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>> To be
an adult (free & independent) in the world,
you must be a child (obedient and dependent) in God <<
That will be the end of political freedom in any meaningful sense, and is the very enemy for which our War for Independence was fought.
But more important than patriotism per se is our the Biblical foundation for freedom, universally understood by the writers of our Constitution. Without that foundation, freedom cannot survive. That is shown both historically and logically. As we currently dissolve and erode our Biblical foundations, we are also measurably losing our freedom.
Of course, that depends on one's definition of freedom. The Biblical world has its own understanding of that term, quite different from that of the Fallen world. The distinction is necessary to understanding God and politics. (Click here: Freedom .)
Christians had better begin doing their praying as a part of celebrating the 4th. The Episcopal Church, at least, has Bible readings appointed for Independence Day. But they are hardly ever read, and even less understood.
So our Christian disconnect between God and political freedom is the major cause of the continuing erosion of American political freedom through increasingly centralized government, and of our incapacity to spread honest freedom around the world.
The secular notion of "liberal democracy" promoted by both political parties and by President Bush is neither liberal (does not liberate) nor democratic (does not increase participation by the people), and does not advance substantial freedom. It is only an illusion of freedom "from" -- which is quite compatible with tyranny, and, in fact, almost guarantees it. 1984.
If you understand the logic of dependency, you will understand most of the Biblical doctrine of creation. Creatures are dependent beings. Dependent in the most radical (root) sense, for their very being.
Adulthood signifies a freedom, an independence, in making one's own decisions, standing on one's own feet. After a certain age, most children want to become free and independent of parental authority.
The journey of life (according to the Bible) is to move from our (almost) total safety and nurturing in mother's womb, and then passing through the protection and authority of our fathers in the family nest, out on a long life journey to the perfect nurturing safety of the Kingdom of God and the perfect protection and authority of God Himself.
To get from alpha to omega requires a Journey Perilous, out into a world full of seemingly chance, random events, many of which could mean (and one of which will for sure mean) our demise. Life is full of snares, traps, landmines, poppy fields and other seductions, and in the end, we die. But, according to the Biblical story, if we trust and obey God, if we follow Jesus, we will end up at the throne of the Father, in His Kingdom where we do not die. We will have accomplished the spiritual Journey Perilous.
But "Independence!" has become the battle cry of mankind. We imagine ourselves to be independent from just about everything possible. Not only from parents, but from morality, from God Himself. That was the imagining of Adam and Eve as they ate from the forbidden tree of independence from God. "You shall be as God..."
The problem is that, when we leave God, we do not stop being creatures who are dependent for our very existence. We do not become like God. The serpent lied. Quite the opposite, we become dependent beings trying to act like independent, autonomous decision-makers -- and make a poor show of it. Life on earth, with all its potential for glory, is, for many, probably most, people a struggle to stay afloat, to keep sane. Even with the best of opportunities, we are unable to stop hurting ourselves and each other. Why did we think that without God it would or could be otherwise?
The logic is clear.
In the Fall, we lose two absolutely vital things, the warp and woof of life: 1. Ontological security -- security of being; and, 2. moral direction, purpose, meaning. We stop depending on God for our personal being, and for our sense of purpose and direction in life, but the world without God cannot supply either of those two items. So we are "on our own", scraping and scrabbling to put together some reasonable substitute.
We in America, as we celebrate our "freedom" this 4th of July, have lost all common spiritual, moral, or intellectual unity. There is no consensus in America on any issue whatsoever.
Even Christians are deeply divided on every major issue, with no hope, barring an act of God, for resolution. And it is not at all clear that most Christians (forget about the secular/pagan folk) either understand or want the needed act of God. So we have no unity, and thus no credible testimony that Jesus comes from the Father (see John 17).
Our "reasonable substitutes" never work because, as a matter of simple logic, they cannot. I cannot supply my own security of being, and neither can anyone or any group of also created beings. Ditto for meaning, purpose, and moral direction. Created beings cannot do that, so we end up mostly pretending. Westerners make leaps of blind, unsubstantiated faith that no sensible Christian would ever do, trusting leaders and programs which have no intellectual, moral, or spiritual credibility. Take, for example, the sex revolution, supported by almost all so-called "health organizations". They honor our illegitimate "right to do what we want" more than their obligation to protect our health.
We are still dependent, but have nothing substantial on which to depend. That leaves us terribly vulnerable. We therefore pick each other, or things and circumstances in the world, to depend on and obey. Idolatry.
But that means that we are not adults in the world, we are still the children of those things upon which we depend and obey. There is no way out of that vicious circle. It gets very vicious because, depending on each other -- who are not dependable -- we get possessive, resentful, and destructive. We eat each other up.
We are so wedded to our imagined independence that we will commit any intellectual, moral, or spiritual atrocity to preserve our delusion. Up to and including genocide. America is no exception. 56,000,000+ (and counting) babies dead..... in freedom loving America.
That is not adult behavior, that is childish, ignorant, and/or evil behavior. Muslims do not stand on a higher moral ground, but many of their critiques of the West are on target.
God knows that in order to be an adult in the world (to be independent, standing on one's own feet, making truly free decisions), we must be a child in Him. That is, we must secure our ontological stability (the mothering gift) and our moral direction (the fathering gift) through Him, the only place possible.
When we have those two things, we are, as Jesus said, "born again". We are mothered and fathered by God, no longer by the world, and so become children of God. And therein lies our true independence in the world. To be independent in the world, we must be dependent on (children of) God. "All other ground is sinking sand..."
Those whose being is rooted in the world, i.e., "of" the world, because of their inherent defensiveness are never able to be "in" the real world, the world of personal relationship. So they are never able to be substantially unified among themselves, only by coercion, deceit, or necessity for survival.
But Christians (for example of the Roman Empire) demonstrated lives dependent on God, not "of" the world, and therefore able to be fully "in" the world -- the real world, the world of personal relationship. And they were thus able to demonstrate an inner unity among themselves which the pagan world could not produce. The Christians were demonstrating that unity for which Jesus had prayed at the Last Supper, which would convince the world that He had come from the Father (John 17).
The same is true of politics. Our secular so-called "liberal democracy" imagines that without God we can construct the Good Life, the life of freedom and enjoyment of the world's opportunities. But the 20th century secular full-court press towards those goals resulted in massive fragmentation and the most horrendous butchery and debauchery in history (go to www.hawaii.edu/powerkills ). By half way through the century, we had already slaughtered a greater percentage of the human race than any other century.
Nothing we are currently doing at the beginning of the 21st suggests that, staying our course sans God, things will be different. It looks more like we are creating our own Gotterdammerung -- end times self-destruction. With geo-political strategies such as we are employing, who needs Satan?
The geo-political strategies have been the same ever since the human race began to declare itself independent from God and to define its own history. The rising concentrations of power in local dictators in the ancient world led inevitably to universal power-struggle. The strong shall, and ought to, rule the weak. Might makes right.
Nothing has changed.
The only serious intervention in that self-entrapment has been the rise of Judeo-Christian civilization -- which we Westerners are now trashing.
That intervention happened because those "born again" Christians found that their security of being, their very lives, came from a Resource outside of the Roman (or whatever) Empire, and that Ultimate Authority did likewise. They also found that Ultimate Authority and Resource to show an utterly astonishing care and love for us human beings, a thought that never crossed the minds of pagan deities.
Christians in Rome, in other words, were having restored to them those two items which had been lost in the Fall -- ontological security and meaning, direction, purpose in life. That was why they invested themselves in their neighbors and even in their enemies, often at the cost of their lives. Many of them had lost all fear of death. Freedom.
But the pagans understood and admired people who faced death bravely. That is why they so honored their military, and then came to hold gladiatorial games. They liked to watch people die. They were searching, I suppose, in their perverted manner, for the secret to death. They wanted to be shown how themselves to die -- at least vicariously.
But then they saw a people who lived through death quite differently, who were willing to lay down their lives to save others rather than to prove themselves better than others, people whose triumph was in a Lord and Savior who never raised a sword to win a convert, who had led the way by laying down His life for them, and who, from outside the created cosmos, was calling even them, the pagans.
In the ancient world, neither Jew, Christian, nor pagan held to our modern foolishness about separation of Church and State. Caesar knew that "Jesus is Lord" was a political claim, that the Christians meant that Jesus was Lord over him, that he, Caesar, and his empire, belonged to Jesus. And Caesar, in some instances, returned the favor, claiming himself to be a god, and everybody else subject to him. He, at some level, understood what was at stake.
The Biblical understanding of civil government begins with God being the creator, owning the whole of the cosmos, including emphatically, the political part of it. God alone is the fountain of all authority, and is therefore sovereign over all. No exceptions. (Secular or pagan folks, to escape this dilemma, must show a secular or pagan foundation for objective morality. See Law & Grace in Imago Dei.)
That means, as the preamble to our Declaration of Independence recognizes, that the role of civil government is to administer those laws already given by God, not to invent their own contrary laws. That is historically why the Decalogue is prominently portrayed in many of our courts, including the Supreme Court. America, including Supreme Court decisions, had once officially recognized the sovereignty of God over all things.
The Biblical view also means, as a matter of logic, that any government not submitted to the law of God is, either by ignorance or by rebellion, an outlaw government. National governments are to God (more or less) as state or provincial governments are to a national or federal government. The higher trumps the lower in matters under its jurisdiction. For God, that means everything.
Such a thought seems outlandish and even dangerous to the modern mind -- which is the victim of two fatal mistakes.
1. We are taught a false notion of pluralism, that everybody's view is right -- at least for that person. No one really believes that because it is logically impossible to act consistently on it. But it works as part of the war against Biblical religion -- because so few Christians have their intellects intact enough to respond with forceful reason.
2. We are taught that morality is not dependent on worldview, that morality is inherent, as the secularists believe, in the person himself, whatever the worldview. We are valuable just because we are. That is not a defensible view, and is routinely violated by those who profess it. But it does render the Biblical view morally irrelevant in the debate. Nevertheless, the Biblical view has the logical evidence on its side.
The secular/pagan (Fallen) world, in other words, has neither ontological nor moral stability (and therefore always leads to death), and the salvation of the world requires the recovery of those qualities -- which God alone can give, and was indeed giving through His Christian people.
As the Declaration spells out, our rights come from God, which is what makes them unalienable. Any right originating in civil government is easily alienable because it can be withdrawn by the civil government that gave it. That is the very foundation of autocracy and tyranny.
Those secular/pagan people, therefore, who want to be free, possessing unalienable rights with respect to their government, are asking for something which can be had only at the cost of something they are unwilling to grant -- the sovereignty of God over civil government. And that is, of course, a theocracy, being ruled by the law of God.
The paradox, then, is that political freedom can be had only under the sovereignty of a creator God who loves His creatures, who guarantees their standing before any civil government, and who calls to account all civil governments for their behavior towards their citizens. The founding fathers, probably to a man, understood and supported that principle -- with their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
There are two dangers. The first is churchocracy, government by a particular church. That is to be distinguished from theocracy, rule by God, under His laws. The first amendment to our constitution effectively forbids a churchocracy, not a theocracy. It is a separation of Church and State, two human institutions, not of God and State. God owns both institutions, and draws boundaries for both so they can work creatively together to protect the freedom of the citizens.
Particular religions (of all sorts) have their place in society because of the nature of the honest pluralism guaranteed by God (as in, "Come, let us reason together..." Isaiah 1:18). Everyone is invited to reason with God. That is precisely where the people of God give their testimony -- or, with a healthy Church, would be doing so. Honest pluralism does not tell us that all views are right. It says that all views have the right to express themselves in public debate, and that the debate is to test which view is indeed right for the public policy in question. Views are plural, but truth is singular. God wins His case in public debate, all or nothing. (See Isaiah 43, or I Kings 18:17 ff. Or Paul's journeys.)
So all religions, philosophies, political parties have the right to express their views in public, whether in the media or the pulpit or via elected representatives. This freedom will never survive except under a God such as the Biblical God. Neither secularism nor paganism can support this kind of freedom.
The second danger is, once agreeing that God is sovereign ruler, the possibility of latching onto a false God, a pretender. The consequences of worshipping a false God can be disastrous for the political (as well as spiritual) life of a people. If God is imagined as unloving, arbitrary, tyrannical, unwilling to reason together with His people, then civil government will almost always follow that same style.
However, one cannot decide on the reality of a God by whether or not an alleged God is "nice" toward us. We must search to see whether there is logical, empirical, and/or historical evidence for such a God having revealed Himself -- whatever His character. When the debate is based on whose view can produce the best evidence, then the public discussion of religion becomes an intelligent and reasonable enterprise. Otherwise we are left to bias and speculation which is rightly ignored by the public.
In any event, the problem is not whether the freedom of the people can survive with God "interfering", but quite the opposite, whether the freedom of a people can survive without God as sovereign. The evidence, both historical and logical, shows, I think, no, it cannot survive without God.
The two unfortunate results of our investigations could be no God at all, or a malevolent God. The only good result, i.e., supporting the life and freedom of us creatures, would be a loving Creator. With either no God or an unloving God, we are in unremediable trouble.
So it is worth the trouble to learn what a loving God would look like should we meet one.
We would do well to look at the examples of those Christians in the early centuries, through the ages, and recently -- who are demonstrating through their lives the power of being and authority of God, who are dedicating their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the cause of Christ. And we would do well also to see whether or not there is objective evidence to support their devotion to such a God.
That is what the Road to Emmaus is about. The evidence, to put it mildly, is overwhelming. We need to restore our intellectual credibility so that we can begin to marshal the evidence which lies all over the map. Then we will be able to stand for the intellectual credibility of God, that our God is more interested in the truth than in "winning".
There is not a single area of inquiry where, in a fair contest on a level playing field, the Biblical view does not come out on top. But it gets better than that. When we trust and obey God, truth wins no matter the tilt of the playing field. It gets a lot nastier that way (crucifixion), but God holds the intellectual, moral, and spiritual high ground, and is inviting His people to stand there with Him. And, as Himself, at any cost to ourselves. When the truth wins, everyone wins.
There is no reasonable sense of freedom apart from the two stabilities which only God can supply, ontological (personal) and moral. They are the foundations for all genuine freedom, both "from" and "for".
The Christian Church must recover its intellectual integrity and get back into the public arena. We have a winning case to present. But it begins with our own honest and faithful worship of the God whom we should be proclaiming in public.
>> To be
an adult (free & independent) in the world,
you must be a child (obedient and dependent) in God <<
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