Dec 22, 2010 by Daniel Eby
Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus and Titus offer us clear illustrations of God’s government over the rulers of nations. The following reflections of Charles Rollin, Professor at the University of Paris, written in 1731, eloquently reveal the greatness of Almighty God as He governs the nations: that He disposes all events as supreme Lord and Sovereign, and that He determines the fate of kings and the duration of empires.
This is Part Two of a three-part series taken from the Introduction of Rollin’s four-volume set on Ancient History. Part One was: God is Sovereign over all Nations; and Part Three will be titled: History, the Nations and the Messiah Prince.
…Not to mention Egypt, that served at first as the cradle of the holy nation; and which afterwards was a severe prison, and a fiery furnace to it; and, at last, the scene of the most astonishing miracles that God ever wrought in favor of Israel: not to mention, I say, Egypt, the mighty empires of Nineveh and Babylon furnish a thousand proofs of the truth herein advanced.
Their most powerful monarch…were in God’s hand, as so many instruments, which He employed to punish the transgressions of His people. He lifted up an ensign to the nations from far, and hissed unto them from the end of the earth, to come and received His orders (Isaiah 5.26,30). He himself put the sword into their hands, appointed their marches daily. He breathed courage and ardor into their soldiers; made their armies indefatigable in labour, and invincible in battle; and spread terror and consternation wherever they directed their steps.
The rapidity if their conquest ought to have enabled them to discern the invisible hand that conducted them. But says one of these kings (Sennacherib) in the name of the rest: By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: And I have removed the bounds of the people and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people,; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth or peeped.
But this monarch, so august and wise in his own eye, how did he appear in that of the Almighty? Only as a subaltern agent, a servant send by his master: The rod of his anger and the staff in His hand (Isaiah 10.5). God’s design was to chastise, not to extirpate His children. But Sennacherib had it in his heart to destroy and cut off the nations. What then will be the issue of this kind of conquest between the designs of God, and those of this prince? At the time that he fancied himself already possessed of Jerusalem, the Lord, with a single blast, disperses all his proud hopes; destroys, in one night, a hundred fourscore and five thousand of his forces: and putting a death hook in his nose, and a bridle in his lips (as though he had been a wild beast), he leads him back to his own dominions, covered with infamy, through the midst of those nations, who, but a little before, had beheld him in all his pride and haughtiness (2 Kings 19.28).
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, appears still more visibly governed by a Providence, to which he himself is an entire stranger, although it presides over all his deliberations, and determines all his actions.
Being come at the head of his army to two highways, the one of which led to Jerusalem, and the other to Rabbah, the chief city of the Ammonites, this king, not knowing which of them would be best for him to strike into, debates for sometime with himself, and at last cast lots (Ezekiel 26-28). God makes the lot fall on Jerusalem, to fulfill the menaces he had pronounced against that city; viz. to destroy it, to burn the temple, and lead its inhabitants into captivity.
…The same Nebuchadnezzar, eager to immortalize his name by the grandeur of his exploits, was determined to heighten the glory of his conquests by his splendor and magnificence,, in embellishing he capital of his empire with pompous edifices, and he most sumptuous ornaments. But while a set of adulating courtiers, on whom he lavished the highest honors and immense riches, make all places resound with his name, an august senate of watchful spirits is formed, who weigh, in the balance of truth, the actions of kings, and pronounce upon them a sentence from which there lies no appeal. The king of Babylon is cited before this tribunal, in which there presides a Supreme Judge, who, to a vigilance which nothing can elude, adds a holiness that will not allow of the least irregularity. Vigil et sanctus. In this tribunal all Nebuchadnezzar’s actions, which were the admiration and wonder of the public, are examined with rigor; and a search is made into the inward recesses of his heart, to discover his most hidden thoughts. How will this formidable inquiry end? At the instant that Nebuchadnezzar, walking in his palace, and revolving, with a secret complacency, his exploits, his grandeur and magnificence, is saying to himself, Is not this great Babylon that I built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty (Daniel 4.30)? in this very instant, when by vainly flattering himself that he held his power and kingdom from himself alone, he usurped the seat of the Almighty: a voice from heaven pronounces his sentence, and declares to him, that, his kingdom was departed from him, that he should be driven from men, and his dwelling be with the beasts of the field, until he knew that the Most High ruled in the kingdoms of men, and gave them to whomsoever, he would (Daniel 4.30-31).
This tribunal, which is for ever assembled, though invisible to mortal eyes, pronounced the like sentence on those famous conquerors, on those heroes of the pagan world, who, like Nebuchadnezzar, considered themselves as the sole authors of their exalted fortune; as independent of authority of every kind, and not holding of a superior power.
As god appointed some princes to be the instruments of his vengeance, he made others the dispensers of his goodness. He ordained Cyrus to be the deliverer of his people; and to enable him to support with dignity so glorious a function, he endued him with all the qualities which constitute the greatest captains and princes; and caused the excellent education to be given him, which the heathens so much admired, though they neither knew the author nor the true cause of it.
…But Isaiah affords us this light, and delivers himself in words suitable to the greatness and majesty of the God who inspired him. He represents this all-powerful God of armies as leading Cyrus by the hand, marching before him, conducting him from city to city, and from province to province; subduing nations before him, loosening the loins of kings, breaking in pieces gates of brass, cutting in sunder the bars of iron, throwing down the walls and bulwarks of cities and putting him in possession of the treasures of darkness and the hidden riches of secret places.
The prophet (Isaiah) also tells us the cause and motive of all these events. It was in order to punish Babylon, and to deliver Judah, that the Almighty conducts Cyrus, step by step, and ives success to all his enterprises. I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways, for Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect (Isaiah 64.13-14). But this prince is so blind and ungrateful that he does not know his Master, nor remember his benefactor. I have surnamed thee, though thous hast not known me… (Isaiah 65.4-5).
Methinks the reality of this noble image, and the execution of this great plan (religion only excepted), appears in the government of Cyrus, of which Xenophon has given us a picture, in his beautiful preface to the history of that prince. He has there specified a great number of nations, which, though far distant one from another, and differing widely in their manners, customs, and language, were however all united by the same sentiments of esteem, reverence, and love for a prince, whose government they wished, if possible, to have continued for ever, so much happiness and tranquility did they enjoy under it.
To this amiable and salutary government, let us oppose the idea which the sacred writing give us of those monarchs and conquerors, so much boasted by antiquity, who, instead of making the happiness of mankind the sole object of their care, were prompted by no other motives than those of interest and ambition. The Holy Spirit represents them under the symbols of monsters generated from the agitation of the sea, from the tumult, confusion, and dashing of the waves one against the other; and under the image of cruel wild beasts, which spread terror and desolation universally, and are for ever gorging themselves with blood and slaughter. How strong and expressive is this coloring?
Nevertheless, it is often from such destructive models that the rules, and maxims of the education generally bestowed on the children of the great are borrowed; and it is these ravagers of nations, these scourgers of mankind they are destined to resemble. By inspiring them with the sentiments of a blindness ambition, and the lover of false glory, they become ( to borrow of an expression from Scripture) young lions: they learn to catch the prey, and devour men—to lay waste cities, to turn lands and their fatness into desolation by the noise of their roaring (Ezekiel 19.3,7). And wen this young lion is grown up, God tells us, that the noise of his exploits, and the renown of his victories, are nothing but a frightful roaring, which fills all places with terror and desolation.
The examples I have hitherto mentioned, and which are extracted from the history of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians, prove sufficiently the supreme power exercise by God over all empires; and the relation he thought fit to establish between the rest of the nations of the earth, and his own peculiar people. The same truth appears as conspicuously under the kings of Syria and Egypt, successors of Alexander the Great: between whose history, and that of the Jews under the Maccabees, every body knows the close connexion.
To these incidents, I cannot forbear adding another, which , though universally known, is not therefore the less remarkable; I mean, the taking of Jerusalem by Titus. When he had entered the city, and viewed all the fortifications of it, this prince, though a heathen, owned the all-powerful arm of the God of Israel, and , in a rapture of admiration, cried out, “It is manifest that the Almighty has fought for us, and has driven the Jews from those towers, since neither the utmost human force, nor that of all the engines in the world, could have effected it” (Josephus).
Dec 12, 2010 by Daniel Eby
And those of us who find ourselves under the thumb of such tyranny and unlawful government would do well to hold on to the fear of God and the knowledge that God governs in the affairs of men. He will bring to naught the plans and dreams of those who attempt to build their socialist new world order, for surely the nations of this world shall become the nations of our God.
It is in this light that we who hold fast our faith in Christ must firmly plant the light of the Gospel into the soil of civil government and politics. And while this nation–read ‘empire’–may find itself in the balances of justice and be destroyed if it does not repent and turn back to God, still God’s people and His kingdom will continue to prosper as they honor and obey His laws. New nations may be formed out of old nations, and some day in the future nations will learn to obey all that God commands. In these nations men may finally find the lasting liberty that all men in time and history have sought.
The following reflections of Charles Rollin (Professor at the University of Paris) written in 1731 eloquently reveal the greatness of Almighty God as He governs the nations—that He disposes all events as supreme Lord and Sovereign, and that He determines the fate of kings and the duration of empires. These reflections will be published in three separate posts. Part One: God is Sovereign over all Nations; Part Two: Kings and Rulers under God’s Government and Judgment; Part Three: History, the Nations and the Messiah Prince .
The study of history would be unworthy of a serious attention, and the great length of time bestowed upon it, if it were confined to the bare knowledge of ancient transactions, and an unpleasing inquiry into the eras when each of these happened. It little concerns us to know that there were once such men as Alexander, Caesar, Aristides, or Cato, and that they lived in this or that period; that the empire of the Medes and Persians, who were themselves subjected by the Macedonians, as these were afterwards by the Romans. But it highly concerns us to know by what means those empires were founded; the steps by which they rose to the exalted pitch of grandeur we so much admire; what it was that constituted their true glory and felicity, and what were the causes of declension and fall.
It is of no less importance to study attentively the manners of different nations; their genius, laws, and customs; and especially to acquaint ourselves with the character and disposition, the talents, virtues, and even vices, of those men by whom they were governed; and whose good and bad qualities contributed to the grandeur or decay of the states over which they presided.
Such are the great objects which ancient history presents; exhibiting to our view all the kingdoms and empires of the world; and at the same time, all the great men who are any way conspicuous; thereby instruct us, by example rather than precept, in the arts of empire and war, the principles of government, the rules of policy, the maxims of civil society, and the conduct of life that suits all ages and conditions…
But another object of infinitely greater importance claims our attention. For although profane history treats only of nations who had imbibed all the chimeras of a superstitious worship, and abandoned themselves to all the irregularities of which human nature, after the fall of the first man, became capable; it nevertheless proclaims universally the greatness of the Almighty, His power, His justice, and, above all, the admirable wisdom with which His providence governs the universe.
If the inherent conviction of this last truth raised, according to Cicero’s observation, the Romans above all other nations; we may, in like manner, affirm that nothing gives history a greater superiority to many other branches of literature, than to see in a manner imprinted in almost every page of it, the precious footsteps and shining proofs of this great truth, viz. that God disposes all events as supreme Lord and Sovereign; that He alone determines the fate of kings, and the duration of empires; and that He, for reasons inscrutable to all but Himself, transfers the government of kingdoms from one nation to another.
We discover this important truth in going back to the most remote antiquity, and the origin of profane history; I mean to the dispersion of the posterity of Noah into the several countries of the earth where they settled. Liberty, chance, views of interest, a love of certain countries, and similar motives were, in outward appearance, the only causes of the different choices which men made in these various migrations. But the Scriptures inform us, that amidst the trouble and confusion that followed the sudden change in the language of Noah’s descendants, God presided invisibly over all their councils and deliberations; that nothing was transacted but by the Almighty’s appointment; and that He alone guided and settled all mankind agreeably to the dictates of His mercy and justice. The Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth (Genesis 9.8-9).
We must therefore consider as an indisputable principle, and as the basis and foundation to the study of profane history, that the providence of the Almighty has, from all eternity, appointed the establishment, duration, and destruction of kingdoms and empires, as well in regard to the general plan of the whole universe, known only to God who constitutes the order and wonderful harmony of its several parts, as particularly with respect to the people of Israel, and still more with regard to the Messiah, and the establishment of the Church, which is His great work, the end and design of all His other works, and ever present in His sight. Known to the Lord are all His works from the beginning (Acts 15.18).
God has vouchsafed to discover to us in holy Scripture, a part of the relation of the several nations of the earth to His own people; and the little so discovered, diffuses great light over the history of those nations, of whom we shall have but a very imperfect idea, unless we have recourse to the inspired writers. They alone display, and bring to light, the secret thoughts of princes, their incoherent projects, their foolish pride, their impious and cruel ambition; they reveal the true causes and hidden springs of victories and overthrows; of the grandeur and declensions of nations; the rise and ruin of states; and teach us what judgement the Almighty forms both of princes and empires, and consequently, what idea we ourselves ought to entertain of them.
Dec 4, 2010 by Susan Eby
“Nama, you have to say, ‘Please may I have a spot of tea–’” my two and a half year old granddaughter Sadie instructed me this afternoon as we sat at her little play table. When I complied, she cheerfully responded, “Certainly! I have a fresh pot!” We chatted as we sipped our pretend tea and I gazed upon that beautiful, sweet face of innocence.
I cannot count the number of times I have gazed into the faces of each of my grandchildren, as I did Sadie’s as we sipped our pretend tea, wondering what lies ahead for them. I have prayed, over and over, for each one of them as Jesus prayed for His disciples in John 17, “not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one,” especially as I consider how far our nation has fallen from morality, justice, and truth. Many times, I’ve felt desperate for individuals in our nation who would rise against the tide of ungodliness that’s sweeping over our land, and I have felt intense remorse that these beautiful young children have come into a world that’s straddled them with such unfathomable debt and is drowning in such moral decline.
As a mother, and now a grandmother, I know what it’s like to have the intense, innate drive that a woman has to protect her young. It’s in the fiber of who and what I am. This concern for the freedom and protection of my posterity is what forms the passion with which I am compelled to participate, however I appropriately can, in the civil sphere.
Yet frequently, I still hear Christians comment that they are “not called” to participate in political issues, and far too often women are content to remain uninformed about what is going on in the political arenas. It baffles me. With the unprecedented collapse of morality, and the continuous loss of liberty in our land that has a direct effect upon our children and our homes, it seems evident that every Christian’s duty is to be informed, and to learn to apply the truths of God’s Word to civil government.
In order for success to be found in the lives of our posterity, there must be an unwavering commitment to ‘eternal vigilance’ in all three of the spheres of God-ordained government: the home, the church, and the state or civil sphere. Each of these spheres is equally valid, and each is subject to the ultimate authority of God. In the home, the church, and the civil sphere, we are responsible to uphold a high standard of godliness in order that we may realize the blessing of God.
It’s ludicrous to suggest that a parent should wait to feel ‘called’ to train his children. It isn’t good enough to merely father children into this world and then retreat, believing that one’s responsibility in the home is accomplished. Or, that having fathered children, someone else who is ‘called’ can take on the responsibility for the remainder of their training. As Christians, fathers and mothers are necessarily compelled to maintain a high standard of godliness in the home, to diligently train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to protect them from harm. Every parent will attest to the fact that this exercise is one of ‘eternal vigilance.’ There are no days off.
Likewise, Christians have no option as to their involvement in the church. Just calling ourselves Christians isn’t sufficient for the success of this God-ordained sphere. We are instructed in the Bible that when we come together in the church, every one has something to contribute, and it is every Christian’s responsibility to guard the integrity and purity of the church. The adverse affects of a deviation from the godly standard in either the home or the the church is obvious– and sadly, our land is currently rife with them.
In America today, we are also suffering the unfortunate results of deviation from a standard of godliness in the civil sphere, the shocking result of Christians’ having retreated from this very important area of influence. When Christians retreat, the ungodly rush in, and all of us are left with the chaotic and immoral influences that seek to infiltrate every corner of our lives, robbing us of more and more God-given freedoms.
It isn’t good enough to just vote, although voting is essential. It also isn’t sufficient to merely be a member of the correct political party. Every Christian must find where his or her areas of responsibility lie in the civil sphere, and commit to it. That does not necessarily mean running for office (although we do need Christians in offices), but we all need to be informed and involved. Because if Christians aren’t willing to raise a high standard of godliness in the civil sphere, there is nothing left for our children except tyranny in an already godless society.
The Bible records the story of Hezekiah in what is likely the epitome of a parent’s disregard for his posterity. When Isaiah warned Hezekiah that everything he owned and everything his “fathers have stored up for this day shall be carried to Babylon,” and that his own sons would be taken away and become eunuchs [i.e. the end of his posterity] in Babylon, his response was incomprehensible: “The word which you have spoken is good. Is it not good if peace and truth be in my days?” (2 Kings 20:16-19) Whatever happened to the great and godly king of Israel?
Christians today, even the ones who truly seek to obey God sincerely, are living in a large degree in this “Hezekiah mentality.” As long as they themselves are comfortable, they hold little or no regard for their posterity, and will sacrifice very little for their children beyond giving them the material satisfactions that can guarantee their current comfort. The message cannot be clearer: everything we own and everything that our forefathers have laid up for us is on the brink of being carried into “Babylon.” And we will lose our children, unless we determine to do whatever is necessary to secure our, and our posterity’s, liberty.
John Adams once wrote, “The science of government is my duty to study more than all other sciences…I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.”
Obviously, not everyone will run for office for the sake of the cause, but there are so many places where individuals, and women in particular can participate. Dan and I raised our young family by having them with us during discussions on political issues and candidates, by taking our children with us to participate in the election process, in campaign parades, handing out flyers door to door, phone-calling, or waving signs. We all worked hard as we participated together in election rallies (helping to decorate, organize, run tables, hand out information…) or campaign dinners and events. In their adolescence, our kids wrote speeches, articles, or letters to the editor dealing with various issues, applying the truths of the Bible to their reasoning and conclusions.
As a young mother, my daughter-in-law is currently committed to staying informed on issues, and often calls representatives to voice her support or objection over current issues and bills being considered. Writing is a better way for me to express my support or concern, so I frequently write letters to the editor of several papers (*I will include some of these in future articles.) And, by all means, it’s so important to have discussions with your children, even your young children, about the issues that affect them and the necessary qualifications of the candidates. (*I will also be posting an upcoming article on teaching your young children a basic understanding of “government.”) In recent days, my five-year-old grandson has been wearing a sticker supporting a current godly candidate for sheriff, and my reference to his comments about the then-presidential race that I wrote about in my previous article, “The Impossible Calling of Motherhood” is a clear indication of the conversations that take place at his house.
Even now, my husband and I are currently involved in a Christian political party whose structure includes holding study groups in order to educate the grassroots in the absolute importance of applying our faith to the understanding and practice of civil issues, politics, and the structure of our civil system. We host planning and educational meetings at our home and are preparing for hosting upcoming study groups. Furthermore, prayer groups are absolutely essential for our nation! As God told Solomon, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron.7:14)
For the sake of our posterity, Christians have a responsibility to be involved in the civil sphere, and to faithfully teach our children the causes and effects of good, God-honoring government. Long ago, George Washington exhorted the people of our nation to understand their responsibilities in light of God’s sovereignty. He urged them to “raise a standard to which the wise and honest may repair. The event,” he said, ” is in the hands of God.”
Nov 28, 2010 by Clay Ciolek
The attack is on liberty. We enjoy it but the current generation doesn’t realize what it will take to keep it.
Ethical dilemmas are created; we are:
Free to fly, but subjected to a full-body pat-down. Do I have the right to demand the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) put on a fresh pair of gloves? What if the TSA agent is homosexual? What if a pat-down supposedly finds something, how much clothing comes off? At that point, what if I’m a Mormon with official underwear? What if I don’t wear underwear at all? What if it’s a conviction to only wear a dress, or I’m Scottish and prefer my kilt? What if I’m ticklish and my knee accidentally hits the TSA agent in the face? Will it be considered an assault?
Free to fly, but a husband and father has to stand by and watch his wife and children be subjected to what is tantamount to molestation, visually and/or physically. If the husband did the same thing to a stranger it could be considered a criminal offense.
Free to fly, but how do non-profit adult-chaperoned traveling groups consisting of minors handle the situation without prior consent and direction of parents and guardians?
Free to fly, but at risk if I don’t read the fine print. If I’m turned back at the TSA check point, will I be guaranteed a full refund by my airline (that had no part in making these rules)? At that point how would I get my checked bags back, along with the baggage handling fee? If no refunds are given, can I write off the expenses on my income tax as a loss?
If I’m required to fly as part of my job can I file a sexual harassment complaint against my employer for the pat-down?
Free to fly, but what will be the next implemented security measure?
Since government buildings were also under attack during 9/11, it would only be consistent that all Federal and State Buildings have scanners and pat-downs in addition to their metal detectors. This way, every day, judges, government workers, and elected officials can have their daily dose of radiation or begin the morning in a touchy, feely kind of way.
Hopefully the groundswell of revolt will continue until the government senses anarchy.
The unfortunate party is the already struggling airline industry, which may really feel the people’s choosing to opt out of flying altogether.
I suggest every traveler carry a release form. After all, if they can ask for my full name I should be able to obtain theirs. The form would contain statements requiring signatures of TSA agents guaranteeing/acknowledging:
Rumor has it Muslim women wearing burkas are exempt. Aren’t they associated with the group that started this whole reaction?
Where we go from here in the land of the “free” will depend on the principled brave we have at home.
Nov 15, 2010 by Lorne Blackman
Surrounding the recent elections has been much talk of the resurgence of conservatism brought about by reaction to skyrocketing debt, recession and the ramrodding of Obamacare and other socialistic programs emanating from Washington. But does this resurgence represent a major turning point—or perhaps even the beginning of a new political era, as the people at Fox News would have us believe? Or is it just another short term reaction, a small swing in the pendulum, as the nation takes a breather before resuming its long course down the road to socialism?
Should Christians find hope in a conservative resurgence? In reality there is little left for conservatives to conserve. Statism has bankrupted the nation and corrupted the culture. The Biblical worldview that once shaped and guided American cultural, legal, ethical and political thought, and which laid the foundation for liberty, limited government, the family and public morals is all but lost. Humanism dominates our courts, our legislatures, our schools, our media, our political campaigns and our economy. Marriage and the family are in chaos. Christ’s name is censored from public life. The Gospel has been reduced to a salvation-only message, leaving the Christian church irrelevant as a culture-shaping influence. While conservatives argue with liberals over taxation and spending, the future of America is being determined in the public schools where new generations of future leaders are systematically indoctrinated in the secular evolutionary worldview, thus ensuring the growth of socialist government for decades to come.
Conservative Americans have been resisting progressivism since before the founding of the nation, and long before the founding of the so-called modern conservative movement. But seemingly everything they resist eventually becomes reality: Social Security, Medicare, legalized abortion, no-fault divorce, growth and centralization of government, federal income taxation, deficit spending, debauchery of currency (paper money)—to name just a few. All these things were at one time (rightly) opposed by conservatives. Today the conservative losing trend continues with healthcare, the redefinition of marriage, the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle, the federalizing of education, etc. Eventually, the thinking person must ask whether conservatism can ever be effective as a political philosophy. Is losing a predetermined outcome? Does conservatism offer a valid alternative to secular progressivism or does it represent nothing more than base emotional reaction to change?
The ironic reality is that conservatism is not an alternative to liberalism, but a partner. It represents the other face of the same coin. It has no fixed political philosophy of its own, but acts as the slavish counterpart to the progressive ideology. Together, the two form opposing sides of shifting, relativistic political spectrum, the whole of which has been marching relentlessly toward unbelief and socialism. Conservatism may slow the advance of its opponent, but it also eventually affirms his gains. Conservatism represents one-half of an unwinnable Hegelian dialectic.
Conservatism does not exist in and of itself because it owes its purpose, vitality and funding to the success and existence of its liberal counterpart.
Conservatism is motivated to preserve the status quo against the progressive aggressor. It is therefore inherently reactionary and defensive in outlook. Even though it will win some battles, it will surely lose the war. That is a predetermined outcome. A defensive war cannot be won. Conservatism is inherently powerless to bring about sweeping, long-term changes to human society.
Conservative values are relativistic. They change with the times. Today’s conservatives often support policies that would have been unthinkable to yesterday’s liberals, let alone America’s founders. Some even zealously defend egregiously unconstitutional and socialistic programs such as Social Security, Medicare, federal education initiatives, and international nation building. Conservatism’s eventual acceptance and affirmation of many progressive humanistic ideas affirms the validity of the progressive cause and encourages progressives in their struggle. Success is just a matter of time. Conservatism is essentially the shadow of liberalism.
The problem is one of worldview. So long as most Americans perceive the world through a relativistic “left vs. right” or “conservative vs. liberal” or “republican vs. democrat” perspective, they are blinded to the fundamental long-term political evolution that has been occurring in America for many decades, if not centuries. This defective worldview and shifting reference point blinds men to long-term political and spiritual trends. In this respect, political conservatism serves not as an answer to liberalism, but as an unwitting partner as the two jointly lead America down the path to humanistic socialism.
So if conservatism is powerless to oppose liberalism, what is the answer? How can we restore American’s taste for liberty, limited government, the sanctity of the family, and fiscal responsibility? First, it must be understood where these ideas came from. They did not originate with conservatism, which is powerless to preserve them, much less to create them. These ideas are the products of Bible-believing Christianity. It is imperative that believing Americans learn to differentiate between conservatism and Christianity.
In the US, it is easy to confuse conservative and Christian principles since our customs, traditions and founding philosophies, which conservatives still tend to support, were heavily influenced by Christianity. But this linkage is coincidental, not absolute. Remember that in China, the conservatives are the old-guard communists. In Christ’s time it was the Pharisees, who in their desperation to preserve their position in the old order, actually preferred declaring loyalty to the hated Caesar over Christ. Even in the US, conservatism can and will demonstrate its hostility to Christianity as the latter becomes far enough removed in time or purpose from the comfort zone of the former. In the US, many conservatives, even Christian conservatives, respond with hostility to Christian ideas such as calling for the withdrawal of Christian families from the secular public school system, privatizing social security, conducting a non-interventionist foreign policy, or forming an explicitly Christian political party to promote Christian principles and candidates.
It is essential for believers to grasp that the Christian faith differs from conservatism in that it is neither conservative nor preservative, but rather transformational. It has exceedingly broad implications for every area of life—beginning with the conversion of the individual heart and mind. The transformation process continues outward through the family and finally extends through the culture, permeating law, politics, economics, and civil-government. In contrast to conservatism, Christianity provides for a fundamentally progressive –Christian progressive- approach to living, teaching, governing and reforming. This is a difficult concept to grasp for many conservatives who have come to view progressivism as inherently evil.
Secular-progressivism and Christian-progressivism are polar opposites. The former is humanistic, with progression away from God and toward statism. The latter is a Christ-centered progression away from statism. In the former, men become subservient to the state. In the latter, men govern their lives, families and communities according to Christ’s perfect law of liberty. Private institutions prosper as the role of the state is minimized. Christian progressivism is the rejection of statism where men choose life under the light yoke of Christ instead of under the iron yoke of the state. As the polar opposite of statism (humanism), only Christianity can serve as a remedy to statist philosophy and its socialistic fruits. Thus at its core, the contest is spiritual, and secondly political.
A goal of Christian political action includes the articulation of the Gospel answers to a nation that desperately needs them. America needs to visualize practical Christian alternatives and models for education, business, politics, welfare and health care if it hopes to displace humanistic thought and socialist institutions. Only Christianity can provide a substitute for the idols of statism. Only Christianity can rebuild the foundations that it inspired in the first place.
Displacing the idols of statism will require nothing less than a complete transformation of the political debate and the revival of a national Christian conscience. Believers need to understand that America needs Christ, not socialism and not the pretended salt of conservatism. This is true for politics as well as for the individual. It is Christ alone who gives us liberty and He is the only remedy to the evil fruits of unbelieving political philosophy.
Christians must heed the Biblical directive and stop allowing their thinking to be spoiled by unbelieving worldly philosophy (“after the traditions of men and the rudiments of this world and not after Christ”). They must commit themselves to discerning a Christian perspective of life and politics rather than allowing the world to define the nature of their political and social institutions. This includes learning to think outside of the left-vs.-right two-party box within which they are taught to do their political thinking and strategizing. They must abandon the failed, defensive, and unbiblical principles of political conservatism.
This is not an easy process, since most of us are products of the secular public school system and all of us are have experienced a lifetime of being steeped in humanistic philosophy. Undoing the damage is a process that requires both commitment and humility—and which may also take a lifetime, even for dedicated Christian activists, leaders and teachers.
We must decide who is Lord, and whether he is Lord of all, or Lord of part. Believers must commit to living out their faith confidently, comprehensively and multi-generationally. Practicing a spiritual gospel for one area of life and a political gospel for another reveals a double-mindedness toward God’s Kingdom and limits the Lordship of Christ over his creation. To diminish the importance of the Gospel of Christ in any area is to diminish it in every area and to neutralize our effectiveness in all. By seeking political and social reform apart from Christ, conservatism, like humanism, attempts to govern without God.
Conservatism without Christ is humanism. If our worldview is not Christ-centered, it will become man- or state-centered and the nation will continue drifting toward socialism and one-world government. Conservatism is powerless to rebuild the foundations laid under the inspiration of the Christian faith and through the blessings of Providence.
Nov 11, 2010 by Daniel Eby
Explicitly Christian politics rejects what we have come to recognize as the battle between ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals.’ It rejects the “conservative v.s. liberal” explanation of things, and identifies the root cause of any issue as either the politics of ‘unbelief,’ or the politics of ‘Biblical faith.’ The battle, we recognize, is not between conservatives and liberals, but between two political doctrines.
The ‘politics of unbelief’ holds the premise that the state is all powerful, whereas the ‘politics of Biblical faith’ asserts that absolute power resides only in God Almighty.
So we have these two conflicting doctrines. And this is where the rubber meets the road! This is where we see the real differences of philosophy and worldview: biblical vs secular. As Christians, we need to argue from the right premises, and not the wrong premises. When issues surface, do we trust in God’s Word for civil government? Or do we trust in man’s human wisdom for policies and determinations?
Van Til once said that “Culture is religion externalized.” I say, “Politics is religion externalized.” At some point, you’ve heard someone say, “We can talk about anything except religion and politics.” That’s because these ideas–religion and politics–connect at the very foundation of society. So if we have unbiblical politics, what can we surmise? We’re frankly worshiping the wrong god!
Biblical faith ought to produce Biblical government, Biblical politics! So let’s look at these two political doctrines.
First, let’s consider the politics of unbelief and revolution. I really want us to understand this, because it’s really the key for what I believe we ought to be doing. The politics of unbelief is the politics of autonomous man. The roots were seen first way back in the Garden of Eden. It continued to be seen at the Tower of Babel, and it was manifest at the Crucifixion. It raised its head again in Paris during the French Revolution, and I submit to you that the seed of that revolution has borne fruit in the modern day rebellion against God, called “democracy.”
Genesis 11:4 says, “Come let us build a city and tower… into the heavens and make a name for ourselves.” This statement was a direct rejection of the authority of God. They were going to make a name for themselves, as well as an idol and a god. This is none other than open rebellion against God’s rule, and God judged them.
Unbelief, therefore, is the root cause of all the efforts of man to set up parallel kingdoms. As Groen VanPrinsterer of Holland stated, “Unbelief is the germ, and revolution is the fruit.” And by revolution, he did not mean one of the many events whereby a government is overthrown, as in France, but rather the unfolding of a wholesale skepticism in which God’s Word and law have been thrust aside.
Now, when you understand these ideas– the politics of unbelief and revolution– you start to see what’s at the root of our society today. By “revolutionary” ideas, Van Prinsterer meant the basic maxims of liberty and equality we’re so familiar with today. These ideas –equality, popular sovereignty–have crept right here, into our own country. This is where Van Prinsterer begins to step on our toes, because too many Americans today think some of these ideas are pretty good ones. Yet we have to recognize where they come from!
Social contract and the artificial reconstructionist society by common consent– notions which he said existed in 1847– are venerated as the cornerstone of constitutional law and the political order. He was seeing the fruit of unbelief (or rather the “germ” or seed of unbelief) way back in the 1800’s in Europe! He insisted that the germ is unbelief, that the revolution is the fruit.
The consequence of revolutionary ideas, he stated, cannot be combated with success unless one places himself outside their influence– outside the influence of those ideas on the ground of what he called the “Anti-Revolutionary Principles.”
He said, “This ground is beyond reach, however, as long as one refuses to acknowledge that the foundation of justice lies in the law and ordinances of God.”
The trouble for American Christians is that we do not identify with the fruit of the revolution in our own country. We see the fruit of the unbelief, but we haven’t always recognized the ideas like “popular sovereignty,” which is none other than the rule of the people or “democracy,” about which the founders of this country were pretty unanimous in their view that it was the most hated of all governments.
These are the fruit of ideas that are contrary to God and His Law! Van Prinsterer said, “A denial of the living God is related to disorder, injustice, slavery; so the union of freedom, with law and order, is sought in vain apart from the submission to the Highest Lawgiver and King.”
Biblical faith produces liberty, while unbelief produces revolution. The great question is, which God will we serve?
Nov 11, 2010 by Daniel Eby
Nothing on this earth was made apart from Christ.
Christ, the Word, created all things, and nothing that’s been made was made apart from Him. Every aspect of Creation was engineered, designed, and created by Him– and was, in fact, designed by Him also in the way it was to function. He’s not only the Creator and the Sustainer, but the Bible teaches us that He’s the Governor of everything. In fact, the Bible calls Him the “Lord of lords and the King of kings.”
Explicitly Christian politics begins with the presupposition that all rule and authority resides in the person of Jesus Christ. Matthew 28:18 says, “All authority has been given to me, in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations…” This is not limited only to “spiritual” government, as we refer to when we say, “He’s the Lord of my salvation”, or “He is the Lord of my soul,” but He is the Lord of every area of life–all rule and authority over every aspect of life!
Explicitly Christian politics, therefore, acknowledges Christ’s Lordship over the culture, the community, business, economics, and, yes, over politics and civil government.
Politics is “the art and science of civil government.” ‘Science’ encompasses the knowledge and principles of any subject, whereas ‘art’ is the practice of it. Thus, the ’science of politics’ is the knowledge of the principles of civil government, while the ‘art’ is the practice of those principles.
Explicitly Christian politics, therefore, articulates a Christian understanding of how civil government must operate as it follows the Scripture, the teaching of God, or the rules and law of God. It’s “explicitly Christian” in that it follows Christ, and acknowledges the rule of Christ over politics and civil government.
Now for those of us that have been studying Biblical Christianity, and how reformation brings to us the application of the Scripture to all of life, the concept of Christian civil government will not be hard to follow.
The difficulty with the times we live in is that we have separated God from too many areas of our lives. We’ve been guilty of believing in faulty ideas like the separation between sacred and secular, or thinking that the Christian should only focus on such “sacred” things like evangelism, missions, and saving souls for heaven, while leaving the government of the world to unbelievers. We’ve been deceived into believing that the Bible is merely a personal devotional book.
In fact, for perhaps the last hundred years, we’ve considered the Bible merely to be our private devotional book– but not understood that it’s also a book about government! Yet every single book in the Bible says something about government, and teaches how God rules in the nations of the world! The Bible tells us that when the nations of the world obey God, they are blessed; when they disobey, they are cursed, or judged, as Nebuccanezzar was, or the nations in the Old Testament. Israel itself, when it denied the Lord Jesus Christ, was judged in time and history. It actually happens!
Psalm 1 and 2 are great “political Psalms.” Psalm 1:4 teaches that the wicked are like the chaff which the wind drives away. In Washington State, we have a lot of wheat farms. Living here, you can see how the wind blows the chaff and it just flies away! That’s what the wicked will be like. Psalm 1:5 teaches us that the wicked shall not stand in the day of judgment, and Psalm 1:6 teaches that the “wicked shall perish.”
In the Bible, we have so many illustrations of God saying, as it were, “This is exactly how it’s going to be when you do not follow my law, and you walk according to your own wisdom as a person or family or nation. You will be judged; you will be found wanting.”
No wonder the nations of this world, in our time and history, are in such trouble! As R.J. Rushdoony once said, “We malfunction, apart from Him.” We don’t operate right! Another Christian statesmen, from 1847 in the Netherlands, Groen Van Prinster said, “Apart from God, man can only work destruction.” Without God’s wisdom, that’s what happens.
Explicitly Christian politics is a must for the Biblical Christian! All of God’s wisdom is in the Bible. The Bible is the rule book that He has given to mankind—to all men and all nations. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that precedes from the mouth of God!”