source of decadence. It is noteworthy that state schoolteachers in so many cases have their children in Christian schools. In fact, the ratio is twice that of the general population.

The belief that education per se is good is wrong; Nazi education and Soviet education are obvious examples of deadly and false schoolings of the child. Education can be for good or for evil; it can strengthen a society or destroy it. To believe that education can neglect the source of all wisdom, the triune God, is to believe that folly and suicide are better than wisdom and life.

  1. Education as a Panacea

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 149, March 1992

In 1969, Julius Lester’s book, Revolutionary Notes, was published. From start to finish, the book is full of the myths of the rebelling student generation, out to change the world overnight. The publisher described it thus: “This is a book to carry to the barricades.”

The book is almost a catalog of humanistic nonsense. We are told, “It is difficult to be a revolutionary, for to be a revolutionary means to believe in the innate goodness of man and to know that man in this environment has been programmed (sp) into nonman” (p. 172). This is good humanism, a belief in man’s goodness. The problem, then, is to explain why certain men are evil, and why the environment, human society, has been made evil. The Christian doctrine of man as a sinner at war against God easily accounts for evil in this world. For humanism, it is a problem.

Lester’s answer is the classic answer of humanism from the Enlightenment, through Jean-Jacques Rousseau and through John Dewey to the present: “Ignorance is our greatest enemy.” It was this faith that led the Unitarian Horace Mann to see the school as man’s true church and savior. He saw an end to crime and evil coming with universal public education.

Unhappily for these humanists, as this humanistic education has prospered, so, too, have crime and social decay. On all sides, we see education heavily financed as the key to social salvation but producing instead social decay. Christian schools, and Christian home schools, meanwhile are producing literate students who are providing leadership in one field after another. Black Christian schools are growing rapidly as a countermeasure to the destruction wrought by state schools to black children. These nonstatist schools reach the middle- and lower-class families and cannot be rightfully charged with elitism.

The clear evidence of the differences between the two kinds of schools is overwhelming. To compare, for example, the black students in a Christian school with those in a neighboring state school is a contrast of dramatic character.

But evidence does not work! Humanism, one of the world’s most fanatical religions, keeps insisting that the great enemy is ignorance and only their humanistic statist schools can solve the problem. Meanwhile, all over the Western world, the functional illiteracy generated by humanistic state schools continues to grow. As unskilled labor becomes less useful in a technological society, the number of unskilled people is growing. The army (and often business) finds it necessary to reeducate its recruits in great numbers.

Why this fanaticism, this intense dedication to the faith that “ignorance is our greatest enemy”? Few things have been shown to be more untenable. It is a belief which represents the blindest kind of faith. We have a world of crime, drugs, violence, gangs, murder, abortion, euthanasia, and sexual perversions, and we are still told that “ignorance is our greatest enemy,” when the state schools are the purveyors of functional illiteracy and ignorance. If it is true that ignorance is our greatest enemy, why not a return to phonics in order to reestablish literacy? Samuel L. Blumenfeld of Chalcedon is the authority on phonics. Why does a president of the National Educational Association call him “public education enemy number one”? If literacy is their goal, Blumenfeld should be honored by them.

But old fashioned literacy is no longer the goal. Such a function was abandoned beginning at least in the late 1920s, and it is now the prevailing temper of statist educators to oppose phonics and traditional education. Let us remember that the central faith of humanism, the belief in the innate goodness of man, is a religious belief, not an educational fact. If man is naturally good, and if his problem is an evil environment, then the central purpose of education must be to strip the child of everything that restrains his natural goodness, his natural impulses and needs. Laws, rules, and restraints must go.

Given this fact, we can understand why the Bible has been thrown out of “public” education, and why such state schools are anti-family.

The child is taught to reject the values of Christianity and the family, to despise the past, and to choose his own value system. Whatever suits him is best for him. Freedom from the compulsion of the past, from absolute values and morals, and freedom to live one’s own lifestyle becomes, then, the goal of statist education.

In terms of this, it is logical that condoms are passed out in state schools and that chastity is not taught. The goal is to free the child’s innate goodness and to release his being into the freedom of a truly human society!

Given this faith, we must recognize that our humanistic statist education is not only at war with Christianity, but must logically regard it as its greatest enemy. The graffiti, “Kill Christians,” is a logical expression of this faith.

The Larger Catechism, A. 24, declares, “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God” (1 John 3:4; cf. Rom. 3:23 and James 4:17). 1 John 3:4 simply tells us that sin is lawlessness; it is a violation of any law of God.

This tells us how serious our problem is. The humanist hates God and His law; his life is one long enmity with God. Humanism is the world’s second oldest religion, having been set forth first by the tempter in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1–5).

But what complicates our problem today is that most churches are radically antinomian; they are on the side of the humanists in rejecting God’s law. How, then, can they contend against this great evil overwhelming our society?

It is said that in antinomian church circles, the amount of sexual delinquency is about the same as for unbelievers. This statement, based on a survey, was made to John Lofton by a leading antinomian Arminian. It should not surprise us. It should lead us to pray with the psalmist, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Ps. 119:126). The “work” the psalmist had in mind was judgment. We are beginning to see the Lord work His judgment on our time.

The humanists are logical, if wrong. Given their faith in the innate goodness of men, for them education is the loosening of restraint. Some hold that the present freedom, despite its problem, will lead to a greater good for humanity. Their faith is at least a consistent one, and very passionately held.

So what is the excuse of the churches? They are full of lawlessness; they despise God’s law; they see a virtue in their antinomianism, and so on. They forget Peter’s words, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17).

I found little or nothing to agree with in Julius Lester’s Revolutionary Notes, but I respect it more than I do inconsistent churches who profess Christ and feel that “believing” on Jesus gives them a license to despise God’s law. They have blinded themselves and see their blindness as a blessing.

Our Lord has a word for such churches and churchmen: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13).

  1. The Restoration of Education

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 219, December 1997

The background of American schooling is the Protestant emphasis on the reading of the Bible. The Calvinistic and Lutheran emphasis on literacy came from its Biblical doctrine of God. God is unchanging because He is totally self-conscious. His Word is an infallible Word because He is the infallible God; His infallibility and total self-consciousness are apparent in His predestination of all things. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). Such knowledge is only possible to a totally self-conscious, omnipotent, and infallible God. The Bible, His Word, is an expression of His being and its infallibility. Knowledge of it is thus basic to existence. Reading this has a dimension in Biblical religion not found in any other. When, as in some areas of the Christian world, literacy, tradition, or anything other than the Bible is given priority, the result is a regression into a non-Christian religion. Mystery will then often be stressed above knowledge.

The American Puritans stressed literacy to defeat “that old deluder, Satan.” Education was also important to man in terms of his calling. Schooling was thus very practical. In my youth, older men with any American schooling were excellent at “figuring.” They could calculate in their heads data about crops, expenses, and so on.

Early American schooling, and in the era of the early republic prior to Horace Mann, had short years, six weeks to three months. It was solid and hard training because the parents expected it. “Reading, writing, and arithmetic, taught to the tune of the hickory stick,” was what they wanted for their children. School discipline, like home discipline, had to be strict.

After grade school, i.e., after grade eight, those going to a college or university attended a summer academy to get foreign languages, mathematics, and science. This meant college graduation at age seventeen to nineteen, and an early entry into the adult world, and earlier marriage often.

Statist educators gradually lengthened the school years, weakened its content, and lessened its discipline. However, up to the 1929 Depression, an eighth-grade school prepared students ably for a working world. They had the basic skills.

With the 1929 Depression, state compulsory attendance laws were raised, even up to sixteen and eighteen, to remove vast numbers from the work force. Many youths, unemployed, returned to school, i.e., high school. In my high school years, graduating in 1934, many students who were involved in sports were routinely disqualified from further participation because they had reached their twenty-first birthday. A problem of the day was that some younger teachers were twenty and twenty-one years old, and some students were dating them.

Especially after World War II, a dilution of the curriculum followed.

Young parents who felt that the Depression and the war had been deprivations sought “a better life” for their children, leading in the 1950s to the child-centered society, which meant the spoiled-brat student rebels of the 1960s.

At the same time, the influx of more students into junior or community colleges led to watering down that area of education. Next came the universities and graduate schools.

Christian and home schools must take the lead in reversing all this, in shortening the present K–12 schooling into K–8 (or at most K–9), and by again making higher education into sound schooling.

Such a move requires Christian leadership, and it must come soon.

CONFLICT

  1. Conflict with the State

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 1, January 1979

In recent years, under the influences of humanism on the one hand and pietism on the other, the church has withdrawn from many of its historic and basic functions. As the church begins to revive and resume its required ministry, the result is conflict with the humanistic state. It is important, therefore, to examine some of the historic and necessary duties of the Christian church.

The church can be understood in part by the Biblical words used to describe it in the Bible. The basic word in the New Testament Greek is ecclesia, assembly, or congregation, which in the Old Testament was qahal and edah. The church is also described in James 2:2 as a synagoge, or synagogue. In the Old Testament, the government of the synagogue was by elders or presbyters; this office continues in the Christian synagogue, with the same basic requirements for the office (1 Tim. 3:1–13, etc.) as required by the synagogue. The Old Testament pattern was so carefully preserved by the church that the English word priest is an abridgment of presbyter, and the College of Cardinals for centuries was a lay council of seventy (Num. 11:16), like the Sanhedrin, with the pope, like the Jewish high priest as the seventy-first. Jesus created a ruling-serving body of seventy also, a kind of diaconate (Luke 10:1, 17), as the “Sanhedrin” of the church, which called itself “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).

The Old Testament clergy was divided into two classes, priests and Levites. The work of the priests was hieratic, sacrifice and offerings being its essential function. For Christians, this aspect of the Old Testament ministry ended with Christ. Even those communions who call their clergy priests do so with a difference, so that the Old Testament priesthood is seen as finished. The function of the Levitical ministry was instruction (Deut. 33:10). As a result, education was basic to the life of the synagogue and the Levitical ministry. The well-known Hebrew proverb declares that a man who did not teach his son the Torah (i.e., the Old Testament) and a trade taught him to be a thief. Hence, Israel was unique in antiquity because of its well-nigh universal education as the ministry of the synagogue.

Josephus declared that the origin of Hebrew schools was with Moses (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 4.8.12). In Against Apion (2.25), Josephus said of Moses, “He commanded to instruct the children in the elements of knowledge, to teach them to walk according to the laws, and to know the deeds of their fathers. The latter, that they might imitate them; the former, that growing up with the laws, they might not transgress them, nor have the excuse of ignorance.” While most scholars would be skeptical of a Mosaic origin for the schools, it is clear that Deuteronomy is largely concerned with instruction, of both adults and children.

The influence of this standard was great. Hillel held, “an ignorant man (i.e., one ignorant of the Torah) cannot be truly pious . . . The more teaching of the Law, the more life; the more school, the more wisdom; the more counsel, the more reasonable action” (Sayings of the Fathers, 2:5; 2:7) This educational standard, noted Barclay, “has left its mark deeply upon the world, because in the last analysis it aims to educate the child in order to fit him to be a servant of God; it is an education of children for God” (William Barclay, Train Up a Child: Educational Ideals in the Ancient World [1959], p. 48).

The early church, the medieval church, the Reformation church, and the contemporary fundamentalist and orthodox churches seek to continue this ancient mandate of education. The church is, as E. Schweizer, in Church Order in The New Testament (7b, p. 92), pointed out, “the realm of dominion in which the risen Lord continues to work” (cited in Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 1 [1967, 1975], p. 300).

The early church came into conflict with Rome, which sought to license, regulate, control, and tax all religions because the church refused to submit to controls. Its resistance was based on the lordship or sovereignty of Christ: Christ’s domain cannot be under the dominion of Caesar. Caesar is under Christ the Creator and Lord, not Christ under Caesar. The church thus engaged in several unlicensed activities:

  1. It held meetings which were instructional and worship meetings, without permits.
  2. It collected abandoned babies (as part of its opposition to abortion), gave them to various church families, and reared and instructed them; orphanages were maintained also.
  3. Because of the Levitical nature of the church, i.e., a center of instruction, libraries and schools began to be built very early. Later, cathedral schools developed, and universities.

The doctrine of academic freedom is a relic of the day when the academy was a part of the church and its functions, and hence entitled to the immunities thereof. How seriously this aspect was seen as basic to the church’s life is apparent from the fact that, as soon as churches were built (not possible for the first two centuries), libraries (and schools) were a part of them. Joseph Bingham, in The Antiquities of the Christian Church (1850), wrote, “there were such places anciently adjoining to many churches, from the time that churches began to be erected among Christians” (bk. 8, chap. 7, sec. 12). Bingham cited some of the ancient references to these schools and libraries (Eusebius, book 6, chap. 20; Hieronymus [Jerome], Catalog. Scriptor. Eccles., chap. 75; Gesta Purgat., ad calcem Optati, p. 267; Augustine, De Haeresibus, chap. 80; Basil, Epistle 82; Hospinian, De Templis, book 3, chap. 6). Bingham referred also to a canon attributed to the Sixth Ecumenical Council, in Constantinople, a.d. 680–681, which required that presbyters in country towns and villages maintain schools for all children. He added, summing up all the evidences, “we may conclude, that schools were anciently very common appendants both of cathedral and country churches” (bk. 8, chap. 7, sec. 12). Fault can only be found with Bingham’s statement on the ground that they were not “appendants” but a basic aspect of the life of the church, whether separate from the church or within it. Bingham’s high church tendencies led him to stress the liturgical rather than educational life of the church. Many critical scholars would deny that schools existed at so early a date; too often their premise is to assume a rootless church, i.e., a church without the fact of the synagogue and the Levite in the background as its origin, and in the present as a rival and reminder. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that Christianity is the religion of the book, the Bible. Literacy and education were thus natural concomitants to conversion. But this is not all. Being the religion of the Book meant that translations were made into various tongues, and, to make the translation readable, education was stressed. In Armenia, an alphabet was created for the Bible translation, and a new culture developed as a result of the new learning in that new alphabet of the Bible. Granted that invasions, wars, and the backwardness of many of the newly converted peoples (as in northern Europe) made the development of schools and learning at times a slow process, but it is clear that (1) Christianity saw education or instruction as basic to its life and a necessary function of the church, and (2) education in the Western world is a unique development in history and a child of the church.

Moreover, we must remember that, in the early church, the service was Levitical or instructional. At the conclusion of the instruction (or sermon), there were questions designed to enable the hearers to clarify misunderstood or difficult points. Since not all who attended were believers, but were sometimes visitors or the unbelieving husband or wife of a believer, questions could be at times contentious. Women were forbidden to engage in this debating or in challenging the pastor or teacher. Paul says,

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. (1 Cor. 14:34–35)

The point is that the church itself in the New Testament was more a school than a temple. The Reformation, and later the Puritans, restored this instructional emphasis to church meetings. This historic emphasis is again coming to the forefront. At a few morning services in the United States, the question and answer format has been revived; it is more common at evening services. Even more, churches are establishing, whether as parochial or separate bodies, schools as basic to the life of the church. These are often grade and high schools, Bible colleges, in two or more cases (in 1978) seminaries, and so on. These are not seen as innovations nor as activities alien to the church but as central to it. Whenever and wherever there is or has been a deepening of the Old Testament foundations of the Christian faith, together with a revived emphasis on the lordship or sovereignty of Jesus Christ, there has been a corresponding and necessary development of the Levitical nature of the ministry. Education then becomes essential to the ministry. The warning of Jeremiah 10:2, “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen,” is taken seriously.

Another factor is also stressed. Baptism, depending on the church communion, involves an explicit or implicit vow that the baptized, under penalty of curse, is the property of Jesus Christ. He and his children must be instructed in the Word of the Lord. It was once commonplace to require all baptized Christians to place their children in church schools. That mandate is again returning, because of the faith that a child who is the property of Christ by virtue of his baptism, or the parent’s baptism, cannot be placed in a humanistic school. The Christian school movement is the result.

The German historian, Ethelbert Stauffer, in his important study of Christ and the Caesars (1952 in Germany; 1955, United States), showed clearly that the roots of the ancient conflict between church and state are religious. Where the state claims to be god walking on earth, the state will claim sovereignty and will seek to control every area of life and thought. A free society becomes impossible. The Christian claim is not that the church is sovereign over the world, for it is not; lordship or sovereignty is an attribute of God, not of man. But the Christian insistence is on the freedom of the church, “the realm of dominion in which the risen Lord continues to work” (E. Schweizer), from the controls of the state or any other agency.

It involves, moreover, a denial of the doctrine of state sovereignty. The very word sovereignty is absent from the U.S. Constitution because of the theological context of those times. The historian A. F. Pollard wrote:

The colonies had been as anxious to get rid of James II in 1688 as they were to be free from Parliament in 1776. Their fundamental objection was to any sovereignty vested in any State whatsoever, even in their own. Americans may be defined as that part of the English-speaking world which has instinctively revolted against the doctrine of the sovereignty of the State and has, not quite successfully, striven to maintain that attitude from the time of the Pilgrim Fathers to the present day . . . It is this denial of all sovereignty which gives its profound and permanent interest to the American Revolution. The Pilgrim Fathers crossed the Atlantic to escape from sovereign power; Washington called it a “monster”; the professor of American History at Oxford calls it a “bugaboo” . . . and Mr. Lansing writes of the Peace Conference that “ninetenths of all international difficulties arise out of the problem of sovereignty and the so-called sovereign state.” (A. F. Pollard, Factors in American History [1925], pp. 31–32)

This statement is all the more of interest because Pollard was an English scholar and a great authority of his day on constitutionalism. Since Pollard’s day, of course, the U.S. federal government and the states have steadily advanced claims of sovereignty. At the same time, they have become increasingly humanistic in their view of law and have firmly established humanism as the religion of the “public” or state schools.

The novelty in the present conflict is not that the church or the Christian schools are claiming new, and historically novel, immunities, but that the various American states are claiming a jurisdiction never before exercised or existing. The novelty is on the part of the state. It is a product of its claim to sovereignty. This claim places the state on a collision course with the church, and even more, with God, the only Sovereign. On April 30, 1839, on “The Jubilee of the Constitution,” John Quincy Adams attacked the new doctrine of state sovereignty. As against parliamentary omnipotence and sovereignty, the colonists in 1776 appealed to the omnipotence and sovereignty of God. Adams declared:

There is the Declaration of Independence, and there is the Constitution of the United States — let them speak for themselves. The grossly immoral and dishonest doctrine of despotic state sovereignty, the exclusive judge of its own obligations, and responsible to no power on earth or in heaven, for the violation of them, is not there. The Declaration says it is not in me. The Constitution says it is not in me. (S. H. Peabody, ed., American Patriotism: Speeches, Letters, and other Papers, etc. [1880], p. 321).

The conflict is the same religious conflict which saw Rome and the early church in bitter war, and with many Christians martyred. It is Christ versus Caesar. For the Christian, there can be no compromise. What is at stake is not his property, concern, or income, but Christ’s dominion, “the realm of dominion in which the risen Lord continues to work.”

  1. In the Name of Jesus Christ, or in the Name of Caesar?

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 2, February 1979

The meaning of names is largely irrelevant in our day. We name our children in terms of names that please us, whatever they may mean. In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, names are definitions, and a man’s name changed as his faith and character changed. We do not know Abraham’s name before his calling; we do know that God first named him Abram, and then Abraham, to signify his place in God’s plan; it was a name Abraham had to use by faith, because, humanly speaking, he was not the father of a great multitude.

Because names have become meaningless to us, we assume that they are so with God as well. Far from being the case, one of God’s basic laws concerns His name: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exod. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). Proverbs 18:10 tells us, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Paul declares, in Colossians 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

In Hebrew, name is Shem, and it appears some 770 times; in Greek, it is onoma. The name sets forth and defines the person named. Hence, when Moses asked what God’s name is, God made it clear that He was beyond definition, so that His “Name” is simply I Am that I Am, or He Who Is, Jehovah or Yahweh. Then the Lord declares Himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exod. 3:13–15). Because God is infinite, omnipotent, and omniscient, He cannot be limited or described by any definition: He is the Eternal God, the One who creates and defines all things but is Himself beyond definition. He is, however, knowable in His revelation to Abraham and others, and in His Word. The Name of God is thus I Am that I Am.

But names not only set forth the meaning and definition of a person, they also set forth his power, dominion, and authority. Hence, the commandments are given in the name of God. The authority, power, and dominion of Jesus Christ are so total “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Phil. 2:10).

Now, practically, what does this mean? It means, first, that we have seriously erred in limiting the third commandment to verbal profanity. To be profane means literally to be outside the temple, outside the Lord. In its true meaning, profanity is any and every word, thought, and action which is outside the triune God, which is apart from His Word and government. To be bearers of the Name, i.e., to be called Christian, means that we are totally under Christ’s rule and dominion.

Very briefly, salvation, sovereignty, and government cannot be separated. Only a totally sovereign God who controls all things can save us. Such a God is totally the Lord over all creation: the government of all things is upon His shoulders (Isa. 9:6–7; Ps. 2). There is not a moment of time nor an atom or corner of all the universe which is outside the power and government of the triune God, of Christ the King. As a result, it is profanity to assume that any area can be outside of God and His law. A very common question asked of us these days is this: “I agree that homosexuals have no place in the pulpit or in a Christian school, but how can we bar them from a neutral realm like the public school or the civil service?” The answer is that there are no neutral realms: God is God over all things, and to exempt any realm from His government and law-word is profanity and a violation of the third commandment. “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

Second, throughout the Bible the lives and actions of God’s people were conducted in the Name of the Lord, which, we are told, “is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Prov. 18:10). Of this verse, Franz Delitzsch wrote, “The name of Jahve is the Revelation of God, and the God of Revelation Himself . . . His name is His nature representing itself . . . His free and all-powerful government in grace and truth . . . This name, which is afterwards interwoven in the name of Jesus is (Ps. lxi:4), a strong high tower bidding defiance to every hostile assault.”

However, not only is the Lord’s name our defense, but also our strength in overcoming the enemy. Thus, third, the Lord’s name is the name of power in overcoming all enemies and in subduing all things to Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:9–11). He is the Lord, and all things shall be placed under His feet (Ps. 2; Heb. 2:8).

Fourth, we must therefore, if we would not profane God’s name, do all things, whether in the area of thought, education, or learning, or in the area of action or deeds, in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17). This means that our lives, homes, churches, schools, civil governments, arts and sciences, and all things else must be done in the Name, that is, under the kingship, dominion, authority, power, and the Word of the Lord. Anything else is profanity and practical unbelief.

In whose name does our world operate now? The old-fashioned order, “Halt, in the name of the law,” summoned up the authority of the state. That state authority was once to a degree in the name of the Lord. Today, the state, its courts and law, and its schools are profane. They are outside of Christ and in contempt of Him.

The war of the early church against Rome was a war of names. Which name was the name of power, of ultimate authority, the name of Christ, or the name of Caesar? Rome’s position was expressed in its fundamental law: “The health (or, welfare) of the people is the highest law.” Rome’s approach to the early church was thus in the name of the general welfare of the people, and the Roman Empire was the expression of that concern, and the source of authority. The approach of Rome thus was to deny that it sought to suppress freedom of religion. Rather, it sought to protect the health and general welfare of the people by requiring certain submissions of all religious groups. Implicit in this position, however, was the belief that, first, the state or Caesar is the best judge of the health or welfare of the people. This meant that the word of truth and wisdom was not the Word of God but the word of the state. Sound social order and health thus was held to require that Caesar’s word prevail and govern.

Second, the governing word is the word of power, and Rome held that Caesar’s word was the word of power. But Caesar’s word could not save Rome, and Caesar’s coercive power could kill, but it could neither redeem nor save. The more emphatically imperial Rome asserted its word and law, the greater became the decay and the decline of Rome.

Third, “the highest law” is not the health of the people but the law-word of God, and, as a result, Roman law and society, like our own, had a false and rotting center. The more Rome developed the fundamental premises of its law, the more it hastened its decay and collapse, even as the world today increases the extent of its crisis with its remedial effort, because all its remedies have a false premise, humanism.

Fourth, the conflict then and now is a war of names. Which is the name of power, Christ or Caesar?

All too many churchmen are radically profane and blasphemous. They are either silent in the face of, or agreeable to, the state’s usurpation of one area of life after another to its humanistic authority. These churchmen withdraw into a sanctimonious surrender and do nothing to stop the growing profanity whereby one area of life after another is withdrawn from the government of Christ the King and placed into the hands of Caesar. Again, all over the world, “the chief priests” of our day, like those of old, are declaring, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). If for a moment we allow humanism any title or right to any area of creation, we are profane, and we deny Christ to affirm Caesar.

Again and again, the summons of Scripture is to “believe on the name of Jesus Christ.” This means to ground the totality of our lives, thinking, institutions, and world, including church, state, and school, on the name of Christ the King, under His authority, power, law-word, and government. This is clear from 2 Timothy 2:19: “Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Paul was condemning “profane and vain babblers” who wrongly divided the word of truth. God’s foundation or reign is not affected by their profanity. God knows His own. Those who name the Lord are those who depart from iniquity, or injustice, unrighteousness (adikia). Iniquity is that condition where man opposes to God’s right or righteousness, to God’s order and justice, his own humanistic doctrine of order, right, or justice. Iniquity can be a physical act of lawlessness; it can also be a faith, philosophy, or order to society which sets up a law, institution, state, or order outside of God and His law-word. It is not under the name and authority of God: it does not serve or obey Him.

It was a strong emphasis of Christian teaching and preaching for centuries that the state must serve the Lord. The New England Puritan Charles Turner pastor at Duxbury, in a sermon before Governor Thomas Hutchinson and the House of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay Province, May 26, 1773, declared:

Rulers are, at once, ministers of God, and servants of society; as Gospel ministers are servants of Christ, and of the Churches. And, if God has given to the community a right to appoint its servants, it is but rational and consistent to suppose, that the community should have a right to take effectual care, that their servants should not counteract and disappoint the great purpose for which they were distinguished from their fellow-creatures; and if, in any case, it may be seen necessary for the public salvation, to give the servants of society a dismission.

In other words, as surely as the church must dismiss ungodly pastors as false ministers, so too it must dismiss all state officers who will not serve the Lord as being ungodly ministers of state. To fail to do so is to partake in their sin and to become ourselves profane. We are today a profane society, and our cities and countryside are spotted by profane churches which take the Lord’s name in vain.

The encroachments of humanism into church, state, school, and every other realm must cease. We must cease from all personal and corporate profanity, or face God’s judgment as traitors and rebels. A piety which concerns itself only with man’s soul and leaves the world to the devil is a profane piety. God’s warning is clear: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (Isa. 2:22). To be profane is to be outside of God’s grace and mercy. Isaiah lived in a generation that professed the Name of the Lord, but were “a people of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5), because their lives and politics were profane. Are we not far worse? Is there any remedy other than total submission to Christ the King, doing all things, in every area of life, thought, and action, in the name, or power, authority, and government of the Lord? “Who is on the Lord’s side?” (Exod. 32:26). Let him stand in the name of the King.

Can We Tithe Our Children?

Scripture requires us to tithe our income. God requires His tithe, a modest amount as compared to the modern state’s demands. But, in all things else, God requires the totality of our allegiance, our service, and our lives. We cannot tithe our children, nor ourselves. We cannot give our tenth child only to the Lord and to Christian schools, while sending all others to the state school. Neither can we give our children to the Lord one day in seven or in ten, and to the state the rest of the time.

We and all that we have are God’s possession. Children are described as a “gift” or “heritage” from the Lord, and also as a “reward,” “boon,” or “blessing” (Ps. 127:3). To misuse God’s gifts and blessings is to incur His wrath. It is only “every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways” who is “blessed” (Ps. 128:1).

The first and basic premise of paganism, socialism, and Molech worship is its claim that the state owns the child. The basic premise of the public schools is this claim of ownership, a fact some parents are encountering in the courts. It is the essence of paganism to claim first the lives of the children, then the properties of the people.

For too long most professing Christians have been practicing pagans who have honored God falsely: they “with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isa. 29:13). On all such, God’s judgment is assured, and God’s judgment on our age is in increasing evidence. Judgment is neither averted nor moderated by much crying or bemoaning but only by a renewed heart, by faith and obedience. How can we expect God to honor us, or bless us, when we give our children to the state schools and surrender their minds daily to the teachings of humanism? It is sin and madness to believe so, and those who try to justify their sin only increase it.

The true believer will, like Hannah (1 Sam. 1:27–28), see children as a gift from the Lord, to be given to the Lord as long as they live.

  1. Conflict Versus Harmony

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 135, May 1991

The false idea of pluralism has a long history in America. It was basic to the first war faced by American colonists, King Philip’s War.

American Indian culture had no overarching law to provide order and harmony; it was a conflict society. Men took what they were strong enough to take, and they enslaved whom they were strong enough to enslave.

Mark Twain lied when he said of the Pilgrims and the Puritans and their coming to America that first they fell upon their knees, and then they fell upon the Indians. The colonists wanted to share with the Indians the rights of freeborn Englishmen and the freedom of life under God’s law.

On January 29, 1675, a Christian Indian, John Sassamon, was murdered and thrown into a pond. He had warned the colonists of a forthcoming attack on them. Evidence, including an eyewitness, led to the conviction and hanging of three Indians, Wampanoags. The jury had been made up of both Indians and Englishmen. With this conviction, the Indians attacked (Mary Rowlandson, The Captive, intro. Mark Ludwig [Tucson, AZ: American Eagle Publications, 1988], pp. x–xi).

To the Indians, an overarching law governing all men was alien; they believed in a pluralism where every kind of practice was permissible, if a man could so enforce his will.

Richard Weaver was right: ideas do have consequences. It has often been pointed out that armies march because of the ideas of some men unknown to most of them. Ideas seep into unlikely quarters and often influence men who profess hostility to their sources. One such idea is the conflict of interests: its great immediate source is Charles Darwin. An evolving universe marked by the struggle for survival, and the survival of the fittest, is indeed a realm “red in tooth and claw.” The concept of Darwinian evolution presupposes a universal conflict of interests. This idea replaced the Christian faith in the harmony of interests. While moral conflict exists because of the fall of man, there is no metaphysical conflict; the moral conflict is born of sin, and it is a violation of essential order. The Christian faith received classic statement in John Dryden (1631– 1700); in “A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day, 1687,” Dryden wrote in part:

From harmony, from heavenly harmony,

This universal frame began:

From harmony to harmony,

Through all the compass of the notes it ran,

The diapason closing full in man.

This once highly regarded poem is now less known; its premises run counter to the modern world and life view.

Man since Darwin has viewed life as conflict because of a radical and essential conflict of interests. Capital and labor are seen as necessary enemies; farm and city are held to have opposing interests; the generations are supposedly necessarily at war with each other; adolescence is seen as by nature a time of rebellion; races and nationalities are assumed to be natural enemies, and so on and on. Racism, a modern phenomenon, is a product of scientific theory, specifically of Darwinism. We have not mentioned another area of assumed conflict, the sexes; the “war of the sexes” is seen as inescapable.

The logic of Darwinism is a conflict society; the struggle to gain the advantage over others, to do in others before they do you in, it’s a dogeat- dog world, and survival is the chief if not the only virtue. There can be no peace in a Darwinian culture, only perpetual warfare between various groups. The rhetoric of minority and majority groups today is the rhetoric of conflict. As a result, the more we “war for peace” in any area of life and thought, the deeper the conflict becomes.

As Henry Van Til pointed out some years ago, culture is religion externalized. The culture of a conflict society sees only a deepening of its premise that conflict is basic to life and progress. The Dictionary of Sociology states in part: “Conflict arises out of the principle of limitation inherent in a finite universe. The wishes and interests of sentient beings run counter to each other, and the quality of egoism impels each party to seek to eliminate the other to the extent necessary for the satisfaction of his own desires. By analogy, the term may be extended to include the struggle with inanimate or subhuman objects (cf. struggle for existence), but in its sociological meaning all the parties involved must be human” (Charles J. Bushnell, “conflict,” in Henry Pratt Fairchild, ed., Dictionary of Sociology [New York, NY: Philosophical Library, 1944], p. 59). The premises of this definition are, first, “the principle of limitation inherent in a finite universe.” Now, Christians believe in a finite universe even more than evolutionists, but they do not see finitude as requiring conflict. Because of God’s providence, there is no necessary conflict. Humanism, however, from Plato to the present, has insisted that the world is overpopulated. If other people are necessarily at war with you for the available resources, then conflict is necessary. If, however, the all-wise God has provided resources for all if men will work to develop them, harmony is then the key.

Second, this definition sees that a “necessary” conflict of interests “impels each party to seek to eliminate the other.” This gives us a world of total warfare, whereas in the Biblical view all peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations must be converted, made members of Jesus Christ, and brought into communion and community one with another. This is why creationism is so essential to world peace; evolution presupposes a cosmic mindlessness and perpetual conflict.

Third, this conflict is not only with other peoples, and hence racism, but also with inanimate objects, and hence the humanistic presupposition that man is at war with his environment. There is a necessary link in the minds of non-Christian environmentalists between population control and abortion on the one hand, and a pagan view of the environment on the other. The belief in the conflict of interests pits man against man, and man against things. Instead of an essential and metaphysical harmony of interests, this false faith insists on an essential conflict of interests.

There is a reason for this. If the God of Scripture is recognized as the Creator and governor of all things, then all of creation has a common origin, a common meaning, and a common purpose and goal. If God be denied, then there exists only a total warfare, a total struggle for survival and domination. The result is a chaos of conflict.

Recent history gives us a telling example of this, the Vietnam War. Both the entrance and the exit of the United States into and from this war were evil. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson took us into the war with the premise that the United States could be the world’s savior, an idolatrous belief. We left the war because public opinion, in part manipulated by the New Left and its propaganda, exalted peace over all things else. Johnson like Kennedy believed in salvation by U.S. foreign policy; the enemies of the war believed in salvation by peace at any price. Both were guilty of idolatry. Recent admissions by North Vietnam General Vo Nguyen Giap indicate that about a million North Vietnamese were killed as against 58,000 American soldiers (Joseph L. Galloway, “Fatal Victory,” U.S. News and World Report, October 29, 1990, p. 32). Both pro-war and antiwar advocates in the United States began with radically humanistic premises, and the results were disastrous.

The same fallacy is true in other areas. With regard to racial problems, both segregationists and integrationists have had humanistic premises, and both courses of action have been disastrous and nonmoral or immoral. As against the Biblical requirement of conversion and communion in Christ, humanism has approached the problem with two alien premises: the necessary conflict of interests (a Darwinian belief), and a necessary equality (a premise borrowed from mathematics). The word equal does appear in our English Bible, but it is a translation of a different concept. It appears in the Greek text of 1 Peter 3:8 meaning like-minded, as in Philippians 2:20, where it is so translated. Usually, isos means the same in size or numbers; in another form, it means fairness; and, in still another, of the same age. Our English word has reference to mathematics: two plus two equals four. It posits an abstract identity which can only be applied to inanimate objects, i.e., to number, produce, and the like, but basically mathematics deals with abstractions and has relevance to abstractions. As a result, the concepts of equality and inequality can only warp human relationships. The Christian approach to people must recognize a moral division between the saved and the unsaved. Its goal must be conversion and communion. This means, not a trust in coercive legislation but in Jesus Christ and the triumph of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Both segregation and integration have been moral failures; both have created conflict, whereas Christ brings about a harmony.

There is no small dismay in the media over the rise of Islam and its growing militancy. This, however, should be no surprise to us. As Christians, we should recognize the reason for this. St. Paul set forth the basic premise of his position thus: “he is a Jew (i.e., a covenant man) which is one inwardly” (Rom. 2:29). As against this, Mohammed declared, “He is a Muslim who is one outwardly,” and the “five pillars of Islam” are all aspects of externalism (regular repetition of the creed, repetition of prescribed prayers five times daily, almsgiving, observance of the Feast of Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca). Modern science has also reduced man to externalism, to an animal status. The externalism of Islam has been vindicated and the Biblical stress on the governance of the Holy Spirit discredited by such a view of science.

In a mindless world, the fortuitous concourse of atoms means conflict, and progress through conflict, through the clash of varying forces. The premise of Hegel that life is a perpetual conflict, leading to a resolution, leading to a new conflict, is not only the Marxist premise but that of all non-Christian modern thought and action. This leads to cultural polarization and enmity. Peace attempts become at the same time war strategies. Nations seek to establish cooperating trading blocs in order to war against other traders as well as against dissenters in their own midst. The goal is peace through coercion, peace through some kind of warfare. The result is “perpetual war for perpetual peace.”

In analyzing the idea of the conflict of interests, we have been dealing with one of the two basic concepts of our time. The other has its roots in modern philosophy, beginning with Descartes and culminating in Kant and Hegel, namely, the intellectual destruction of an objective world order and the substitution of man’s autonomous mind in its place. Hegel summed this up in the belief that the rational is the real. The loss of reality in our time has its origins in this insane idea. What the intellectual elite sees as rational is hence reality! Our modern planning is in terms of the ostensible reality of what the planners declare is rational.

The Word of God and His Holy Spirit has no place in such planning, and therefore freedom is sacrificed. God’s law-word stresses the self-government of the Christian man. The basic spheres of Scripture are man, the family, the church, the school, the vocations of man, the community, and then civil government, one form of government among many. God’s law is limited to some 600 ordinances, and many of these are only enforceable by God, not by man.

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the assurance of man’s freedom, because its necessary implication is that the basic motivation and determination of man comes from within, from the heart of man’s being. Pluralism apart from Christ leads only to conflict, whereas pluralism in Christ means that our essential government comes, not from self-interest and an ugly survival-of-the-fittest warfare, but from the peace of God through Christ’s atonement, God’s law-word, and the governance of the Holy Spirit. Freedom in a secular society is another name for unending conflict. Freedom in Christ means that we are governed not by self-interest but by the grace, law, and Spirit of the Living God.

Volume II

Ecclesiology, Doctrine & Biblical Law

ECCLESIOLOGY

  1. Accreditation and Certification

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 5, July 1979

The word accreditation comes from credo, meaning I believe, and certification comes from a Latin word meaning certain and means to verify. Both words have an inescapably religious connotation. They imply a verification, a declaring that a thing is true, by the religious lord of those who seek accreditation and certification. To seek these things from the state is to declare the state to be our lord.

Is the state God’s appointed agency of accreditation and certification? Is there any warrant in Scripture for contesting the state’s claim to accredit and certify a church or Christian school? The answer to this question is urgently important. Today the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and a variety of other federal and state agencies, claim precisely that right. It is held that a church has no valid status as a church, nor a Christian school any standing or legal status as a school, until some statist agency renders its decision and gives its stamp of approval. The same is held to be true of Christian school teachers. Our answer is very important: we will either offend and anger a powerful humanistic state, or we will anger and offend the sovereign and almighty God. It can also be added that, with either decision, we will offend many men.

What say the Scriptures? When we turn to the Bible, it immediately becomes apparent that our present practice reverses God’s order. In Scripture, it is the prophetic ministry of God’s law-word which accredits or certifies, or denounces and places under a ban, all officers of state, and entire nations as well. The sovereign prerogative of accreditation and certification of both church and state is the Lord’s, and it is the calling of all God’s faithful ministers to apply the rule or canon of the accrediting, certifying law-word to all men, institutions, and nations.

The ministry of all God’s faithful servants in every age has had this focus. Elijah denied certification to Ahab, and accreditation to Israel and its people, in terms of God’s holy law. Athanasius denounced the Roman Empire and a compromising church in terms of that law-word.

The Biblical origin of the Christian ministry is the Levite. The Levites were a teaching ministry (Deut. 33:10), and the Christian pastor continues the Levitical calling, because the priestly order and sacrifice is ended. The Levites collected the tithe (Num. 18:21–28), of which one-tenth went to the priests. The rest provided for instruction, the care of the sanctuary, music, health, and, with the second tithe, welfare. The Levites taught the law throughout the nation under Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 17:7ff.), served as judges (2 Chron. 19:8ff.), and performed other services for society in general.

But the Christian ministry has another source in addition to the Levites, the prophets. The inspired, predictive role of the prophet ended in Christ; the duty of the prophet to proclaim God’s Word to church, state, and all of life remains. It was the duty of God’s prophets and Levites to declare God’s Word to all men, to reprove kings and governors, and to “accredit” or refuse to certify in terms of God’s law-word, the things of this world, including the state.

Civil government was strictly barred from invading God’s house, as witness the case of Uzziah (2 Chron. 26:16–23). It was the duty of civil authorities to protect and build up God’s house, but never to claim powers in or over it. Rulers thus called for reform, but the reformation was then entrusted to God’s chosen ministry.

Thus, in every area of life, accreditation and certification were by the Word of God, not by state, church, or man. The law-word, not man’s will, is the standard. It is a usurpation of God’s prerogative when the state claims the right to accredit and to certify either a church or a Christian school. It becomes a claim to be god on earth. Those who accept such an accreditation and certification are like the 400 false prophets who served Ahab (1 Kings 22:6–7). As Jehoshaphat rightly saw, these men were not prophets of the Lord.

Rome, of course, was ready to accredit all churches who would come before the authorities and confess that “Caesar is Lord.” The early church refused accreditation, licensure, permits, and controls, because it confessed Jesus Christ, not Caesar, as Lord.

The Puritans, of course, had election sermons on every Sunday preceding an election in civil government. Accreditation was the purpose of these sermons. Because no area of life or creation exists outside its Creator’s law, that word must be declared, in all its binding power, to every area. The election sermon was thus an accreditation sermon: it set forth the Word of God as it bore upon the issues of the day. It certified that which is righteous or just in terms of God’s Word.

There is a law-word thus in terms of which all things are judged, and there is a bar before which all things must stand. It is God’s law, and it is God’s throne, and the government is on none other shoulders than that of the Lord (Isa. 9:6). For any human agency to attempt to replace God’s law and God’s accreditation with its own is to sin, and to play god. Its test then becomes that of Ahab concerning God’s prophet, Micaiah: “I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil” (1 Kings 22:8). The servants of the Word of God are always hated by the humanists, in every age.

But, in the final analysis, and on the last day, no man stands apart from that Word and the grace it proclaims, and no man has that grace who denies the law-word of the Lord of all grace.

The redeemed of God are those who, standing in grace, believe and obey God’s every word (Matt. 4:4). That law-word is in their hands and in their hearts. As Scripture declares:

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Ps. 40:8)

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jer. 31:33)

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh. (Ezek. 11:19)

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezek. 36:26)

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. (Heb. 8:10)

John Calvin, in a famous passage, declared that “the law is a silent magistrate, and a magistrate a speaking law” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.20.14). However, as the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers (Exod. 19:6; Isa. 61:6; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6, etc.) makes clear, every man is called to be God’s walking law. The law of God is the way of holiness for the redeemed; it is written on the tables of their hearts, and it governs their being. It is only when this is so that we can love and serve the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, strength, and being, and love our neighbor as ourselves (Deut. 6:5, 10:12; 30:6; Matt. 22:37–40; Mark 12:29–31; Luke 10:27, etc.).

The Christian is the manifest grace of God, and is called to be the walking law of and witness to his Lord. This places a great responsibility upon covenant man.

God’s law assigns various duties to institutions. Civil government is thus called to be a ministry of justice, of God’s righteousness or justice (Rom. 13:1ff.), and the church is called to be the ministry of the Word, and of God’s grace and righteousness. It is a serious error to limit the doctrine of ordination and calling to institutions. St. Paul declares, “For we are his (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We are redeemed so “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:4).

The law in terms of which the redeemed of the Lord move is thus God’s law. Only this law can accredit and certify the believer. The state may legalize abortion, homosexuality, fornication, and more, but the redeemed cannot be party to such practices nor recognize any validity in such laws. “For conscience sake” (Rom. 13:5) the believer, in obedience to God, avoids rebellion, but for conscience’ sake he also obeys God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Least of all can the redeemed allow men to control that which belongs to the Lord. The church and the Christian school are not the property of the state, nor are they the property of the congregation: they are the Lord’s, and can be surrendered to no man. The pagan principle that the state is God walking on earth has a major revival in our time. In old Russia, the Tatar invaders held that all were obliged to serve the state. Later, the tsars held to the same doctrine. A confidant of Alexander I (1801–1825) said of him, “In a word, he would willingly have agreed that every man should be free, on the condition that he should do only what the Emperor wished.” Communist Russia has carried the pagan doctrine of the supremacy of the state to this logical conclusion.

In the West, however, the same doctrine has been very prevalent also, earlier in the divine right of kings, now in the doctrine of the general will and its incarnation in the state. In England, Henry VIII was part of a process going back at least to the Synod of Whitby in a.d. 664. His confiscation of church properties, and his use thereof, was an act of arrogation and blasphemy. The step preceding this act was a royal commission which indicted the church and denied it “accreditation” as the preliminary step towards confiscation. This was no new step; every tyrant who seized as much as one church first of all claimed the authority to deny that church its credentials.

The modern, twentieth-century attack on the church and the Christian school uses the same ploy. The Russian Revolution promoted the idea of corruption in the Russian church, but it loved and used the corrupt and compromising, and persecuted the faithful, as it still does.

The situation is no different in the United States. The attack is on the faithful and the uncompromising, on those who declare unequivocally, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” and who will not sacrifice what is the Lord’s to Caesar. The Reverend Levi Whisner, and Dr. Lester Roloff, and others, have been ready to surrender their freedom, and have gone to jail at no small cost to themselves, but they have refused to surrender what belongs to Jesus Christ to American caesars.

The compromising clergy are, of course, full of “good” reasons why their way is “the path of reason.” But reason is not our lord: Jesus Christ is. These compromising clergymen cannot say with Paul, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after men” (Gal. 1:11). The word Paul uses is gnorizo, meaning to certify, declare, know, understand. Paul declared that he had been faithful, not to men, but to the Lord, and he had paid a price for that faithfulness. He understood that God’s Word cannot be compromised; no man can claim rights over God, or the power to judge and accredit God’s realm.

To be a walking law means above all to be governed and to live, as our Lord declares, “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; see also Deut. 8:3; Luke 4:4). It means to be, like Elijah, “very jealous for the Lord God of hosts” (1 Kings 19:10), to guard God’s realm from the covetous hands of ungodly men. It means, as prophets and disciples saw, being “brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them” (Matt. 10:18). It means knowing the whole of God’s counsel, His law-word, in all our being; living and obeying it, and bringing men and nations into conformity to it in Christ. We accredit ourselves by the Lord’s sovereign Word, and we require all things to be accredited by it. It means denouncing the Ahabs of our day, in church, state, and school, and declaring the lordship of Jesus Christ over all things. It means, in brief, proclaiming the crown rights of Christ the King.

The Reason for the Attacks (July 1979)

One of the problems facing Christian school men, and churches, under fire from the state is the attacks from other churchmen. No matter how flagrant the attack, excuses are made for the state. When I told someone of the demands made by the IRS on a newly formed Bible church, which included giving power of attorney to the IRS, the response was, “There must be a reason.”

I have given copies of the Christian Law Association Defender, and Chalcedon materials, to many, and met with a similar response, or been told that these and other lawyers are trying to make money.

There is a reason for these attitudes: it is compromise, and it is sin. No man has the right to surrender anything which belongs to Jesus Christ to Caesar. There cannot be two masters over Christ’s domain.

Even more, instead of surrendering Christ’s realm, we must enlarge it. In the trial of a Michigan state trooper for refusing to obey an order contrary to his Christian convictions, one witness reminded the trial board that, in terms of Scripture, they are ministers of God, and will be judged as such by Him. He witnessed to the necessity for recognizing the total claims of Christ the Lord. Anything short of that is sin.

  1. The Freedom of the Church

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 16, September 1980

We are today being subjected to a steady attack on churches, Christian schools, and other Christian activities. With this assault goes an attack on the First Amendment. At the same time, when evangelical ministers and church groups call attention to serious moral problems in our political affairs, or oppose abortion or homosexuality, for example, they are widely attacked for violating the First Amendment.

It is important, therefore, to understand a basic purpose of the First Amendment. Let us remind ourselves of the text of that law:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

First of all, there is no mention of the separation of church and state. This amendment did in fact separate the federal government and the church, but not the various states and the church. In the years that followed, separation became a fact gradually in every state. This separation is a fact which I believe we must welcome. It was a necessary consequence of the amendment, but it was not its stated and primary purpose.

Second, this amendment does not separate religion and the state. Such a separation is impossible. Every law is an expression of morality or procedural thereto. Laws express moral concern. All morality is an aspect of religion. We have Buddhist morality and law, Islamic morality and law, humanistic morality and law, and so on. Every law order is an establishment of religion. What we are seeing is the progressive attempt to disestablish Christianity and to establish humanism. Our state schools are the religious establishments of humanism, and our courts, television, films, and press reflect humanism. We must avoid a church establishment, but we cannot escape a religious establishment or foundation in this country or in any country.

Third, the First Amendment, in speaking of “an establishment of religion,” was using the language of its day: it meant an established church. Robert Allen Rutland, in his study, The Birth of the Bill of Rights, 1776– 1791 (1955), called attention to the fact that the clergy of the day demanded this amendment. They were not alone.

Thus, the focus of the First Amendment is on the disestablishment of the church. We cannot understand their thinking unless we realize that the colonists, whether British, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, or anything else, had a European background. They usually had a horror of a state-imposed church. They saw serious problems in any such church. A state church easily becomes a controlled church: it is the voice of the crown rather than the voice of God. In England, first the monarch, beginning with Henry VIII, and then Parliament, was the head of the church. Americans wanted no such church.

As a matter of fact, Carl Bridenbaugh, in Mitre and Sceptre: Transatlantic Faiths, Ideas, Personalities, and Politics, 1689–1775 (1962), held that a fundamental cause of the War of Independence was the American fear of a forthcoming plan to force the Church of England and Crown-appointed bishops on all the colonies. This led to war, and also to the First Amendment.

Moreover, the colonists knew that a controlled church is very readily a corrupt church. The English church was suffering then, and had for some years, from political bishops, men whose only qualification for office was their service to the Crown, not the Lord. Only the rise of competition in the form of Methodism produced a measure of reform in the English Church.

However, the key factor was something more. A corrupt church is a silent church. The colonists were very much accustomed to a vocal church, plain-spoken in its criticism of moral and political trends. More than a few scholars have seen the origin of the War of Independence in the Great Awakening. The alarms sounded by the colonial clergy were a major factor in arousing a moral resistance among colonists. Both from the pulpit and in print, the colonial clergy played a central role in the events which led to 1776.

The British knew this. Hence their readiness during the war to burn American churches, to burn Bibles, hymnals, and church records. The colonies, one Tory said, had run off with “an American parson,” i.e., had been “seduced” by the clergy.

The purpose of the First Amendment, in requiring that the churches be disestablished, or, rather, never established in the new country, had as its purpose the protection of the freedom of the church and the school. The colonists distrusted a powerful central government. To create a federal government and to give it power to create a state church represented tyranny to them. To ensure that free religious and moral voice of judgment against all evils in state and society, they demanded the First Amendment. They wanted the prophetic voice of the church to be free to judge the federal government in terms of the Word of God. The role the prophets fulfilled in the Old Testament the church must fulfill now.

Thus, those churchmen who speak out concerning our national life and political morality are not violating the First Amendment. Instead, they are doing precisely what the founding fathers and Americans of 1781 wanted to see done, the Christian voice freely and powerfully raised against sin in high places.

George Washington, in his Farewell Address, issued on September 17, 1796, with the evils of the French Revolution in mind, warned against the idea of a secular state. There could be, he held, no separation of religion and political order, nor of religion and morality. The freedom of the church and the school (and only Christian schools existed then) were basic to his perspective.

The First Amendment is being subjected not only to misrepresentation but attack. Since World War II, the Internal Revenue Service has been actively claiming the right to establish religion. A church is supposedly not a church, unless the IRS approves. For the IRS to define and approve a church is to make itself the agency for the establishment of religion.

Moreover, recent efforts by state and federal agencies have implicit or explicit in them a very dangerous definition of the church. The Christian school, the Sunday school, and the sermon are educational and hence not religious. They are thus said to be outside the First Amendment protection, as are the church nursery, women’s guilds, and the like. The meaning of the church, and its First Amendment immunity, is reduced to a liturgical service.

It is also held that the Sixteenth Amendment has nullified the First Amendment and that churches are liable to income and other taxes. Instead of a constitutional immunity, only a statutory immunity exists, revocable at any time.

The church, however, must oppose all such efforts to limit its freedom, because they are really controls on Christ our King, and His infallible and sovereign Word. The church is an educational institution, proclaiming and teaching the Word of God. The Old Testament ministry was priestly (sacrificial), and Levitical (instructional, Deut. 33:10). The New Testament ministry is a continuation of the Levitical, and instruction of every kind is basic to its life.

It has been pointed out that the clergy of the day led in the demand for the First Amendment. They had come to see that the lordship of Jesus Christ requires a church free of all statist controls. The church must be able to speak freely and boldly in terms of the law-word of God.

All attempts to silence the Christian voice must be seen as a denial of God’s crown rights over all men. Those who try to silence the church in the name of the First Amendment are not ready to silence pornography, or anything else, save God’s Word.

The First Amendment requires freedom of speech, freedom of press, assembly, and petition. All these are related to freedom of religion. Most publications then were Christian; the church was the meeting-house, the place of assembly, petition, and free speech. It was not accidental that all five factors are linked together in the First Amendment: they were linked together in life.

They still are, in that all presuppose a faith and a conviction which demands expression and acts upon its convictions. The church cannot be silent without sin. It must speak, write, assemble, and petition in terms of the crown rights of Jesus Christ. His lordship is total and cosmic. Not only the church, but every man, every state, every school, and every aspect of life must either serve Him, or be judged by Him. He is the Lord.

The Crisis (September 1980)

There is an old folk tale about a man on board an old sailing vessel who was asked to go to the other end of the ship and give help. The ship had sprung a leak, and men were needed to man the pump and do emergency work. The man refused, saying, it wasn’t his end of the ship, and besides, he didn’t think much of the people down there, anyway!

That kind of stupidity and blindness is very much with us today. The First Amendment immunities of the church and Christian school are being breached and denied. Court cases are being used to establish new legal precedents to spell the destruction of Christian institutions. In the face of this, there is an unwillingness on the part of many to get involved because they disagree with the persecuted group. However, if a court case destroys the First Amendment’s meaning, all religious groups are involved. Whether the case involves a Christian or a non-Christian group, or an orthodox or an heretical group, if it sets a legal precedent to serve the needs of our humanistic statists, all of us will suffer.

Yet, too often, Protestants and Catholics will not work together; Arminians and Calvinists will not help one another; neither will work with charismatic churches, who are also divided; none will work together with heretics, or non-Christian groups.

No such action means ecumenicism; it simply means a common legal threat, and action against it. It means an affirmation that freedom and conversion, not tyranny and coercion, are basic to our faith.

It does not involve any approval of the “Moonies” to oppose their kidnapping and deprogramming. To give assent to such deprogramming is to open the door to the deprogramming of converts to Christ, and there are hints of this already.

In the face of this common threat to all, the threat of totalitarian humanism, it is distressing to see the narrow-mindedness of some. I have been a witness at a number of trials. It has been amazing to me to receive letters denouncing me for appearing in behalf of a person or group, because they were supposedly the “wrong” kind of Baptist! Even worse are those “spiritually-minded” people who favor surrender to resistance and insist on calling it holiness.

It has been heartening in a few cases to see diverse groups work together. None of this led to ecumenicism; it only led to a wiser defense.

Moreover, too often churchmen assume that the Biblical requirement of separation means separation from Christians who disagree with us. In Scripture, we are told not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14–18), a very different thing. What is condemned by Paul is an unequal or subservient yoking, and a belief that there is a common ground between believers and unbelievers, in themselves. To face an enemy on the shores of our country, or in our courts, does not uphold a common religious faith but simply deals with a threat to one and all.

  1. Baptism and Citizenship

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 37, February 1983

Churchmen have long discussed, debated, and analyzed the meaning of baptism in terms of the church. They have called attention to its meaning in terms of regeneration, purification, and more. All these emphases are important, and it is not our intention to displace or downgrade them in calling attention to another and central meaning.

Baptism is an act of citizenship. In the early church, it was not only an act of citizenship in Christ’s Kingdom, but it involved what was in the eyes of the Roman Empire a treasonable affirmation. The New Testament tells us that baptism is “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16; 19:5; 1 Cor. 6:11). The name stands for the person, authority, and power, so that baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus is into citizenship or membership in His person, authority, and power, and hence Christians face the world as citizens of the Kingdom of God and as ambassadors thereof.

In the early church, Christians faced the requirement of Rome to be a licensed religion, with an imperial certificate in their meeting place. To gain that certificate meant an affirmation of subjection to the Empire; the required confession was, “Caesar is Lord.” As Polycarp faced martyrdom for refusing that confession, the imperial magistrate, doing his best to persuade the aged Christian, asked him, “What harm is there in saying Caesar is Lord?” As the historian J. N. D. Kelly commented, “The acclamation Kurios Kaiser would seem to have been a popular one in the civic cult of the Roman empire, and Christians were no doubt conscious of the implicit denial of it contained in their own Kurios Iesous” (Early Christian Creeds, p. 15). In fact, the confession, Jesus Christ is Lord, was the baptismal confession of the early church (Acts 8:36–38; Phil. 2:9–11).

Rome boasted of being the conqueror of the world, and its emperors were gods. The early church countered this. 1 John 4:15 declares, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” Every believer was given a higher status than the emperor! As against the emperor as the world conqueror, John declares, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5). Since one meaning of Lord is God, the implications of the baptismal confession are obvious. Every believer confessed a greater and higher citizenship in a Kingdom which would overcome and outlast all others. In terms of his faith, he held, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). The joy of Pentecost is inseparable from this faith. So intense was this faith in the Lord and subjection to the great King of kings, that Ignatius wrote in a letter (Trall. 9), “Be deaf when anyone speaks to you apart from Jesus Christ.” The horror of Rome in facing these Christians can be seen in part by the irritation of modern statists as they face American Christians on trial for refusing statist controls.

Rome recognized no power and no loyalty beyond itself. Even the gods of Rome were made gods by resolution of the Senate and were thus subordinate to the Empire. The idea of a power greater than and over the Roman Empire was anathema. This, however, was precisely the faith of the early church. Jesus Christ, they held, is the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15). It is difficult to imagine a faith which was more an affront to Rome. Christians declared to one and all that Jesus Christ is the universal and cosmic Lord. He is Lord not only over the church, the individual, and the family, but over the state, the arts and sciences, economics, education, and all things else. All things must either serve Christ the Lord or be judged by Him. So great is His overlordship, that He will not only judge all things in time as lord and ruler, but, at the last, in the general resurrection of the dead, “he will judge the world” (Acts 17:31). When Paul spoke of this, the Athenians on Mars Hill turned away; the idea of such a lord was too much for them.

It should now be apparent what baptism meant to the early church, and to Rome. It was an act of membership, of citizenship, in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the public declaration of a higher loyalty and a higher obedience. It was baptism into Christ and His Kingdom, of which the local church was a visible outpost. It is thus a seriously misplaced emphasis to speak of being baptized into the church; this is a secondary aspect. Baptism is essentially into Christ and His Kingdom. After baptism, a person was regarded as being “in Christ,” or “in the Lord.”

Citizenship in the Roman Empire, in the New Testament era, was a privilege highly prized; most people were subjects, not citizens. When the Roman chief captain in Jerusalem learned that Paul was a Roman citizen, he said, “With a great sum obtained I this freedom” (i.e., Roman citizenship), and Paul answered, “But I was free born” (i.e., born a citizen, Acts 22:28). To lay hands on a Roman citizen could be dangerous: he was a privileged person. But now these Christians were claiming a higher citizenship, with greater powers, and one which was open to every man!

Paul in Philippians 3:20 declares, “For our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word conversation is a translation for the Greek politeuma which means citizenship or commonwealth. The word conversation is an aspect of its meaning. Members of a family have a common life, conversation, and citizenship. To be a citizen of heaven and the Kingdom of God is to have a conversation with the Lord and with fellow members in Him, to be members of Him and of one another, and to be together a commonwealth and kingdom and citizens thereof.

Hence, the call to baptism is a call to regeneration and to citizenship in Christ and His Kingdom. Peter in Acts 2:38 declares, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ . . .Name meant person. To be baptized into the name of Jesus means to be baptized into His body, His life, into citizenship and membership in His Kingdom.

This tells us, too, what it meant to confess “Caesar is Lord,” Kurios Kaisar. It meant confessing that Caesar is god, and that our highest allegiance is to Caesar. This is a confession which some pastors and churches are making; in so doing, they are implicitly denying that Jesus Christ is their Lord. Then, and until recently, the invocation of a name was the invocation of one’s lord. We have an echo of this in the old expression, “Open, in the name of the law,” i.e., in the name of the ruling power. To invoke the name was to swear allegiance to one’s king and Lord. It also invoked aid and protection, and the king’s servants could claim the immunities of the king by declaring that they acted in the name of the king. Hence, the Christian prays in Jesus’ name, the name of power at the throne; he calls himself a Christian and so claims the protection of the name and citizenship in the Lord’s Kingdom.

Truly to say that “Jesus Christ is Lord,” is to reveal our faithfulness and obedience to Him. It means that our conversation or citizenship is manifest in all our being in words, thought, and deed. Moreover, as Paul makes clear, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3); it is the revelation of the power of the Kingdom in and through him. The life of all such is a manifestation of the Lord, and they are like men “having his (the Lamb’s) Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). The baptized confessed their citizenship in the name, in the Lord, in all their being.

Citizenship requires allegiance and loyalty, faithfulness to the lord of the realm, who in turn confesses, knows, and protects them. Paul thus says, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19). The Didache, before giving instructions about baptism, spoke at length of the two ways, the way of obedience to the every word of God (Matt. 4:4), the way of life, as against the way of death, and then said: “Now concerning baptism: Baptize as follows, when you have rehearsed the aforesaid teaching.” In other words, baptism is into a way of life as set forth in the Person of Christ and the righteousness of God, His law. Peter speaks of this in 1 Peter 3:21, when he writes, baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,” i.e., not merely an external cleansing of the body like a bath, but a new life in Christ, “the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Christ having made atonement for us, gives us also the new life of the resurrection; therefore, as the faithful and obedient people of the Lord, we have a good conscience, because we manifest God’s righteousness as set forth in his law-word and thereby follow Christ as members of His new humanity.

The old humanity of the first Adam has a common life, conversation, and citizenship in sin and death. The new humanity of the last Adam has a common life, conversation, and citizenship in Jesus Christ. The rulers of the old humanity recognize only one loyalty and one citizenship, to themselves. All men, says John, are summoned by this old world power to acknowledge its power and to be marked or branded as the possession of this humanistic power. This old power seeks total control over humanity, an exclusive control, to the point that “no man might buy or sell,” or have a church or Christian school, except under its control (Rev. 13:16–18).

However, the early church saw all men as God’s creation and therefore under God and His law, and hence under God’s judgment. For them, the Word of God was clear on this matter: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). Hence, says John, the rejoicing in heaven: the triumph of the Lord is assured.

This means that all Christians are by baptism members of Christ and citizens of the Kingdom of God; they are therefore “more than conquerors” in Christ (Rom. 8:37).

In antiquity, men wore the garb of their rank, i.e., their clothing was a badge indicating who they were, and what their status was. Sumptuary laws required the same kind of identification well into the modern era and made it illegal for a man or woman to dress above his rank. St. Paul has an amazing reference to this practice. In Galatians 3:27, he writes, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This means we wear the marks of membership, citizenship, in the royal household of the King of kings and Lord of lords! The parable of the wedding feast tells us the same thing (Matt. 22:1–14). No man has any place in the royal court unless he is one who puts on the raiment of the king, i.e., is a member of the family of the king in word, thought, and deed. Baptism is thus the act of citizenship, of membership.

As citizens of the great Kingdom of God, we pay our tax, the tithe, to the king and His work, and, above and over the tax, we bring our gifts and offerings. Because we belong to the king, our children too must be offered to Him, as His to take and use with us, and this is the true meaning of infant circumcision and then baptism. As citizens of the Lord’s realm, we place all other allegiances under our duty to the Lord. Thus, we obey rulers in civil government, not because they require it, but because the Lord requires it and only as far as His Word permits. Our obedience is thus not for the state’s sake, but “for conscience sake” (Rom. 13:5), as a part of our baptismal requirement of obedience unto “a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet. 3:21).

As we have seen, in antiquity, very few men were citizens of a country. Only a privileged few had that status, and the power and wealth that marked citizenship. Paul tells us that the mark of baptism is the gift of the Spirit and all the wealth and power which the king gives to the royal family. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles” (1 Cor. 12:13). So great was the early Christian sense of wealth, power, and joy in their Savior-King that Paul could say to King Agrippa, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds (or chains)” (Acts 26:29)! It was this recognition of power that made the early Christians “more than conquerors.” Only the same faith and citizenship can triumph today.

  1. Heretical Baptism

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 199, April 1996

By the third century a.d., baptism had become a subject of bitter controversy, and yet, curiously enough, both sides were commonly intensely orthodox in their intentions. The main area of dissent was over the baptizers: could one hold that baptism by a heretical clergyman was valid? Should children baptized by a man who was later revealed to be a heretic be rebaptized? On what did the validity of baptism depend?

Tertullian dealt with this issue in On Baptism, chapter 15. Heretics have no true fellowship with us, he stated, and we do not have the same God nor the same Christ. Because their baptism seems the same as ours does not make it valid, because it is not the same.

The Roman bishop, Stephen (a.d. 253–257) took the opposite view. For him, baptisms by heretics were valid if they were in the name of Jesus Christ, or, in the name of the Trinity. Cyprian took a similar view, while not sacramental in his doctrine as was Stephen. Protestants have mainly taken the same view, that baptism does not depend on the man performing it but on the validity of the act, i.e., in the name of the triune God. The Baptists have denied the validity of any other form of baptism than immersion. For most Baptists also, baptism is not, as with some, a regeneration ordinance but rather a sign that regeneration or conversion has already taken place, and baptism is a public witness of that fact.

Since some churches, including Protestant bodies, have held to baptismal regeneration, this Baptist position has had an obvious strength. Of its weakness, we will see more later.

The view of Tertullian had a serious weakness and fallacy, because the validity of baptism was made to depend upon a man, a clergyman, and not God. The implications were serious. If church rites, ceremonies, or ordinances could be invalidated if the man performing them were later shown to be a heretic, then marriages performed by such a clergyman were invalid also, and the children born thereof were bastards! To make the validity depend on man was to undercut God’s work. It was one thing for an avowed heretic, for example, to perform a service with pagan forms and meaning, another for the service to be held in orthodox fashion. Who could know the mind of the man presiding at baptism, communion, or at a wedding? And who is efficacious here, God or man?

As a result, in virtually all circles, the validity of ordinances rests on God, and the faithful use of Biblical and trinitarian forms.

This whole issue is important now precisely because theological ignorance has led to a serious loss of awareness and discernment.

Another area of unclear thinking has had to do with baptism and salvation. Who regenerates man? The answer is obvious: God does. Does the person regenerated have to be old enough to understand, or can God regenerate us as little children? Obviously, God can do anything. If God’s election can be evident in a child, what does baptism signify? Some hold to baptismal regeneration, others to regeneration as preceding baptism. But baptism has been seen also as giving a child or one’s mature self to the Lord and invoking His reign in one’s life. Infant baptism is then a surrender of the child to God. Hannah took the little boy Samuel to Eli, saying, this child was given to me by the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be given to the Lord (1 Sam. 1:28). We are God’s property, His possession, and, in baptism we give our children and ourselves to the Lord. We are not our own: we are the Lord’s, and, in baptism, we acknowledge His ownership of ourselves and of our children. In giving ourselves to the Lord, we give Him all that we have and are, so that we are now committed to His use and service.

We are no longer our own possession but the Lord’s, and this means that baptism covers us, our children, our house, farm, or business, because we cannot surrender our lives and withhold anything else.

The church’s earliest baptismal confession, the ancient records indicate, was taken from Philippians 2:9–11, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” A lord, sovereign, or God, for such is the meaning of kurios, is total owner and controller of us, and baptism means that God is now our Lord, our owner. Nothing can be withheld from Him.

Disagreements over the form and age of baptism have obscured its lordship connotation. To be baptized means that we are not our own, for we have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19–20).

We have too long stressed the forms and forgotten that baptism testifies to our ownership by the Lord Jesus Christ. The greatest heresy is to overlook His ownership.

  1. Sin, Confession, and Dominion

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 34, October 1982

By early summer of 1982, it was clear that the feminist equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution was dead. The movement perished in part because of its own excesses. These excesses were born out of the mythology of modern man and man’s view of himself as a victim rather than a sinner. Of course, ever since Adam and Eve, people have chosen to plead an innocence born of environmental premises. Adam and Eve both pleaded victimization; their own hearts were good, but the environment led them astray. When the women’s liberation movement made half the human race into victims and the other half into oppressors, it pushed the myth too far. One woman, in an impassioned book, portrayed all men at heart as rapists. Sadly, some clergymen, in reviewing the work, praised it; one wonders at their mentality, and certainly their womenfolk should! In another highly praised book, another feminist wrote, “When a female child is passed from lap to lap so that all the males in the room (father, brother, acquaintance) can get a hard-on, it is the helpless mother standing there and looking on that creates the sense of shame and guilt in the child.” Prestigious publications praised this garbage, but attitudes like this have helped weaken the old foundations of humanistic thought which has made us all into victims and also all into oppressors. If we are male or female, we victimize sometime. If we are parents, we warp children. If we are rich, middle class, or poor, we somehow are responsible for the evils of our time.

Responsibility, denied by environmentalism, has a habit of reappearing! We may be victims of our environment, but, because we are someone else’s environment, we are guilty, not for our own sins, but for someone else’s sins! This places us in an ugly predicament; our own sins, we can do something about, but we cannot do much about the sins of a man down the road.

The doctrine of the conflict of interests (and Darwinism) has greatly increased the problem. Class (or race, or religious, or social) warfare is assumed to be basic to the human situation. The “superior” group is then by definition the oppressing group. If you are rich, you are by common assumption the oppressor of the poor. If you are white, you are racist; if you are a male, you are guilty of sexism, and so on and on.

But sin is common to all of us. Marx portrayed the capitalist as the oppressor of the workingman, and the debaucher of the working-girl. Of course, this did not keep Marx, the socialist, from debauching his wife’s maid, nor modern socialists from doing the same. Women executives can be as guilty of sexism as men, and as zealous in their pursuit of underlings.

Moreover, the plain fact is that maids have often seduced their masters or their master’s son, no less than masters have seduced maids. Sin is not a property belonging to any race or class, nor is virtue.

We have long been subjected to the myth of the innocent or oppressed class. Films and television have treated us ad nauseam with tales of whores with hearts of gold. For film writers, it would seem that the one qualification for virtue is to have no virtue. We are shown a world of sorry victims who are the casualties of life, having been exploited by someone.

It is at this point that modern thought is meeting with disaster. It denies the Biblical doctrine of sin for a concept of an evil environment. We are all victims, but, because we are all somebody’s environment, we are all an evil force which needs bulldozing out of the way. Out of such an impasse, men see no escape.

For some years now, we have seen a growing disaffection and distaste for modern thought on the part of the very children of our modern leaders. The student rebels of the 1960s came largely from liberal and permissive homes; they were indeed the children of the establishment.

The rebellion of the 1960s has given way to cynicism and indifference. There is a dropping out into drugs, liquor, or simple existence without relevance. I talked briefly in the past year or so with the son of a prominent father, whose mother is also a part of the intellectual community. His parents were both dismayed, he said, because he had quit the university, after less than two years, to take a job. When I asked him why, he described the university as “just plain s—t. All they do is to lay a guilt trip on you.” This young man was very much a part of the modern culture in his habits and tastes, but he had broken with the essence of modernism, its doctrine of man as victim. When he saw his parents, he loved to offend them, by his own admission, by ridiculing their belief in the innocence of minority groups, unions, or anything else he could think of, not out of conviction but out of contempt for the modern myth.

The homosexuals and the feminists have both exploited the myth, and both are beginning to see the hints of its decline and even backlash.

David, in Psalm 8:4, asks the question of God, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” To be mindful in Hebrew means to think well of, to consider favorably. In essence, mindfulness has a religious root. God is mindful of man, because, first, man is His creation, made in His own image, for righteousness, knowledge, holiness, and dominion. Second, God is mindful of man, because He has given man a great calling, the task of subduing the earth, and of exercising dominion over it (Gen. 1:26–28). For the performance of this task, God has crowned man “with glory and honour” (Ps. 8:5) and has placed all things implicitly under man.

At least from Nietzsche to Stalin and the present, a major strand of humanism has seen man merely as manure for the creation of the future superman or communistic man, or the Great Society. Virtually all humanism has seen man as either good or as neutral in his moral nature, and hence as a victim of God or the environment. This view of man is now in decay. Freud rightly saw his role as critical in the destruction of the Enlightenment’s optimistic view of man. Man for Freud is a product of his unconscious, and the unconscious is made up of the id, the anarchistic pleasure principle, man’s will to live; of the ego, the reality principle and the will to death; and the superego, the teachings and effects of the immediate environment. The id and ego represent the past environment. Freud saw little hope for man in escaping from his past. While some of Freud’s ideas are now under attack, his doctrine of man essentially remains in force, and it is contributing to the decay of the world of humanism.

In answer to the question, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him,” the modern world is answering that it is mindful of ideal man, the man of its imagined future. It is not mindful of independent man, Christian man, resisting man, or any man who refuses to bow down to the state. The modern state says, in effect, be a victim, and we will love you, and care for you.

But man today is seeing only the breakdown of the humanist order. In a play of 1967, The Hawk, a product of the experimental theater, the “Hawk” is a heroin peddler with an insatiable lust for victims. The Hawk’s litany is a simple one: he is an animal; he “kills” because he is hungry; whatever happens has no moral meaning; we do what by nature we are impelled to do. The world of The Hawk is beyond good and evil, beyond morality. It is a world in which all men are victims of their own nature, and their nature is a product of the past. In 1970, Michael Novak, in The Experience of Nothingness, said that the fundamental human question is, “Granted that I must die, how shall I live?” (p. 48). To this question, the modern mind has no answer. In fact, at that time Novak himself could only say that there is no self over and apart from the world, only a self in tension with the world and a part of it, so that, better than speaking of the self, we should speak instead of “a conscious world” or “a horizon” (p. 55). Ethics, instead of being God’s commandment, was for Novak at that time simply man’s “invention” or “creation,” man’s “possibility” (p. 79).

For such opinions, men pay a price, or, in Seon Manley’s apt sentence, “we pay for dreams.” And dreams are broken by reality.

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” has been answered increasingly with a rejection of mindfulness. Men are not even mindful of themselves, and suicidal habits are prevalent. To blunt one’s mind with drugs or marijuana is certainly a blatant example of unmindfulness. Man as victim cannot confess sin; he can only indulge in self-pity.

On the other hand, in the Bible, we have a different view. In Joshua 7:19, Joshua tells Achan, the sinner, “My son, give, I pray thee, glory unto the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him.” The word confession in the Hebrew is todah, which means confession and praise. Thus, when Joshua asks Achan to confess his sins, which carried a death penalty, he was also asking him to praise God. This gives us a glimpse into a radically different world than that of twentieth-century man, for whom confession means essentially self-abasement and humiliation. In the Bible, the confession of sin is a major step in the restoration of order, God’s order, and it is thus a means toward praising God. The church of our day has lost the meaning of confession.

A victim cannot make confession. A man created to be a priest, prophet, and king in Christ finds in confession his restoration into a royal estate and a great calling.

“Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God,” according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 14. Confession is the first step towards restoration into our God-appointed status and dominion. It is the recognition that we are not victims but sinners, and we are sinners because we have departed from and rebelled against God’s mandate and calling.

There are indications that, in earlier centuries of the Christian era, monarchs, before their coronation, had to make confession. However falsely done by many kings, its purpose was to remind them that all men are judged by God’s law, and the praise of God begins with our confession of sins, and our submission to God’s law order. It is God’s law order which alone can exalt human society and make it joyful and triumphant.

David, after asking, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” goes on to say: “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (Ps. 8:6). The conclusion of true confession is dominion. The restored man as king exercises dominion over every area of life and thought and brings all things into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

The myth of victimization is being shattered. Its own advocates, by pushing it to its logical limits, have exposed its absurdities. It is a myth that has failed, and it is now dying.

This, however, is not enough. Clearing the ground of a tottering structure is a need, but it does not erect a new building. What is now needed is a strong and forthright emphasis on Christian Reconstruction, on dominion man and his mandate to conquer every area of life and thought for Christ, and on the certainty of victory. For victims, there is no victory. For confessors of the Name, victory is inescapable, because God the Lord remains forever king over all creation. Then let us be joyful, let the earth be glad “before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth” (Ps. 96:13).

  1. Confessing Other People’s Sins[3]

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 137, June 1991

It would seem that in some circles today, Christian and humanistic, true confession means to many “confessing” other people’s sins. For some, it is a mark of holiness to be able to “confess” their spouse’s, pastor’s, neighbor’s or employer’s sins — if sins they be.

A very popular form of this is to “confess” the sins of one’s parents. All too many young men and women feel cheated by life because their parents represent something less than perfection; it does not occur to them that it is their parents who have the surer grounds for complaints. Too many school counselors encourage students to complain about their parents, a most ungodly procedure. In the 1930s, I did some practice teaching at a prestigious high school. I was shown the students’ records as compiled by staff counselors of the “advanced” school and encouraged to familiarize myself with the records of those in my class. I looked at one or two records of students whose families I knew; one of them was a professor of national renown, a gracious scholar, a kindly man, one who regularly had groups of students in his home and who helped and encouraged them in their careers. Although this professor was not a Christian and was politically a liberal, he reflected the manners, discipline, morality, and standards of an old-fashioned Christian family. The counselor’s “report” on this professor was libelous to the extreme; he was classified as a reactionary and as an unfit father. Had he been anything other than a distinguished scholar, the counselor would have recommended some kind of action against him. (The boy grew up to be a happy and successful man.)

Students were encouraged to discuss their family “problems,” by which was meant whatever they thought was wrong with their parents. This was good training in phariseeism, and it was an incentive to self-righteousness. With all too many psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and pastors, “good” counseling too often means “confessing” other people’s sins, especially our parents’. All this has fostered an evil generation.

Such false confession marks individuals, and also nationalities and races. We have developed professional finger pointers who make a life’s work of “confessing” the sins of other peoples. Thus, many whites find it easy to “confess” the sins of blacks, Asiatics, Indians, and others. There are enough offenders out there to make it easy to do so. But as Christians we must believe that grace and growth in sanctification come from confessing our own sins. The Lord God nowhere pronounces forgiveness or a blessing on anyone confessing someone else’s sins.

African-Americans in recent years have also become masters of such pharisaic confessions. To hear some talk, all evil was born with the white man, and blacks have only been victims. One wonderful pastor of a large black congregation with many black university professors as members, had his pastorate terminated for calling attention to African American sins, including welfarism. The congregation wanted to hear about sins, but not their own.

In the 1930s, as a student, I worked part time in an antique jewelry store, as an errand boy, doing cleaning work, and also sales with “minor” customers (i.e., not the wealthy, well-known persons). Occasionally, another jeweler, an elderly Jew, would come in to chat with the owner, an old friend and a Florentine. The old man was a kindly person and a good storyteller who often chatted with me. On one occasion, in discussing his childhood in old San Francisco, he described his fights with Irish and Italian boys, who, in the verbal assaults, called him a “Christ-killer.” The truth was, he said, getting somewhat emotional, he had nothing to do with the killing of someone he had never seen; the truth was, he said earnestly, Christians were “Jew-killers,” and he cited medieval incidents! I started to tell him two things: first, that my people were being killed by Turks in those medieval centuries, and, second, if today’s Jews are not Christ-killers, neither are today’s Christians Jew-killers! He was guilty of the same fallacy. My Italian boss told me to keep quiet, turned the conversation into a humorous story, and a friendly parting followed. But after the man left, my boss said sadly, he’s a good man, but Jews will never admit they are Christ-killers! Confessing other people’s sins, real or unreal, is a common and an international habit.

In recent years, American Indians have learned this art of false confession and practice it widely.

On the ecclesiastical scene, such confessions are a well-practiced art. In this century, all the churches are so deeply involved in a variety of heresies, immoralities, offenses, and sins that they all need to be deeply in prayer and self-confession, not in mutual recriminations. Careful theological analyses and critiques are one thing, when accompanied by a careful statement of God’s enscriptured truth, but cheap “virtue” gained by “confessing” someone else’s sins is another matter, a sinful one.

Counseling today stresses such false confessions. For example, a man, irritated over a minor problem, provoked his boss into firing him. He wanted an excuse to feel sorry for himself, and this was a regular pattern with him. A very capable man, he went from job to job, soon angry with his superiors and creating incidents which led to his discharge. His wife, sick with shingles from his job migrations and tantrums, went to bed, unable to take his drunken ranting. She awoke hearing her daughter screaming because of her father’s attempted molestation. She filed for divorce. The pastor’s questions were motivated by his “no-divorce” policy; he insisted that she must have done something to “provoke” her husband into such behavior! Had she, he inquired, “delicately,” he thought, kept her legs crossed when he needed her? She, not he, was disciplined by the church. She was told that she had no grounds for divorce.

Unusual? Unhappily, no. The pastor had not asked the husband to confess his sins; he had made no attempt to examine the facts carefully; he was “saving” a marriage. The husband had “admitted” his offense on questioning, but he had blamed his ex-boss for his drunkenness, and his wife for “nagging” him; he saw himself as a victim. He had “confessed” his ex-employer’s “sin” and his wife’s “sin” as justification for a “misstep” that he said he regretted and knew was wrong. But if we plead extenuating circumstances for sin, we have not confessed sin. The confession of the old Office of Compline is sadly forgotten in our time:

I confess to God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and before all the company of heaven, that I have sinned, in thought, word and deed, through my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault: wherefore I pray Almighty God to have mercy upon me, to forgive me all my sins, and to make clean my heart within me.

The primary task of the pastor-counselor is not to preserve the marriage, not to break it up, but to ascertain what the sin is, whose it is, whether or not there is repentance, and thereby to enable the man and woman to see their problem more clearly. Sin and salvation must be his primary concerns. The fact that both the man and the woman are church members is no assurance of their salvation.

Similarly, in counseling in nonmarital problems, there is a certainty of further dissension unless true confession and restitution have primacy. Christians do have problems, but not all people in churches are Christians.

Confessing other people’s sins has become the essence of too much counseling. It is too often equated with an efficient ministry! The results are deadly. “Good” church people have become masters at whining and complaining, and “confessing” the sins of others. Some prospective employers are now investigating the complaining habits of job applicants. I have heard of several men who were regarded as the best qualified by far for a job opening but were passed over when their habit of talking against present and past employers became known. After all, if a man is ready to complain freely to one and all about present and past employers, it is reasonable to assume that he will complain about the next one!

The church is derelict in these matters. I recall that some years ago, high among the list of favorite Bible verses of many people were the following:

Be careful (or, anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6–7)

I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Phil. 4:11)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. (1 Tim. 6:6–8)

Many more such verses can be cited. I grew up knowing people who had survived wars, massacres, and revolution by these verses, when what they had we now would not call fit food or raiment. When they had the opportunity, they became the backbone of society, free men and women who were builders and a thankful people. They confessed Christ, and they confessed their own sins. One of my dearest memories is of a hardworking woman who had known a full complement of sorrows. She was always a happy woman, though twice widowed by massacres and barely surviving famine. Although not a Catholic, her well-worn prayer beads were commonly in hand, one round of prayers to confess her sins and shortcomings, and another to thank God for His grace, mercy, and blessings. It is impossible for me to think of her, my grandmother, without joy and gratitude. She left nothing when she died except a rich heritage of faith, and a godly confession.

The Lord God will give you neither absolution nor grace for confessing other people’s sins. Begin and end with your own, or face His judgment.

  1. The Church as Function

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 97, May 1988

The church began its history in the Roman Empire, in the midst of a Greco-Roman culture. Jerusalem itself reflected that fact and was richly subsidized by the emperors because of its strategic importance. Keeping Judea peaceful and happy was a basic policy. Judea’s failure to appreciate its “privileges” led to the intensity of Roman vengeance during and after the war of a.d. 66–70.

The church was both influenced by that Greco-Roman culture and also hostile to it. Herbert B. Workman, in Persecution in the Early Church (1906), noted: “By Roman theory the State was the one society which must engross every interest of its subjects, religious, social, political, humanitarian, with the one possible exception of the family. There was no room in Roman law for the existence, much less the development on its own lines of organic growth, of any corporation or society which did not recognize itself from the first as a mere department or auxiliary of the State. The State was all and in all, the one organism with a life of its own. Such a theory the Church, as the living kingdom of Jesus, could not possibly accept in either the first century or the twentieth.” Many churchmen, then as now, tried to accommodate themselves to the sovereignty of the state or emperor rather than Christ. They were willing to confess, “Caesar is lord.” The church in part was preserved from absorption by Roman persecution. The intransigent, uncompromising Christians preserved the church by their refusal to compromise.

All the same, however, some things were absorbed, i.e., Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, asceticism, and the like. An important borrowing from Rome was organization and bureaucratization. The church was in a very real sense a continuation of the synagogue, and in the Greek text of James 2:2, the word translated as assembly is actually synagogue.

The church, unlike the synagogue, was not only an Hebraic organization, but it was essentially an organic body, a corporation: the body of Christ. Now the members of a body (i.e., hands, feet, etc.) do not hold offices; they have functions. The words translated as office in the New Testament make this clear. For Romans 11:13 and 1 Timothy 3:10, 13, the word used is diakonia in Romans and diakoneo in Timothy. The word, in English as deacon, means a servant, service; it refers to a function. In Romans 12:4, office in the Greek is praxis, function. In 1 Timothy 3:1, it is episkope, and its meaning is supervision or inspection to give relief or help. In Hebrews 7:5, the reference is to the Old Testament priesthood, hierateia, and refers to the sacerdotal function.

Thus, what we call church offices are in reality functions of the body of Christ in this world. This fact is very important. Offices lead to a bureaucracy and a ruling class, whereas functions keep a body alive.

In the early church also, we have no evidence of what is commonplace today, regular, stated bureaucratic meetings of presbyteries, synods, councils, bishops, etc. Instead, beginning with the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, the meetings were called to resolve a problem or meet a need. They were functional meetings, not organizational; they were aspects of the life of a body, not of a bureaucratic organization. They exercised no coercive power, but they did formulate questions and answers pertaining to faith and morals carefully and precisely.

Both Eastern and Western churches, and, in the West, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Anabaptism, have developed great and powerful bureaucracies which impede the life of the church. Both church and state, and especially the state, suffer badly from bureaucratization and consequent constipation in their life. As a result, in the United States, many Protestants and Catholics have some home study groups which bring new life to their faith. In Edinburgh, Scotland, I found a remarkable charismatic church; it had purchased a large stone church closed by the Presbyterians and was the center of extensive ministries. But it had no membership list! Fearful of bureaucratic strangulation, it was keeping the church together as a faith bond in the Spirit rather than as an institution. While it is not necessary to go to such a length, clearly a corrective to emphasize function and life is urgently needed.

One of the consequences of bureaucratization in the church is the rise of the star system. This is certainly true also in other spheres, especially the state. People vote for presidents in terms of their “image” projection, not their faith and life, not their action. Most of the presidents of the earlier years of the United States would never be elected today. Lincoln is liked in retrospect. His high pitched voice, carelessness in dress, and much more, would today finish him after one television appearance.

The importance of the star system is necessary to understand. People want the star to epitomize what they want, or would like to be. They identify with the image he projects. Thus, some people feel that a prominent political leader, or a religious leader, is “entitled” to moral lapses because of his importance. In earlier times, such lapses were called the royal prerogative. The star must be the expression of the popular or common will, the general will.

In the church in the United States, the star system set in soon after churches began to move on the one hand into Unitarianism, and on the other, into Arminian revivalism. People gravitated towards powerful pulpiteers on both sides of the fence. The churches then began to take their life from the star: a star could bring in hundreds and even thousands of people, lead to a great church complex, attract people and money, and give the members the vicarious feeling of being part of a great church. This still is very, very much with us. Some people will simply say, “I want a church where the action is.” By action, they mean crowds; the result is often a surrogate “Christianity,” not a living faith.

The result, too, is spectator “Christianity,” a star performing before hundreds and thousands. The mandate to believers in both numerically large churches as well as small is then reduced to being good spectators and contributors. For the surrogate “Christian,” someone else expresses the faith and does the work. We have then what General William Booth called mummified church members.

The star system has had its shipwrecked stars over the centuries, men like Savonarola, Henry Ward Beecher, and others of more recent years, and the end is not yet. The star system tends to give, not life, but a form of life. As Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:5, some have the form of godliness but not the power thereof. Instead, what the stars usually have is the power of money.

Paul tells us that we are “the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15). Jesus Christ declares that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Trinity is never identified as the Great Bureaucracy but as life, the author of life, and more. For the church to identify itself in terms of its bureaucracy is a sorry fact.

If the church indeed is the body of Christ, it must function as if it is alive. A dead church is a nonfunctioning church; it is salt which has lost its savor and is fit only to be cast out and trodden under foot by men (Matt. 5:13).

This is a grim possibility in our time. We cannot say that in all places the church today is dead, but in too many areas it is badly arthritic and feeble. Christ, the Lord of life, commands us, saying, “I say unto thee, arise!”

  1. Proxy Religion

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 234

This paper was never published, but was originally numbered as No. 76, 1986

It is an interesting fact that St. Patrick was almost completely unknown on the continent in his own lifetime, and for centuries afterward. Even more, he was almost completely forgotten in Ireland itself. He was not a great thinker; he was a man of one book, the Bible. Although insignificant in his own day, he is now more widely known than Jerome, Augustine, and Constantine the Great. He was a missionary eager to convert the heathen Irish, not simply to serve the Irish Christians. Having been captured and enslaved as a young man, he was concerned with ransoming captured and enslaved Christians, and relieving the poor. In the Mediterranean areas, many famous hermits and ascetics attracted international notice and pilgrimages. As far as we know, no Christians of his day thought Patrick was worth a pilgrimage or special attention.

The simple fact is that in his day St. Patrick was not a “star,” a prominent personality, such as St. Jerome was. He was simply a hard-working missionary, and, later, after being passed over once and humiliated, finally a bishop.

Skipping over the centuries to the nineteenth century, we come to General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. Booth (1829– 1912) moved into the city slums of the world with a program of salvation, social reform, and charities. To this day, the Salvation Army, for all its outstanding work, has not caught up to Booth’s vision.

Booth was repelled by the irrelevance of the churches. The bigger the church, the greater its “star system,” i.e., a prominent pastor in the pulpit, and a large number of passive, inactive people in the pews. He declared that, as soon as men were converted, the church mummified them so that their only real function was to sit in the pew and listen.

Many criticized Booth’s organization as dictatorial, as a denial of the freedom and initiative of army members, and so on. Booth, however, saw it differently. Army members were disciplined for action and effectiveness, each to serve in a front-line capacity for King Jesus, the Great Commander of the Army. Instead of leaving the faith to a “star” performer in the pulpit, every Army member had his pulpit in the streets, in action for his King. The result was a movement which in Asia, Europe, and America became a major force.

Coming to our own day, we see that, in recent years, a major and dramatic movement was born. In order to concentrate on the heart of the matter rather than on personalities, no names will be mentioned. This movement was the Charismatic revival. Its first years gave indication that it would be little more perhaps than the Higher Life movement of the pre- World War I era, much given to cultivating personal experience and little given to serving the Lord.

However, one leader in particular began to develop a very specific plan of organization and action, a discipleship structure. Every member is to be under authority and also learn growth in faith, responsibility, and authority. From top to bottom, the church is to be organized for service, for action, for growth. Such a plan lends itself to zealots and abuses, and there have been many. Even as some of the early faults of the Salvation Army are embarrassing to recall, so too some of the errors and abuses of discipleship.

One result has been a division in the Charismatic community. On the one side, the advocates of the “star system” have flourished and gained national prominence. A passive stance suits most people today. We live in an age of “groupies” in popular music, sports, and also religion. The jetsetters, at their luxury resorts, have their “kept” intellectuals and artists to garnish the company of the self-appointed elite.

So too in the church. All too many want to express their faith in their passive exaltation of pulpit stars, of great names, and so on. More than one mission to youth since World War II has regularly paraded “big name” sports and entertainment figures before youth as “proof” of their importance and “effectiveness.” The parade still goes on, and the slide of the world into disaster and judgment continues. The star system pleases men not God. Politics itself is increasingly conscious of the “star system” rather than issues. It is fitting that the United States elected a card-carrying actor to the presidency. For some time, its politicians have been star actors in their own sphere instead of men with a faith and a cause.

On the other side, both in the Charismatic and non-Charismatic churches there is a steadily growing emphasis on the duties of every believer, on the necessity of a faith with works (James 2:14–26; Rom. 3:31; Matt. 7:16–20), on some very specific forms of discipleship.

Now some will no doubt write in to vent their dislike of some specifics of discipleship, as though this were the issue. Chalcedon has set forth the imperatives of God’s law; it has described the nature of a community action program, of the need for family associations, and more. These are all ways of discipleship; and they are only a beginning.

The church today, among other things, is plagued by too many stars, and by the star system. Some very fine and prominent pastors are distressed at the proneness of too many people to leave the exercise of Christianity by proxy to the church staff. A corporate shareholder’s activities in the life of a corporation is limited strictly. He can cast a proxy vote, and he can draw dividends.

Not so in the church. There are no dividends without full participation in the life and works of faith. No man enters into the Kingdom of God by a proxy! The star system works on earth, but it carries no weight with heaven.

John Berger, in Ways of Seeing, noted that in our time consumption has become a substitute for democracy (1972, p. 149). Whether we like democracy or not, we must recognize that it remains with us only as a form. His premise is government by the people. It requires a concern for self-government and a desire to implement self-government. Today, however, in voting, most people are little concerned with the responsibilities of government. The appeal that succeeds in elections is the consumption appeal: what are the benefits in a particular ballot measure? What is promised by the candidate?

Elections thus become less and less an exercise in democracy and more and more an appeal to consumers. The most effective election tool in the United States is now television, and the television appeal by parties and candidates is an appeal to consumers. The parties promise to deliver more benefits to the consumer if elected.

In modern political marketing, the star is the man who has the combination of personal attractiveness with promises of consumer satisfaction.

There are, of course, good men in religious broadcasting in both radio and television, but here too the preference of most people is for stars to give them proxy religion. The road to hell is paved with proxy religion.

It is an interesting fact that three times the New Testament accuses false teachers of being guilty of the sin of Balaam, “who loved the wages of unrighteousness” or injustice (2 Peter 2:15; c.f. Jude 11; Rev. 2:14). Our Lord tells us that Balaam taught compromise (Rev. 2:14), and He charges the church at Pergamos with a readiness to compromise His truth and law. The letters to the churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3 give us examples of the star system at work in the churches, and with deadly consequences. Paul in 1 Corinthians accuses that church, among other things, of a critical and deadly weakness, the star system.

The Corinthians were, in fact, taking the very apostles and leaders of the early church and trying to make stars of them. He says bluntly, “let no man glory in men,” nor can they without sin divide the church in terms of Paul, Apollos, or Cephas (1 Cor. 3:2–11, 21–22). Paul was fully aware of his importance, but he also knew fully that the only hope for the Corinthian church was its own life and growth in Christ.

The star system has very practical consequences in the everyday life of church. One problem I regularly encounter across the country is the expectation that the life of faith is to be lived by the pastor, not the entire church. It is rare for someone, hearing of a death in their fellowship, to call and say, “I am ready to bring dinner to you. Let me know when I can bring it,” or in hearing of a sickness, offer to help the sick or shutins by cleaning house, doing the wash, or shopping, and so on. With the growing number of elderly people in most churches, the opportunities for service in this one sphere are many. Proxy religion sees no opportunities and obligations.

Our Lord tells us emphatically, “by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:20–21).

Are you disciple, or a spectator? Is yours a faith with works, or a proxy religion?

  1. The Counseling Heresy[4]

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 136, June 1991

The church, all too prone to aping the world, has in the twentieth century gone over to the practice of counseling. Now, godly counsel can be very beneficial, and to relate the Word of God to human problems is thoroughly necessary. The therapy heresy, however, is the adoption of humanistic premises as a means for the cure of souls. By Freud’s deliberate design, psychological counseling, psychotherapy, was to replace the work of priests and pastors as the best means of eliminating religion. No attempts to “disprove” the Bible would succeed in undermining such faith. All men feel guilt, and they want a remedy for it. If science can take over the remedial therapy for guilt, Freud held, religion can be destroyed. Freud saw guilt as basic to the human problem, and those who enabled men to cope with it would become the true priests of the future. Out of this premise, psychotherapy was born. Sadly, the churches have been very quick to adopt it.

Freud’s analysis was brilliant but flawed. He saw guilt as the problem, whereas guilt is simply man’s response to his sin. If sin is a myth arising out of man’s primordial experience, then the problem must be dealt with psychologically, because guilt is a state of the psyche of man, a deeply-rooted feeling. If, however, guilt is not the problem but rather a response to the problem, then we must look elsewhere. Because guilt is a manifestation of the root problem, sin, then all our efforts are in vain if we do not face up to the heart of the matter. Sin is an act, a state of mind, a direction of the heart, and the essential character and orientation of a person. Dealing with guilt alone is like treating a cancer of the liver or of the intestines with salve. It is quackery.

It is a basic premise of Biblical faith that there can be no effectual change without regeneration. Apart from that, any change is pragmatic, cosmetic, or prudential. Counseling deals with the human scene and human relationships. The pastoral cure of souls gives primacy to man’s relationship to God in Christ, man’s eternal destiny, and then to the problems of human relationships.

This why the true and effectual cure of souls begins with confession. Confession in our time is a much neglected ministry, but it is all the same an essential one. Confession, among other things, requires two things. First, there must be a confession of sin; this means, not specific sins but the fact of a sin nature, our will to be our own god and our own source of good and evil, our own determiners of law and morality (Gen. 3:1–5). Sin is basic to man’s determination, my will be done. Second, there must be a confession of sins, of specific expressions of our evil bent. Too many are ready to say, “Of course I sin; after all, I’m only human.” Moreover, where the counseling of couples is involved, there is a readiness to say, “I did do that, but what about my spouse’s sins? They provoked me into sinning!” There is another aspect to such confessions. A false confession can be true in the stated facts, but false because so much has been hidden or falsified. In our civil criminal courts, there is a practice known as plea bargaining. To save court time, a man accused of a very serious crime is allowed to plead guilty to a lesser one while the serious charge is dropped. Pleading guilty to the lesser offense is routine in counseling; it is often used to gain a façade of openness and repentance.

The Shorter Catechism asks (Q. 14), “What is sin? A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” In 1 John 3:4, we have the basic source for this statement: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Apart from this fact, all attempts to deal with offenders is false and in vain, and, of course, humanistic. This is why antinomianism has been so ready to adopt counseling, because it replaces God’s law, the need for regeneration, and the necessity of confession and repentance. Of course, the heresy of counseling does not consider restitution. Its goal is a humanistic reconciliation, a peace at any price. As such, it is clearly evil.

The therapy heresy bypasses the fundamentals of Christian faith: the atonement, regeneration, restitution, and more. Years ago, I heard a lecturer describe to an audience of ministers and ministerial students a marital problem which involved numerous offenses by one partner, including habitual adultery. His rhetorical question was, “How can we bring this couple together again?” The reunion of the couple was the goal, not God’s law nor God’s grace.

The therapy heresy sees itself in terms of the medical model. Medical healing means medication is “added” to the life of the patient, or, by surgery, something is removed. In terms of Scripture, the need in many cases begins with regeneration. In other instances, where the persons are truly Christian, there must be confession and repentance, followed by restitution. Repentance means a reversal of direction, a total change in a person’s life and character. Only after these things take place can there be restoration. To restore a sinning church member, or a wayward spouse, simply on his or her verbal affirmation, is humanism.

The counseling heresy is a thriving evil because exegesis and theology are no longer central to the church or the pulpit. Preaching is no longer systematic. If a pastor began a careful series of studies, chapter and verse, of all of Romans, or all of Exodus, his people would rebel, if he did not first abandon the idea. Our humanistic pulpits give us a smorgasbord of subjects, choosing texts of general interest in order to command attention. The most important question about a sermon is, Is it interesting?, not, Does it enable us to understand the whole counsel of God? As it is now, people can attend a Reformed or evangelical church all their lives and still be ignorant of the Bible and its doctrines. (I have encountered devout Catholics and Protestants who thought reincarnation was “in the Bible!”) The counseling heresy thrives with non-Biblical preaching, because it, too, bypasses the fundamentals of the faith.

An old proverb says, “We know a man by the company he keeps.” The counseling regime keeps close company with humanism. We have now a considerable body of ostensibly Christian books on counseling, especially marital counseling. These books are full of pious goals, and their announced goals are saving marriages and helping people. “After all these things do the Gentiles seek” (Matt. 6:32). “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

In Isaiah 30:1, we read, “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.” God declares, in Hosea 4:12, “My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a-whoring from under their God.” This is strong language; it applies to all attempts to redirect our lives apart from God and the priority of His law-word. Humanistic counseling is man-centered; however “noble” its humanistic goals, it is alien to a God-centered faith.

However, before we have the counseling heresy, we have had a failure in the pulpit. Word and doctrine have been replaced with inspirational pap, and the clergy have become men-servers. A church with a “good” counseling program will have doctrine given a minor place at best.

  1. Altar Versus Pulpit

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 172, February 1994

In a study marked by a rather harsh dislike for the Puritans, Hugh Trevor-Roper, in Catholics, Anglicans, and Puritans (1987), makes a very important and decisive point in describing the developments within the Church of England. The different parties began as one, with a common allegiance to the Anglican church and its order. They then divided sharply and bitterly. In time, Archbishop Laud became a hard and persecuting prelate, and the Puritans were later to manifest a strong desire to dismantle a church they had long loved. These Puritans were Church of England Puritans, strongly wedded to the establishment and its heritage. They were alike given to a tracing of and love for the old English Church before the Norman Conquest, and before the Council of Whitby.

Why did they divide, and what was the root cause of the difference? According to Trevor-Roper, it was a clash between the primacy of the altar as against the primacy of the pulpit. In the Church of England, “To the Arminian, as to the Catholic, the pulpit was a utilitarian feature, secondary to the altar, which was invested with an aura of mystery. To the Calvinist, the order was reversed: the function of the Church was preaching: the altar was the utilitarian feature” (p. 94). Laud said, on one occasion, to William Prynne, “the altar is the greatest place of God’s residence on earth, greater than the pulpit, for there ’tis at most hoc est corpus meum, this is my body, but in the other it is at most hoc est verbum meum, this is my word” (p. 94). Well before Cromwell’s army, the hostilities broke in violence to opposing chapels. Parliament in 1643 authorized a campaign against images, under the authority of the Earl of Manchester, whose men arrived at Cambridge to purge its chapels of image; they worked with hammers, saws, and other instruments to smash the Laudian additions.

Both parties had begun with a common loyalty to the Church of England and a common faith. They parted company on the priority of altar or pulpit. The fathers in faith of the altar party were men like Erasmus, Grotius, and Arminius, men who rejected the priority of the Word over the altar. Their theologies were inclined to be vague at points, and tolerant of much. Thus, the altar party was often accused of Socinianism (Unitarianism), even though they were trinitarian, the reason being their toleration of differing theologies, but no toleration of any hostility to their high church sacramentalism. They liked Socinian’s rationalism more than they did the theological precision of the Calvinists.

The altar party moved into a theological toleration but became fanatical about gowns, candles, bowing to the altar, and more. On such issues, they at times put the Puritans to shame with their zeal. The church Puritans at times treated the Lord’s Table with studied indifference; any table would do, and it could be stored out of sight, when not used. Their churches were, to the altar party, unclean and disorderly. Both side used intense rhetoric, and physical force. The altar party’s force was used against people. Both had their triumphs, and both paid heavy price for their victories. And the Church of England declined in its power and relevance.

But the controversy was important. Ideas do have consequences, and often beyond the scope of our vision. The altar party did not win; it was simply favored by Charles II, whose private preference was Rome, if one could say he had any loyalty beyond pleasure and his mistresses. The altar party commanded the church but gradually lost the nation. Its subsequent stance, besides Deism, was high church, broad church, and low church. All three positions have reference to the altar and to the church’s clerical parties. Where the nation and its people were concerned, it was marginally relevant, and, today, is inconsequential.

The pulpit party, like the altar party, never looked beyond its struggle with the opposition to see its place in the life of England. Both parties had seen their position as the truth of God. Neither had confronted the fact that they did not represent what the people of England wanted. Of course, what God wants is most important, but how could they minister to the people as a victorious political party?

The true altar party after 1688 was the Non-Juror group, and none was more irrelevant. The continuing church was made up of the politically expedient clergy.

The Church-Puritans were in part the winning party in the Civil War, but they demonstrated, as had Laud earlier, that victory on their terms was something the nation could not grant. Cromwell had to stand against them. After Cromwell’s death, the Church-Puritans (the Presbyterians) were the ones who brought back Charles II in 1660, who then ejected them from the church in 1662.

Both the altar and the pulpit party had struggled to control a state establishment, so that theirs was a struggle for power, not a mission. The state in time would only allow a church that, for many years, was not allowed a convocation until it was incapable of any independence.

They had begun with a common loyalty and starting point. Their presuppositions drove them in different directions.

Non-Anglican Arminians drifted away from the altar-faith to stress what was implicit in their position from the beginning, an emphasis on the freedom of man from God’s sovereign power, on free will as against sovereign grace. Ironically, the pulpit party (the English Presbyterians) drifted into the error they accused the altar party of, Socinianism.

Both groups had erred seriously in having a church focus instead of a faith focus. The institution came to mean more to them than the faith and the Lord that it was supposed to represent. They therefore betrayed both the pulpit and the altar. We live in the consequences of their failure. The beautiful altars and pulpits remain, but their meaning is gone. It is time to bring back the King (2 Sam. 19:10).

  1. Basilicas

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 174, April 1994

By its very existence, the early church was an offense to good Romans. They were accustomed to seeing themselves as superior to all other peoples, and they had good reason to think so. Roman armies had conquered vast domains in Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa. Their civil power, law, architecture, arts, and more, marked them as the great world power, and they were conscious of their power and assured of their destiny. The phrase “Eternal Rome” tells the story.

Now, in their midst, there was a group, made up mainly of the despised Judeans, who claimed an emperor (“King of kings, Lord of lords,” the “only Potentate” or power in creation, 1 Tim. 6:15) and declared themselves to be God’s ambassador to the world! This Rome saw as a startling arrogance, and Rome had dealt with arrogant men before, but not like this.

These Christians saw their crucified leader as God, Savior, and King. Their Scriptures, liturgy, and language clearly revealed this amazing belief.

But this was not all. Perhaps two centuries passed before there were any church buildings, but, when these were built, of stone, they were called basilicas. Now, the word basil means king, and a basilica was the royal court. It is true that Roman basilicas were courtroom buildings, a marketplace, or a meeting hall, but they were state buildings where the emperor’s word was law. In the Christian basilica, or throne room of Christ the King, all men stood when Scripture, the king’s law-word, was read. By Constantine’s time, or soon thereafter, major cities, where a bishop held sway, had a bishop’s throne building, the cathedra, but every church was the throne room of Christ the King.

Now, not every basilica of Rome could say that the emperor actually held court there, but they were, all the same, royal courts. Specifically, a basilica in a remote area was a court of imperial justice, or a meeting place where the emperor’s business was conducted by his agents.

Similarly, the Christian basilicas were the meeting places of the royal retinue, the people of the king. They were Christ’s courts of law, where His law-word was proclaimed. In terms of Paul’s requirement in 1 Corinthians 6, the early church established courts of arbitration in terms of God’s law.

In fact, after Constantine’s day, many of the “newer” church buildings were simply old Roman Courts. Thus, the church in its life and in its building structure was a basilica, the king’s court, and it served in that capacity. We cannot understand the boldness of men like Ambrose in rebuking an emperor from the pulpit if we do not recognize that such men self-consciously proclaimed the law-word of the King of kings from their pulpits. The preachers of the early church often had a holy boldness because they knew themselves to be the ministers of the Great King of all creation, but they also had a humility stemming from the knowledge that, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), and to be presumptuous was to court judgment.

The Christian basilica at once had a variety of functions. It was a place for the proclamation of the law-word of the King of kings. It was also a teaching center for the Kingdom of God. It was a house of prayer for the king’s business, and for all the work of His Kingdom.

It is interesting that church construction all over Europe after the fall of Rome still retained the basilica structure and function. The pagans recognized that the church represented more than another set of beliefs: it was a kingdom, a Savior-King, a law, and a government. The basilica building structure went hand in hand with an imperial law and rule. The church was there to save men and to give them the glorious rule of the only true king.

This is why pagan kings wrestled with the matter of permitting Christianity to enter their realms. It meant a rule overruling theirs, a court above them, and a king who sits in perpetual judgment over them.

In the course of its Christian history, the word basilica gained another meaning, a related one. The word basilica came to mean a law code issued by a king. In a.d. 878, the Byzantine emperor Basil the Macedonian had a law code collected and issued. A basilica now meant the king’s court and also the king’s law.

The relationship now between the word basilica and church is minimal. The true basilicas of our time are, as with Rome, state buildings. They represent state power and a bureaucracy, not the King of kings. They are unable to give salvation, and their justice is at best a very flawed one, if not outright injustice.

In architecture, the church at times still resembles a basilica, but in spirit, it is very alien to it. To return to the old pattern, we must first by faith recognize Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Lawgiver. There must be a return to the absolute priority of God and His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33), and there must be a readiness to apply His law-word to every sphere of life and thought. We cannot have a true basilica unless we first know the King, and He acknowledges us.

  1. The Antichurch Within the Church

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 167, September 1993

In a very important study, Malachi Martin, in The Keys of This Blood (1990, 1991), writes on the antichurch within the church. Its goal is to remake the church in terms of imported standards. The goal of these antichurch persons within the Roman Catholic Church is to convert the church into an agency integrated into modern life. The antichurch insists on remaining within the church. Its goal is “The people as source and authority of all faith standards; of all religious order; of all laws — including the definition of what is sinful and what prayers are to be said.” Majoritarianism should govern in all questions of religion and morality; equality should prevail. There should be moral pluralism, with neither homophobia nor heterophobia, and with no restrictions on sexual expression (Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood, p. 605).

This antichurch gained some ground at Vatican II, and Pope Paul VI shared sentiments with them (p. 609).

The consequences of Vatican II led to a decline of seminarians. There were in 1965 in the United States 8,885 in theologates, in the last step before ordination, but in 1989 there were only 3,689. One result was that candidates who in 1960 would have been excluded were now allowed to remain.

The results were deadly. First, theological ignorance was widespread. For many, such things did not matter. “People” counted, supposedly, not dogma. Second, with the “sexual revolution,” many homosexuals were able to enter the priesthood.

Conservative Catholics, as witness The Wanderer, have been concerned on both counts. Liberal Catholics, as witness Jason Berry’s Lead Us Not Into Temptation (1992), have been concerned over Catholic priests and the sexual abuse of children. In June 1993, Pope John Paul II instructed bishops to clean house on such priests.

This problem has not been restricted to Roman Catholic circles. In Protestant mainline churches, first, modernism is endemic, and second, the sexual dereliction also commonplace. Heterodoxy, May–June 1993, reports on the situation in an article entitled, “Roadmap for a Queer Church” (p. 14).

The antichurch is as active in Protestantism as elsewhere.

The history of the church gives us many parallels to the present. Certainly St. Athanasius faced a militant antichurch, and so have many saints over the centuries. There is a difference now, however, in that there is a purposive drive to remake the church to conform to the world rather than to Jesus Christ. This drive seeks to give to the Bible and to the church a new definition, one derived from man and history rather than the triune God and His Word.

Rather than seeing the world, man, time, history, and all things else as deriving their meaning from God and His absolutely transcendent person and nature, meaning is sought from within history and from man. If God is not the definer, then no meaning stands.

Bryan R. Wilson, in Magic and the Millennium (1973), called attention to the reason why Navaho have resisted Christianization: “The Navaho, traditionally saw the gods as existing for man’s benefit: he need not abase himself, as conversionist Christianity, with its strong preoccupation with sin, demanded” (p. 48). The antichurch has a like faith: if God exists, He should exist for man’s benefit, to serve man and to bless man forever.

The antichurch offers man-centered, not God-centered, religion. It offers itself as the nobler, more sensitive faith. Its goal is the fulfillment of man, not the glory of God. In the name of Christ, it proclaims man. Karl Barth wrote, “Since God Himself has become man, man is the measure of all things” (From Christengemeinde und Bürgergemeinde [1946], p. 46; quoted by W. Dantine, Scottish Journal of Theology, p. 18 [June 1965]: p. 133). To believe in this is to believe in “a universe grounded in man alone” (W. Taylor Stevenson, History as Myth [1969], p. 4). This means turning the faith upside down!

Given the nature of the antichurch, its goal is the capture of the church in its every branch in order to destroy it. The God-centered nature of the true church is an offense. Even when this aspect of the church is watered down or muted, it is an offense to the antichurch, which seeks total victory.

Not only churches but their colleges and seminaries have too often fallen into the hands of the antichurch, with deadly results. Too commonly, seminaries are a polluting rather than a healing, nurturing source. The antichurch is militantly and earnestly dedicated to the building of the city of man. St. Augustine saw two cities in process of construction in the world, the City of God, and the city of man. These two, which should be in opposition, are too often in seeming merger. Even in the most orthodox of the various continuing breakaway churches, we see the infiltration of both false theologies and false moralities. The drive by the antichurch to capture Christianity is a most zealous one.

They do, however, reckon without God. Because they fail to know Him as the living God, they believe that they have simply declared war on an incorrect idea. This is like a man assuming that a volcano smoldering under his feet is only a myth, an idea! Our God, as the losers over the centuries have found out, “is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). The antichurch is at war with more than the church; it is at war with the triune God. We dare not be neutral in this warfare, because there are no neutrals where God is concerned. Neither dare we believe that the antichurch, however powerful, can ever prevail. Because God is God, His will alone shall be done, in heaven and on earth.

  1. The Retreatists

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 182, November 1994

A book advertisement recently stated that its author, a prominent pastor, asks these questions: “Should we demonstrate against the social issues that threaten the moral fiber of our world?” “Should we do everything we can to make our government Christian?” “Should we fight against the secular and humanistic philosophies of our day?” We are told that the author “believed that we have lost sight of our real mission as Christians if we answer ‘Yes’ to any of those questions.” He believes that we have then become a cultist, not a Christian.

This, of course, is alien to our Lord’s commission to, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). In 1 Corinthians 6, we are told to set up courts of arbitration for judgments in terms of God’s law. In Acts, care of the poor began early, and collections for the poor. The early church had homes for the elderly without families, for abandoned children, hospitals to care for all, schools, and so on and on.

The purely spiritual concern our author insists on was the mark of the pagan mystery religions or cults. Generations before the early church had a building for worship, it had a variety of institutions to meet needs.

As a way of meeting these needs in Christ, deacons were created and empowered to minister in Christ’s name. Once a powerful force in all Christendom, the diaconate is in too many cases a nonfunctioning office. Once the shaper of Christian community, the deacon is now peripheral to church and society. They were very early known as the Christian Levites because they were the most actively engaged in the life of the society. Indeed, there are hints that the sacerdos, the presbyters, tried to limit the powers of the deacons, and their ordination to the pastorate, because of their extensive importance. Their part in worship was severely limited. They were tied to severely limited spheres. All the same, their impact on society was great, and the mercy and compassion in Christ which the diaconate manifested was seen as revelatory of the gospel.

Pagan Rome, like other powers, had welfarism as a means of controlling the poor, but no religiously grounded charity which impelled all men. Our present situation is comparable to that of ancient paganism: charity is a good idea, but it is best if the state undertake it. The personal impulse, and theologically grounded faith, that we have an obligation under God to minister to human needs, to bring every area of life under Christ’s dominion and God’s law, and the duty to make God’s earth His Kingdom, all this has been abandoned as the church has retreated into the position of a mystery religion or cult. All the world is surrendered to evil, and only a little corner, the church and the people in it, represent Christ’s domain. How will Christ the King treat a church that hands His world over to His enemies? Is this not doing the enemy’s work for him?

It is amazing how many people there are who actually believe they are holier and purer because they have surrendered one area after another to Christ’s enemies.

But when we turn to the early church, to Justin Martyr, we read: “Those who prosper, and who so wish, contribute each one as much as he chooses to. What is collected is deposited with the president (of the deacons), and he takes care of orphans and widows, and those who are in want on account of sickness or any other cause, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourners among us, and briefly, he is the protector of all those in need” (1 Apology, 69, 67.5–6).

The churches today too often seek a cheap pseudo-holiness in “spiritual exercises,” in attendance to meetings, in reading much lightweight “spiritual” books, and so on. The situation in some areas is so bad that to cite Micah 6:8 is seen as almost heresy! (“He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”) What is wrong with that verse? Oh, say these people, this is from the Old Testament, and there is no Christ in it. Well, who gave that word except Christ if you take the Scriptures literally?

Sanctification, or holiness, is gained by faithfulness to God’s law. Sin is anomia, lawlessness, “for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). And holiness is faithfulness to God’s law. Holiness does not come by meditating on, or expecting, the Rapture!

Our faith is an intensely practical one. It has given us the best and most free culture the world has known. God knows, Christianity has enemies enough. How sad that its own leaders are now surrendering it.

But the future belongs to God, and to all His faithful ones. Let us stand firmly in terms of our faith, and we shall be more than conquerors in Christ (Rom. 8:37).

  1. Faith

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 192, September 1995

Some decades ago, during the Depression, I had the privilege of visiting briefly in a community very much influenced by a fine old pastor. I attended one service and also had a brief visit with the man. He had studied under great men at the old Princeton Seminary, and his conversation was stimulating as he recalled his teachers. His preaching was very different, essentially devotional, and, with the passing of the years, he had limited himself to a short number of favorite texts. His Bible had become very small. I was therefore saddened but not surprised that his successor was a modernist. He had passed on no theological awareness.

In this century, Protestantism has been in steady retreat because the pulpit too often has fallen short in solid theological and Biblical teaching. Men have been too prone to stress their own theological and ecclesiastical affiliation to the exclusion of the whole Word of God. In the triune God, all His attributes are equally of importance. You and I have disproportionate attributes: we are good at some things and incompetent with others. Our aptitudes and abilities differ greatly. But nothing in the Godhead is greater or lesser than anything else. We cannot say that “God is love” to the neglect of the fact that He says His name is Jealous (Exod. 34:14). He is the God of grace, and also of law, of peace and of wrath, and so on. If we stress in God what we like, then we create an idol with supposedly Biblical materials.

A key area where, in this century, Biblical materials have been used to warp the faith has to do with the word faith. When I was young, the common stress was on the atoning blood of Jesus Christ as our salvation. Neither our faith nor our works save us: “for in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (Ps. 143:2). Faith is the gift of God which enables us to know what He has done. Paul tells us, in Ephesians 2:5, “Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” In Ephesians 2:8, we read, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God.”

Faith cannot be turned, as Louis Berkhof pointed out, into “a meritorious work of man, on the basis of which he is accepted in favor by God” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 497.)

The Westminster Confession, in the chapter on “Justification,” tells us that the justified are those to whom God had imputed “the obedience and satisfaction of Christ . . . they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God” (Acts 13:38–39; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 3:9).

Christ’s atonement is an objective fact. We have nothing to do with it. God, by His sovereign grace, imparts knowledge of it to us, to our great joy. Faith is evidence of our justification and regeneration; it leads us to ever increasing trust in our Redeemer, but it is He, not our believing, that saves us.

Faith is the gift of God which enables us to walk in the confidence and power of His victory.

When faith is separated from the atonement, the doctrine of salvation is seriously warped. It becomes “easy believism” and a good work on man’s part. A young man, self-appointed “soul-saver,” stopped me once to summon me to repent of my learning and preach the “simple gospel” of faith. When I questioned what he meant by faith, he accused me of evil sophistry designed to confuse the “simple gospel.” He was very ignorant of the Bible as a whole, of meaning of atonement and justification, and proud of it. With the “Rapture” due any day, he said that he could not afford to waste time on “the details” of the Bible.

Our faith and trust cannot be in faith but in Christ and His atonement. If we shift our emphasis from Him to our believing, we have warped the faith and weakened it dramatically.

When Hebrews 11 gives us the roll call of the great men and women of faith, it is not talking about easy, comfortable faith, but it chronicles the men who suffered for their faith. They did not look to their faith for their confidence, but to the Lord who had made them His people.

There are more ways of harming the church than by disbelief in the orthodox faith of the saints and the reformers. By neglecting the full-orbed stress of the Bible to ride our own pet subjects, we can sometimes do more damage than unbelievers.

Because of the extensive hostilities that Biblical faith encounters, too many limit their commitment. I learned over twenty years ago of a group of churches, all claiming to be evangelical, who had decided against preaching on creationism, the virgin birth, and the miracles, and they concluded that they would not oppose abortion and homosexuality so that they could concentrate on John 3:16 and reach more people! Reach more people for what?

God gives power, not to the compromisers, but to those who, without fear or rancor, proclaim His undiluted gospel.

  1. Catholicity

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 66, September 1985

In the earliest forerunners of the Apostles’ Creed, we find the confession, “I believe . . . in the holy church.” In its final form, this became, “the holy catholic church.” The word “catholic” comes from two Greek words, kata, concerning, and holos, whole, meaning universal. This catholicity, universality or all-inclusiveness of the Kingdom of God was declared by Paul in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Status before the Lord does not depend upon status before men; salvation is for all peoples. The distinctions which remain are thus those required by God’s law-word not those created by men.

This was the practice of the early church. An interesting example was Callistus, who became bishop of Rome in a.d. 220. Some years earlier, Callistus, then a pagan slave, had been imprisoned for theft. As pope, Callistus allowed the marriage of patrician girls to freedmen, something forbidden by Roman law. We do not know whether or not this contributed to Callistus’s martyrdom. What we do know is that more than a few men of low estate, like Callistus, governed over Christians with an aristocratic status. What counted in the church was a person’s status before the Lord rather than before men.

While the word “catholic” came into usage slowly, it did very early mark the life of the church. Catholicity means not only universal, but also universal jurisdiction. Because the head of the church is Jesus Christ, “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15), the church is catholic or universal because our king has universal jurisdiction.

It was this fact that made the declaration, “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:9–11), the baptismal confession of the early church.

We must not forget that Rome, the empire, saw herself as “eternal Rome” and thus as universal Rome. Its required confession of allegiance was, “Caesar is Lord,” and the obvious implication was that Caesar was the catholic or universal lord.

The result was conflict. Two powers, Caesar and his empire, and Christ and His church, both claimed catholicity. Rome fought Christianity as she did no other religion. Herbert B. Workman, in Persecution in the Early Church (1906), stated the issue: “The Christians were not persecuted because of their creed, but because of their universal claims.” Their offense was “this universality of claim, this aggressiveness of temper, this consciousness from the first of worldwide dominion — in a word, all that in later days was summed up in the title of Catholic.”

It is a sad fact that for many who call themselves “Catholics,” the word is a name, not a fact, and that for many Protestants the word is something they are against, not something that describes the church, something saints died for.

When Callistus, in violation of Roman law, said that freed slaves could marry noble women, it was a radical step. Rome had all kinds of legal lines of separation. There was no equal standing before the law. A Roman citizen was a privileged person, a member of the ruling class.

In the third century, however, by an edict of Caracalla, all free inhabitants of the Roman Empire were given the status of citizens. At the same time, efforts were soon made to compel all inhabitants to observe the old Roman religion as the one universal or catholic faith. They could hold their personal religion on a local, private basis; the public faith had to be that of Rome, the imperial cult. This was the required and “catholic” faith. The result was more Christian martyrs.

The catholicity of the church had been an offense to Rome, and as a result the Roman Empire developed, reasserted, and increased its own claim to catholicity. Catholic Rome and Catholic Church battled for supremacy and universality.

All this is very important for us to know. If we forget their meaning, forgotten past victories become present defeats. Because Rome insisted that the empire alone was catholic or universal in its jurisdiction, all religions had to be local, limited, and personal, not public and catholic. All other religions were agreeable to such a place; Christianity alone insisted on the universal jurisdiction of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and the church as Christ’s catholic voice on earth.

Today we face a similar battle. The modern state sees itself as catholic, i.e., universal. Within its borders it asserts total power and jurisdiction. It sees freedom in any sphere as a state grant, not as a God-given immunity. As a result, the state, its legislatures, and its courts increasingly seek to extend the powers of the state as the logic of catholicity.

To this, all too many churchmen have agreed. We have the immoral horror of many church leaders who claim to believe the Bible from cover to cover insisting they cannot take a stand against abortion or homosexuality, for example, because it would be the “social gospel” to do so. For them, Christianity’s only concern is saving souls. This would reduce Christianity to the status of Rome’s mystery religions, i.e., to paganism and to a denial of Christ’s catholicity of power and jurisdiction.

Antinomianism, too, is a denial of catholicity. God’s law is His plan of government for every sphere of life. It is the expression of God’s dominion as creator and lord or sovereign, and it is His plan for covenant man to exercise dominion. To live under a foreign law is to be a slave, however comfortable the slavery. The laws of the nations are today humanistic laws. They are motivated by an anti-Christian faith and purpose. The society they envision and educate for is one aiming to destroy Christianity totally. Antinomianism surrenders Christ’s lordship or sovereignty to the state and is the expression of a people who are in captivity and love it.

We must remember that it was the best Roman emperors who were usually the worst persecutors. As Workman pointed out, the more faithfully Roman they were, the more zealously they persecuted the church to preserve Rome’s exclusive and total jurisdiction. Today also, a “good” humanist civil ruler is often a major problem to the church, because the rigors of statist claims over the church increase. Thus, to vote for a “good” humanist can mean voting in a man more dedicated than most to the idea of a catholic state.

When the word “catholic” was first used by the early church, it was to designate the church as Christ’s body, open to all mankind, in order to distinguish the church from the Jewish congregations. Both originally called themselves synagogues, or assemblies. The Christian synagogue was the one summoning all mankind to Christ without the necessity of becoming Jews first.

One of the earliest uses of the word is by St. Ignatius, in “The Epistle to the Smyrnaeans,” chapter 8, who said, “wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church.” The word “catholic” was also used by Polycarp, according to Eusebius’s Church History, volume 4, chapter 15.

In its earliest usage, the word “catholic” meant, first, more than Jewish; many churchmen were Jews, but the church was inclusive of all peoples. Second, as problems developed in the church, the word early came to mean “orthodox” as against “heretical.” The catholic faith, while still persecuted, had to defend itself against a variety of false and anti-Christian doctrines which had been brought in by various peoples. Both these meanings were accurate: the true church was more than Jewish, and it was orthodox, not heretical. These were, however, subordinate meanings. Catholic means universality of scope and of jurisdiction.

To proclaim the catholic faith thus meant and means to set forth “the crown rights of Christ the King” over every area of life and thought. Indeed, “The Crown Rights of Christ the King” was a Puritan battle cry in Cromwell’s day. One of the texts most used to set forth the church’s catholicity has been Hebrews 12:22–24: “But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

This tells us, first, that the covenant has been renewed; in Jesus Christ we are again at Mount Zion, and there the old covenant is made with a new people, now God’s new Israel and chosen ones. Second, this realm is also “the city of the living God.” “City” here means kingdom or realm, as the City of Rome. St. Augustine, in writing on The City of God in this sense, meant the Kingdom of God. Third, this realm is also “the heavenly Jerusalem,” so that it is more than natural. It is a supernatural Kingdom which is inclusive of all God’s creation, natural and supernatural.

Fourth, this supernatural aspect and power of Christ’s catholic or universal jurisdiction includes “an innumerable company of angels” who are, with us, fellow subjects and citizens of Christ’s Kingdom.

Fifth, this Kingdom has the church as part of its jurisdiction, “the general assembly and church of the firstborn.” Christ is the firstborn, and, as members of His body, we are in union with the great company of heavenly powers that are part of His realm.

Sixth, these are all, ourselves included, “written in heaven,” because our membership in Christ is not our doing but God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

Seventh, because this catholic realm is total in its jurisdiction over all things in heaven and earth, God is “the Judge of all.” All things and all peoples are accountable to Him because God’s power and jurisdiction are catholic and total.

Eighth, this Kingdom includes “the spirits of just men made perfect,” i.e., those saints who have died and are now with their Lord.

Ninth, supremely, it includes our Savior and mediator, through whose atoning blood we have been made members of this catholic or universal Kingdom or empire.

The modern state is a false messiah, a false savior. Its only legitimate place is under Christ, together with the church, family, school, our vocations, the arts and sciences, and all things else. The claims of the state to universal jurisdiction, to catholicity, are a lie. Do you believe and serve that lie, or is Christ your Lord?

  1. The Heresy of Democracy with God

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 6, August 1979

A young woman, mother of a girl of six years, described conditions in the grade school (K–6) across from their church. One teacher is openly a lesbian. Some boys regularly drag screaming girls into the boys’ toilets to expose themselves to the girls, and nothing is done about it. The leading church officer had an answer to her call for a Christian school: he did not believe in spiritual isolationism for Christians, and this is what Christian schools represent. Unusual? On the contrary, all too common an attitude.

In Chalcedon Position Paper No. 2,[5] I wrote on “Can We Tithe Our Children?” and I quoted Psalm 128:1, “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.” This fell into the hands of a minister, who was apparently very upset by it. He corrected the Word of God, and wrote to declare, “I do not like the word feareth, rather loveth the Lord.” Unusual? No, all too common.

A pastor, planning to speak on Biblical authority, had the word “authority” altered in the church bulletin by members to read “leadership.” A prominent church publication spoke with ridicule and hatred of all who would believe in anything so “primitive” as Biblical law. Another pastor, planning to discipline a seriously sinning member, was attacked by his fellow pastors at a church meeting; somehow, it is unloving to deal with sin as God’s Word requires it.

Is it necessary to give further examples? More pastors lose pulpits for their faithfulness to Scripture than for any other reason. Trifling excuses are found to make possible the dissolution of a pastoral relationship. Open sin is condoned, and simple faithfulness is despised. The telephone rings regularly to bring reports of fresh instances of churches in revolt against God and His Word. Gary North is right. Humanism’s accomplices are in the church (Christian Reconstruction, 3.2).

Much of this stems from one of the great heresies of our day, the belief in democracy. At the beginning of the century, some churchmen began talking about the democracy of God, i.e., that God wants a universe where He and His creatures can work and plan together in a democratic way. Of course, if our relationship with God is a democratic one, we can correct the Bible where it displeases us, eliminate what we cannot correct, and use other standards and tests for the church and the clergy than God’s enscriptured Word. Then, logically, our word is as good as God’s word, and as authoritative as God’s.

In his important study, The Heresy of Democracy (1955), Lord Percy of Newcastle declared of democracy that it is a “philosophy which is nothing less than a new religion” (p. 16). The justification for all things is not to be found in the triune God but in the people. Virtue means meeting people’s needs, and the democratic state, church, and God have one function, to supply human wants. State, school, church, and God become chaplains to man, called upon to bow down before man’s authority. In fact, Lord Percy said of state schools, “This is, indeed, democracy’s characteristic Mark of the Beast . . . of all means of assimilation, the most essential to democracy is a uniform State-controlled education” (p. 13). To challenge that system is to shake democracy’s structure, including its state and church. Earlier, Fichte saw statist education in messianic terms: “Progress is that perfection of education by which the Nation is made Man.”

Within the church, the modernists first advocated the state as God’s voice and instrument. Wellhausen, the German leader of the higher criticism of the Old Testament, declared: “We must acknowledge that the Nation is more certainly created by God than the Church, and that God works more powerfully in the history of nations than in Church history.”

Behind all this is the question of authority: is it from God, or from man? If God is the sovereign authority over all things, then His law-word alone can govern all things. Religion, politics, economics, science, education, law, and all things else must be under God, or they are in revolt.

If the ultimate authority is man, then all things must serve man and bow down before man’s authority. As T. Robert Ingram has so clearly pointed out in What’s Wrong with Human Rights (1978), the doctrine of human rights is the humanistic replacement for Biblical law. Man now being regarded as sovereign, his rights have replaced God’s law as the binding force and authority over man and his world.

The cultural effects of this change have been far-reaching. In a remarkably brilliant and telling study, Ann Douglas, in The Feminization of American Culture (1977), has shown the effects of Unitarianism and religious liberalism on American culture. From a God-centered emphasis (not necessarily consistent or thorough in application), a man-centered focus emerged. The new justification of women became the cult of motherhood (a humanistic, man-centered focus), and for men and women alike, “doing good” for one’s fellow men. With this new emphasis, men left the church, or regarded it as peripheral to their lives, and the liberal clergy developed the fundamentals of what we have today as soap-opera religion. In Ann Douglas’s delightfully incisive wording, “It is hardly accidental that soap opera, an increasing specialty of nineteenth-century liberal Protestantism, is a phenomenon which we associate with the special needs of feminine subculture” (p. 48). Liberal religion feminized the clergy, made women and Christianity irrelevant to life, and created a spineless, gutless clergy for whom the faith is sentimental talk and not the power of God unto salvation. To quote Dr. Douglas again, “The liberal minister who abandoned theology lost his right to start from the ‘facts’ of the Bible as his predecessors understood them: that God made man, man sinned against him, and God had and has the right to assign any punishment he judges fit for the offenses” (p. 200).

This humanistic soap-opera religion conquered other areas of the church. Arminianism quickly adopted it, as did much of Calvinism, as their emphases shifted from God’s sovereign act of salvation to man’s ostensible choice, or man’s experience, and from the centrality and authority of the Word, to an emotional, experientially governed “heart-religion.”

In this humanist parody of Christianity, man’s experience has priority over God’s Word. One “Christian worker” told me that it was unwise for people to read the Bible without the guidance of a “real” experience of “Spirit-filled” heart religion. Of course, for him the Spirit freed him from the Word, a heretical opinion. One pastor, who announced a series of sermons on authority, i.e., the authority of God, of His Word, authority under God, etc., was told bluntly that he should preach on “fellowship” with God, not God’s authority. When churchmen are hostile to God’s authority, they are not Christians. Fellowship with God through Christ is on His terms and under His grace and authority. “If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6).

A church which denies God’s authority will be in no position to resist the state’s authority. It will look to authorities other than the Lord’s for its justification, and, in yielding to the state, it will do so in the spirit of cooperation, not compromise, because its true fellowship is with man and the state, not the Lord. Ambrose, in a.d. 385, resisted the state’s requisition of a church in Milan, declaring, “What belongs to God is outside the emperor’s power.” Ambrose said further, in his Sermon Against Auxentius, “We pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Tribute is due to Caesar, we do not deny it. The Church belongs to God, therefore it ought not to be assigned to Caesar. For the temple of God cannot be Caesar’s by right.” The emperor, he added, could be in the church by faith, but never above or over it.

Chrysostom, in dealing also with conflict with Caesar warned his people, In “Concerning the Statues,” homily 3.19:

This certainly I foretell and testify, that although this cloud should pass away, and we yet remain in the same condition of listlessness, we shall again have to suffer much heavier evils than those we are now dreading; for I do not so much fear the wrath of the Emperor, as your own listlessness.

Here Chrysostom put his finger on the heart of the matter: the threat was less the emperor and more a listless and indifferent church. The same problem confronts us today. The greater majority of church members do not feel that Christianity is worth fighting for, let alone dying for. They only want the freedom to be irrelevant, and to emit pious gush as a substitute for faithfulness and obedience. In soap-opera religion, life is without dominion; instead, it is a forever-abounding mess, met with a sensitive and bleeding heart. Soap-opera religion is the faith of the castrated, of the impotent, and the irrelevant. The devotees of soap-opera religion are full of impotent self-pity and rage over the human predicament, but are devoid of any constructive action; only destruction and negation become them.

The heresy of democracy leads to the triumph of sentimental religion. Dr. Douglas defines sentimentalism thus: “Sentimentalism is a cluster of ostensibly private feelings which always attains public and conspicuous expression” (p. 307). The focus in sentimental religion shifts from God’s Word to man’s feelings, and from basic doctrine to psychology and human needs. The doctrine of the sovereignty of man means the sovereignty of the total man, and all his feelings. We have a generation now whose concern is themselves, whose self-love blots out reality and truth.

So great is this self-absorption that, in any office, faculty, church group, or other fellowship, there are commonly persons who give their momentous personal communiques on purely private matters: “I didn’t sleep well last night . . . I’m so tired today . . . Nothing I eat agrees with me lately, and I’m always gassy . . . I saw that film and used oodles of Kleenex . . . The color green always upsets me . . . I can’t bear to have children around . . .” and so on and on. Purely private feelings are announced as though the world should react, be concerned, and be governed by them.

Even worse, God is approached with a similar endless gush of private feelings, as though God should be concerned and upset when an egomaniac is distressed. Few people pray, asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). Rather, they pray with a list of demands on God, for Him to supply. Now, Paul declares that God will supply all our needs “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19), but that promise is preceded by an epistle which speaks at length of God’s requirements of us, and also calls for contentment on our part with our God-decreed lot (Phil. 4:11).

Basic also to the heresy of democracy in the church is its belief, not only in man’s needs as against God’s requirements, but its belief in the irrelevance of God’s law. If man is sovereign, God’s law cannot bind man, and both hell and justice fade away. God then is allowed only one approach to man, love. He is portrayed as needing, yearning for, and calling for man’s love. Man is in the driver’s seat, to accept or reject that plea.

Lord Percy stated it succinctly: “A mere breaker of law . . . may always be saved; but there is no salvation for the deniers of law” (p. 108). They have denied God’s sovereignty and His power to save. Their only logical relationship to God, then, is not by salvation but by man-ordained fellowship. Then, too, what man has ordained, man can destroy, so there is no efficacious salvation, and no perseverance of the saints.

This brings us to the conclusion of sovereign man. On both sides of the “iron curtain,” politicians trumpet the claim that theirs is the free world. “The free world” is a curious and popular term in the twentieth century, so commonly used that its meaning is hardly considered. What is the free world free from? First of all, it means freedom from the other side. The enemy represents bondage, “our side,” freedom, although all the while freedom decreases in the West, even as its relics grow fewer behind the Iron Curtain. The less free we become, the more we are told of the virtues of our freedom. But, second, the whole world is not free in its more basic sense, “free” from God. For the Marxists, religion, Biblical faith in particular, is the opium of the masses. For democratic thinkers like John Dewey and James Bryant Conant, Christianity and the family are antidemocratic and aristocratic and hence incompatible with democracy (see R. J. Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education). The Death of God school of a few years ago did not say that God is dead in Himself, but that God is dead for us, because, they declared, we find Him “nonhistorical” and irrelevant to our purposes in this world. Only that which meets man’s needs and purposes is alive for man, and therefore man wants to be free from the sovereign God.

The man who did not believe in “spiritual isolationism,” of which he accused the Christian schools, was emphatic on one point: we must obey the powers that be, the state, because God ordains it. Peter’s words, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), brought little response from him. Obedience to many other things in Scripture, such as tithing, bring no similar strong demand for obedience, but all such are ready to call their compromise with Caesar a faithfulness to God.

But to obey in the Hebrew Scripture means essentially to hear the word of God, to believe it, and to act on it. Therefore W. A. Whitehouse said that the word obey has “the closest possible association with ‘believe’” (A. Richardson, ed., A Theological Word Book of the Bible, p. 160.)

Contrary to the humanistic, democratic mood in religious thought today, Christianity is an authoritative faith. It is held, throughout all Scripture, that all human authority is derived or conferred (or falsely claimed) and is always subject to the sovereign and absolute authority of God and is always subject to the terms of His law-word.

We have an age that wants, if it has anything to do with God, only His fellowship, on man’s terms, and without His sovereignty and lordship. It dares to correct and amend God’s Word; it refuses to hear Him but offers rather to love Him. (One Hollywood “Christian” leader of a few years back spoke of God as “a living doll.”) It wants a universe in which man plays sovereign and creator, endeavoring to create a brave new world out of sinful man, or out of self-centered churchmen, and it produces a fair facsimile of hell. Such a world is begging for judgment, and then as now “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). As always, judgment precedes salvation.

  1. The Way

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 56, November 1984

If we begin our thinking with a false premise, we will work our way to a false conclusion, or, at best, a faulty one. A persistent problem which has plagued the church has been the influence of Greek philosophy. So many of the Greco-Roman converts were men of learning and ability, that their entrance into the church meant also the entrance of alien presuppositions. An important example of this was Origen (a.d. 186–254); Origen was apparently a most appealing figure as well as a scholar of note, but he brought into the church some strange opinions. With respect to Scripture, Origen held to the belief that Scripture’s plain sense could not be accepted. No man of intelligence, he said, could believe, with respect to Genesis 1, that the first, second, and third days of creation were literal and normal days without the sun, moon, or stars. Also, he held it was “silly” to believe, in terms of Genesis 2, that God, like a farmer, “planted a paradise eastward in Eden.” The Bible gave us, Origen believed, “figurative expressions which indicate certain mysteries through a semblance of history and not through actual events” (On First Principles, chap. 3).

For such men, the “truth” of the Bible was not in its material content but in the ideas or principles set forth in the “history” and behind the “history.” For Greek philosophy, there were two kinds of being, matter and ideas; the wise men worked through the material husk to grasp the ideas or principles, the universals.

In the Eastern Church, this approach was very strong. St. Gregory of Nyssa (ca. a.d. 331–ca. 396), the younger brother of Basil the Great, wrote The Life of Moses in terms of this. The law of God through Moses was ignored as too materialistic. Now Gregory’s premise was, “the law does not instruct us how to eat,” because “Nature . . . is a sufficient lawgiver with regard to these things.” As a result, even the Passover was seen in terms of a hidden meaning. Gregory was a leader in the kind of interpretation still popular in some evangelical circles; the law was ignored, but hidden meanings were seen in the tabernacle colors and the colors of the priest’s vestments. Gregory always sought “the hidden meaning” of the Bible’s history, the spiritual truth behind the material dross. Like a good Greek, his trust was in “guiding reason.” Even the Egyptian army in pursuit of Israel was reduced to “the various passions of the soul by which man is enslaved.”

Gregory’s Life of Moses tells us little about Moses or God’s Word. It tells us much about a Greek view of the spiritual life. The Bible became an arcane book which philosophers alone could interpret. It was a book which revealed hidden meanings which only the elite minds could penetrate.

Western, Latin Christianity was less infected by such thinking and grew rapidly and vigorously. However, the revival of Greek thought affected the West in time. From 1100 to 1517, according to scholars, we see the emergence of lay spirituality in the West. Ideas previously limited to some monastic groups now became popular, and doctrine gave way to “spiritual religion.” The new piety, according to Caroline Walker Bynum, in Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (University of California Press, 1982), now located the fundamental religious drama and battle not on the cross, but within man’s self. Religious faith became experiential and revivalistic. Christ’s propitiation was replaced by the individual’s experiential approach to God. By the thirteenth century, some women were preaching, hearing confessions from nuns under them, and bestowing blessings, and some nuns claimed priestly powers. Experience gave authority, it was held, i.e., religious experiences. Gertrude of Helfta spoke to fellow nuns, in the late thirteenth century, of God as “She,” saying that God is a mother. The spirituality of the day became feminized, and, Bynum says, it was held that “in the eucharist, God gives to the soul power over himself.” In Gertrude’s writings, Bynum noted, there is “no reference to a cosmic war between good and evil, little attention to the devil, and little sense of an ontological rift in the universe created by the fall and knit up in some way by the resurrection.”

The medieval church was destroyed in part by spiritual religion, by a shift from Christ and His finished work to man and his spiritual experiences. The Bible had become a book for scholars and pietists, in which levels of hidden meaning were found.

The Reformation stressed the Bible in its historical and doctrinal meaning, and the results were explosive. However, all too soon, the Greek influence was revived. In England, the Puritan power was quickly undermined by the Cambridge Platonists and their spiritual religion. The Anglican, William Gurnall, in The Christian in Complete Armour, saw life as a perpetual inner struggle and inner quest for experience. Gurnall lived and died in a critical period of history without ever making a stand for anything. He was irrelevant to his times, and thus to the faith.

What passes for Protestantism today very often has closer ties to Gregory of Nyssa than to the Reformers.

Of late, many fine persons speak eloquently of restoring “the principled approach” to education, the Bible, and politics. They are echoing Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. Principles are abstractions. They are ideas we see as “basic” to something and which we formulate, as though the goal of thinking is an abstraction. However well intentioned, this method is anti-Christian. The focus of Scripture is on Jesus Christ: He is not an abstraction nor a principle but God incarnate. Our focus cannot be principles or ideas, abstractions, but incarnation. Our calling is to incarnate God’s law-word in all our being, our education, politics, family life, economics, arts and sciences, and all things else. “The principled approach” is a retreat, not an advance; it overlooks the incarnation instead of building on it. It returns to a Greek universalism instead of seeing the unity of the universal and the particular in Jesus Christ and the triune God.

History requires the incarnation, because history is God’s handiwork. History moved to Christ’s incarnation, now moves to our incarnating His law-word in our lives, and in all the world, and to His coming again.

Because God’s history requires the incarnation and its mandate for us, when Christians turn aside from their task, others assume it. And for Christians, with the wealth of God’s law-word and the power of the Holy Spirit, to go after the (purely spiritual) Greek fleshpots is insanity. The result has been antinomianism and irrelevance on the part of the Greeks in our pulpits.

Others have assumed the task of incarnational work. In 1835, David Friedrich Strauss published in Germany his work, The Life of Jesus. Its effect was revolutionary in more ways than one. Strauss divided the Jesus of history from the Christ of faith. The Jesus of history was a Palestinian peasant of whom we know little or nothing, except that He made such an impression on His time and place that all kinds of sayings, miracles, and events were attached to Him, and He was called divine, although the real Jesus was none of these things. Thus far, Strauss had no new statement of great importance. What was important was that Strauss gave expression to a Hegelian philosophy which he related to the idea of Christ. As Marilyn Chapin Massey, in Christ Unmasked: The Meaning of The Life of Jesus in German Politics (1983), points out, European intellectuals for over a century had been affirming that Humanity should replace Christ as the true divinity. Strauss saw the Jesus of history as a primitive forerunner of this idea of the true Christ, the human species, so that “Humanity is the union of the two natures — God become man.” This “God” was Hegel’s Spirit in nature, working blindly to find expression in an evolving culture.

For Strauss, the Biblical history was not true, nor was it important. It is the ideas or principles behind that history which are true. Taken literally, Bible history is offensive because it is supernatural. If things happen in the Biblical manner, which Strauss did not believe, they could not be divine, because the truly divine is the truly natural, working in the evolving natural process.

For Strauss, in differing editions of his book, there were two possible incarnations of this evolving god. First, he could become identical with Humanity, with people as a whole, so that true democracy would express the voice of God. Second, this natural god could incarnate himself in an elite group of philosopher-kings who rule over lesser men. Both these forms of incarnationism are very much with us today.

Unhappily, some churchmen have nothing to offer a world in the grips of a savage war of evil against God but homilies on the colors of the tabernacle furnishings! Origen is alive and well in all too many pulpits. Origen is well known as a man who castrated himself to avoid lust; it did not work! Antinomians have cut themselves off from the power of God and think they have gained thereby.

Origen said, “who will dare to say that the Word of God is of no use and contributes in no way to salvation, but does no more than tell of events that happened in the past and have no relation to us?” Here was the key: everything had to have a “relation to us,” i.e., to our spiritual experience! Now, the many chapters on the construction of the tabernacle (Exod. 25–40) deal with the past, but not our present situation or experience. For the sons of Origen, these chapters on the tabernacle must be spiritualized, and books have been written and many sermons preached on their esoteric meaning. But what does the Bible tell us in Exodus 25–40? It tells us that the living God, the God with whom we have to do, is so precise in His requirements that He permits no creative or innovative designing in His house. This should scare these addlepated “spiritual” leaders. The God who is so exacting and precise about His house will never permit innovative ethics, symbolic theology, or creative churchmanship. This is no God to trifle with by using our imagination to come up with new meanings.

David saw that he could not fight God’s battle in Saul’s armor, nor can we.

Gregory of Nyssa, in his account of Joshua and the spies, cites the bunch of grapes brought back by the spies and suspended on wood as typical of Christ on the cross, and His blood as the “saving drink for those who believe.” Gregory excelled in this kind of imaginative symbolism, and he brought no small intellectual power to the task. But, while Gregory wrote, Rome was dying. Unlike Salvian, he was little aware of that fact. He wrote The Life of Moses in the early 390s, when Rome had not long to live. Not surprisingly, he wrote for monks who had withdrawn from the world. He believed in Aristotle’s doctrine of virtue as the mean, not Scripture’s view of virtue as faithful obedience to the law-word of God. His greatest debt was to Plato, with whom he sought truth in abstractions.

But Jesus Christ declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is a person, not an abstraction, a principle, or an idea, and He declares that truth is a person, Himself. We cannot seek after abstractions and be faithful to Christ. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

  1. Masochism and Antinomianism

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 147, February 1992

A masochist is someone who invites punishment as a way of making self-atonement; an antinomian is one who rejects God’s law. Both are common today and very prevalent in the churches.

I regularly receive letters from people who tell me that “true” Christianity means being saved so that you no longer need to worry about sinning. I have been told of churches which forbid the use of the Ten Commandments in their liturgies or order of worship. I regularly hear of cases where child molesters within a church are restored to their positions, and the young mothers of molested children are rebuked as hard-hearted and lacking in grace if they insist that the tears shed and the professed repentance of the guilty party are not enough, that they should be removed from office and reported to the police. This is antinomianism with a vengeance. It replaces works with words, despising our Lord’s statement, “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20), or, in His brother’s James’ words, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). One minister, who has no use for God’s law, told a young, very viciously abused wife to overlook God’s law and go back to her husband because all her problems would any day be ended by the Rapture!

No society can exist without law. Law is simply enacted morality and a branch of religion. The religion of any society is easily identified by two things, its laws and its education. In the United States, both are humanistic to the core. When the church renounces God’s law, it is thereby giving assent to humanistic law and has joined Christ’s enemies. As a result, the church is in retreat. The new members it adds are too often people seeking fire and life insurance, not the sovereign Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It should not surprise us that an antinomian church has, as its doctrine of atonement, masochism, self-atonement. People feel a special holiness exists in putting up with evil. To cite one example, a type of situation I have encountered a few times in the past decade: A godly woman discovers her husband is a homosexual. All are ready to say, “You poor thing,” until she starts to do something about it. Then she is told that it is questionable whether having male lovers qualifies as adultery! She should “preserve” the marriage, even if her husband tells her to get lost. What about AIDS? Oh, the Lord will protect you, and so on and on. How pious these evil counselors are.

In one instance, a woman destroyed her children by continuing to live with her adulterous husband. They all left the faith in disgust. When the lovely wife began to age as she reached sixty, he left her for a mistress. A few years later, he was felled by a stroke, and the mistress dumped him at the wife’s door. When his speech returned, the bedridden husband laughed at his wife’s stupidity, swore at her pornographically, and was too foul-mouthed for visitors to come near. The man lived on a couple of years this way. The woman’s church considered her “a saint.” Is this Christianity, or is it subsidizing evil?

Recent events make it clear that, while the Soviet Union is near monetary and economic collapse, its military force is stronger than ever, and nuclear submarines of the Soviet Union constantly ring all the waters of the United States They are in a position to issue ultimatums.

The response of some church people is that this gives us an opportunity for special holiness in God’s sight, because, “If thine enemy hunger, give him bread to eat” (Prov. 25:21–22; Rom. 12:20). But this text has no relationship to foreign affairs. It has reference to personal relations with personal enemies; it has reference to overcoming personal enmities with good. It “heaps coals of fire” on their heads; it is, in its own way, a form of punishment which is good. It has no reference to armed ultimatums.

Our Lord’s way, someone insisted to me recently, was always and only love! What about all His indictments of the Pharisees? What about His strong threats to the Seven Churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3? Is it any wonder that the church is weak and impotent, strong in numbers but lacking in faith?

The churches often trouble me more deeply than do the evil nations, ours and others. Evil is evil, whatever the color of its skin or the name of its nation. God has no more respect for a godless Europe and the godless America than for any other anti-God powers of the past. The future does not belong to any nation or race, but only to the triune God, and if we are not in and under His grace and law, we are only salt that has lost it savor, and “thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13). We are either God’s city, set on a hill to give light to the world, or we shall be shoveled under by the onslaught of God’s judgment.

Too often, the church only sounds a message of retreat, and it occupies itself with its petty ways while a world harvest awaits.

The laws of Christendom have their origin, as H. J. Berman’s Law and Revolution made clear, in the doctrine of the atonement. God’s law defines sin, and sin must be atoned for; this atonement required the sacrificial death of God the Son in His incarnation. This tells us how seriously God takes His law and how great His grace is. This means now that we must regard that law as our way of life, our means of sanctification. We do not sin to make grace abound (Rom. 6:1), but as we obey, grace abounds to us.

The future comes from the hand of God. No faithless, antinomian church has any place in that future. Antinomianism undermines the doctrine of the atonement, and it promotes masochism as holiness. Holiness does not mean making ourselves doormats to evil but being faithful to the Lord God and His law-word. Again and again, God, as He gives His law, declares, “Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2; also 11:44; cf. 1 Pet. 1:15–16). Holiness must be our way of life, and it does not mean surrendering to evil.

In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15:53–54, when St. Paul speaks of “putting on” incorruption and immortality, the Greek word is a form of enduo, which means, as James Moffatt rightly rendered it, invested. It has reference to royal investiture, to victory, and to the final conquest of all things and our investiture into God’s eternal purpose for us. It is a mark of accession and victory.

In our Lord’s parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14–30), our Lord condemns to hell the man who saw his duty as merely a holding operation for the Lord. He calls this man wicked and unfaithful. A no-loss, no-gain operation is anathema to Him. We are called to be more than conquerors in Christ (Rom. 8:37), and He had in mind the Roman conquerors. We are to turn this world into Christ’s realm, and we dare not be trumpets that only sound retreat.

The spirit of retreat must stop. What follows from our salvation is this: “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:31–32).

We face worldwide economic collapse, already beginning, wars, overthrown statist orders, epidemics, bad weather, and more. This is a time of judgment, God’s judgment. We either die, or we advance and conquer in Christ’s name.

  1. The Lust for Respectability

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 151, May 1992

One of the very important and revealing moments of our Lord’s life occurred at the great feast of ingathering at the Temple. Because His teaching so clearly manifested Who He was, it created a sensation. The leaders, the chief priests and Pharisees, sent officers to arrest Jesus. The men returned empty-handed. These powers in Judea demanded, “Why have ye not brought him?” The officers answered, “Never man spake like this man.” In disgust, the Pharisees said, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?” (John 7:44–48).

What they were plainly saying was this: no men of prestige, no academicians, scholars, or intellectuals believe in this man. How can you be so foolish as to be swayed by Him?

I submit that you have to understand this episode to appreciate what is happening in the church. The lust for respectability has possessed all kinds of groups and persons. If our Lord were to reappear briefly, instead of casting out demons, He would have to cast out the insatiable lust for respectability in countless Christians and churches. I am regularly told by people that they do agree with us, but they cannot afford to be open about it because of the common belief that we are “outside the camp” of the modern saints and not respectable! Poor, pitiable men!

Both in and out of the church, this lust for respectability dominates our time. Of course, we are all familiar with its most common form, the nouveau riche, the newly rich, or the pretentious parvenus. They are also called social climbers. The sad fact is that very often these people are already equal to or better than those whom they are trying to emulate and into whose circles they are trying to move. Our so-called elite, both in and out of the church, are today usually the epitome of sterility and impotence. For anyone to see any advantage in moving into such circles is pathetic and very sad.

One area where it is very prevalent is in the academic community. There are actually church schools which not only seek state funds, but also state accreditation and teacher certification. There are Christian colleges and seminaries, virtually all, in fact, who boast of their accreditation. This is comparable to believing that Christ should never have begun His ministry without first being certified by the Sanhedrin!

Some will defend themselves by saying that we have set up our own accreditation agency, which they have, in the image of the enemy’s committees! The whole thing is a façade for the lust for respectability.

It is worth noting that some famous universities, such as Harvard, are not accredited. Accreditation is a weapon used by the intellectual establishment to keep the opposition impotent.

I believe that respectability has become one of the great evils of our time. Seminary professors write, not for the Lord’s congregation, but for the opposition, which pays no attention to their work. The monographs and articles by “reformed” and “evangelical” scholars are never used or considered by the modernists unless these men surrender their faith to become a part of the anti-Christian intellectual establishment. This is why the seminary scene is so pitiful a one. These seminaries, in more ways than one, look to the population for approval, not to the Lord.

But this lust for respectability is a death of power in the Lord. Over the centuries, and in many parts of the world today, Christians were and are imprisoned or executed for their faith, while here our churchmen are unwilling to lose respectability for Christ’s sake! I believe our respectable churches and churchmen have become an abomination, a stench in God’s nostrils.

Now, the word respect is a good word, potentially, as is respectability. The problem is the context. There is a difference in being respected by dedicated and self-sacrificing Christians, and being respected by a motorcycle gang, abortionists, or criminals.

St. Paul could say, as he stood before the high priest and the Sanhedrin, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until (or, down to) this day” (Acts 23:1).

The lust for respectability is at war with conscience. Even if we want the approval of “nice” people, we are saying that the opinion of “leading” people weighs more heavily with us than does the standing we have before God and His opinion of our goals. Remember what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:7: “Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.” (The Berkeley Version rendered this verse, “But we make supplication to God that ye may practice no wrong; and our purpose is not that our integrity shall be shown, but that ye may behave well, even though we be classed as counterfeits.”) Think that one over. False churchmen in the New Testament era prized respectability above faithfulness and virtue, and they actually viewed St. Paul as a reprobate or a counterfeit! So much for the respectable Christians of that day. What would they do to him now?

Respectability can at times lead to strange places. George Orwell wrote in 1943 that to be a man who loved his country made him low class, whereas the intellectuals would have praised him and elevated him if he wrote, “a shelf of books in praise of sodomy” (Stephen Lutman, “Orwell’s Patriotism,” in Walter Laqueur and George L. Mosse, eds., Literature and Politics in the Twentieth Century [1967], pp. 150–151).

The arts have replaced Christianity in the modern era as the source of inspiration. Amoralism has replaced morality. In terms of our world today, respectability in intellectual circles goes hand in hand with a contempt for Christianity, and in church circles, with an emphasis on minimal Christianity. The false gospel of the churches holds that a simple, “I believe in Jesus,” can cover all our sins, and give us freedom to indulge in our lust for respectability. But Christ’s atonement alone covers our sins, and our only valid response to His atoning death and our salvation is to be totally and unreservedly faithful to Him, and to obey His law-word. Having given us everything, He will not accept cheap words from us. It is said that hell is paved with good intentions; no doubt it is also full of respectable people!

  1. The Doctrine of Grace

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 159, January 1993

The doctrine of grace is so basic to the whole Bible that failure to understand (and practice) its meaning warps the whole life of Christianity. The meaning of grace in the Old Testament is that it is “God’s favour . . . entirely free and wholly undeserved, and that there is no obligation of any kind that God should be favourable to his people.” The doctrine is covenantal, and “the establishment of the covenant itself was due in the first place to God’s favour, undeserved and unconditioned” (Alan Richardson, A Theological Word Book of the Bible, p. 101ff.).

In the New Testament, the Greek word translated into English as grace is charis, and this word charis is the root of our English word charity. This tells us at once what grace means: it is God’s act of charity to us, in and through Jesus Christ and His atonement. Grace is God’s sovereign and free act, His charitable act, and man therefore contributes nothing to his salvation. As Otto Scott has observed, “God doesn’t need the church to save men.” That God uses the church is also His act of grace, and a church which arrogates undue powers to itself forfeits God’s grace and mercy.

Once we recognize that our salvation, God’s grace, is His act of charity to us, we begin to understand what a life of grace, and in a state of grace, means. It is a life of charity, of sharing our gifts and blessings with others. When our Lord sent out His disciples to preach and to be a healing and giving ministry, He said, “freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8).

At times, the medieval church understood this clearly. So, too, did John Calvin, St. Charles Borromeo, and many more since, such as Thomas Chalmers. The redeemed, those who have received God’s charity, pass on the grace given to them in all forms of charity to others. These acts of charity begin with the gospel, and they continue with every kind of effort to minister to the whole life of man. This is why schools, hospitals, homes for the aged and homeless, orphanages, homes for unwed mothers, rescue missions, study centers, and much more, are all parts of the Christian ministry. “Freely ye have received, freely give.” Giving to all these ministries is an aspect of the life of grace. Having received God’s charity to the fullest measure, we also give in full measure. We may know about grace and do nothing. When we have received it, we act.

This tells us why ours is a graceless age. Charity today is an act of state, its central business, in fact. What the state gives, however, is not truly charity but an instrument of power. From the days of imperial Rome to the present, “charity” or welfarism has been a key means of increasing taxation and controlling the people. It has also been a very effective instrument in undermining the church and Christian charity. The state, not the church, is now the patron of the arts, and not surprisingly, the arts have become largely anti-Christian. The state has seized the areas of grace, of charity, and it now controls them. Not surprisingly, although from 1969 to 1989 the number of Bible-believing Christians in the United States (aged eighteen and over) increased from forty million to ninety-one million, their effectiveness declined, while statism prospered. If the evangelical churches had gained as much grace as they gained numbers, the situation would be radically different. Grace like a fire grows and grows.

Too often today, church people find charitable activities disruptive of their lives; they find that such work puts them into contact with harsh realities when they want comfortable tasks that give them a glow of self-satisfied well being. We all prefer to be comfortable sinners rather than hard-working and disturbed saints, but the Lord God will not long endure our love of creaturely comforts over the duties of grace receivers. “Freely ye have received, freely give.”

If the church people of the United States did no more than tithe, and give a tithe of a tithe of their time to the ministries of grace, it would not take long to eliminate statism, socialism, and a variety of problems facing our society.

Why do the churches and their members fail to respond? The problem is that people want salvation more than grace, as though the two could be separated. For them, salvation means escaping hell and gaining heaven. It means saying “yes” to Jesus, as though the initiative were in man’s hands. Grace means that we, who deserve nothing from the hand of God, receive His charity, our salvation, and that grace in us cannot rest but must reach out to others in one way or another. Grace provides the God-ordained dynamics of history. It comes to us from heaven, and it courses through us into the world. (It does not miss our pocketbook!) “Freely ye have received, freely give.”

Grace is a supernatural fact: it is God’s mercy in us, and it grows in its momentum when it is manifested in our daily lives. God’s charity is not a static thing but a dynamic fact that radically alters all whom it touches. It gives men no humanistic peace nor comfort but rather compels them by God’s Spirit to be more than men choose to be, their own captains and controllers. Grace in history creates changes like an overwhelming flood in that it sweeps away an old order to create a great new one. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). “Freely ye have received, freely give.”

  1. Pragmatism

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 161, March 1993

We will not be able to understand pragmatism if we see it simply as a school of philosophy whose main thinkers have been Charles S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. The roots of these thinkers include Nietzsche, whose philosophy insisted on the greater usefulness of the lie at times, and therefore its validity. For the pragmatists, truth is what works. It is instrumental and experimental. Instead of being subject to a test by God and His revealed word, “truth” for pragmatism is what works for man and the state. This means that you can lie when it is to your advantage. This also means that others can lie to you when it is helpful to them. Most important, the state is not bound to any absolute truth and can therefore lie to other nations and to its own people when this helps the state. The philosophical pragmatists have usually been, and Dewey most notably, hostile to Christianity because of its doctrine of the absoluteness of God and His revelation, because Christianity is held to be antidemocratic. If, as Carl Sandburg held, it is, The People, Yes, then its corollary is, “The Christian God, No.” In pragmatism, the source of truth is not God but man and the state. Truth is what works for them.

This doctrine has quietly infiltrated the churches to the point that preaching and teaching have been radically altered over the past few generations. Preaching is less Biblical: no longer, as in the early church, in the better eras of the medieval church and the Reformation, does the pastor teach systematically through the various books of the Bible. He picks and chooses texts which are likely to be interesting to a “picky” congregation. As for theological and catechetical teaching, it is virtually gone.

What has replaced traditional preaching is pastoral counseling talks, texts chosen each week at random from the Bible because the congregation wants “timely” and above all interesting subjects, and, supremely, sermons that will please the people.

The result has been the destruction of the church. The members are largely ignorant of the Bible and of doctrine. Catechisms are viewed as historical relics, and the teaching ministry is virtually gone.

At the same time, the church member’s knowledge of the faith has undergone a revolution. It has largely ceased to be theological and God-centered and has become pragmatic and man-centered.

The doctrine of God is a good example of this. God is triune, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The attributes of God are divided into those that are incommunicable and those which are communicable. Among the incommunicable attributes of God are his aseity or self-existence (autarkia, omnisufficientia), His immutability or His unchangeable existence and essence, His infinity, and His unity.

The communicable attributes of God include His full self-consciousness, because God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). Thus, we can know God truly although not exhaustively; to know Him exhaustively would mean having a mind equal to God’s. Similarly, we can know the wisdom of God truly through His revelation, even though not exhaustively. The moral attributes of God are central in their communicable nature and are basic to the life of faith. God must be man’s summum bonum, man’s highest good, in that man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. God’s holiness is also a communicable attribute: it is God’s “absolute internal moral purity,” in Cornelius Van Til’s phrase, and man must therefore separate himself from sin to serve the Lord God with all his heart, mind, and being. God is all righteousness or justice, and man must grow in grace and manifest God’s justice.

Much more can be said, but this is sufficient to indicate these aspects of God’s being.

If men lose interest in God Himself, His incommunicable attributes, they soon lose interest in His communicable nature and attributes. Their interests, if pragmatic, are in what God can give to them, in “What’s in it for me?”

Theology also speaks of the ontological Trinity, the ontological God, i.e., God in Himself, in His own being, and also the economical Trinity, God in His relationship to men, in His operation in creation. Interest in the ontological Trinity is minimal wherever pragmatism prevails because then men are interested in what God can provide for them, in “What’s in it for me?”

For example, we can approach Jesus, then, simply as our Savior and as one through whom we pray and get things. I have on occasion been rebuked by pious church members for trying to get them to see more in Jesus than a cosmic Santa Claus who exists to bail them out of their troubles. They are not interested in His office as King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15). They want a Jesus there to help them, not as a Lord whom they must serve. Likewise, they want the Holy Spirit to provide them with a warm glow, not to commission them in the King’s service. This is pragmatism. It approaches the triune God as a resource for man to use, not as the absolute Lord of all creation and of all eternity, whom man must serve, not use.

To put it mildly, it does not please God to be used! Men who do so may believe they are devout because they are perpetually at God’s throne with their demands, but they are in reality being insulting.

It is time for the church to wake up: God is God!

  1. Revolution, Counter-Revolution, and Christianity

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 114, October 1989

On July 14, 1789, the French Revolution began with the storming of the Bastille. In the succeeding months and years, millions were killed to help establish the civil reign of “Reason.” On July 14, 1989, many heads of state gathered in Paris to honor and celebrate that event. Only one, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain, called attention to the murderous nature of the French Revolution and questioned the absurd idea that human rights and freedoms originated in it.

The French Revolution quickly developed into the Reign of Terror, as have all revolutions since then. It was morally and intellectually bankrupt, but men have continued to believe that men, nations, and history can only be regenerated by bloodletting, and murders continue.

The thesis of revolution is radically anti-Christian. Revolutionary man believes that the rise of Christianity was the fall of man, and that the true direction of history must be from Christ to Adam, from supernatural man to natural man. This means that Christianity is the greatest impediment humanity has ever had, and so the forces of revolution seek its obliteration. The greatest holocaust of all history, and of the twentieth century, has been and is the massacre of Christians. It occurs all over the world, and the media is in the main silent concerning it.

In 1989, the evil of revolutions was clearly underscored by the events in China, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, and elsewhere in the realms of humanistic statism. None of this dimmed the determination to celebrate the French Revolution, and to extend the dominion of revolution.

But what about counterrevolution? Did it not finally succeed in Europe after Napoleon? It did indeed, and the successes of the counterrevolution revealed its bankruptcy. Its theorists were right: the old order, however bad, was better; they worked for a restoration.

What they failed to recognize was that the old order was a decayed relic of Christendom. A Christian society could not be restored without a vital Christianity. Chateaubriand could say, “Religion is the source of liberty,” but this intellectual awareness did not necessarily mean a living faith (Jacques Godechot, The Counter-Revolution: Doctrine and Action, 1789–1804 [Princeton University Press, 1971], p. 135). To talk about “God and country” does not align God on your side, nor mean that you believe His every Word.

The failure of counterrevolution, put simply, was that it wanted the form of godliness but not the power thereof, the name of God but not God Himself. Men are not governed by echoes, however lovely their sound, and counterrevolution was an echo.

The greatest theorist of the counterrevolution was Edmund Burke. Burke was a good analyst of his times; he knew the strength of the old order; Burke saw the value of Christian premises, but reality to him was continuity, not Jesus Christ. As a result, Burke’s work was essentially a failure.

Other men recognized the failure of the revolution, and of the counterrevolution. For them, Christianity was not an option. Civilization, as they saw it, needed a new foundation. In this, they agreed with the French Revolution. Two men who were deeply concerned over this issue were Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thomas Carlyle. Both had abandoned orthodox Christianity. Emerson, in “Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England,” wrote of the new generation of men “born with knives in their brains, a tendency to introversion, self-dissection, (and) anatomizing of motives.” These men with knives in their brains put the knife to Christianity. Emerson and Carlyle had seen the removal of Christianity from the center of their own being. Even among conventional Christians, faith was less and less the dominant force in their lives. God’s law was giving way to the state’s law.

Emerson and Carlyle were not as radical as men like Karl Marx, Max Stirner, and Friedrich Nietzsche, although “Carlyle did love destruction for its own sake, the attraction was mainly esthetic” (Kenneth Marc Harris, Carlyle and Emerson [Harvard University Press, 1978], p. 116). As far as ideas were concerned, their premises were very radical. Man and history replaced God and Christ in their thinking (ibid., p. 117ff.). For Carlyle, the hero, and for Emerson, the power of man and his character replaced the power of God (Robert E. Spiller and Wallace E. Williams, eds., The Early Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. 3, 1838–1842 [Harvard University Press, 1972], pp. 243–244, 276–277, etc.).

As counterrevolution developed into conservatism, its premises, despite a sometimes pious façade, became as humanistic as those on the left. Both revolution and counterrevolution, right and left, had become humanistic and explicitly or implicitly anti-Christian. Because the churches are themselves all too often infused with humanism, they have been little disturbed by these developments.

National indignation should have been aroused when it became known that, during the Reagan presidency, homosexual prostitutes and their customers were at times given private, guided tours of the White House. One wealthy homosexual in particular had much power among Republicans (Gary Potter, “GOP Homosexuals: The Reason Why ‘Social Agenda’ Gets Nowhere?” The Wanderer, July 20, 1989, pp. 1, 8). John Lofton wrote in the Washington Times (July 31, 1989) about another prominent Republican who had raped and sodomized a teenaged intern, and in another case, was convicted but given a suspended prison term for a savage five-hour rape of a young woman. A prominent conservative publisher berated John Lofton for writing against a Republican! Apparently only Democratic rapes are bad.

The rot runs deep, not only in the body politic but in the churches. Too many churchmen are too busy warring against each other, or waiting for the Rapture (due in eighteen months, I was told today), and being generally irrelevant to know what is happening all around them.

For some years, I have been in many court trials as a witness for churches, Christian schools, home schools, families, and so on, who faced an attack for their faith and practice. I have seen a state attorney hold aloft a Bible and declare it a child-abuse manual. Several pastors were on trial for requiring the chastising of children in their schools or day-care facilities, although no parents had complained. This was in a southern Bible-belt state. No church members were in the courtroom to lend their moral support. (Neither pastors nor the lawyer have ever informed me of the outcome of the trial, a routine occurrence. So much for the calibre of our churches!)

Incidents like this are commonplace. The enemy is shooting at Christians, and the church is indifferent.

But now total war is under way, as Shelby Sharpe so telling reports it. The purpose is the obliteration of Christianity. If America’s churches do not resist this attack, God will give them over to destruction and replace them with another people and other churches.

In 1 Peter 4:17 we read, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”

What will happen to churches who are blind to what is taking place? And what can we say of a political order, which, faced with crisis upon crisis, plans to convert the country to Methanol-powered automobiles, using a particularly dangerous and poisonous fuel? There is a growing blindness all around us which is a prelude to God’s judgment. There is a concern with irrelevant issues which is always the mark of irrelevant man.

We are at war, but the weapons of our war are not material but Biblical and spiritual ones, and our calling is to believe and obey the Lord, to bring people to Christ, to extend His dominion, and to establish the crown rights of our king in every area of life and thought.

  1. Capturing God?

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 169, November 1993

A persistent problem in the history of Christianity has been the attempt to command or to capture God. It was, of course, basic to most forms of paganism that a continuity of being existed between man and creation on the one hand, and the gods or God on the other. They were held to be all one being. This means that there is an element of control or power to be found in the lowliest aspect of creation, since all share the same being. If my ankle is sprained, I limp: the whole man is affected. Mystics who posit a oneness of all being have held that God feels it and is hindered when we are hurt.

However, if God is absolute and uncreated Being, then all creation is His handiwork, not a part of Him. All things were made by Him (John 1:3), but they are not a part of Him.

But men want a hold on God; they want somehow to place God in their debt; they want to capture God in the web of mortality and to command Him.

The incarnation was used by such people to entangle man’s life with God’s and to place God in man’s debt. The early church had more than a few heresies aimed at asserting, however indirectly, a continuity of being. The Council of Chalcedon, a.d. 451, guided by the Tome of Leo (pp. 440–461), rejected the attempts to capture God in the person of the God-man, Jesus Christ. The council said of Jesus Christ that He is “Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized IN TWO NATURES: WITHOUT CONFUSION, WITHOUT CHANGE, WITHOUT DIVISION, WITHOUT SEPARATION.” The incarnation united the two natures, divine and human, but without confusion, in a unique incarnation. The human cannot become divine. Those who seek to deny this fact cite 2 Peter 1:4, which speaks of our becoming “partakers of the divine nature.” The word “partakers” translates koinonoi, a form of koinonos, meaning “communion.” The usual translation of koinonia is communion. According to M. R. Vincent, the phrase is better rendered, “may become partakers,” “conveying the idea of growth.” In brief, the idea of deification is not in view; the concern is with sanctification and communion.

Great as was the achievement of Chalcedon, and the work of St. Leo, churchmen soon bypassed it to try to establish some kind of continuity of being between God and man. The idea of the great chain of being, uniting all creation to God in a vast unity of nature, was powerful at least through the eighteenth century.

Another approach became even more commonplace, the use of the church to establish divinity on the human order. More than one church called itself the continuation of the incarnation. It is held that the absolute second person of the Trinity became incarnate in the church, and the absolute was thus present in time and history. Protestant groups have insisted that the church is the Body of Christ, a definition which becomes radically false if it is not specified that it is Christ’s humanity, not deity, that the church represents. Christ as the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45ff.) creates and heads in His perfect humanity a new human race, a new humanity, to replace the fallen race of Adam and his seed. There can be no confusion of His humanity and His deity. We are redeemed to be a new humanity in Christ. We are a part of His church, the new human race. We are not deified, nor is His church, nor humanity.

Another indirect method at confusion is to distort the meaning of conversion. Instead of the externality of entrance into an incarnate church, there is the internality of an overstress on the conversion experience whereby man ostensibly gains a pipeline to God and His Spirit, which for some means a personal semi-incarnational power. We receive God’s grace, not His deity. We receive God’s Spirit as our teacher and guide, not to make us God’s manifest presence and voice. An emphasis on internality separates men from authorities such as pastors and churches and seemingly gives them the power to make presumptuous ex cathedra pronouncements. Protestantism is riddled with such nonsense.

But the determining force in the world is not a continuing incarnation in the church, nor the divine witness through persons whose experiences are claimed to be of an incarnational kind. The world’s determining force is the Holy Trinity and its absolute and eternal decree. The absolutism of God’s purpose and decree governs all things. We are God’s creatures; He made us to serve Him, to glorify and to enjoy Him forever. Ours are the duties, not the burdens and ruins of history. We cannot be God, but we can have communion with Him by His grace through Jesus Christ.

The goal is koinonia, communion, not deification. It means a growth in fellowship because we believe and obey the Lord. Man’s sin (Gen. 3:5) broke the communion between God and man; Jesus Christ restores it. Our part is to grow in it.

The word koinonia is practical in its meaning. In Acts 2:42, it means fellowship, that is, the breaking or sharing of food. In 1 Corinthians 1:9 the word is again translated as fellowship, and also in 2 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 2:9; Philippians 1:5; Philemon 6 and elsewhere. It refers to the community of believers, to the common life of the new humanity.

Schattenmann, in the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, volume 1 (p. 644), summed up the meaning of the word thus: “Koninonia in 1 John 1:3, 6–7 does not refer to a mystical fusion with Christ and God, but to fellowship in faith. It is basic in the apostolic preaching of the historical Jesus which cleanses from all sin. It thus excludes the sectarian pride which denies the incarnation and misrepresents the power of sin.”

Every emphasis on church or experience at the expense of the truth of koinonia leads to a devaluation of our Lord. Chalcedon summed it up definitively: only Jesus Christ unites in Himself, without confusion, humanity and deity. We are partakers (2) of God’s grace, not His Being. The first is true Christianity; the second echoes paganism. We cannot command or capture God by church nor by experience. Attempts to do so have only driven us further away from Him!

  1. The Possessor of Truth

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 81, December 1986

The history of the Christian church is a very remarkable one. It tells us of men of faith who carried the gospel into all the world, transformed men who were savages and barbarians into men of God, and made the peoples of northern Europe, many of whom practiced human sacrifice, into cathedral builders and architects of civilization. Despite the attacks of its enemies, the great achievements of the church are obvious and clear.

This does not mean that the church has not been guilty of great wrongs, nor that all criticism is in error. The years ahead promise us, if present trends continue, a dramatic resurgence of Christian power and culture. If Christians as individuals and as churches are going to exert the right kind of influence, and initiate the right kind of action, they must learn from the past, and this means both recognizing our sins and errors, and also reestablishing our roots in the Word of God.

Our concern here is with one particular error, and with its implications. Before doing so, the connection between sin and error needs to be cited. Years ago, I heard about a man who bought his first automobile and, being a successful man, rejected the attempt of the seller to teach him a few things about its maintenance. His attitude was, when I need to have the car taken care of, I’ll bring it back to you. He did, very soon, towed by horses, because of neglect by ignorance of a simple fact. He made a foolish error, because in his sin, he was too arrogant to bother learning a few simple facts. Sin warps our perspective, and the result is often error.

A great error of the churches over the centuries into the early years of the modern era had its roots in the doctrine of the church. The church is the body of Christ; it is a supernatural fact, created by God in Christ, and beginning its life in us with God’s supernatural and regenerating grace.

Moreover, theologians have spoken of the church as militant and triumphant. The Church Triumphant is the church in heaven, the great assembly of the redeemed from the beginning of history until now. The Church Militant is the church in history, working to bring all things into Christ’s realm and rule, to disciple all nations, and to teach them the totality of God’s command word. The Church Militant cannot be severed from the Church Triumphant, but neither can it be identified with it.

The source of great error has been the belief that there can by definition be only one true church. In a very real sense, this is true. Outside of Christ, there is no salvation. Peter declares, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This fact is basic to Christianity.

The problem arises when we predicate what is true of the church in Christ for the church as an institution in history, with sinful and fallible men as members and officers thereof. What is true of Christ is not true of us, and what the church is in eternity, it is not yet on earth.

The belief in “our” church as the one true church has marked East and West, Orthodox and Latin churches alike, Catholics and Protestants, as well as the Anabaptists. It has led to persecution, because if “our” church is the one true church, we cannot view with kindly eyes false churches.

Because of this belief, a gradual shift took place in church life. Earlier, men sought to formulate creeds, confessions, and theological treatises in order to correct error and further the truth. The answer to error was to deepen one’s knowledge of the faith and to proclaim the truth as the corrective to error.

However, in time, as each group identified itself as the one true church, it followed that they saw themselves as the sole possessor of truth. Over the centuries, each has seen the “fallacies” in the positions of other churches while remaining confident in itself as Christ’s one true body and voice.

In a very real sense, this identification had pagan roots. Paganism, like humanism today, absolutized the temporal, and this is idolatry. In terms of God’s law, idolatry is a fearful offense. A particular church may be closer to the truth on certain particulars, i.e., a specific doctrine, a form of government, and some other facet of the life of the church, but no church this side of heaven can be defined as the one true church. When God says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3), He does not thereby ask us to judge the other churches but to clean up our own lives and to separate ourselves from every idolatry of church, nation, race, person, and so on.

From Old Testament times, however, the covenant people have looked to themselves rather than to God in defining the true order. God through Amos (9:7) asked the people of Israel “Do you think you are more than the children of Ethiopia to me, O children of Israel?” Israel like the church stood only by God’s truth.

Given this propensity to believe that one is the sole possessor of truth, it followed that each group felt that its control over a people made all the difference between eternal life and eternal damnation. According to Scripture, it is Christ, not the church, who makes the difference.

Absolutizing one’s perspective, group, or powers is the constant problem of history. It is one of the marks of the apostate intelligentsia of the modern era. In the eighteenth century, the French philosophes believed in “the omnipotence of criticism.” Our modern intellectuals use more modest language, but their beliefs are no different.

In the political sphere, men and nations are prone often to regard their nation as the bearer of civilization, so that the welfare of mankind depends on their survival and triumph. The Lord God did very well when the modern nations did not exist, and He will do better when they are gone!

Our Lord tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). He did not say, “the church is the truth, and no man can go to the Father apart from the church.”

When a church falls into idolatry and sees itself as the possessor of the truth, it shifts its ministry from the lordship of Christ to the lordship of the pastors, elders, bishops, deacons, or whatever its authorities may be. Such an idolatrous church then makes central to its dealings with its members not departures from Scripture, but disagreements with the idle and oppressive pontificating of the church’s little caesars.

St. Paul, though inspired of God and personally called to the apostleship by the revelation of Jesus Christ, still wrote humbly, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ” (Phil. 3:12).

It is not we who are the truth of God, either as individuals, nor as churches. The triune God can never be contained and limited to an institution, however great.

Solomon dealt with this issue at the dedication of the Temple. The Temple had what no church has ever had, the tabernacling presence of God in the Holy of Holies. But Solomon said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (1 Kings 8:27). If the Temple could not be viewed as the sole possessor of God and His truth, how can any church make such a claim? The church becomes great by serving Christ, not by exalting itself.

To scale down the claims of the church is not to scale down the truth of God, His absolute claim on us, and the exclusive truth of His revelation. Rather, it is to recognize the servant role of churches and peoples.

We need to recognize that the more naturalistic and humanistic men and institutions are, the more they see themselves as the voice of truth. Having denied a truth over them, their only truth is, after Hegel, what is incarnated in history as the state and its elite rulers. The less Biblical we are, the more idolatrous we become. It should not surprise us that Marxism is radically idolatrous. Absolutizing the temporal is always idolatry wherever it appears.

Foolish churchmen have often seen themselves as the truth (and also as the wrath) of God. This is idolatry, and God will judge such men. Not the church, nor men, but Jesus Christ is the truth of God, and He alone is our Redeemer.

The Death Wish of Modern Man (December 1986)

At our staff breakfast recently, John Saunders commented on the fact that modern humanistic man has a death wish and is suicidal. The humanists are thus destroying themselves. Otto Scott added that in the process, they are surrendering the world to the Soviet Union, and us to slavery.

Proverbs 8:36 declares, “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” To understand our times, we must understand the importance of this verse. Life apart from the Lord is suicidal; it is a rejection of the conditions of life. Since all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3), all conditions of life are God-created. God’s law is a condition of life.

It is useless to look to solutions which neglect this fact. A suicidal people will vote for death, not for solutions which lead to life. This does not mean that voting is not very important, but it does mean that the heart of the matter is that people who vote, act, and live suicidally have a very serious religious problem. “For whoso findeth me findeth life” (Prov. 8:35).

We have today an international drug problem; we have abortion, homosexuality, alcoholism, a high suicide rate, and more. We have a declining birth rate, an evidence of a loss of faith in a good future, and we have a zero-expectations generation. We have occultism, Satanism, and destructive forms of music.

With all these things, to expect hope in anything else than a return to a radical faithfulness to God is illusory. Man cannot live by bread alone, only by the every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4). The redeemed in Christ will hear and obey Him.

  1. The Source of Law

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 198, March 1996

The Enlightenment saw itself as the source of light and liberation because it replaced the priority of religion and the church with the rule of reason and the state. The long night of superstition it held to be ended by the shift of civilization to a secular basis.

Before long, an emptiness set in. The English Enlightenment figures had seen many of their hopes realized after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, so with them disillusionment set in earlier than on the Continent. The leaders of thought tended to become very corpulent because for them little meaning remained other than physical satisfaction. Garth and Fenton, Edmund W. Gosse tells us in Gray, became fat and could not be persuaded to get out of bed. Swift, Thomson, and Gray were marked by physical and mental decay. The joy of life was waning for many.

In France, the Marquis de Sade pushed the logic of the Enlightenment to its bitter end. God had been displaced by nature and natural law. Sade held that, without God there could be no law nor morality. The natural sphere makes evil legitimate because murder, theft, rape, sodomy, incest, prostitution, bestiality, and all other offenses are natural. In a natural law order no law nor morality can exist because the natural is alien to them. Law and morality are alien because they represent a supernatural imposition on the natural. The universe for Sade has no God nor law, and no society can justify reasonably any law except Nature. And Nature leads us to do what Christianity falsely calls sin. For Sade, the worst mania was religion, Christianity in particular, not sexual mania. Christianity regards the natural as fallen, whereas for Sade the natural is normative.

Because for Sade there is no God, or, if He exists, He must be disobeyed and warred against, ultimacy for Sade resided in nature, which in origin was chaos. If chaos be ultimate, then the revitalizing force in society is chaos. Christian revivalism recalls people to God and to Christ because the Creator and Maker of all things is the triune God. If, however, chaos is ultimate, then the true revival meeting is a sexual orgy, a Saturnalia, a massive tide of promiscuity and sexual “freedom.” The acts proscribed by Christianity must be legalized, i.e., promiscuity, abortion, homosexuality, bestiality, necrophilia, and more. Sadean man sees Christianity and its moral order as stultifying, and its own sexual program as liberating.

Both positions are logical. If God be God, the living God, and the Bible is His infallible Word, then personal and social revivification require that God’s law govern man and that man seek regeneration for his fallen and sinful estate through Christ and His atonement. Fallen man is held to be dead in his sins and trespasses and therefore incapable of self-renewal and self-salvation. Neither man nor society can then be renewed apart from Christ’s atonement and regenerating grace.

This means that the doctrine of creation as an act and not a process, as something done by God’s fiat word in six days, requires that man look to God and not to Nature. Nature does not exist per se, but is a collective noun applied to God’s creation. Nature like man is fallen, and the whole order, instead of being normative, is in need of redemption. As one man has stated it, Nature does not lead to chastity; it is Christian faith that does. The consistent Christian thus cannot see either “Nature” or the fallen political realm of the state as capable of giving us valid law. Their direction is anti-God, and they express a hatred of God and His law.

To affirm the ultimacy of chaos in any fashion is to enthrone chaos in every sphere. We now have scientists who see chaos as the source of order! Their account of the universe of “multi-verse” holds that random conditions of order are a natural product of chaos. Their theory is an evasion of the fact of cosmic order.

Within the church, the infiltration of the Hegelian-Darwinian mythology has had devastating consequences. Too many churchmen have surrendered and either adopted the evolutionary myth or else compromised with ideas of theistic evolution and the like. All such thinking represents process philosophy. It means, above all, that God being at least compromised as the Creator and Maker of all things, is also not the lawgiver. What has priority also has determining power. If Nature is our source, then Nature gives us our law. But if chaos is our point of origin, then chaos is the determiner, and the state, in assuming the power to make law, holds that it is our bulwark against disintegration. The state, thus, is for modern man the source of order. The state, however, has a problem, because the modern state is not Christian, and it affirms in its state schools the myth of evolution and therefore the priority of chaos. The modern state is to some degree implicitly anti-Christian, even where an establishment of the church exists. The state needs order, but, by its humanistic premises, must oppose Christianity and its insistence on God’s order and law. The modern state has established evolution as its official faith, and it thereby encourages anti-law Sadean man. It is thus in the unhappy position of establishing disorder and lawlessness.

Meanwhile, the churches, by their compromise on the doctrine of creation, have made themselves irrelevant. They have become radically antinomian. Their antinomian thinking reduces God from His throne of rule to an advisory chair. Because God is no longer stressed as the absolute Creator of all things in heaven and earth, He is therefore not the predestinator nor the lawgiver but simply a kindly spiritual adviser. “Spiritual” Christianity does not want to think of God’s power nor law. Its concerns are above mere mundane matters. It is more interested in getting out of this world than occupying it in Christ’s name. Instead of working for dominion, it seeks sweet surrender to spiritual influences. It abandons Christianity for a faith comparable to the old Roman mystery religions.

The source of law is the sovereign power. If the sovereign power be nature, the state, man, or chaos, then the character of that power will dictate our way of life. The culture of our time does not see the sovereign power nor determination in God’s hands, and therefore it does not serve God even when it professes to believe in Him.

It is interesting to note that interest continues in both Hitler and Stalin. The interest is not historical but psychological, an absorption in their evil use of power. Both were twentieth-century man, anti-Christian and with a vicious use of power. Donald Thomas, in The Marquis de Sade (1992), tells us that according to Restif de la Bretonne, “Danton read Sade to excite himself to new acts of cruelty during the Terror of 1793” (p. 11). Sade held egoism to be nature’s primary law (p. 137), and the twentieth-century has agreed with Sade. Voltaire wanted to destroy Christianity but at the same time keep the common man faithful to its morality. Events proved Voltaire a fool and Sade the more logical of the two. But the greater folly is to be found among churchmen who believe that the world will retain some good law and morality while departing from Christ, as though all that is needed is faith to ice man’s cake, a kind of donum superaddition to make even better man’s “good” life. But man outside Christ is lost in his sins and trespasses, and he lives in the suburbs of hell. He is subject to sin and death and is without hope. Men must find their law where their salvation is to be found, in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity and His Word, the Bible.

  1. Incorporation

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 50, May 1984

One of history’s most important doctrines is today widely subject to abuse, neglect, and attack. This is the concept of the corporation. In any truly strict definition of the term, no corporation existed outside of the Biblical revelation nor apart from Scripture’s doctrine of a people created by God’s covenant. Some Roman developments had a resemblance to the corporation but cannot be identified with it.

The word corporation tells us much. It is from the Latin, and is related to the term common in medieval faith, “De corpore et sanguine Domini,” “the body and blood of the Lord.” In its original sense, the corporation, which means a body which does not die with the death of its members, has reference to the body of Christ, His church. This corporation, Christ’s body, has as its origin covenant Israel; the calling of twelve disciples to replace the twelve patriarchs of Israel had as its purpose to set forth the continuity of the corporate covenant community. The church is the new Israel of God; it used that term, “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), to distinguish itself from the Israel of blood.

The church thus, as the original and true corporation, has an earthly as well as a supernatural life. It is here in history, but it is also “the heavenly Jerusalem”; it is “an innumerable company of angels,” and the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:22–23). Paul says that Christians are “one body in Christ” (Rom. 12:5), i.e., a corporate entity in and of Him. We are all “baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:12–20), wherein there are “many members, yet one body.” The texts which stress this fact are too many to cite in so small a compass as this. The church saw itself from the beginning as a “corporation,” a body whose life and continuity did not depend on the life of its members.

It is amazing that there is so little to be found on the significance to society of the doctrine of the church as Christ’s corporation. It is one of history’s most revolutionary doctrines, and it has influenced many areas of life and thought. A key sphere of influence has been, for better or worse, the state. One of the problems of the non-Christian world was long the lack of any concept of continuity. The office or person of a king might be sacred, but rule was personal, i.e., noninstitutional. Subordinate rulers swore loyalty, not to a civil government, but to a man, a ruler. The death of that ruler dissolved the ties, and his successor had to regain loyalties through demonstrable power to compel it. The result was that civil authority was purely personal in most cases, and very erratic as a result. This was a problem Rome tried to solve, but not very successfully. With the rise of Christendom, this problem lingered. The Holy Roman Empire continued in the old pattern, and, as a result, alternated between great power and virtual nonexistence as an effective force.

Not surprisingly, the doctrine of the church as Christ’s corporation began to influence society. It should be added that the church was not the only corporation set forth in Scripture: the family is another. When a man dies, the Bible tells us he is “gathered unto his people” or his fathers (Gen. 49:33), or, with some analogous term, stresses the family’s corporate unity. Naboth’s refusal to sell the vineyard to Ahab was due to this corporate fact: it was the property of his father before him (1 Kings 21:3), and of his descendants after him. This strong sense of the family as a corporate religious entity has been the reason for the survival of the Jews; with the rise of humanism, the Jewish family is now disintegrating. Within Christendom, many of the problems created by men in their false sense of dominion, and women with their feminist rights movements, have been due to a failure to recognize the corporate nature of the family in Biblical law. That corporate nature, and its relationship to the doctrine of the church, is very forcefully set forth in Ephesians 5:21–33.

Ernst H. Kantorowicz, in The King’s Two Bodies (1957), set forth the statist use of this concept and its many perversions, in the medieval and early modern developments of the doctrine. The Crown became a corporation; hence, it could be said, when a king died, “The king is dead; long live the king,” because the monarchy did not die with the death of one monarch. The state indeed went so far as to see itself as the mystical body of Christ and as the true and central Christian corporation. The consequences of this and other perversions are very much with us, and in well developed forms. The fact that, since Hegel, a pantheistic theology undergirds the doctrine of the state does not alter the fact that the modern state sees itself as the true church or kingdom under whom all things subsist. The state sees itself as god walking on earth and as the great corporation of which all men are members.

The Bible tells us that there are two great bodies or corporations, with all other bodies as aspects of the one or the other. These two are the humanity, body, or corporation of the old or first Adam, and that of the new or last Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:45–50). The modern state sees itself as the supercorporation, embracing both. St. Augustine saw the two humanities as the Kingdom or City of God, in Christ, or the City of Man, in the fallen Adam. The state without Christ is in the City of Man and is no different in character than a band of robbers; it is an evil, criminal agency oppressing man. Augustine did not counsel revolt, because he knew that the key to change is regeneration in Christ, not revolution.

The influence of the concept or doctrine of incorporation or the corporation went beyond the state into the world of commerce. The business corporation echoes, whether or not it knows it, the Biblical doctrine of the church.

Two things may be said at this point. First, it goes without question that the doctrine of the corporation has, in humanistic hands, been greatly abused and misused. However, this should not lead us into overlooking a second fact, namely, that the concept of the corporation has given continuity to man’s activities in one sphere after another. Medieval and modern institutions have a continuity and history unlike anything in the non-Christian world.

What the corporation doctrine has enabled men to do is to transcend the limitations of their time and life span. Men can create and develop a business, a school, or an agency whose functions live beyond themselves. This has been a very revolutionary and Biblical fact. The Bible tells us that man is earthbound, and, because of his sin, will return to earth, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19). However, this is not the whole story. We are also told, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). That a man’s works can survive him on earth is obvious; we are told that they follow him beyond the grave. Such a faith gives a great confidence in both time and eternity. Men can work knowing that their “labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Granted that corporations are not necessarily good (nor necessarily bad), it still remains true that the concept of the corporation has been important in history by giving continuity to the works of men. Among other things, the original corporation, the church, has given a new meaning to time. Time is now time in terms of Christ, b.c., Before Christ, or a.d., Anno Domini, the year of our Lord, in Christ. Previously, time was commonly dated in terms of the accession of the current ruler, i.e., in the first year of Mithradates, or the eighth year of Antiochus, and so on. There was no continuity, only an endless beginning and ending. Now all time is in Christ, and His body is the great corporation. That pattern gives continuity to all of life, so that human activities now have a life span beyond that of their founders. Moreover, all that the ungodly accumulate shall flow into God’s Kingdom, so that its continuity will prosper His people (Isa. 54:3; 61:6, etc.). The continuity serves Christ, and us in Him.

The development of corporations in Western history has been very important. Many Christian corporations were established during the medieval era to carry on specific Biblical duties and to organize people for common action to meet a specific Christian need or function. Attempts at statist control were also common. In the reign of James I of England, that monarch held that corporations could only be created by the fiat of the state. This meant that neither a Christian calling nor vocation could create a corporation but only the Crown.

In the United States, virtually total freedom existed for generations for all kinds of corporations. The incorporation of a church or Christian agency of any kind was simply a legal formality notifying the state of the existence of such a body and its immunity from statist controls. In recent years, the statists have turned that notification into a form of licensure and control. The matter can be compared to filing a birth certificate. When the birth of Sarah Jones is recorded by her parents and doctor, permission for Sarah Jones to exist is definitely not requested; rather, a fact is legally recorded. Similarly, in American law, religious trusts, foundations, or trusts did not apply for the right to exist but recorded their certificate of birth, their incorporation. The current Internal Revenue Service doctrine is that the filing is a petition for the right to exist. This turns the historic position, and the First Amendment, upside down. It asserts for the federal government the “right” to establish religion and to control the exercise thereof. As a result, a major conflict of church and state is under way.

At the same time, many abuses of the concept of a church corporation prevail. Some organizations sell “ordinations” as pastors and priests to enable men in the evasion of income taxes. This kind of abuse does not invalidate the integrity of a true church, nor is it a legitimate reason for the entrance of the state into the life of valid churches.

Then too, because of the intrusion of the federal and state governments into the sphere of church incorporation, some are advocating disincorporation by churches. Given the vulnerability of the church as an incorporated legal entity to statist controls, we should not forget the total vulnerability with disincorporation. In some court cases, the results are proving to be especially disastrous. If our weapons against an enemy prove to be somewhat defective, does it make sense to throw away those weapons and to disarm ourselves?

Not only should the church fight for the freedom of incorporated existence, but Christians need to establish a wide variety of Christian foundations to meet their wide-flung responsibilities in Christ. Educational foundations to further the promotion of Biblical faith and knowledge are needed. Christian charitable trusts to minister to the needs of the poor, prisoners, the sick, delinquents, and more are urgently needed. Hospitals are a product of Christian corporate activity to minister to human need; they were once all Christian. There is a need to reclaim this ministry which, in humanistic hands, has become increasingly a problem.

Christian corporations or foundations were once the ministries in the spheres of health, education, and welfare, and there is a growing return to responsibilities in these areas. These agencies use God’s tax, the tithe, to exercise government in key spheres of life in the name of Christ. They are outside the sphere of statist taxation and control, because they are areas of Christ’s Kingdom and government.

We have a weak doctrine of corporation today because we have a weak doctrine of the body of our Lord, and of communion. If we limit the doctrine of corporation to the institutional church, we limit the scope of Christ’s work in the world. To incorporate means to give body to something; we need to incorporate our faith into the total context of our world and to minister and govern in our various spheres in Christ’s name and power.

THEOLOGY & DOCTRINE

  1. Box Theology

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 39, April 1983

In the presidential address to the Economic History Association September 12, 1980, Richard A. Easterlin commented on the fact that the modern era began with the rejection of the medieval church (and, one can add, Christianity), and “humanity ultimately took up a new ‘religion of knowledge,’ whose churches are the schools and universities of the world, whose priests are its teachers, and whose creed is belief in science and the power of rational inquiry, and in the ultimate capacity of humanity to shape its own destiny” (Journal of Economic History, vol. 41, no. 1 [March 1981], p. 17). We can add that the great agency of this new religion is the modern humanistic state. If a religion is not catholic, universal in its faith, jurisdiction, and scope, it will quickly fail. Religion by its very nature either speaks to all of life, or it in time speaks to none. Man by his nature has boundaries to his life and activities; they are inescapable for man. There are boundaries to my property, my abilities, and my authority. By definition, no god nor religion can have boundaries and limitations to its sway without self-destruction. A god is either sovereign and total in his jurisdiction, or else he is soon no god at all; something else bests him and replaces him. All the false gods of history until recently were false gods because the men who made them also placed limits upon them. This was especially clear with the gods of Rome; they were created by men, the Roman Senate specifically, and hence men always had priority over the gods. The gods in time became more and more obviously tools and a department of state for the Roman Empire, which claimed catholic or universal sway and sovereignty for itself.

In the modern world, the humanistic state claims this sovereignty: it is the modern god walking upon earth. The modern state claims sovereignty and catholicity; the United Nations is the attempt of humanistic statism to attain true and full universality and catholicity.

Meanwhile, the Christian church is busily departing from the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and His necessary catholic jurisdiction. Christianity is increasingly limited to a “spiritual” realm (of which it now concedes vast areas to psychology and psychiatry), and the rest of the world is granted to the state.

The result is box theology. To understand what box theology is, let us compare the universe to the Empire State Building, a great, modern, skyscraper office building. In box theology, the church claims one small office among hundreds for Christianity. All the rest of the building is given over to the jurisdiction of the state and the sciences. One area after another is deemed nonreligious and is surrendered. This is done despite the fact that God is the Creator and Lord of the whole universe and therefore has total and absolute jurisdiction over all things. God’s law-word, jurisdiction, and authority must govern all things. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).

The jurisdiction of the church is a limited one, but the jurisdiction of the triune God, of Christ our King, and of the Bible, God’s law-word, cannot be limited. Every area of life and thought must be under the dominion of the Lord: He alone is truly sovereign. To limit the jurisdiction of Christ is to posit a limited god, one who cannot survive because a limited god is a contradiction and is no god at all. If God is God, if He truly is the Lord or Sovereign, everything must serve Him and be under His dominion, the state, schools, arts, sciences, the church, and all things else. To limit the jurisdiction of the God of Scripture to the soul of man and to the church is to deny Him. A limited god cannot save man, because he is not in control of all things; what he does today can be undone tomorrow, and his “salvation” is at best temporary.

Box theology limits the church, moreover, and destroys it. If the church and its word is limited, to return to our image, to one room and none other in the Empire State Building, then its only legitimate area of concern is the church, and, to a degree, the soul of man. There can then be no dealing with the problems of the age, because they lie outside the jurisdiction of the church.

The results are both deplorable and revolting. The “world” of the church is then no larger than the church; it is boxed into its narrow little room. All its battles then are waged within that “world,” the church. This means that the world of the church in box theology becomes a realm of continual civil war, Protestants and Catholics against one another, Arminians and Calvinists in opposition to one another, and so on. This does not mean that the issues between these groups are inconsequential. It does mean that subordinate issues are made the only ones. The crown rights of Christ our King over the whole world are then neglected or forgotten. The necessity of bringing politics, economics, the arts and sciences, education, the family, all peoples, tongues, tribes, and nations under the dominion of Christ the Lord is truncated or short-circuited.

Box theology believes it is strict because it is narrow in its scope, whereas a true strictness claims all things for Christ the King. This false strictness leads to Phariseeism and to censoriousness. (One such pathetic little group of box theology advocates rails at all other Christians in issue after issue. One recent publication actually declared that John Whitehead “scorns the cross” because he disagrees with their view, and held that I believe in the Inquisition, arriving at this by a wild misreading of one of my books! These are the pathetic dead, revelling in their narrow coffin box.)

Box theology men battle against their fellow Christians continually, while the world claims more and more of Christ’s realm. Because box theology allows the state to be sovereign or lord, it offers no resistance to statist controls. As a result, in state after state, where attempts to control the church are in process, many advocates of box theology insist on surrender to the state and sometimes go to court to witness for the state against the resisting churches.

Box theology is implicit polytheism. It says in effect that there is one God over the church, but other gods over every other realm, or else, that all realms other than the church are neutral realms. These “neutral” realms are not under the mandate of Scripture but are free to follow the dictates of natural (fallen) reason wherever it leads them.

This idea of neutrality is, of course, a myth. If the God of Scripture is the true and living God, there can be no realm of neutral facts and neutral jurisdiction. All things are under God’s sovereignty and law, and nothing can exist apart from Him, nor can any law be valid other than His law. To claim neutrality for any realm is to deny that God created it, and to posit neutrality is to cease to be a Christian.

Because God is God, His jurisdiction is total, and His sovereignty absolute and indivisible. No human institution, neither church nor state, can claim any jurisdiction beyond its limited sphere. Thus, while the church has a limited sphere of authority under God, the word it must proclaim is the word of the total God for the totality of life and thought. The word proclaimed by the church cannot be limited to the church, because, if it is Scripture, it is not the word of the church, but the word of God. The word judges all things, governs all things, and offers hope in Christ to all men and all areas of life.

Box theology is dead theology, with a god too small to speak to anything more than the church. In its own way, box theology proclaims the death of God, because a limited God ceases to be God. The forces of humanistic statism have advanced only through default. Churchmen have retreated from and abandoned one area after another to the humanists, and many continue to retreat. Sigmund Freud saw the inner world of man as the last domain of Biblical religion; all other spheres had been captured.

By converting psychology (the word concerning the soul) from a theological to a scientific discipline, and guilt from a theological fact to a scientific concern, Freud hoped to make religion totally irrelevant (see R. J. Rushdoony, Freud). Even more than Freud, the pietists have been remarkable in their enforced limitations upon Biblical faith.

Ironically, the bankruptcy of humanism has increased as its sway and power have been broadened. When the Enlightenment triumphed over the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, it brought into sharp focus a development which had previously marked the Renaissance era, the rift between classes. There had previously been very serious problems between the rich and the poor, but the fact of a common faith and a common life in the church had provided a bond and a basis for community, a hope for the potential solution to problems. Christian faith had stressed a necessary harmony of interests.

With the Enlightenment, the common faith gave way to a widening gulf and to hostilities. Leon Garfield, in The House of Hanover (1976), called attention to the fact that, with the first Hanover ruler in England, the first Riot Act was passed. The foreign king, George I, was a fitting symbol of the fact that rulers and the people were now foreigners one to another. The people, said Garfield, were prone to rioting. Silk-weavers, coal-heavers, sailors, powdered footmen, gaolbirds, and ex-soldiers, all were rioting. Ex-soldiers from Marlborough’s foreign wars turned highwaymen, and the modern age came with the affirmation of “Reason,” and with riots.

The number of offenses which received the death penalty grew steadily, but so too did crime. Today, too, we have many who believe that stricter laws and penalties will solve the problem of crime, but they did not then, nor will they now. All such men have their own version of box theology or box philosophy. Hanging children for stealing a loaf of bread did not stop crime or juvenile delinquency in eighteenth-century England; the evangelical awakening, a partial return of Puritanism, did much to alter the situation.

Moreover, law and order have various meanings in the Soviet Union, Red China, Sweden, and the United States, but they are all variations of humanism. Only Biblical law and order, coupled with the regenerating power of Jesus Christ, can alter a society.

Ultimately, any faith which does not have the triune God of Scripture and Jesus Christ as its Alpha and Omega is a box philosophy or theology, and this is clearly true of our new imitation catholicism, the modern humanistic state. However totalitarian its claims, its faith fails to be universal or true, because it boxes itself in to insulate itself from God and His law-word. It is thus dead to life and to truth, and it is doomed to collapse and the grave.

The law of the modern state is the law of death. In both the United States and Canada, for example, pornography trials have as their premise “community standards.” Whether it be adult or child pornography, the test of its legality is the community standard. This is the legal enactment of Genesis 3:5, every man as his own god, knowing, or determining for himself, what is good and evil. Such a “community standard” as law means that, if the community favors abortion, theft, murder, rape, or incest, these things can become legal.

A box theology or philosophy is finally no bigger than man, whether man’s pietism or man’s sin, but, in any case, it is no bigger than man. God’s sentence upon it is the sentence already pronounced on all the sons of Adam, and upon all their institutions, philosophies, and theologies — death. There is no escaping this sentence apart from Jesus Christ, who is the Lord or Sovereign over all men and all creation.

To acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord is to bring ourselves, our every thought, every action and word, all spheres of life, and all institutions, under His jurisdiction and law-word. Box theologies and philosophies are finally allotted a narrow box by God; its name is hell. The glorious liberty of the sons of God is to be a new creation in and through Jesus Christ, to work for the fullness of that new creation, and to dwell therein eternally in the great consummation by Him who makes all things new.

  1. Covenant Versus Détente

Chalcedon Position Paper No. 85, April 1987

St. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 6:14, sums up a basic premise of God’s law: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

In Exodus 23:31–33, all treaties and alliances with godless nations are banned, and this is restated in Exodus 34:12–16, where this ban includes interfaith marriages. We are also told that all such unequal yoking is the prelude to idolatry (Deut. 7:3–4). Not only are treaties and marriages religious facts, but they also presuppose and require, if they are to succeed, a common morality, law, and truth. Every religion has its own doctrine of morality, of law, and of truth. If we believe in Marxism, then we believe that truth is instrumental; there is no absolute truth, and words are as surely to be used as weapons as are guns. For Marxists, law and morality are determined by the dictatorship of the proletariat, and they are thus also relativistic and instrumental, not binding. The same words thus mean different things to a Marxist and to a Christian. Failure to recognize this fact means that Christians are regularly duped. They are duped because they refuse to take God’s law seriously. They are not covenantally minded.

A covenant is a treaty of law. God’s covenant with man is an act of grace whereby God gives to man His saving grace and the laws of life, of holiness and righteousness or justice. Because God gives us His law as an act of grace, we cannot violate His covenant, His treaty with us in Christ, by entering into a treaty with any unbelieving nation or in marriage with an unbelieving person. To do so is to renounce God and His covenant for other gods. It is an act of apostasy and unbelief. From beginning to end, Scripture speaks plainly on this issue. It tells us that the source of detente is unbelief.

The word detente is relatively new to English; it comes from the French, and only in very recent years has it gained much usage. It presupposes a humanistic religious faith and mission.

Dale T. Irvin, a liberal seminary professor, has spoken of mission as “dialogue,” not conversion. For a time, Irvin met regularly with a group of prison inmates, not to convert them, but to hold a dialogue with them. (Some would say that the prisoners converted him!) Irvin is dubious that “salvation comes only through one particular story, one particular history.” He is happy that “a new form of mission” is now underway, and promoted by such groups as the Seminarians for Peace. This new mission is “coexistence.” For the “Christian” participants in this kind of mission, i.e., such as the Seminarians for Peace, “it was clear that the categories of Western Christian thought are in their last hours.” For such people, there is no exclusive truth or revelation, and traditional, orthodox Christianity must die in order to make way for “a new humanity.” For Irvin, the true resurrection is to enter into a worldwide coexistence, with all the old “forms” now “integrated into the common life of humanity” (Dale T. Irvin, “Mission as Dialogue,” in M. D. Bryant and H. R. Huessy, editors, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy: Studies in His Life and Thought [Edwin Mellen Press, 1986], pp. 203–216).

In this perspective, all that matters is humanity as such, not God, not truth, not justice, only the coexistence of humanity, only detente.

From China, we get a like word. The Beijing Review, January 12, 1987, tells us that Mao Tse-tung, in “Two Talks of Philosophy,” wrote: “The extinction of mankind and the earth is different from the ‘end of the world’ preached in Christian churches. We predict that after the extinction of mankind and the earth, more progressive things will replace mankind, that is, a higher stage of development.” Mao went on to say, “Marxism also has its emergence, development and extinction. This may sound strange, but since Marxism holds that everything born must die, why shouldn’t this apply to Marxism itself? It is metaphysics to deny its extinction. Of course, more progressive things will replace it.” In such a faith, the only thing not permissible is the belief in an absolute God, the God of Scripture, and His truth.

In another issue of the Beijing Review (January 5, 1987), a student, Shi Ling, confesses that she once believed in a fixed Marxism and hence found it “hard to believe our great Chairman Mao had made such monumental mistakes.” But she did believe, because the state told her so! She came to understand, and she titled her article, “What Marxism Means.” It means that, “if reality changes, knowledge must change . . . Inflexible doctrines must be discarded.” A true Marxist thus recognizes that it is change which demonstrates vitality. For this reason, “Marxism is powerful and there is hope for socialism.”

In terms of this, instrumentalism is basic: people, words, truth, treaties, and all things else are valued only insofar as they can be used. There are no unchanging values. In terms of this, detente, not covenant, is man’s practical course of action. One American general, in expressing his dissent with U.S. foreign policy and its dedication to detente, did so on Christian grounds. He was told that his “devil theory” of foreign policy (i.e., a belief that the issues involve good and evil) is “untenable.”

The Bible tells us that our relationship to God is a covenantal one, that is, it rests on His grace and is in terms of His law-word. On both counts, it is personal. “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Sin, moreover, is the transgression of the law of the totally personal God, and it is offensive to Him. In the humanistic state, law is an impersonal fact, whereas to the triune God sin is a personal affront. When the concept of “crime” replaces “sin,” we depersonalize the offense. The legal charge then is the state versus the criminal, whereas in Scripture it is God versus man. Humanism also depersonalizes the relationship between the sinner and the one sinned against. Marriage becomes a legal tie, not a totally personal union which involves two persons, two families, and all society.

The covenantal relationship is under God. The humanistic relationship is ultimately atomistic and is governed by autonomous man.

To remove the covenant of God as the foundation of man’s life and of law and society is to open the door to total relativism, to detente. Because of the spirit of detente, i.e., peaceful coexistence, we now have a major movement to legalize sodomite and lesbian marriages. There is also a move to drop adultery as a ground for divorce, property divisions in divorce, and children’s custody. The logic of detente requires us to subordinate all things to peaceful coexistence.

The poet William Blake was an early advocate of detente. He wrote of it honestly as The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In any such “marriage,” heaven must cease to be heaven, for to coexist with hell is to turn all things into hell.

St. Paul tells us that unequal yoking is evil and forbidden; it is also a surrender, because what fellowship can righteousness or justice have with unrighteousness, or injustice? What communion, he asks, can light have with darkness? The requirements for detente with darkness is to put out the light!

It is startling, then, to find that many churchmen who piously oppose mixed marriages advocate mixed politics, mixed everything, as the “common sense” perspective. There is an old saying about something or other not having a snowball’s chance in hell. The point in this saying is that a snowball in hell is not in its proper context. A snowball at the North Pole has a good “life expectancy,” but not at sea level at the equator. The same is true of all unequal yoking.

We have today many advocates of cultural, educational, and political conservatism who preach detente, unequal yoking, as the solution. One conservative periodical recently hailed this concept as the hope of the future, as the solution to our problems. A. A. Hodge a century ago saw the fallacy in such thinking. Speaking of state education, he wrote, “he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing” (Popular Lectures on Theological Themes [1887], pp. 283–284).

At one time, both Catholics and Protestants opposed all such unequal yoking; now, too often both are frequently avid for it. At one time, a declaration by God commonly recognized and obeyed was His word in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”

The Lord God is emphatic that He will not give His glory to another. The prophets repeatedly declare God’s wrath and judgment on all persons and nations who practice unequal yoking, who make alliances with ungodly nations, and who believe that man’s diplomacy and detente rather than God’s law is the way to peace and to victory.

If the Old Testament and the New are true, then it is clear that we face a worldwide judgment for our policies of detente. We have made our peace with evil and become evil. We have had more faith in detente than in the power of our covenant God. We have done evil and called it good. The men and nations of the world have treated God and His law as irrelevant and immaterial to their problems, and now they face their greatest problem, the wrath of God. Detente is an alliance with evil to accomplish a humanistic good, and it is therefore as much under God’s judgment now as in Biblical times. God who does not change, condemns all forms of detente.

Liberation theology is a form of detente. It is easy to condemn such an unequal yoking. However, does such a practice of detente become tenable and holy if we practice it? Does “our side” define what is good, or does God? The essence of injustice and evil is, “In those days there was no king in Israel (i.e., God was rejected as king): every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judg. 21:25). The covenant requirement is, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart” (Deut. 6:6) and shall govern all of life. Jesus Christ is the covenant Redeemer, come to create a new covenant people and to empower them to establish His kingdom.

All who are brought into the covenant of God by His grace are, in terms of Scripture and the ancient laws of covenants or treaties, vassals of God in Christ. The vassal cannot enter into any treaty with another power, or with anyone who is not also a vassal of the triune God. To do so is to betray the covenant and to be guilty of treason. The covenant God requires uncompromising and unswerving allegiance. Then alone is our warfare God’s warfare.

The curses pronounced in Scripture are curses against covenant-breaking, and the blessi