Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Category: Ethics

Ghouls

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Idolatrous Iconoclasts

Devil's DictionaryThis message is borrowed heavily from Rev. Douglas Wilson’s message at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, “The Politics of Sodomy IV: Remember Lot’s Wife.” Worth the listen.

ICONOCLAST

“I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first work of the language, the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection. In grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number. Its plural is said to be We, but how there can be more than one myself is doubles less clear to the grammarians than it is to the author of this incomparable dictionary. Conception of two myselfs  is difficult, but fine.” You will read this excerpt in a favoured book of mine from the Scottish satyrical writer Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary.” I have often perused this book since its first introduction to me through the frequent references of it in the debates of the reputable polemic Christopher Hitchens and theologian, Douglas Wilson. As you may deduce, this brief excerpt in the volume of satyrical word definitions is from the introduction in the alphabetical category of the letter “I”. The other week I interested myself in the second word listed in the category, namely, Iconoclast. In its serious definition and modern connotation Iconoclast means a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions. It was love at first sight for me. After all, the dictionary is a book of love and one giant romance novel to the effervescent bibliophile. “A person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions. Iconoclast.”  Its historical meaning refers to A breaker or destroyer of images; a name which Catholics gave to those who reject the use of images in religious worship. Indeed I should like to conceive of myself as an Iconoclast after the Puritans and reformers before me. More specifically, as a Christian Iconoclast modelled after that peerless Iconoclast in Biblical history, King Josiah. “Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.” As I perceived it, Christians ought and are the congregation of Iconoclasts bringing about the decimation of societies’ idolatrous abominations. Removing every revered institution, dismantling every venerated ideology which abrogates the law of God. So the Christian is either an Iconoclast or an Idolator. As Mr. Amberson observed in his last message, their are several and sundry idolatries without the Church that if we as Iconoclasts do not crush, they shall doubtless crush us.

IDOLATER

By idol or idolatry I mean something beyond some conception of a pagan figure or object, I mean rather a created thing which endeavours to place itself where only the uncreated God is. In “The Anatomy of Melancholy” Robert Burton writes, “We are thus bad by nature, bad by kind, but far worse by art, every man the greatest enemy unto himself. We study many times to undo ourselves, abusing those good gifts which God hath bestowed upon us, health, wealth, strength, wit, learning, art, memory to our own destruction.” So we can be idolatrous with our without images. Idolatry as such is strictly forbidden, “Turn ye not unto idols, more make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” For we are doomed if we do so. “I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.” I wonder if we realize just how doomed our society is by its idolatrous abominations. If we are blind or just ever belligerent optimists to the present and future state of our culture. Now I am no fan of optimism or its denomination. In the words of Ambrose Bierce, optimism, “Is a blind faith, it is inaccessible to the light of disproof – an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.” As Douglas Wilson illustrates, two days before the destruction of Sodom was it possible for Lot’s wife to say, “Well, its all right so far.” We may even confess to ourselves, Yes, we have some issues in our city, a looming crises in politics, and other problems in the economy, but its not so bad.” Thus we join the company of the idols which are reserved by God for complete annihilation. However I don’t see that being the common response to the state of the nation in our church. I don’t think any of us are saying, All right so far.” I believe rather that each of us are concerned with responding to the current situation. We all want to do something about it. The question merely, is, “What is something constructive which we can do?” How can we be Christian Iconoclasts? How can we effectively and actively quell the present judgment?

WORSHIP

The one thing which we can do, and indeed the only thing which we can do is worship God as we have the privilege of doing every Lord’s Day.  “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Not just the iconoclasts maxim, but also our prayer and model. Since idolatry is placing ourselves where God belongs we know to combat idolatry in our hearts we must place ourselves at the feet of where God is. When we worship we rise to the courts of the Lord in heaven. When we worship we ascend that holy hill, we boldly enter into the holy of holies, we have entrance into the heaveanlies. In response to our worship, God in heaven comes to us. We do not pray, “Thy Kingdom go” because it is coming. Heaven only comes through worship. His Kingdom only comes only as we hallow our heavenly Father’s name. How do you hallow God’s name on earth? Hallow it in heaven. How does God’s Kingdom come to us? We go to it. How do we go to it? Worship our Father in the name of is Son in the power of his Holy Spirit in the heavenly places with the congregation of God. Our church’s mission statement rightly begins with the simple declaration that we exists “For the right worshipping of God.” This is the central function of Christ’s Church and its local, visible expression here in Grace Haven.

WEAPON OF WORSHIP

The statement, “Thy Kingdom come” doesn’t just infer it does not “go” but rather “comes” through hallowing worship. It also infers that here on earth we are under an entirely different and opposing kingdoms and kings. The Christian Iconoclast comprehends this reality more so than others. The Christian Iconoclast knows what the Kingdom of God actually is. Morecraft writes, “Christ’s mediatorial kingdom is the manifestation of the sovereign rule of God in power and grace which establishes a new civilization of righteousness and blessedness in history by the power of the Holy Spirit in, under and through the Lord Jesus Christ in fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises.” It is establishing the crown rights of King Jesus for all of life, for all the world. Thus the Christian iconoclast as they read the news realizes it is far from being so. The troublesome problems, the idolatrous ideologies, the crisis and catastrophes, we have done on earth as it is not done in heaven. They comprehend the extent the Kingdom of God has to come just in order to be realized. The Christian iconoclast realizes how our nation is enclosed and fortified within the bulwarks of hell. But the Christian Iconoclasts also knows what weapon the parapets of hell cannot withstand. As states just a few Sundays ago, it is the church. “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” So you want to do something? You read the news and ask what equips you to stop that stuff? You browse the internet and wonder what to do with all the stupidity out there? You want to storm the gates of hell? Well every seven days Grace Haven gathers at their castle gates and has the privilege of taking up the battering ram of worship and taking another swing. Our one weapon and our only weapon is the right worship of God. But it is no small weapon. Rather against its force, “The gates of hades will not prevail.” 

God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shin upon us; Selah.

That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.

Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.

Then shall the earth yield ehr increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.

God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.

SPOILS OF BATTLE

When we prevail against these gates there will be many consequences. We will experience change and reform in economics where we take credence to the seventh commandment and no longer steal through inflation or redistribution. We will experience political consequences as we begin to recognize God’s order of state, local, church, family, and individual government. We will experience social consequences in dealing with the poor, widows, and orphans and exercising restitution through justice in the courts. We will experience cultural consequences as we shed the ideals of humanism and statism. We will experience artistic consequences as we stop thinking outside the Bach and in the Cage. However, we must keep in mind that these areas are the spoils of battle and nor our weapons.

IDOLATROUS ICONOCLASTS

This is where the Iconoclast can made an idol out of his very iconoclasm. Politics, economics, arts, sciences, education, food, culture are what we are fighting over and for, but they are not what we are fighting with. It is a form of idolatry for the Iconoclast to think he is going to change anything by advancing particular economic policies, advocating certain educational conventions, applying a political agenda, or adjudicating on artistic or cultural methods.  “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” “Confused be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols.” Christopher Hitchens quipped on stage with his Jack Daniels whiskey flask in hand, “I don’t believe we need better politicians. I believe we need a better electorate.” Close, but no cigar. Conservative politics, family economics, home education, multi-generational families, artistry or culture are not our saviours, but they do still need saving. How are they to be saved? Who is their saviour? The only saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ. How do we appeal to our only Saviour? Through the triune worshipping God in Jesus’ name, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the heavenly places. Worship is our weapon in the battle. These things are the spoil of battle and not our weapons. As Douglas Wilson exhorts, “So, you want to do something constructive? Its right before you. You have a Bible? A Car? You got a hymnal? You can go to church and worship God.” If you are watching the news during the week and wonder what you are able to do about it all you should say, “Well today’s Friday… Sunday’s coming.” But instead what do we often do as misguided Iconoclasts? We watch the news first thing in the week, are horrified, encounter the urge to bring resolution, and imbue our week with all kinds of activities. On Monday we study the weapon of political agendas. Tuesday we really hone in on our home education pedagogy. Wednesday we start to overtake the artistic scene. Thursday we maneuver ourselves into becoming a cultural influence in the community. Friday we experiment with family economics. Saturday we busy ourselves with social engagements and ministry. Sunday we engage with raising our multi-generational homes, and oh wait a minute…. what about church worship. Right, this too is idolatry. This is backwards. Politics, family, economics, education, social welfare, the arts and sciences are the spoils of battle not the weapons. Worship is our one and only weapon effectual to prevailing against the bastion of hades.

ENGAGEMENT & INTEGRATION

Douglas Wilson illustrates worship in the local Church on Sunday as the centre or the engine of reformation and revival. There are some dualist, gnostic Christians who are all about majestically liturgical worship but disavow any engagement in the nitty-gritty of politics, economics, education of the world. This is like starting a big engine, but without ever putting it into gear. There are other Christians who are all about cultural integration, political agendas, artistic influence, social engagements but this whole worship thing just weighs the car down. Their Christianity is never any good at going up hill. Worship is the engine with which we engage all of life with and furthermore integrate with all God’s people for. The right worship of God is our only pure, entire, whole, and peaceful common ground. If you make anything other than worship your engine for reform you commit idolatry and your car falls apart. When you make anything other than worship your integration point your fellowship divides and everyone exits the vehicle. If you make politics your engine then your will integrate based on your political agendas. If you make generations of children your engine you will collect passengers based on their family discipline and educational customs. The problem is not that these pursuits are intrinsically bad, but rather such prioritization is idolatry (Placing the created where the uncreated God is) and are insufficient grounds for full fellowship and effective reform. You will never fully integrate on political agendas, artistic influence, social engagements, culture, educational conventions, or child raising principles. These things do not produce worship. These things are not the ladder by which we ascend into heaven. These things are not the red carpet upon which the Kingdom of God proceeds. Rather, when you worship God on the Lord’s Day in the local church His kingdom comes as promised in Christ. He makes you right with Him. He makes you a charitable Christian, a hospitable disciple, a submissive wife, an honouring child, an industrious daughter, a godly patriarch, an epistemologically self-conscious educator, an inspired artistic influence, and so on. These are the fruits of worship, not the works of worship. These are the spoils of battle, not the weapons of battle. So ask yourselves why do we hang out together? What bring us together? Is it our common practice of home education? Is it our calvinistic theology? Is it our multigenerational family model? Or is it ultimately and unfailingly the triune worship of God in the name of His Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the heavenly places? If it were not for Jesus Christ would you be hanging out with these people? No. Then why do you qualify your fellowship with others on any other basis than worshiping the One who was whole that was made broken that we who are broken may be made whole?

REFORMATION & REVIVAL

Judgment begins in the house of the Lord. Francis Schaeffer writes, “The church in our generation needs reformation, revival, and constructive revolution. At times men think of the two words reformation and revival as standing in contrast one to the other, but this is a mistake. Both words are related to the word restore. Reformation refers to a restoration to pure doctrine; revival refers to a restoration in the Christian life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture; revival speaks of a life brought into its proper relationship tot the Holy Spirit. The great moments of church history have come when these two restorations have simultaneously come into action so that the church has returned to pure doctrine and the lives of the Christians in the church have known the power of the Holy Spirit. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation; and reformation is not complete without revival.” This brings us to the second portion of the Lord’s Prayer we have before us. “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Reformation and revival as Schaeffer writes, doing the will of God as Mr. Johnson last spoke about, rightly worshiping God as was covered today is not possible without the Holy Spirit. We live in the Spirit and the Spirit in us by regeneration and continually receive him through prayer and the Scriptures. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth… the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life.” “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” How do we walk in the Spirit? Romans 8:5, “They that are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.” What are the things of the Spirit we are to be mindful of? “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodnesss, faith, meekness, temperance.” What does the Spirit do in our worship? “He shall testify of me.” “For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” “Now we have received… the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”

CONCLUSION

Want to be a Christian Iconoclast? First repent of being an idolatrous one. Restore through reformation and revival worship as the engine of all of life and the integration of all God’s people. Avail yourself of the weapon of worship and gather with the congregation of Iconoclasts each Lord Day to prevail against the gates of Hades. In the fullness of the Spirit realize God’s transformation in your life. Worship God the Father in the name of the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit with the assembly of God in the heavenly realms.

Thou Shalt

Hue and Cry

[From message delivered to Grace Haven Reformed Brethren on 01/25/15]

Q. 67. Which is the sixth commandment?

  1. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.

Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?

  1. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

Q. 69. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?

  1. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbour unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.

INTRODUCTION

In light of recent events I am compelled to address the subject of the maintenance and preservation of godly life and order. Such life and order is being every increasingly assaulted upon in very real, physical ways. As Christians who practice Biblical marriage, family, children, education, and social life we each face evil and unfriendly foes. These foes are escalating in number, kind, position, and threat. We must not be found to be deprived of perception and judgment to such dangers. Have you been sufficiently watchful so as to identify the current or potential foes you face? Christians can often be as ignorant of their liberties as their duties to defend them. Lord William Blackstone, that great jurist of the English Common Law, caveated the danger of such heedlessness, “Liberties [are] more generally talked of, than thoroughly understood; and yet highly necessary to be perfectly known and considered by every man of rank and property, lest his ignorance of the points whereon it is founded should hurry him into faction and licentiousness on the one hand, or pusillanimous indifference and criminal submission on the other.” In other terms, our liberties are not just hip and cool slogans to be twaddled about, they are each of our inviolate birthright to be seriously considered. When we are negligent to enjoy entire our birthright of right and liberties we will live without restraint, being pernicious to ourselves or others. How many Christians do you know who understand their liberties and duties as Christian citizens? Furthermore, if we are derelict to vindicate our birthright in the face of tyranny or anarchy we will truckle like a caitiff to unjust restraints to our liberties from the merciless hands of the wicked. Are you free of ignorance as to your several duties to the defence and maintenance of your liberties?  What courses are available to the preservation of your birthright when it is being violated? What are the grounds for utilizing each of these courses? What are the restrictions and jurisdictions of these several administrations of defence? What is the application of just force? Summarily, when is it a sin for the Christian to turn the other cheek?

THE ‘THOU SHALT’ OF ‘THOU SHALT NOT’

The primary and foundational commandment in Scripture to direct the Christian as to the unjust and just resistance to evil may be found in the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Upon first observation we quite obviously notice the negative aspect of this commandment, that is, the “thou shalt not” facet of it. However, as with every commandment in Scripture there remains a positive expression. The reformer, John Calvin, acutely observed this positive detail. “God… prescribes that every one should study faithfully to defend the life of his neighbour, and practically to declare that it is dear to him… the words expressly set forth that our neighbours are to be loved. It is unquestionable, then, that of those whom God there commands to be loved, He here commends their lives to our care.” This is to say, it is not merely enough for one to simply not murder the life of their neighbour and thereby fulfill the sixth commandment. One must positively defend the life of their neighbour to accomplish the requirements of the sixth commandment. Calvin continues, “There are, consequently, two parts in the Commandment, first, that we should not vex, or oppress, or be at enmity with any; and, secondly, that we should not only live at peace with men, without exciting quarrels, but also should aid, as far as we can, the miserable who are unjustly oppressed, and should endeavour to resist the wicked, lest they should injure men as they list.” Churches in Canada have by and large missed this crucial secondary feature of the commandment. From the early methodists, quakers, mennonites, and other Christians who pioneered this nation the principle of nonresistance has long been sustained and touted from the chapel rostrum. Celebrating, on the basis of the sixth commandment not to mention, the good man as one who piously beats swords into  plowshares. Historian and theologian, R.J. Rushdoony remarked of such priggishness, “To limit obedience, and to test character, merely by the negative factor is dangerous.” Namely, when we abide by only the negative law and neglect the positive it leads too often to the belief that the good man is the coward who would not dare to even assail a child, “but who is incapable of any discharging of his duties. Too often the church has equated these cowards with righteous men and advanced cowardly snivelers, whose weapons are those of back-biting and tale-bearing, to positions of authority.” So on the other hand Calvin exhorts, “We are required faithfully to do what in us lies to defend the life of our neighbour; to promote whatever tends to his tranquility, to be vigilant in warding off harm, and, when danger comes, to assist in removing it.” True obedience to the sixth commandment is therefore not passive, but incredibly active. How are you actively exercising the requirements of the sixth commandment? If you neighbour is under the threat of unjust violence what do you do? What means are to be employed in vigilantly warding off harm and removing danger?

ACTIVE LOVE

The proper understanding of the sixth commandment in the English Common Law and the fathers of our constitution recognized the duties of every one with regards to the sixth commandment. Historically, this expressed itself in such civil laws as the famous Hue and Cry, and secondly in the police powers of private persons, commonly known as Citizen’s Arrest. Regarding the Common Law process of pursuing, when the victim or witness of a felony raised the Hue and Cry by horn or voice, both officers and private men were responsible to instantaneously seek and arrest the perpetrator upon pain of fine or imprisonment. As to citizen’s arrest, Lord Blackstone writes, “Any private person that is present when any felony is committed, is bound by the law to arrest the felon; on pain of fine and imprisonment, if he escapes through the negligence of the standers by.” These Common Law and Canadian Constitution practices were outworkings of a right understanding of the duties relating to the sixth commandment. Both the government and citizens of Canada have by and large forgotten the duties of the private citizen to sustain the public peace and defend the life of others. On the subject of citizen’s arrest the Canadian Department of Justice warns, “Unlike a police officer, private citizens are neither tasked with the duty to preserve and maintain public peace.”  As was mentioned in the beginning by Lord Blackstone, when the citizenry neglect the right exercise and enjoyment of their liberties they surrender those liberties to the determining of the offenders. Proverbs 29:2 “When the wicked rule the people groan.” How often have you heard authorities advise the citizenry to quietly acquiesce to the demands of criminals who confront them, to capitulate to their instructions, or to evade at all costs confronting them? These statements and advisements are a radical departure from the historical principles which governed the practice of justice and peace. Proverbs 24:11-12 reads, “Deliver them that are drawn to death, and wilt thou not preserve them that are led to be slain? If thou say, Behold, we knew not of it: he that pondereth the hearts, doth not he understand it? and he that kept thy soul, knoweth he it not? will he not also recompense every man according to his works?” God therefore always holds he innocent bystander as an accomplice to the crime if he does not stand up or intercede in the ways that he needs to. Geoffrey Botkin writes, “The greatest commandment is to love our neighbour as ourselves. This love is active and not passive. We may be sinning if we do not actively rise up and love our neighbour. However we often think ‘we are not going to get involved.’” Christians are charged, they are tasked, to discipleship and confrontation. “They that forsake the Law, praise the wicked: but they that keep the Law, set themselves against them.” As such, we confront evil and the wicked every day of our lives and disciple people away from it. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” How are you setting yourself and your families against the wicked? Is righteousness in authority in your home? Do you see rejoicing in your family from the authority of righteousness or hear groaning from the rule of wickedness?

JURISTICTION OF CONFRONTATION

Now, the Hue and Cry and Citizen’s arrest are obviously not to be confused with vigilantism. It is not to be denied that the citizen’s powers and jurisdictions with regards to preserving and maintaining public peace are indeed greatly limited. When the Christian citizen intervenes to the defence of the life of his neighbour he is still bound as a citizen, not a vigilante. Blackstone clarifies, “No man should take up arms, but with a view to defend his country and its laws: he puts not off the citizen when he enters the camp [army]; but it is because he is a citizen, and would wish to continue so, that he makes himself for a while a soldier.” So you too, dear Christian, when you would be vigilant in warding off harm and removing danger from you neighbour, you are not given carte blanche, for you are still bound as a Christian and as a Christian citizen. Reversely, you do not enter the conflict because you wish to be a vigilante, but rather because you are a Christian and a Christian citizen and you wish to remain so and for your neighbour also. So, when rightly exercised, the Christian citizen’s responsibility towards defence and arrest is limited but not absolved in its entirely. Contrarily, the impression in the citizen of their personal exemption from defence and arrest have had grievous results in society. Many a crime, both great and small, could have been alleviated in some part by the citizen rightly exercising their rights within their limited sphere of jurisdiction. So as Chris Kyle said, “Despite what your mamma told you, violence does solve problems.” But the Christian is concerned with solving problems even beyond grave circumstances of felony which they might face. Rushdoony writes, “The police power and the duty of the person involves a common defence of godly order. Law and order are the responsibilities of all good men without exception. Injuries to our fellow men, or to our enemies, which are not subject to civil or criminal action, are still our responsibilities. Our police power involves action against back-biting and tale-bearing. It also requires that we, in love of our neighbour, have regard for his property as well as his reputation, to avoid injury to it.” From the outset, do you teach your children their police power and the duties of the Hue and Cry? “We desire you, brethren, admonish them that are out of order: comfort the feebleminded: bear with the weak: be patient toward all men.” To be watchful of injustice and attentive to the appeals of those in unjust oppression? “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all the children of destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and judge the afflicted, and the poor.” How will you defend your neighbour and society? Rushdoony writes, “If it is a crime to alter property landmarks and to defraud a neighbour of his land, how much greater a crime to alter social landmarks, the Biblical foundations of law and society, and thereby bring about the death of that social order? If it is a crime to rob banks, then surely it is a crime to rob and murder a social order.”

THE OPPRESSED

Are you aware of those who are being oppressed? Is your family practicing John Calvin’s admonition and studying faithfully how to defend the life of the oppressed? Has your family worked out how you can practically declare that they are dear to you? Pastor, Joe Morecraft, compiled a brief list from Scripture which can help us identify those which are in need of such attention from our lives and homes.

  1. Covenant people should not oppress each other. “Oppress not ye therefore any man his neighbour, but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord you God.” Lev 25:17 Do you teach your children to not oppress one another? Have you examined how you can promote unity in the local church?
  2. Covenant people should not oppress labourers. “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is needy and poor, neither of thy brethren nor the stranger that is in thy land within thy gates.” How diligent are you in the workplace to assist the spiritual or physical needs therein?
  3. Covenant people should vindicate the oppressed. What does Psalm 10:18 look like in your home? “To judge the fatherless and poor, the earthly man cause to fear no more.”
  4. Are you a covenant family that prays for deliverance from oppression? “From the wicked that oppress me, from mine enemies, which compass me round about for my soul.”
  5. Covenant people should not oppress the afflicted. “Rob not the poor, because he is poor, neither oppress the afflicted in judgment.” How do your children handle responsibility and authority over others?
  6. God condemns merchants that oppress. Hoseah 12:7. How do your children treat money?
  7. Covenant people do not oppress widows or the fatherless. “And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger nor the poor, and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.”

In summary, how are you actively defending the life of widows and orphans, neighbours, strangers, the needy and defenceless, employees, the aged, and the afflicted?

THE OPPRESSORS

Upon reviewing those that are oppressed, we now turn our consideration to those that oppress. I believe today the two forces of evil which resist us are tyranny and anarchy. Tyranny, as Botkin defines, “Is the cruel and oppressive rule of government.” Anarchy on the other hand is a greater sin, the “state of disorder due to the absence or non recognition of authority.” Anarchy in the homes will only produce anarchy in society. It has been said, “Every generation is a new flood of barbarians to be civilized.” How well is your family doing at this? Rushdoony observes the rise of anarchy and crime with the following, “Judges are often too lenient and juries also. But the problem is much greater than that. All we have to do is look at most families and their treatment of their children. Their laxity, their inability to enforce discipline and you have a key to the dimensions of the problem. Parents who are lax with their children create a society which is generally lax in coping with problems. The problem in other words begins with us.” So who are some of the enemies that you are facing now or will face in the future. Geoffrey Botkin provides us with a much relevant catalog.

  1. Personal enemies: As was stated, you as Christians are called not to engage culture, but to confront it. You will make enemies doing this and may face possible persecution from them. Are you attentive to this danger? Are you being “Wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.”? Most importantly are you willing and ready to overcome their evil with good? There is however another grievous danger in this. Christians can begin to reckon the degree of their honour and piety based upon a personal tally of how many personal enemies and people they proverbially tick-off by their righteousness. In the vanity of their minds they pride themselves by how oft they are ridiculed and elevate the consideration of themselves with each rejection they experience. They begin to scorn the sinner as much as the sinner scorns them in return. What goodness is there in this? Paul exhorts us to “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with goodness.” How is only returning scorn for scorn, pride for pride, rejection for rejection, overcoming evil with goodness? Receive rejection with a sober mind, study to discern any impediments you may be contributing to the sinner’s peace and joy in Christ, examine whether or not your message is received as the good news it actually is. Discover whether or not you are overcoming evil with goodness.
  2. Bullies: Both young and old will confront bullies in life. What will be your policy and practice when you come face to face with a bully? How will you adjudicate the power and authority of Christ in you?
  3. Bureaucrats: As families who practice Biblical marriage, caring for orphans, babies, and education you will at some point be confronted by the tyranny of the state. Have you prepared yourself for such confrontation? Will you refuse to truckle to their demands? Will you come to the aid of a fellow family who encounters this type of enemy? How will you use the laws and constitution?
  4. Thieves & Criminals: In Canada our justice system has abandoned the Biblical principles of restitution for the humanist practice of penitentiary and probationary rehabilitation. This humanist system is very diligent to protect the rights of the individual… so long as the individual has committed a crime. As such crime is a profitable and growing enterprise. Are you prepared to raise or respond to a Hue and Cry. Will you intervene in your capacity as a Christian Citizen to uphold peace and justice? If you were one of the over a dozen innocent bystanders who fled from the unimpeded attack of the recent Parliamentry shooter what would you have done?
  5. Gangs & Mobs. Will you truckle to them? Have you considered that those who have followed the erroneous, non-Biblical policy of surrendering without resistance to such oppressors have only surrendered their lives. Such individuals by their appalling ineptitude and inability virtually assist in their own murders and enable murderers to continue a lifestyle of murder. Are you of nonresistance or resistance?
  6. Tyrannical magistrates. How will you face those what would by compulsive tyranny and oppression act in opposition to your free enjoyment of personal security, liberty, and property? Have you studied your duties to defend your birthright? Have you charted the free course of constitution, administration, offices, and courts to preserve them from violation? Are you even aware of what policies are being introduced to potentially conspire and coerce against you?
  7. Islam & ISIS. Will you confront this abomination? The question isn’t is Islam the most violent religion in the world, but how is Islam the most violent religion in the world. Have you considered that the Islamic State has commanded the over 1,053,945 muslims in Canada, the fastest growing religion in Canada, the religion that is expected to triple over the next 20 years, to literally and brutally kill you? National Post commentator Rex Murphy commentated, “When will the world take the jihadists at their word? Is there any doubt whatsoever that ISIS – which is currently slaughtering Christians, beheading its opponents, purging ‘non-believers’ and storming about Iraq and Syria with the cry ‘Convert or Die’ – is not fanatically, ruthlessly and irredeemably rooted in religious extremism? What, in any god’s name, does the first “I” in ISIS stand for.” How will you confront Muslims in Regina who by and large do not want to do or think anything serious about the death-culture that incubates them. How will you correct western culture’s perception of them?

CONCLUSION

Ultimately will you truckle to any of these enemies. John Calvin writes of those leaders and men who have. “Those that have been in reputation of wisdom and honour and fall form their excellency, this troubles the fountains by grieving some and corrupts the springs by infecting others and emboldening them to do likewise. For the righteous to be oppressed, pressed down upon by the violence or subtlety of evil men, to be displaced and thrust into obscurity, this is the troubling of the fountains and corruption of the very foundations of government. For the righteous to be cowardly to truckle to the wicked to be afraid of opposing his wickedness and basely to yield to him, this is a reflection upon religion and discouragement to good men and strengthening to  the hands of sinners and their sins and sows like a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring.” As Geoffrey Botkin states, we rather need Christians who wake up every day with this thought, “Today is the day that I advance the Lord’s Kingdom. And today may be the day that I have to defend the innocent from terrible risk and dangers and threats.” Does your family think in this regard? Are you training your children who will in all probability face these enemies in the future under even more complex moral situations than you do now? So parents, teach the law as service to God. Teach what God says about the oppressed, justice, resistance, thieves, bureaucrats, tyranny, anarchy, jihadists, bullies, and law. Model self-control under law by continually defaulting to what is lawful. It is our Christian citizenry that compels us to act and limits our actions, not vigilanteism. Restrain your hand and extend the sword of justice when it is within your power and jurisdiction to do so. Recognize that in most every instance it is the responsibility of the civil magistrate. Maintain peace with the application of just violence with the sword of justice. To Conclude with the Westminster Larger Catechism, “The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in the case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life… The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavours, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defence thereof against violence, patient bearing the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labour, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behaviour; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succouring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.”

Thoughts on Suicide

SuicideThe famous Scottish atheistic philosopher, David Hume, wrote in favor of suicide. He said, “When I fall upon my own sword, I receive my death equally from the hands of the Deity, as if it had proceeded from a lion, a precipice, or a fever.”

William Plumer thoroughly refuted him:

If this sentence has any meaning, it is that the wilful, deliberate taking of our own lives is the same as dying by the providence of God, when he permits us to fall under the influence of pestilence, or of wild beasts. And if that is true, then we are no more criminal for killing a man than we are for seeing him die of fever.

The whole argument in favour of suicide goes on the supposition of the truth of the principles which are clearly false. 1, That man has the right to dispose of his own life; whereas none but the Author of our existence can lawfully do so; 2, That we are competent judges of the question whether we have lived long enough or not; whereas a large proportion of mankind have been very useful after they supposed they could do no more good; 3, That we owe no obligations to parents, or children, or others, who may be dependent upon our exertions; whereas we may entail upon them untold miseries by taking our own lives; 4, that God has not legislated on the subject; whereas the sixth commandment clearly forbids it; 5, that salvation is not an object worth seeking, whereas it is the only thing claiming our supreme attention; 6, That it is heroic to sink under distress or play the coward in suffering wrong; whereas a large part of the best moral lessons, taught by example, has been delivered to mankind in the depths of affliction.

The Righteousness of Lot

Righteous Lot

A DEFENCE OF LOT

The North American church almost has this masochistic routine of slamming every hero and patriarch in the Bible. We rob the narrative of its teleology, its design and purpose, and subjoin our own personal “moral of the story.” We interpose our own modern conventions into their period of history. We permit our own modern presuppositions to determine the narratives. We quixotically circumvent uncomfortable realities that will collide with our modern piousness. We monitor, censure, diminish, belittle, deviate, and romanticize narratives in the name of Sunday School. We vilify Biblical men to placate the feminists who sing “A mighty Goddess is our Forte”. We turn Abraham into a fearful liar, Samson into a harlot philanderer, Jacob into a manipulator and thief, Rehab into a lying prostitute, Moses into an impatient megalomaniac, Isaac into a cowardly liar, Noah into a drunk, and the one with the biggest rap sheet is Lot. Lot is a pusillanimous caitiff, an incestuous father,  a tardy sluggard, a sybaritic, fleshly, avaricious, and supercilious fiend! In other words, Lot is the worst of the whole lot of Biblical patriarchs.  All of these men have suffered from the hands of lazy pastors, picturesque Sunday School teachers, raging feminists, and legalists. Biblical patriarchs and hero’s have been turned into miserable failures and some villains. We have deprived all of these narratives and men of the victory, valour, and virtue they were intended to inspire in God’s people. We, however, have been watchful of not conceding to such misinterpretation and manipulation, but have actively endeavoured to reclaim the glory of God displayed in their providential lives and acts. Today we endeavour to reclaim and give a defence of Lot.

“And turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them and overthrew them, and made them an ensamble unto them that after should live ungodly, And delivered just Lot vexed with the uncleanly conversation of the wicked: For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment under punishment.”

2 Peter 2:6-9

WORST OF THE LOT

Perhaps one of the most difficult of accounts in Scripture to reconcile is that of Peter’s approbation of Lot as a just and righteous man. Today Lot is scapegoated as a passive, pusillanimous, licentious, incestuous, blackguard. How is it then, that firstly God should account him as righteous and save him from judgment, and secondly how the Apostle Peter could give laudation to his righteousness? I have come to recognize that we as Christians are often given to building moralistic boxes which dimensions are determined by our cultural perspective as New Covenant, Western Civilization Christian’s, rather than by Scriptural objectivity. This is not to say in the least that Western Civilization is antithetical to Scriptural objectivity, yet only to recognize the clarity and the authority of the latter supersedes the former. I would propose that with close observation of the context and passages of Genesis 19, we are able to come to the same conclusion as the Apostle Peter did.  All without romanticizing, idealizing, and simulating the life of Lot. After all, if we do not share the selfsame illation from this sufficient, special revelation of Lot in Scripture, it is we, not Peter, who are at fault on both a homiletical and hermeneutic capacity. The approach to be given to Genesis 19 is a humble request of adoration to God. Praying for our right understanding of this passage I would restate the reformers of the 1559 Geneva Bible, “O Gracious God and most merciful Father, which hast vouchsafed us the rich and precious jewel of thy holy word, assist us with thy spirit, that it may be written in our hearts to our everlasting comfort, to reform us, to renew us according to thine own Image, to build us up, and edify us into the perfect building of thy Christ, sanctifying and increasing in us all heavenly virtues. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”

A PRELIM OF LOT

Firstly, we do well to make note of the fact that Lot acted in a significant amount of faith in following his younger uncle, Abraham, to the promise Land. Just as Abraham trusted in God, so Lot had fealty to Abraham and his holy calling. Lot as the patriarch of his father’s estate had significantly increased assets, possessions, family, and servants under his responsibility than Abraham had. Lot endured substantially far more risk in uprooting the whole of his estate than would have Abraham. Together, as brethren, Lot and Abraham traveled across deserts, through mountains, and endured famine and persecution in Egypt.  None of which Lot was obligated toward. From this alone, one cannot doubt Lot’s considerable belief in the promise of God, the calling of Abraham, and his own place in God’s purpose. From this preliminary observation we see that God had just as special a calling for righteous Lot in Sodom as he had for Abraham in Canaan.

UNTO SODOM

An oft repeated critique of Lot was the fact he had chosen before and above Abraham to settle his herds and family in “the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent unto Sodom.”  Lot is accused firstly of a haughty pretence to select his land before Abraham. Contrarily to our modern presuppositions, Abraham was in fact obligated to give to Lot the first selection of the land to be taken, because Lot was the oldest son of Abraham’s eldest brother, Haran. Lot, in those days, thus had the right of succession by which the whole estate of Abraham’s father and Lot’s grandfather, Terah, was passed onto. In addition to receiving the majority of assets and belongings of his grandfather’s estate, Lot would have been responsible for both the assets and family of his father’s estate. In some respects Lot would have been responsible for Abraham himself. Furthermore, Lot is estimated to have been 20-40 years older than Abraham, which would have made him about 114 around the time of their parting. Abraham honoured Lot’s position as the older family patriarch and protector in giving Lot the first choice. The second impeachment against Lot is that the grounds for his choosing Sodom was from an inordinate inclination toward the sinfulness of Sodom. However, the Apostle Peter makes it more than clear that Lot was only vexed “from day to day with their unlawful deeds.” Still and all, when we observe the context of Abraham and Lot’s parting we see the pressing demand of both their ever bountiful estates, Lot’s equitable position to select first and foremost, and his realistic selection of a superior and beneficial property. “So when Lot lifted up his eyes, he saw that all the plain of Jordan was watered everywhere (for before The Lord destroyed Sodom and Gamorrah it was as the garden of The Lord like the land of Egypt, as thou goest unto Zoar.)”

ONE AND THE SAME

To establish our observation of Lot having that special fealty and belief as Abraham, Scripture gives a parallel account of Lot receiving the Angels in Chapter 19. The manner of both Abraham and Lot’s reception of these angels registers with us their their active awareness of the presence of God, their amenability to worship the beauty of holiness, their acknowledgment of their servitude, and their amiable hospitality to their lords. Firstly, they were actively aware of God’s presence. Speaking of Abraham, “And he lifted up his eyes, and looked” of Lot, “and Lot saw them.” When the angels and the Lord appeared unto Abraham, he was resting during the afternoon of the day as was customary. However, Lot was sitting at the gate in the evening. Often, it is said that Lot had garnered a position of power and importance in that wicked city, which was signified in him sitting at the gate as was the customary capacity of such officials. However, righteous Lot sat by the gate at evening. After the business of the day was done and everyone had departed, Lot sat at the gates of Sodom at dusk. This is far from ordinary and customary for officials. Why Lot would be far from hearth and home at this late time of day, at the outskirts of the city is largely unknown. Was he expecting the angels, was he their to protect sojourners and strangers entering in at that dangerous hour? This is but speculation. However it does confirm in addition to verse 9, that Lot had not entered into a position of power and affluence in the city as some would indict him of. (Even if Lot was in a position of power, this is still no fault on his part as all Christians should endeavour to actively reform their cities.) Second, is both their amenable response of worship. Speaking of Abraham, “And when he saw them he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the ground”, and of Lot, “and rose up to meet them, and bowed himself with his face to the ground.” This is a remarkable quality of these two Biblical patriarchs. Holy men who from an acute awareness and familiarity with the presence of God could recognize his holiness at any time and in any place, and furthermore spontaneously react in a fitting manner of worship due to God. God need not have told them they were standing on holy ground, they sensed it from the outset. It is an interesting pattern, as far as I am aware in Scripture, that all God’s prophets and patriarchs and them only, were at some point in life met or preceded before birth by angels or divine revelations that prepared them. Lot is certainly no disruption in this design of God. It could have been very easy for Lot to miss the angels and not immediately recognize their holiness in such an odd place for holy men to be, at such an odd time, and in the darkness of the evening. But righteous Lot had an acute awareness to God’s aseity. The third quality is their acknowledgment of servitude. Speaking of Abraham, “And he said, Lord.” and speaking of Lot, “And he said, See my lords.” Of the two, Lot had received the highest position of authority, yet he too bows before God’s men and addresses them as both his earthly and heavenly lords. It could also be said, that of the two, Lot had a special sense of the presence of God. For he had only the two angels to discern, and not the Lord himself with two angels accompanying as was Abraham’s case. The fourth excellence of these men was their hospitality to God’s men. Speaking of Abraham, “Let a little water, I pray you, be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may comfort your hearts, afterward ye shall go your ways: for therefore are ye come to your servant.”, and of Lot, “I pray you turn in now into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early and go your ways.” Once again however, Lot receives double the difficulty than that of Abraham. Initially, Lot is refused and tested by these men of God, but righteous Lot “pressed upon them earnestly, and they turned in to him, and came to his house, and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” “The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, if it be fervent.” We may observe the character of both these men. Lot acted just as Abraham did, and even went the extra mile to do so in several instances. The righteousness of Abraham and the righteousness of Lot were one and the same towards God’s angels.

SACRIFICE OF WORSHIP

The sacrifices of Lot for the holiness of God were in no wise symbolic rituals, but very real offerings in very real situations. As one theologian wrote, “It is difficult for us in our normative and regular sphere of life to recognize ourselves with the utter extremity, and extraordinary situation and action of Lot. There is little point of continuity for us to find comprehension and relation.” Lot first has sacrificed his position as patriarch and leader in bowing down to these men as his earthly and heavenly lords. “Cast down yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Lot secondly sacrificed his home in bringing them in and readily making for them a feast. “And they turned in to him, and came to his house, and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” Lot and Abraham both underwent great expense in lavishly catering to their visitors and waiting on them as a servant would have. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have received Angels into their houses unawares.” This was no mere meal, but an oblation, a sacrifice of worship which was received by the angels.

LOT’S SHOES

The third sacrifice of Lot I would argue to be the greatest of all his sacrifices, because it was verily his own life. “But before they went to bed, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom compassed the house round about, from the young even to the old, all the people from all quarters. Who crying unto Lot said to him, Where are the men, which came to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. Then Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him.” Firstly we ought to observe the severity of the situation in which Lot had become enveloped. Verse 8 makes it obvious that all the men of the city, young and old, from every quadrant and quarter, of every age and demographic, were both represented and present in the crime to be perpetrated agains the angels of God. As one commentator wrote, “Truly the city was thoroughly and utterly depraved from wall to wall.” In addition, these depraved men had “compassed the house round about.” There was no way of escape for Lot, his family, or his guests. Furthermore, the offenders openly requested lude acts without shame or denial. There was no possibility of misinterpretation, no avenue of escape, no avoidance of the situation. Far from the common labelling of Lot as a miserable caitiff, Lot went out of his house to confront these men and stare them down in the white of the eye. Such an act could surely have only been realized by Lot at that time as suicidal. Lot did not do as a coward would have done and cower inside, or waver at the door, or question the safety of the deed, or capitulate to their request. Rather Lot, as that same true follower to the calling of God we first saw in this lecture, stepped out in faith as the leader and chalcenterous man he was for his high standard of righteousness. He, without hesitation or deliberation, went out, and “shut the door after him.” For Lot there was no turning back, no acquiescence to their request, no diminishing of his high standard, and all without defence to the violence of his offenders. Lot was willing to face the open rage of men who would give no hesitation to do unspeakable acts, who had no limitation to their moral conscience, who had no shame in their doings. Few men would have done as Lot did and confront their assailants, never mind shut the way of escape behind them. When Lot shut that door he became both a martyr and protector. Lot is the example of a righteous, masculine, patriarchal protector if there ever was one. Scripture is remarkably clear in this account to each seemingly unmindful detail so as to give us an adequate defence of the extreme actions of the extremely righteous man in the face of extreme situations which are completely extraordinary to us in our normative and regular spheres of life. It is a fearful thing to even contemplate walking in Lot’s shoes out the door, facing these violent men, and sealing your only way of escape and their only way of entrance behind you. This is the picture of a mediator such as Christ is.

PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Lot was furthermore a preacher of righteousness under the unction of holiness. “I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly.” Lot addressed their actions specifically and forthrightly. Lot refused to romanticize, refused to evade, and refused to waver in the front of their most populous and pressing opinion. Few preachers are willing to walk out the doors of their church, shut the door behind them, and directly face the onslaught of a radically perverse sexual culture to protect the brethren of God inside as Lot would. Lot not only addressed their action as wicked, but furthermore referred to them as brethren. Lot was not in Sodom to partake in the “conversation of the wicked”, he was present to minister to them as a preacher of righteousness. If he had been unrighteous then his oppressors would give no railing against him. Just as Lot was vexed with their unrighteousness so was Sodom vexed with Lot because of his righteousness. “Marvel not my brethren, though this world hate you.” “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” The following passage makes it plain that Sodom hated Lot, “Then they said, Away hence: and they said, He is come alone as a stranger, and shall he judge and rule? We will now deal worse with thee than with them. So they pressed sore upon Lot himself, and came to break the door.” Lot is referred to as a lone stranger just as God’s people are to be a holy people to God. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should whew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

GENESIS 19 & JUDGES 19

We have now seen Lot sacrifice to these angels without question or qualification his position, his worship, himself, and now we will see his same willingness to sacrifice his family as Abraham later had. “Behold now, I have two daughters, which have not known man: them will I bring out now unto you, and do them as seemeth you good: only unto these men do nothing: for therefore are they come under the shadow of my roof.”  Never has Christ’s call to leave father and mother, brother and sister for His sake ever been so radically displayed. Before I pass judgment on the means Lot used, I would give us a few considerations of praise toward the defence of his guests. We must comprehend something of the righteousness of his actions in proportion to the holiness of God’s angels under his protection. We have to understand they were worth Lot’s sacrifices and it would have been cowardly and ludicrous for Lot to go to the extent he had for anyone less than the holy angels of God. Moreover, up to the point of sacrificing his family, Lot had sacrificed everything else he possibly could. It was a means of last resort. Summarily, this was a situation of extremity on every site. Extremely wicked men without the door and extremely righteous men within the door and Lot was the mediator between the two where only extreme sacrifices would do. Few men would have even made it as far as Lot has in this passage or executed their duties with such equity. Now then, Scripture is silent in this passage as to judging the events, but does later provide for us judgement in a much similar case from Judges 19. There is a principle in Biblical hermeneutics that states we are to interpret Scripture with Scripture. On this ground, I would argue that the hermeneutical key to Genesis 19 is Judges 19. In Judges 19 & 20 we read of a similar patterned account with uncannily common wording and sequence of events. To brutally summarize, an old man saw a young man and his concubine wayfaring into the city to visit the Ark of God. The old man invited them into his house and when they washed their feet and had a feast the men of the city surrounded the house and smote the door demanding the young man to come out of the house that they might know him. The old man and master of the house went out and refused them, but offered his own virgin daughter and the man’s concubine to them. The men of the city would not hearken to the master of the house and so the young man brought out his concubine to them. She was abused all night and died at the threshold of the house. That excellent prophet, Samuel recounts the following of the event, Judges 19:30, “And all that saw it, said, There was no such thing done or seen since the time of the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt unto this day: consider the matter, consult and give sentence.”. Even the prophet Samuel could only cognize, “Consider the matter, consult and give sentence.” I fear that the church of our day gives sentence without consideration and consultation as that fine prophet commends. After much consideration all of Israel went up against the wicked city that had done the deed and the tribe who protected that city. Three times Israel prayed to God if their judgement was just, and three times the Lord the lord confirmed their judgment. In other words, the judgment was not given against the one who offered the concubine or daughters, but to the abusers of them. The two scenarios are remarkably similar in nature. However, Lot’s is still far more extreme. He was not protecting a couple who were off to visit the Ark of the Covenant, he was protecting angels. He was not surrounded by his own people, but by the most notorious, infamous wretches the Bible has to mention. Never once was Lot or the master of the house passed in judgement. Rather Scripture is clear to state that the judgment was given to the city’s that perpetuated the dipravity. Gibeah in Judges 19 had guaranteed their destruction just as Sodom in Genesis 19 had by that same act. [In addition, some site the controversial fact that prior to Moses in Leviticus 19 there was no prohibition against giving daughters as harlots when every man did what was right in his own eyes.] So, in light of Genesis 19, Judges 19, and Leviticus 19 “Consider the matter, judge and give sentence.” 

EXTRA-ORDINARY

Now am saying that it is hypothetically permissible for us to give our own daughters over to such depravity in our own time and place? Absolutely not. Am I saying that Lot’s righteousness was being tested in his own doing so? Yes. Does this contradict my former statement? No. How so? Because the Apostle Peter states it was done for “our ensamble.” The Apostle Paul too clarified this reasoning for the remarkable accounts of the Old Testament in that they were “For examples, and were written to admonish us upon whom the ends of the world are come.” They are extra-ordinary, super-natural scenarios and ought not to be judged or evaluated as ordinary, natural occurrences. You and I will never entertain angels in our house, in Sodom, and have the most depraved, blackguardly men known to history pressing against the front door. This is extra-ordinary, super-natural so it can be “an ensamble.” They were done not to show the supposed unrighteousness of Lot, but the very real unrighteousness of Sodom, Gomorra, and Gibeah. “And made them an ensamble unto them that after should live ungodly.” For our example God was extraordinary, supernaturally testing the righteousness of Lot  and confirming the depravity of Sodom. It was an example not to show that Lot was wicked but oppositely, “For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation.”

LOT’S FAITH & LOVE

What is interesting to note is that while Lot, the righteous mediator, was confronting the extremely wicked men without the door the extremely righteous men within the door were not standing idly by. Only until Lot had sacrificed everything, his position, his worship, his house, and finally his family did they pulled him in and shut the door. Only after Lot had been tested so that there was no sacrifice he was not willing to make did God’s men act.  They could have acted much sooner and prevented much of the crescendoing extremity, but they did not. God had himself provided Lot with a means of deliverance as He would do for Abraham and Isaac. As one commentator wrote, “It is unbelievable firstly that the angels waited so long in delivering Lot while Lot was trying desperately to deliver them, and secondly how even though the wicked men of Sodom were struck with blindness they still sought the door to the point of exhaustion.” Thus, both the righteousness of Lot and the wickedness of Sodom was then and there proven by God. At that point Sodom had sealed their judgment and Lot’s faith was accounted to him as righteousness just as Abraham’s act of faith was later.

GOD’S MEDIATOR

“And when the morning arose, the Angels hasted Lot, saying, take thy wife and thy two daughters which are here, lest thou be destroyed in the punishment of the city. And as he prolonged the time, the men caught both him and his wife, and his two daughters by the hands (the Lord being merciful unto him) and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.” While there are many who accuse Lot of acting tardily toward obeying God’s commands, Scripture contrarily portrays Lot immediately, and unequivocally offering his worship, position, life, and family in defence of God’s righteous standard. There was no place Lot was unwilling to go, no promise he was unable to believe, no service he was unwilling to perform, no sacrifice he was not willing to give, and no saving he was unwilling to do. It is moronic to say that the fact the angels had to physically force Lot outside the city was due to a disbelief, or cowardace, or unrighteous love of the city on his part, when just the night prior the angels had to force Lot inside the house due to his radical faith, profound courage, and righteous standard. Lot was only prolonging his stay in the city in the same sense that he prolonged the restraint of the violent men of the city as both were acts of sacrificial salvation. The former to save angels, the latter to save his family and brethren. “Then Lot went out and spake unto his sons-in-law, which married his daughters, and said, Arise, get you out of this place: for the Lord will destroy the city, but he seemed to his sons-in-law, as though he had mocked.” This is the language of a man struck by urgency and belief for the love of his friends and enemies, not of tardiness and doubt from a callous heart. “Greater love than this hath no man, when any man bestoweth his life for his friends.” Never-mind his mocking enemies as Lot was so willing to do. Here again is righteous Lot, the faithful mediator. The Lot of this day was the same Lot as the day before, a mediator between God and men.

HUMBLE REQUEST

“And when they had brought them out, the Angel said, Escape for thy life: look not behind thee, neither tarry thou in all the plain: escape into the mountain, lest thou be destroyed. And Lot said unto them, Not so, I pray thee, my Lord. Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life: I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil take me, and I die. See now this city hereby to flee unto, which is a little one: Oh let me escape thither: is it not a little one, and my soul shall live?” Once again Lot’s accusers blindly blame him for entreating the Angels, while just a chapter earlier Abraham took the liberty to entreat God himself. We fail to realize there is no sin in this. Lot did not deliberately disobey their command and flee into the city without permission, nor did Lot even demand this option, rather he simply, and humbly requested it. How can we still be questioning Lot’s perseverance and faith at this point when He has given everything. Such a request is only reasonable for a man who has undergone such trials. May we have mercy as God had mercy on Lot. Only after the Angels rescued him by hindering his martyrdom did Lot take care for his life thereafter that he may be able to take care of his family’s in return. The fact his request was accepted verifies there was no sin in it. “Then he said unto him, Behold, I have received thy request also concerning this thing, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Hast thee, save thee there: for I can do nothing till thou come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun did rise upon the earth, when ot entered into Zoar.” It is almost needless to point out that Lot’s supposed “tardiness” was not a matter of days, but of mere moments. As the sun had only just risen by the time the events listed in verse 15 to 23 had transpired. (Nor could one say Lot would have disobeyed had his request been denied as he eventually took shelter in the mountains as the destruction continued anyways.) As Rushdoony writes, “Before we condemn Lot, let us remember that in like circumstances, few men would do better.”

LOT’S DAUGHTERS’ FAITH

Prior to Moses there was no law against incest. It had obviously been practiced since Adam and his descendants. Abraham himself married his half-sister. As Rushdoony clarifies, “When God through Moses forbad incest and required the death penalty for most instances of it, it was, first, a radical break with accepted worlwide practice, and second, established a roadblock to genetic damage which was to appear only many centuries later, as inbreeding began to become more prone to concentrate defective genes.” It is quite clear that Lot’s daughters viewed their action as good as the names given to the offspring indicate pride in their deed. Moab means “From my father,” and Ben-ammi, “Son of my kinsman.” However, it is clear that Lot would not have approved of the deed, hence the necessity of his unwitting inebriation. The fact Lot “perceived it not” indicates they drugged him unawares. The very fact of its happening could only be motivated out of a feeling to save the human race from extinction and Lot’s family line. In the face of the unprecedented destruction they had fled first to the Zoar, then to the mountains as the destruction continued, and then to a cave as the destruction did not cease. “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, And overthrew those cities and that grew upon the earth.” The scope of the destruction would have relatively appeared to Lot and his daughters as astronomical. Even Abraham, a full two days walking distance from the cities could witness its destruction. “And looking toward Sodom and Gamorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, behold, he saw the smoke of the land mounting up as the smoke of a furnace.” Thus Lot’s daughters are not depraved, but are however defective in their desperate deeds. Rushdoony adds, “Something more must be said about Lot’s daughters. They left Sodom with their father, and chose not to return with their mother.” Their city abandoned them, their betrothed husbands abandoned them, even their mother abandoned them, but the daughters followed Lot. However they too still failed by making their father drunk and fornicating, although it is humanly understandable. “Depraved” writes Rushdoony, “they were not; sinners, they were. They were not unbelievers, and in a critical situation, they had acted on faith, but their faith was a defective one.”

CONCLUSION

“And delivered just Lot vexed with the uncleanly conversation of the wicked: For he being righteous, and dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knoweth to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment under punishment.” Having dispelled the misapplications of the text, the misappropriations of the situation, and the misunderstanding of the times, maybe we can now view Lot as “a righteous soul from day to day.” Even through the days explained in Genesis 19. Lot was courageous in defending the angels of God. Lot was righteous in worshiping God. Lot was humble in serving God’s men. Lot was missional in being a preacher of righteousness to Sodom. Lot was faithful in believing the purpose of God. Lot was a leader to the end, brought down by everyone about him. His city, his in-laws, his wife, and even his daughters. May we stand here in some sense of awe and encouragement from this Biblical patriarch. No one to this time has done or seen any such thing as Lot had righteously persevered through in just a few days.

“Consider the matter, consult and give sentence.”

Is Science Good for the World?

Rusticated in a small, bucolic village their lived two priests who were responsible for their own respective parishes. Both priests had a dilemma, and that was the desire to smoke while they prayed. To resolve this quandary both decided to write to the Pope in inquiry. The one priest wrote to the Pope, “Is it permissible to smoke while praying?” to which the Pope reposted that it was not, since prayer should be the focus of one’s whole attention. Now, the other priest, being more crafty than his contemporary wrote to the Pope and asked tactfully, “Is it permissible to pray while smoking?” To which he frabjously received the reply that it is was, since it is always appropriate to pray. The moral of the story is that the form of every question may hinder us from identifying the answers to problems that otherwise become noticeable when the question is ever so slightly rephrased. Hence the title of this lecture “Is Science Good for the World?” You may find it humorous for the fact that it is a word-play and slight alteration to  one of our culture’s more clamorous debate titles, namely, Is Religion Good for the World? We have witnessed the new atheist movement mantle its intelligentsia on this issue with such polemics as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. In 2010 Hitchens engaged in the enormously popular Munk debate with former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, entitled, “Is Religion a Force for Good or Ill?” In 2007 Hitchens and pastor Douglas Wilson published a series of written exchanges on the topic of “Is Christianity Good for the World?” and in the following year filmed a documentary on the same subject. Both Dawkins and Hitchens have respectively debated with the Christian Oxford Mathematician, John Lennox, over “The God Delusion” and “God is not Great”.  Dawkins has written, “As a scientist, I am hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. It teaches us not to change our minds, and not to want to know exciting things that are available to be known. It subverts science and saps the intellect.” Hitchens likewise, “There are, indeed, several ways in which religion is not just amoral, but positively immoral. And these faults and crimes are not to be found in the behaviour of its adherents (Which can sometimes be exemplary) but in its original precepts.” I herein have entertained the notion to hoist these assayer’s own petard by interchanging the object of the discourse. The inquiry now concerns whether or not science is good for the world. Is science a force for good or ill? Is science a delusion? Is science even great?

Science Poisons Everything

The mechanical clock was a remarkable invention of the Benedictine monks of the thirteenth century. It was conceived as a instrument to regulate the seven times of devotion to be conducted each day. It provided a salient solution to the quandary of maintaining routine. The clock thus originated as an instrument of worship, a mechanism to advance holiness. However, the Benedictine monks did not foresee the revolution it would bring forth once it moved outside their monastery walls. Once the merchants had obtained this new scientific technology, they transformed the material world by it. It opened the possibility and birthed the reality of regular production and labor. It made possible Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations.” As Neil Postman wrote, “The clock was invented by men who wanted to devote themselves more rigorously to God; it ended as the technology of greatest use to men who wished to devote themselves to the accumulation of money.” It transmogrified from an instrument of righteousness to an instrument of mammon. Similarly when Galileo took hold of Johann Lippershey’s toy and transformed it into an instrument of science that we now call the telescope, it was to discover the glories of God’s heavens in a manner that had not been possible before. Like the Benedictine monks, Galileo could not foresee the injury this instrument would do to the offices of the Roman Church by collapsing it’s geocentric doctrine. With righteous pure intention, devoid and unadulterated by any inclination toward subverting religion, the sciences of these men eventually deposed the very design of their contrivance. These events (Among the other inventions and technologies such as the printing press and stethoscope as Postman would argue) were the accouchement of modern science. These new instruments simply didn’t add or subtract from the world, rather, they changed both the world and its words. With the invention of the telescope “heavens” took upon itself an entirely new meaning, for no longer was it an abstract expression of God’s glory and man’s centre in it.  Societies perception of reality, meaning, and truth was reordered. With the invention of the clock whole nation’s were now commandeered by a capitalism endowed with order. Their interests and what they thought about was restructured. With the invention of the printing press “knowledge” received an entirely new definition and purpose. With new technologies competing for a dominance of world-view over the old technologies, institutions, (Especially the church and state) were threatened and created a cultural crisis. Postman critiqued, “Technologies change what we mean by “knowing” and “truth”; they alter those deeply embedded habits of thought which give to a culture its sense of what the world is like – a sense of what is the natural order of things, of what is reasonable, of what is necessary, of what is inevitable, of what is real.” Science was now the prolegomenon of the future and in this future man could scientifically measure all things. When man is the one measuring all things, he himself becomes the measure of all things. Man was now more interested in the age of rocks than the Rock of Ages. Science poisons everything.

The Poison in Science

The poison in science is its’ major tenant that we can know everything about the science of anything by science and science alone. So it is its own end and its own means or as Henry David Thoreau stated of technology, “Inventions are but an unimproved means to an unimproved end.” In our neurosis for assimilating how to measure all things, the inquiry as to why we measure all things also abates in relevance. The poison is in science for the sake of science. Science tells us that we must develop our knowledge of truth, meaning, and value absolutely on our own initiative by rationally building out from ourselves, having only man as our integration point. This is no more than one pulling himself up by his own bootstraps. Francis Schaeffer wrote in The God Who is There of this kind of rationalism, “If you want to understand the century you live in, you must realize that it is not the outward form which the dialectic takes which is the real enemy. This may be expressed in theistic or atheistic forms. The real enemy is not the form it takes, but the dialectical methodology itself.” We have deified  science to the point where it validates our meaning, it authorizes our actions and it satisfies our wants. Those most affable to this poison are those who recognize science as the chief achievement of man and the solution to all our extremities. In the time of the Benedictine monks, Galileo, and the Gutenberg Press people believed in the authority of their religion, no matter what. Today, we believe in the authority of our science, no matter what. And as Postman argued, “We believe, because their is no reason not to believe.” Furthermore science is best prescribed and performed by experts such as our friends Dawkins and Hitchens. As Postman said, “We must not be dazzled or deluded by differences in method between preachers and scholars.” For these and other scientist do not merely diktat scientific laws of biological or chemical matters, but arrogate our social and moral affairs such as preachers would. With the weakening of the church and historic cultural institutions by the invasion of new technologies and sciences the people lose confidence in these old values and tradition. The Galileo Heliocentric Trial and three hundred years later the Scopes Monkey Trial illustrate the enfeebling of our institutions as Postman argued, “In their defeat, more was lost than the Bible’s claim to explain the origins and structure of nature. The Bible’s authority in defining and categorizing moral behaviour was also weakened.” Herein science’s cognoscenti come to fill in the vacuum left by the institution of the church. Neil Postman in his book Technopoly provides a Huxleyan like prophesy of this, “In Technopoly, all experts are invested with the charisma of priestliness. Some of our priest-experts are called psychiatrists, some psychologists, some sociologists, some statisticians (And I would add, some are called scientists). The god they serve does not speak of righteousness or goodness or mercy or grace. Their god speaks of efficiency, precision, objectivity. And that is why such concepts as sin and evil disappear in Technopoly. They come from a moral universe that is irrelevant to the theology of expertise. And so the priests of Technopoly call sin “social deviance,” which is a statistical concept, and they call evil “psychopathology,” which is a medical concept. Sin and evil disappear because they cannot be measured and objectified, and therefore cannot be dealt with by experts.” We live and are encompassed by the age of science and are desensitized to these very ideologies, to the poison of our science. Postman dissected this poison into three principal parts, “The first and indispensable idea is, as noted, that the methods of the natural sciences can be applied to the study of human behavior. The second idea is, as also noted, that social science generates specific principles which can be used to organize society on a rational and humane basis. The third idea is that faith in science can serve as a comprehensive belief system that gives meaning to life, as well as a sense of well-being, morality, and even immortality.” Before and since the mechanical clock the increasingly secularized scientific world is looking for an alternative moral authority to the church. In their desperation they plead, wish, and hope for the natural scientist to say it is science that speaks, not the subjective, frail judgments of mere mortals, to moral issues. They long for the illusion that their data, their structures, their procedures, their science speak as accurately, precisely, quantifiably, and reliably on moral matters as they do on material matters. That science not only is the solution for the narrative of life, but even provides us with the narrative in the first place. This kind of science is a poison.

The Science Delusion

The delusion of this kind of science is simple. To put it in the basic explanation of John Lennox, “Science can tell you that, if you add strychnine to your grandmother’s tea, it will kill her. But science cannot tell you whether it is morally right or wrong to put strychnine into your grandmother’s tea so that you can get your hands on her property.” Real science, natural science, principled science, can explain how the world around us operates, but it cannot explain why or how it morally and metaphysically ought to. Or as Postman wrote, “Science can tell us when a heart begins to beat, or movement begins, or what are the statistics on the survival of neonates of different gestational ages outside the womb. But science has no more authority than you do or I do to establish such criteria as the “true” definition of “life” or of human state or of personhood.” None of the experts of modern science can quantify or qualify values to metaphysical and moral matters. They cannot be measured, to attempt such would be a misapplication of technique. Postman identified this impasse of quantifying metaphysicals in Technopoly, “The first problem is called reification, which means converting an abstract idea (mostly, a word) into a thing. The second problem is ranking. Ranking requires a criterion for assigning individuals to their place in a single series”  So no matter how desperate the cry for a new moral authority, science has no answer, anything else is a romantic delusion.

Science is not Great

“Christianity on the other hand is not romantic; it is realistic” writes Schaeffer, “Christianity is realistic because it says that if there is no truth, there is also no hope; and there can be no truth if there is no adequate base. It is prepared to face the consequences of being proved false and say with Paul: If you find the body of Christ, the discussion is finished; let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. It leaves absolutely no room for a romantic answer… Christianity does not look over this tired and burdened world and say that it is slightly flawed, a little chipped, but easily mended. Christianity is realistic and says the world is marked with evil and man is truly guilty all along the line. Christianity refuses to say that you can be hopeful for the future if you are basing your hope on evidence of change for the better in mankind. The Christian agrees with the people in genuine despair that the world must be looked at realistically, whether in the area of Being or morals.” Neither though is Christianity nihilistic as principled science would leave the individual, without salvific word on moral authority or redemption. Christianity alone gives the answer to the meaninglessness that principled science logically concludes with. Christianity answers that our revolt has separated us from the God who is there, and this God who is there is not silent, but has sent his only begotten Son. Science is not great enough to measure all things (i.e. Being, morals, metaphysics) and science is not great enough to be the measure of all things.

Science Kills

So then is this poison of science good for the world? Is the delusion that man can scientifically measure issues of morality, being, and metaphysics a force for good? These are but rhetorical questions. When we, as the crafty priest, rephrase the question, we find, in Marshall McLuhan’s words, “The medium is the message.” That is to say that scientism is not just a vehicle of knowledge, but it has become the driver. “Along the way” Postman wrote, “It ceased to be merely a servant of social institutions and became their master.” Scientism we now observe has ideologies and a teleological concept. The plinth of this concept is that all things can be calculated. Not just the age of rocks, or weight of microscopic matter, or human anatomy, but even the worth of these things. Even human beings and their souls as Michel Foucault phrased become, “A calculable person.” The illusionary ability to assign a concrete, logical number to an abstract idea. This is a fairly tale like question, “Who is the fairest of them all?” As if we can measure beauty, intelligence, and life itself. This fairyland makes possible the discipline of eugenics, genocide, abortion, censorship, and other such atrocities where science commandeers itself outside the physical world into the metaphysical. History has only to tell us that this science has and does kill, literally.

Science a By-Product of Religion

The greatest prestidigitation of science is the illusion of being able to give authority to the realm of morality. Pastor Douglas Wilson in his Huffington post article, “Athiests Suck at Being Athiests” removes the smoke and mirrors behind such a nefarious claim. “So if the universe is what the atheist maintains it is, then this determines what sort of account we must give for the nature of everything — and this includes the atheist’s thought processes, ethical convictions, and aesthetic appreciations. If you were to shake up two bottles of pop and place them on a table to fizz over, you could not fill up an auditorium with people who came to watch them debate. This is because they are not debating; they are just fizzing. If you were to shake up one bottle of pop, and show it film footage of some genocidal atrocity, the reaction you would get is not moral outrage, but rather more fizzing. And if you were to shake it really hard by means of art school, and place it in front of Michelangelo’s David, or the Rose Window of Chartres Cathedral, the results would not really be aesthetic appreciation, but more fizzing still.” If you remove the romanticism from science you are left with an abject despair, because all science can really observe about morality is that the universe doesn’t care, it just keeps on fizzing and so should we. Yet in their romantic fantasy they still make pronounced moral claims. Take Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion.” “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Once again, Dawkins, as a scientist could very well make such observations about the God of the Old Testament, but what he is limited to do as a scientist is assert whether such attributes of the God of the Old Testament are good or evil, great or pathetic. When Dawkins and science would declare that such attributes are, for instance, bad they are speaking as men not scientists. Furthermore, they are speaking as men who borrow Christian capital to arrange their own sense of morality and they use this concoction of morality to poison Christianity in return. Science hereby becomes a by-product of religion that hijacks the vehicle of religion and crashes it into a tree.

Child Abuse

The new atheist movement has held little reserve in expressing its rage toward the teaching of religion to children by parents and persons of trust. Dawkins wrote, “I am persuaded that the phrase ‘child abuse’ is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshaven mortal sins in an eternal hell.” Hitchens similarly in “God is not Great” writes, “When we consider whether religion has “done more harm than good” – not that this would say anything at all about its truth or authenticity – we are faced with an imponderably large question. How can we ever know how many children had their psychological and physical lives irreparably maimed by the compulsory inculcation of faith?… But we can be sure that religion has always hoped to practice upon the unformed and undefended minds of the young, and has gone to great lengths to make sure of this privilege by making alliances with secular powers in the material world.” Hence in the age of scientism, schools have replaced the institution of the Church and become science’s firs bureaucracies. Bureacracies designed for the governing of, as Postman said, “The ecology of information.” Yet science has poisoned this institution as well with the chimera of being purely scientific in the sense of being religiously and morally neutral, object, and observatory in its content, methodology, and culture. As Cornelious Van Till observed, “Brute factuality does not exist.” That is to say, all facts must be interpreted to have meaning. Furthermore, the selection of facts we include and exclude in our education system reflect as Postman argued, “The theory of the purpose and meaning of education.” Doug Phillips in his excellent article, “Education Choices are Not Neutral” remarks, “The very culture in which education takes place is a reflection of the religious assumptions, values, beliefs, and character qualities of the people who form the environment in which education takes place.” The poison in the school institutions of the scientistic age is the guise of moral neutrality when in reality it has no moral center. It is an education which has been emptied of a coherent worldview, a meaningful narrative of life, a teleological concept, a moral, intellectual, and social centre. It is Dawkins platitude, “Children should be taught not so much what to think as how to think… The important point is that it is their privilege to decide what they shall think and not heir parents; privilege to impose it by force majeure.” This is an ineffable abuse, of the souls of countless children today in school institutions being expunged of reality and surrogated with the poisonous myth of science being both the measurer and measure of all things. The incalculable damaging effect of having their worth and meaning calculated for them by the austere scientism medium.

Resistance Fighters

The only coherent worldview, complete narrative, and moral authority can be found in the Scriptures. The words therein are true and sufficient for all of life and godliness. True science may indeed reveal to us the “how” in the operations of this physical world. But if we are left only with this science, it will lead inevitably to a rationalism of despair or an empiricism of romance. Both are insufficient and poisonous to societies. What’s required is not an additive, but rather a base consisting of the true revelation to us of the “why” in the operations of this physical and metaphysical world. We must be watchful and wary of the ideologies that are the invisible hand behind new technologies and sciences as the Benedictine monk and Galileo and the Gutenberg press exemplify. We must be attentive to what things we measure by science and leave that which cannot be measured untouched. While we may use science to measure certain things we must not permit science to become the measure of all things. We must free ourselves from the magical delusion of science having the ability to calculate the worth of being and ideas. We must not regard the lauded scientific calculation of our age and society as an adequate substitute to judgment or synonym to truth. We must not lose the battle of definitions that are waged against old traditions and words by new institutions and technologies. We must rather take seriously the institution of the Church as being the depository of the doctrine and words of God. We must furthermore refute science being an institution that acts as the depository, producer, and wholesaler of truth. We admire science but do not embrace it as the chief end of man.

Battle of Definitions

Q. How did God create man?

  1. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness with dominion over the creatures.

It is hard to calculate the many number of issues in our modern day that this single, brief answer confronts. It confronts evolution, feminism, male chauvinism, homosexuality, lesbianism, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, suicide, environmentalism, dualism, trichotomy, determinism, reductionism, religion, aesthetics, ethics, and morality. The Longer Westminster Catechism gives the answer with further detail, “After God had made all other creatures, He created man and female; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal souls; made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; having the law of God written on their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and dominion over the creatures.” Naturally we have not the time to answer each of these cultural confrontations today. Therefore I will dissect this answer of the next few lectures, based on the significance and relevance of the issue and doctrine at hand. Today I will be addressing the doctrine of mankind being made in the image of God. Furthermore, I will also make observations on how the image of God in mankind is being desecrated and deformed through our Canadian culture of death. Firstly, I must confess this is not a subject I find enjoyable to teach on. I am disturbed at my lack of being disturbed while living so apathetically in the midst of death, not just figuratively, but literally. In the morning before this lecture I have barely touched the issue with my research, and yet find myself standing ineffably depressed before you at my own failings in this matter.

ALL OF MAN, ALL OF MANKIND

As stated in a previous lecture, I am assuming each of us recognize the infallibility of the Bible in accepting the reliability of Biblical Chronology. In the Biblical Chronology of Genesis we see on the sixth day the creation of the first man and woman was a special, direct and personal act of the Triune God.  “Furthermore let us make man in our image according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over the beasts, and over all the earth, and over everything that creepeth and moveth on the earth. Thus God created the man in his image: in the image of God created he him: he created them male and female.” Now to clarify man is the image of God but he is not God or part-God. We read in Genesis 2:7 that man was made of the dust of the ground and God breathed into his face the breath of life and man so became a living soul. Saving the issues of trichotomy, dualism, and such for later we can nonetheless recognize that man is a part of creation and not a part of God. Similarly with Eve in the same chapter we read that Eve was made from one of Adam’s ribs and so too was part of creation and not a part of God. However, what does distinguish man from creation is the fact that he was created in the image of God. The image of God is our essence. The meaning of “Let us make man in our image” simply means that we resemble God. Image here simply means an impression, a reflection, a mirror. John Calvin wrote, “Man was created therefore in the image of God, and in him the Creator was pleased to behold as in a mirror His own glory.” As the Catechism goes on to clarify the primary attributes of this image is knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. Colossians 3:10 reads, “And have put on the new, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” Additionally, Ephesians 4:24 reads, “And put on the new man, which after God is created unto righteousness, and true holiness.” This special knowledge is a sufficient understanding of our calling as human beings. Bearing fruit to this knowledge comes righteousness and holiness. Holiness meaning we were first created beyond sin, and righteousness, likewise, conveying we acted in accordance to our holy knowledge of God’s divine ordinances. This image, although deformed, was not obliterated in the fall of the garden. As Bavink astutely observed the significance is not that we know, live, and will, but rather in what we know, how we live, and in what we will. “The main thing is not that we think and hate and love and will. The likeness of man and God gets its significance from what we think and will, from what the object of our hatred and love is. The powers of reason and will, of inclination and aversion, were given to man precisely for this purpose that he should use them in the right way – that is, according to God’s will and to his glory. The devils, too have retained the powers of thought and will, but they put these solely into the service of their hatred and enmity against God… And so, too, the human likeness to God comes out not chiefly in the fact that man possesses reason and understanding, heart and will. It expresses itself principally in pure knowledge and perfect righteousness and holiness, which together constitute the image of God… and with which man was privileged and adorned at his creation.”  Furthermore, it is necessary to note that all of man was made in the image of God. That is to say, both body and soul. Nowhere in Scripture do we observe that only man’s soul was made in God’s image. As Dr. Morecraft notes, we are a  physical-spiritual being. We are not a body with a soul, and not a soul with a body. Both sides were inescapably and immortally interwoven together at creation an are only temporarily separated at death until the physical resurrection with the return of Christ. Furthermore all of mankind, male and female, young and old, of all skin pigments, of all abilities reflect the image of the God who both created and beholds them.

BATTLE OF DEFINITIONS

R.J. Rushdoony said this fateful remark, “He who defines wins.” In the past sixty years we have observed in our culture a battle over the definition of a human life between the Church and secular humanist state. After having reviewed the Christian definition of mankind, that is, made in the image of God, we will review the secular humanist’s dogma. The view of the humanist is deterministic and reductionist in thesis. To the evolutionist man can be reduced to the chemical and physical properties produced by his environment that go into making up the DNA structure.  In accordance with such an observation Sigmund Freud, Horace Mann, and Margaret Sanger taught that all people can be understood based on the manner in which they have been conditioned by their environment. Man thus being reduced to a electromechanical object determined by his properties there is little moral or ethical challenge to engineering society, never mind devaluing his very life. Therefore, to control man they are determined to first artificially manipulate the environment he is contained in. This cannot be misunderstood to mean an overnight change, but rather a subtle inertia towards more encompassing and effective manipulation of the individual. This sublet inertia is achieved through controlled environments such as schools, and the fantasy environments of social media, television, radio, theatre, literature, news, music, art, and internet combined with the encouragement of such from companies, celebrities, activist groups, media and governments. All of which worked, in Sanger’s words, “To undermine the authority of the Christian Churches.” They rightly understood that the basic unit of the Church is the family and to kill the Church you have to kill the family and to kill the family you have to kill the father. Fatherhood has been openly displayed as revoltingly deformed and stupid selfishness. Motherhood has been shackled and chained. We have been told to keep our children on a leash. Our post-Christian society has labelled the Christian model of the family as an antiquated nuisance. Men have become effeminate, women masculine, children adolescent, and babies terminated at the hand of the new religious order of statism. What we must not deceive ourselves with as Christians is the notion that this all happened in isolation. As Francis Schaeffer rightly observed, the statism of our day has only filled the vacuum left by dissipation of the Christian consensus which once gave us freedom within the Biblical form. As our definition of the image of God has been neglected and forgotten the enemy has marched without interruption over the undefended carcasses of untold millions.

CULTURE OF DEATH

Abortion and birth control is nothing new, what is new is the rapid expansion of its application in our day and age. You will find on the face of first century gold and silver Cyrenian coinage the image of the laserwort. Laserwort was a plant farmed in Cyrene during the Roman Empire which functioned as a contraceptive. It became the edifice of their economy until the time of Nero where it became extinct due to its rapid consumption and demand. One can remember also in recent time the most notable culture of death in being the Nazi’s. May we take heed that those who were murdered in Nazi Germany were people just like us, and more importantly, those who murdered them were also people just like us. Due to moral impotence and ineptness the German people lost the battle for the definition of the sacredness of human life, just like the Canadian and American population today. One notable sign of the times in the battle of definitions came with The Declaration of Geneva adopted in September 1948 by the General Assembly of the World Medical Organization. This has become the model for medical school graduation oaths. Within this oath is the statement, “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.” Since the seventies this line has been eradicated from numerous universities including the University of Toronto School of Medicine. In similar fashion, the consensus of our society is founded no longer upon a Judeo-Christian base, but rather on a humanistic one where man is the measure of all things. This has resulted in a secularized society and a liberal theology. Moreover,  with the erosion of the Christian consensus which gave the base for law we now have an arbitrary sociological law. Now whatsoever society wishes is law. The Christian principle held that neither the majority nor the elite is sovereign. Only God gives us standards and value that is binding upon all persons in all places of authority. Christianity gave us freedom without chaos. But as Eric Hoffer said, “When Freedom destroys order, the yearning for order will destroy freedom.”

FASHIONED FROM CONCEPTION

Man is made in the image of God from conception. “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wondrously made: marvellous are they works, and my soul knoweth it well. My bones are not hid from thee, though I was made in a secret place, and fashioned beneath in the earth. Thine eyes did see me, when I was without form: for in they book were all things written, which in continuance were fashioned, when there was none of them before.” Psalm 139:13-16. “Behold, I was born in iniquity, and in sin hath my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5 “Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee, and before thou came out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and ordained thee to be a Prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5. Furthermore the Scriptures emphasize the sovereign and personal activity of God in conception and birth. He opens and shuts the womb Genesis 1:28, “I have obtained a man by the Lord.”Behold children are an inheritance of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb his reward.” Psalm 127:3. “Now the Lord visited Sarah, as he had said, and did unit her according as he had promised.” “God hath given sentence on my side, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son.” Genesis 30:6. “Now Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.” 1 Samual 1:19. “He that hath made me in the womb, hath he not made him? hath not he alone fashioned us in the womb?” Job 31:15 “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Job 33:4 But remember as stated earlier that we are not just a soul with a body, we are a physical-spiritual entity. During the same moments these verses recall, God is forming our person. At twenty-one days the first heart beats can be heard from the human’s developing heart. Forty-five days after conception we can identify brain waives. By the ninth and tenth weeks, before the woman is even aware of the child’s presence, the baby can squint, swallow, and move his tongue. By twelve or thirteen weeks the child has fingernails, can suck their thumb, and recoil from pain. Fingerprints have already formed on the hands and they will never change, except in size. By the fourth month the baby is eight to ten inches long and continues to lengthen and strengthen through the fifth month. Skin, hair, nails, sweat glands, and oil glands all begin to operate. Now the mother can feel the child’s presence. In the sixth month the child can recognize and respond to light and sound. They can sleep and awaken, they can get hiccups and can hear their mother’s heart beat. By this time survival outside of the womb is possible. In the seventh month the nervous system become radically more complex. The infant is about sixteen inches long and in the mark of three pounds. Throughout the remainder of the pregnancy the baby fattens and gains size. So is the child made in the image of God fashioned thus far.

ABORTION

I concur and have tasted something this morning of what R.C. Sproul Jr. said in the following quotation, “In my judgement abortion is like the doctrine of hell. Hell is real, the Bible teaches it an it ought to alter how we live our lives. But I understand that is such a real horror that the human mind can’t enter into it and think on it very long before the horror of it just drive you crazy. Abortion is like that. We can’t think about it too long, because it is just to ghastly. And yet our calling is to enter into, to push the boundary, and to go into it.” As I stated earlier I find myself deeply disturbed that I and even the Church is not so deeply disturbed. Francis Scheffer in his book, “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” stated, “Of all the subjects relating to the erosion of the sanctity of human life, abortion is the keystone. It is the first and crucial issue that has been overwhelming in changing attitudes toward the value of life in general.” If we loose the battle of definitions, if man is not seen as made in the image of God, nothing then stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. There are several forms of abortion, all of which far to ineffable to expound upon in detail. For the sake of younger listeners present all I need say is that it is a each procedure was designed in hell itself. [Dilation and Curettage – a small instrument of death shaped as a hoe is used to cut and scrape the baby out of the body. The infants body is then reassembled on a table to ensure all pieces have been retrieved. Suction Abortion – The human child is sucked into a jar. Within the jar one can recognize the arms, legs, head, and other parts of the human anatomy. Saline Abortion – A long needle is inserted through the abdomen directly in to the sac with a solution of concentrated salt. This burns off the outer layer of skin over the duration of an hour. The next day the mother will go into labor and deliver a shrivelled, darkened baby.] Abortion and birth control are the sacraments of our culture. Babies are the sacrifices we lay upon the alter of beauty and licentious freedom.

ABORTION IS MURDER

Firstly, Abortion is not a private, personal medical procedure. Abortion is murder. It is the premeditated and committed termination of the life of a human being made in the image of God, given by God for a role in the world.  “Who so sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God hat the made man. But bring ye forth fruit and multiply: grow plentiful in the earth, and increase therein.” Genesis 9:6-7.  “And if death follow, then thou shalt pay life for life.” Exodus 21:23 Secondly, the mothers are not innocent and they are not victims. The idea of a poor, misguided, innocent girl is a myth. They are cold, heartless women, who although possibly in a difficult place, find their solution in murdering their children. Thirdly, it is not a woman’s or a feminist’s issue. Abortion is no more a feminist issue any more than slavary was only a slave owner’s issue. As Schaeffer wrote, “The fate of the unborn is a question of the fate of the human race. We are one human family. If the rights of one part of that family are denied, it is of concern to each of us. What is at stake is no less than the essence of what freedom and rights are all about.” Fourthly, you cannot legislate against Abortion unless you have experienced Abortion or pregnancy under strenuous circumstances. This is a humanistic lie which reduces all things to the test of man’s experience and thus under-cuts the law. I do not have to attempt murder before I can legislate against it. Fifthly, As Sproul Jr. observed, Christians are limited to only two forms of protest. The first is hateful, screaming, and authoritarian. The second is loving, forgiving, and non-judgmental in nature. There is however a third option, the same which Christ practiced with Mary the prostitute and Mary at the well. Identify and confront the sin. Which turns us back to confronting the first myth, abortion is murder.

RADICAL RESPONSE

What is our response as Christians? This all started with the acceptance of the attitude that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived which only the Gospel can provide a sufficient and true answer against. The second is to cultivate in ourselves and instil in our children a pious, righteous, godly rage against the unspeakable horror of the slaughter of countless millions in the Abortion mills of North America and the world. It is not enough to have an emotional unease about abortion. As Schaeffer implored, “A significant percentage of people within our society must adopt and live by a world-view which not only hopes or intends to give a basis for human dignity but which really does.” The third which follows from this is not merely to have children not murdered, but to provide them and their mothers with a real life. Even if this means sacrificing some of our own personal peace and affluence. Furthermore, exert all your influence to fight against the loss and desecration of the image of God. “Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all the children of destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and judge the afflicted, and the poor.” Proverbs 31:8-9. I will end with one final quote from Schaeffer’s book, “Whatever happened to the human race?” “Future generational will look back, and many will either scoff or believe in Christ on the basis of whether we Christians of today took a sacrificial stand in our various walks of life on these overwhelmingly important issues. If we do not take a stand here and now, we certainly cannot lay any claim to being the salt of the earth in our generation. We are neither preserving moral values and the dignity of the individual nor showing compassion for our fellow human beings.”

The Peacemaker: Cromwell Prt. 3

A Peacemaker

Cromwell lived in a time while the European continent trembled with horrendous conflicts against the powerhouse of Popery. Oliver and his generation witnessed more wars, divisions, tumults, and rebellions than any other single generation in history up to the Great Wars. King Charles the 1st, son of King James the 1st, was the second of the Stuart Kings and was introducing popery and the blood-soaked persecution of thousands of England’s protestants with the aid of the Catholic Irish. Attempting to rid himself of resistance the King had silenced Parliament for over eleven years which historian refer to as the “Eleven Years of Tyranny.” During such times the protestants were placed in pillories, indebted with unbearable fines, publicly whipped, bodily disassembled, branded, and executed. Whereupon the Scottish Covenanters took up arms and marched against the King. English parliament had reassembled and formed their own Independent Model Army and began therewith to disassemble the engines of tyranny. Our Huntingdonshire yeoman now forty-two years old and father of six, Oliver Cromwell, was among those in the House of Commons to take leave of their peaceful country life and undertake commanding positions in the Parliamentary militia against the King. It was this man as D-Aubigne records was, “To become one of the greatest statesmen of modern times.” This was the first modern war we see in post-medivial history, a war for religious, political, and social freedom. Contrary to the European model of nominating men of nobility and estate as officers, Cromwell elected men of poor and lowly parentage but men who were nonetheless godly and precious. It was not the French Jacobites or Russian Marxists who pioneered such revolution, but the English Calvinist, Oliver Cromwell. Of his men Cromwell stated, “I will raise men who will have the fear of God before their eyes, and who will bring some conscience to what they do; and I promise you they shall not be beaten”, and indeed the “Old Ironside’s” cavalry was never beaten. After four gruesome years of war in 1646 the King surrendered to the Scottish Covenanters. Three divisive years later after the King had contrived his own demise he was beheaded by the English Parliament. Ireland retaliated with the sanguinary slaughter of 50,000 to 200,000 protestants and puritans. As Carlyle wrote, “Oliver descended on Ireland like the hammer of Thor; smote it, as at one felt stroke, into dust and ruin, never to reunite against him more.” Oliver forged with his hammer of Thor, a peace and prosperity in Ireland which has never been witnessed since. And thus, in the space of a few decades God called his servant Cromwell from his family life in the country, to being a representative in the House of Commons, to a leader of the Model Army, to the saviour and protector of puritan England against the tyranny of popery and the maker of peace among divided sects and nations. Cromwell reproduced that same peace of his own soul in England, Ireland, and soon Scotland and the rest of Europe. Though it seem at first a paradox or irony, Cromwell was of all men in Church history, a peacemaker.

Here and Here Only

But what is peace and did Cromwell bring about true peace or was he no more of a power hungry tyrant than King Charles l who preceded him? What peace are both Cromwell and even we to make in our own day? Peace is simply a social state of existence characterized by individual uniformity in thought, word, and deed to a particular belief of that which is true, good, beautiful, and eternal. Peace is not just some abstract philosophy or political term, it is a special state of existence. You either exist in peace or outside of it. Additionally, peace is a state of uniform existence between two or more parties. On a personal level, this peace is a harmony between a plurality of thoughts or emotions, on a social level, this peace is an unity between individuals, groups, and associations, on an ecological level this peace is an order between man made in the image of God, and God’s “ex-nihlo” made creation. Peace doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it presupposes two or more parties living in unison. Thus peace is not just a state, but a social state of existence where each member of this society unites all their faculties with each other individual member of that society in a particular order of belief. Naturally, this is the point where the peace is broken, and this is where it was divided in Cromwell’s day. What was England, Ireland, and Scotland to believe to be true, good, beautiful, and eternal and how were they to exercise their faculties thereto? Was the King to be true and Catholicism good? Or was Cromwell’s puritanism true and religious freedom good? What the persecution of heretics under the Popery of King Charles a beautiful thing? Or was the prosperity of a new Ireland under freedom beautiful? Was the doctrines of man in Catholicism eternal? Or was God’s Word in Scripture eternal? Here once again Cromwell’s cry to Ireland for God’s peace of religious freedom, “As for the people, what thoughts they have in matters of religion in their own breasts I cannot reach; But shall think it my duty, if they walk honestly and peaceably, not to cause them in the least to suffer the same. And shall endeavour to walk patiently and in love towards them, to see if at any time it shall please God to give them another or a better mind. And all men under the power of England, within this dominion, are hereby required and enjoined strictly and religiously to do the same.” In our day and in our modern Canadian culture peace would be described to us as a society that uniformly believes that humanism is true, socialist equality is good, individual expression is beautiful, and the only thing eternal is the previous three beliefs. Thus “peace” for the humanist society is “made” through statist means of restricting all forms of individual “Force” which would change the social peace, diminishing all forms of “Privilege”  which would uproot social equality, censoring all forms of “discrimination and intolerance” which would say that not every form of individual expression is beautiful, and silencing any claim that there is an eternal “Prince of Peace.” We see such acts of “peacemaking” daily in our nation alone. Cromwell believed as a Christian that God desired a much different and far better state of uniform social existence for England, Ireland, and Scotland than the tyranny of the Kind and the popery of Catholicism. I hold with Cromwell that Paul stated this state of peace clearly in Colossians 1:16, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Thus for the Christian, peace, true peace, is a state of existence where I, as an individual, am right with God. What God says to be true, I believe to be true. What God says to be good, I believe to be good. What God says to be beautiful, I believe to be beautiful. What God says to be eternal, I believe to be eternal. And in all these things I unite the totality of my faculties in worship and observance. I only have true peace when I am right with God, and my society only has true peace when it is right with God. Outside of God, there is no peace. Furthermore, this peace with God is achieved through the work of the cross of Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the means to reconcile all things whether on earth or in heaven as holy, unblameable, and unreprovable in the sight of God. This makes God, the ultimate peacemaker. All of God’s acts in redemptive history were toward making final, lasting peace between Himself and mankind. When God made man in his image it was make peace between himself and man. When God destroyed the world in the flood, it was to save Noah and his family and all their descendants through the water. When God crushed his own Son on the cross, it was to make peace between Himself and me. Outside of God, and outside of the cross, there is no peace. Isaiah 57:20-21, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” This is why total peace will only be realized in heaven, where each soul present, “Shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Herein, and therein only is perfect peace and it was this state of peace Cromwell made and wrote of in the following to his son. “This commends the love of God: it’s Christ dying for men without strength, for men whilst sinners, whilst enemies. And shall we seek the root of our comforts within us, What god hath done, what He is to us in Christ, this is the root of our comfort: in this is stability; in us is weakness. Acts of obedience are not perfect, and therefore yield not perfect Grace. Faith, as an act, yields it not; but only as it carries us into Him, who is our perfect rest and peace; in whom we are accounted of, and received by, the Father – even as Christ Himself! This is our high calling. Rest here, and here only.”

Pax Queritur Bello

So what does it mean to be a peacemaker like the Apostle Paul and Cromwell? If being a peacemaker is an indicative of being a child of God then how do I show myself to be that selfsame child of God? Jesus answers this question further on in his Sermon on the Mount in the context of verse 45, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” In other words, want to be a child of your Father in heaven? Want to be a peacemaker? Want to be a Cromwellian? Want o be an Ironside? Make and take the practical initiatives for peace where there is a lack or absence of peace between you and another. Love them, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them. Hear in Cromwell’s own words, how he loved his enemies in Scotland after Charles’ death, “We made great professions of love; knowing we were to deal with many who were godly, and who pretended to be stumbled at our invasion: indeed our bowels were pierced again and again; the Lord helped us to sweet words, and in sincerity to mean them. We were rejected again and again; yet still we begged to be believed that we loved them as our own souls; they often returned evil for good…” We will see each of these specific steps of Biblical peacemaking carefully observed by Cromwell as he sought to make peace with his brethren in Scotland. As D’Aubigne wrote, “Peace and the blessing of peace were all that he ever sought in war: he now wished to impart them to his people.” Later in England, on Cromwell’s medals and coins was engraved the following “Pax Queritur Bello” “On earth Peace!”

Peace or Truth?

The paradox facing the peacemaker every day as it faced Cromwell is the dilemma of could it be the peacemaker’s fault when the division is caused by their taking a stand? Was Cromwell as a peacemaker wrongly disturbing the peace when he united and defended an antithetical belief to the King, or claimed the King’s belief to be antithetical itself? Must Cromwell stand for peace or for truth? At what point should Cromwell brake the peace and come to the defence of truth? And what means should Cromwell use to brake the peace? Again we go back to the definition. Many Christians hold a humanistic definition of peace, a view of peace which, as stated earlier, holds all use of force or acts of violence as wrong or ineffectual. A view which holds peace as superior to truth. A view which sacrifices truth on the alter of peace. Such a view is antithetical to Biblical thought. These Christian’s infected with such humanism may quote Romans 12:19-20, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” These verses are true and beautiful, but they neglect the provisions and instructions which come both before and after this instruction. Verse 18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” And verse 21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” If this is not enough, you can point these humanists to Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19, “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Paul would have obviously not recognized the place for breaking the peace if he only averred that the Corinth church should have compromised the truth in order to prevent the division at all cost. In these instances, the Apostle Paul here acknowledges the eternal value of peace, as written in verses nineteen and twenty, but also recognized the earthly dilemma and gave the Christian a means of escape and grace in the provisional eighteenth verse and the clarifying twenty-first verse. So, how long and in what circumstances may the Christian live in peace? “As much as possible.” Under what circumstances may the Christian make out God’s peace on earth? When about to be “Overcome with evil.” The hegemony of all arguments in this case is Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Furthermore we read in James 3:17, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable…” As John Piper wrote on the subject of peacemaking, “You must love peace and work for peace. you must pray for your enemies, and do good to them, and greet them, and long for the barriers between you to be overcome. But you must never abandon your allegiance to me and my word, no matter how much animosity it brings down on your head. You are not guilty; you are not in the wrong if your life of obedience and your message of love and truth elicit hostility from some and affirmation from others. Perhaps its just this warning that Jesus wants to sound when the next beatitude says “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. In other words righteousness must not compromise in order to make peace with your persecutors. When Jesus pronounces a blessing on you for being persecuted for the sake of righteousness, he clearly subordinates the goal of peace to the goal of righteousness.”

Scotland

Now again we turn to our great peacemaker Cromwell and his division with Scotland. Although it was the Scottish Covenanters who had initiated the noblest movement of that time in objection to the Tyranny of the Stuarts and of Rome, it was also the Covenanters who would now retract their stance upon the King’s execution and put themselves in opposition to Cromwell and the Commonwealth by having Charles the Second instituted as King over them. Therewith, they gave invitation to the prince to take welcome in Scotland and possession of his kingdom. Prince Charles was like his French Mother Henrietta in his Catholic convictions and like his beheaded father with regards to his duplicity. Cromwell saw in this instantaneously the peril Scotland was inviting upon not only themselves, but all of England. On June 26th, 1650 Cromwell, having been appointed commander-in-cheif of all armies of the Commonwealth, set out for Scotland immediately. Naturally, Cromwell’s feelings towards his fellow Scottish Covenanter’s was different than the feeling he had when fighting the Irish. For Cromwell felt as though he was moving against his brethren and was determined to restore Scotland to herself. And it is in this war we can witness the special steps Cromwell took towards peacemaking with his brethren.

Battle of Dunbar

This can be observed in Cromwell’s letter to the Scots Army, “We return you this answer; by which I hope, in the Lord, it will appear that we continue the same we have professed ourselves to the Honest People in Scotland, wishing to them as to our own souls; it being no part of our business to hinder any of them from worshipping God in that way they are satisfied in their consciences by the Word of God they ought, though different from us. But that under the pretence of the Covenant, mistaken, and wrested from the most native intent and equity thereof, a King should be taken in by you, to be imposed upon us.” Nonetheless, the Scots marched against the English army. It would have seemed to any witness that this was the first and only battle to which Cromwell was to lose as he quickly took full retreat of the Scots, but this only to seize a more favourable position in the field. He thereupon attacked them victorious and took 10,000 prisoners in the battle of Dunbar on September the 3rd. Once again, Cromwell, a true child of God, acted as a peacemaker towards his enemies. After the battle of Dunbar he distributed food among his defeated enemies and attended presbyterian services in their own churches where the ministers did not hesitate to pray for Charles the King and call Cromwell a usurper in his own presence. Nonetheless Cromwell did not retaliate by returning evil for good, but only sought reconciliation. During the entire war against Scotland, Cromwell assured his enemies of their minister’s and pastor’s freedom to walk freely through the land to preach in their respective churches, without in any manner being disquieted. “No man hath been troubled in England” said Cromwell to the Scots, “nor Ireland for preaching the Gospel; nor has any minister been molested in Scotland since the coming of the army hither. The speaking truth becomes the ministers of Christ. When ministers pretend to a glorious Reformation, and lay the foundations thereof in getting to themselves worldly power, they may not know that the Sion promised will not be built with such untempered mortar.” Such was the general’s cordial and humble disposition towards his enemies. We shall now recount a brief letter as always that Cromwell wrote to his family after his battles, and this to his wife. “My Dearest, I have not leisure to write much. But I could chide thee that in many of thy letters thou writes to me, that I should not be unmindful of thee and thy little ones. Truly, if I love you not too well, I think I err not on the other hand much. Thou art dearer to me than any creature, let that suffice…. The Lord has shoed us an exceeding mercy; who can tell how it is! My weak faith hath been upheld. I have been in my inward man marvellously supported; though I assure thee, I grow an old man, ands feel infirmities of age marvellously stealing upon me. Would my corruptions did as fast decrease! Pray on my behalf in the latter respect…. I rest thine, Oliver Cromwell.”

Edinburgh

With his triumph at Dunbar, Cromwell marched to Edinburgh and on the 12th of December the Scottish army who had taken refuge in a castle, surrendered as Cromwell threatened to blow out the foundations. In Cromwell’s letters and speech we observe him making distinction between the two parties he found in Scotland. The first he referred to as “Milignants” these were such men as were friends of Charles Stuart, and on the other, the godly people of that beautiful nation, the true Presbyterians. Dr. Morecraft observed, “Throughout the period of Cromwell’s domination there prevailed a degree of civil peace before what had ever before been experienced. There were more souls converted to Christ than in any season of the Reformation. Thus the result of Cromwell’s campaign both in Ireland and in Scotland was the peace and prosperity of these two countries. There are few wars in all of history which have reproduced such beneficial consequences.” This extraordinary effort was not without consequence on Cromwell’s health. The anxiety and utter labor had fallen him dangerously ill while in Edinburgh. During this time Cromwell, that man of incomparable calibre, wrote the following, “Indeed, my Lord, your service needs not me; I am a poor creature; and have been a dry bone: and am still an unprofitable servant to my master and you. I thought I should have died of this fit of sickness; but the Lord seemeth to dispose otherwise. But truly, my Lord, I desire not to live, unless I may obtain mercy from the Lord to approve my heart and life to Him in more faithfulness and thankfulness, and to those I serve in more profitableness and all diligence. And I pray God, your Lordship, and all in public trust, may approve all those unparalleled experiences of the Lord’s wonderful workings in your sight, with singleness of heart to His glory, and the refreshment of his people.”

Lord Protector

As soon as Ireland and Scotland’s peace was made and secured by Cromwell, he then turned his attentions to the peace and prosperity of England. The Long Parliament itself had been infected with the same pride as their now dead King had been. It grew increasingly unpopular in the nation, and was attacked by every party. From all sides it was called to dissolve itself. Monday the 12th of December 1653, it was moved by the House that the sitting of that parliament was no longer beneficial for the commonwealth, and it should be delivered up to the Lord General Cromwell. This motion wa received with wonderful unity from all parties, the Royalists and Episcopalians, Soldiers and Lawyers. All now turned to Cromwell as the sole means of safety for England. Cromwell received the title of “Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland.” Furthermore, all the courts of Europe, recognized and praised their neighbouring nation’s new governor. On September the 4th 1654 Cromwell gave a three hour address at Westminster Abbey. “Gentlemen,” said Cromwell, “You are met here on the greatest occasion that, I believe, Engalnd ever saw; having upon your shoulders the interest of three great nations; and truly, I believe I may say it without any hyperbole, the interests of all the Christian people in the world.” Truly, Cromwell was the peacemaker for puritains throughout the world. Morecraft observed, “Cromwell’s advancement of protestantism throughout Europe assigned to England its position as protestant Queen of the world.” Cromwell produced England’s first and only constitution entitled, “The Instrument of Government.” This preeminent document would present to history the first separation and limitation of powers, local government representation, a system of checks and balances, and a guarantee of liberty of conscience. Cromwell exhibited the same love for protestant churches across the channel as he did to those within. He came to the defence of the Waldesians, Huguenots, Swiss, and German protestants. Morecraft wrote in praise of Cromwell, “It is seldom that a great man is a Christian, but Cromwell was both. The result has been that many of the men of the world has scouted him as a hypocrite. What most distinguishes Cromwell above all great men and especially above all great statesmen is the predominance in him not only in his person but also in his government of a solemnly reformed theology, worldview, and way of life. He thought that the political and national ravens of Great Britain could not have been established in a firm and lasting manner unless the pure and unmixed Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached to the people and unless a truly Christian life flowed though the veins of the whole nation.” On September 3, 1658 Cromwell died. We shall let our peacemaker’s own last words conclude this lecture. “Lord, though I am miserable and wretched creature I have been covenanted with you through grace and I may and I will come to thee for thy people. Thou hast made me, though very unworthy, a mean instrument to do them some good and thee service. And many of them have set too high a value upon me. Though others wish and would be glad of my death. Lord, however thou dispose of me continue and go on to do good for them. Pardon thy foolish people, forgive their sins and do not forsake them, but love and bless them. Give them consistency of judgment, one heart, mutual love, and go on to deliver them and the work of reformation and make the name of Christ glorious in the world. Teach those who look to much on thy instruments to depend more upon thyself. Pardon such as who desire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm for they are thy people too. And pardon the folly of this short prayer and give me rest for Jesus Christ sake to whom thee and thy Holy Spirit be all honor and glory now and forever. Amen.”

All Very Good: A Christian View of Ecology

In todays lecture we will address both the eighth and ninth questions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The battle of the last century was the doctrine of the  Inerrancy of Scripture, in this century it is that of the doctrine of Creation.  Both God’s first decretive act and his specially revealed words are immediately controverted by man, “In the beginning God created…” Man ever since has sought unfalteringly to destroy the Creator. Consequently, man has started that pursuit by destroying his creation. Men who profess themselves to be wise, so became unthankful, vain fools. They bring to pass the evolution of God. From His Creator glory to creature corruptness. They observe nature around them with its division, desecration, and un-benevolence and condemn the God they deny for creating it so and derogate Christianity as having “established a dualism of man and nature, and also insisted that it is God’s will than man exploit nature for his proper ends.” The battle for the doctrine of Creation is on two fronts. The first, we as a church, as individuals, and families are highly educated and aware of, namely, how God created the world. the second battle front, which is often underestimated or neglected by the Christian community, is what it is for. Again, there are two battles in the war waged for Creation. The first is how our universe is created and the second is what it was created for. Last summer my parents encountered an old friend who was was a presbyterian pastor with his masters of divinity. Along the course of their conversation creationism was introduced. Upon being asked my parents’ old acquaintance stated that, “The jury was still out” on its viability. Later my parents told me of his statement and how they wished I was there to give a witticism to this fellows remark. Last night I finally developed a response. Before I share it however, it would be helpful for us to understand the issue at hand and especially its consequences. What has this fictional jury met for in the first place? What consequences do their decisions have? What does Scripture say?

Q. How doth God execute his decrees?

A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

I must say of all the catechism question thus far, this is the most self explanatory. One could very well dive into why God chose the work of creation and whilst doing so address the doctrine of the Providence of God. However,  I trust from previous lectures that you already have an understanding that God created the world as a Triune undertaking, not out of a inner deficiency but of the overflow of His glory. That being so, due to recent political and cultural events I would like to specifically devote this lecture to that of creation. For the purpose of this lecture, one must merely remember from this question that creation was the first decretive action or work of God.

Q. What is the work of creation?

A. The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six normal consecutive days, and all very good.

BLIND FAITH OR RATIONAL FAITH.

For the purpose of clarity I annexed Spurgeon’s, “normal consecutive” to the shorter Westminster question. I am unaware of any doctrine in Scripture which presents itself so clearly, so authoritatively, and so sufficiently as the doctrine of creation in Genesis 1. The starting point for each and every Christian in receiving this doctrine is firstly that of faith in God and in His word. Our faith in God’s word rests on the objective witness of the Bible to its own authority and secondly to the internal witness of the Holy Spirit in us as believers to the Bible’s authority. As a Christian I have no problem saying that I believe in a young-earth, six literal, six normal, and six consecutive day creation accomplished by the God of the Bible. The accusation immediately received from opponents is that such is a “blind faith.” While I do not deny that it is faith, I do deny that it is blind. On the contrary, I would protest to any who said otherwise that they were functioning off of a blind, irrational faith. Morecraft acutely wrote, “Scientific investigation and human experiences can tell us nothing about the origin of the universe, since no human being was present at the creation of the universe. Therefore the theory of evolution does not have the competence to explain the origin of life. It’s basis that matter in its undeveloped state has existed eternally, is a totally undemonstratable assumption based on blind faith, not on reason, experience or scientific investigation. Moreover, it is fully in accord with the written Word of God.” Christians not the other hand do not take a “leap of faith” as evolution believers do. Francis Schaeffer illustrated the difference between a blind, leap of faith and a rational faith with the following story. Suppose you and I are hiking up a mountain through a dense fog and quickly loose all sense of direction and location. There is no hope for us finding our way back or surviving the freezing temperatures overnight. However, suppose I decide that if I were to leap of the edge of the mountainside and possibly land on a ledge lower down beneath the fog I could survive the night. So, with absolutely no knowledge or any reason to support my decision, I leap of the cliff into the fog. This would be a kind of faith, a leap of faith. Yet, suppose again however that we are once again lost in the fog on the side of the mountain and heard a voice through the fog from another ridge which told us to jump off the edge of the cliff and assured us a safe landing and survival on a ledge below. Naturally, we would want to confirm this voice’s identity and ascertain whether the voice knew what they were speaking about. In our desperation we would ask sufficient questions and become convinced by its answers. And if in the course of our questions we learned that the voice was a local mountain guide who lived from early childhood in these very mountainous parts we would, out of desperation and shortness of time, hang off the cliff and drop. This again is faith, but a faith of a very different kind from a blind, and irrational one. So with regards to the origin of the universe, it is only the Christian who can provide an authoritative, rational, and dependable answer to that event which was unseen by any one but God. So my response to my parent’s acquaintance who considered that the jury was still out on the subject of creationism would be, “Then out with the jury.” Because I agree with the atheist that there is no place for blind leaps of faith. Certainly not with juries.

GLORY & DOMINION

Again, as we are already well educated on the doctrine, science, and evidences for a six literal day creation of the universe I will succeed quickly to the next battle-front. Namely, what God’s decretive act of creation is for. I would phrase my answer just as John Piper phrases the answer to the first catechism question. The chief end of nature is to glorify God by the dominion of mankind over it. St. Ignatius of Loyola stated, “Man is created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created. Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end.” Dominion, as Dr. R.C. Sproul put it, is, “all about conquest, that’s what were made for, man lives for a cause, and this is the cause of the crusade of which we have a call, to make manifest the reign of Jesus Christ.”  Man was created for God’s glory, and creation was created for man’s dominion. Possession of the earth is the privilege of God’s grace, and as man reflects God’s glory, the earth and all things therein reflect God’s glory. Because the glory of God prevails over man,  His glory prevails thereby also over man’s dominion. When man forsakes his dominion mandate over the earth, the earth then gains a dominion and judgment over man. Just as when man is holy his dominion will likewise be holy, when man is profane so is nature. Nature becomes profane when fallen men abandon the development of the Kingdom of God on earth to instead exploit the earth for the Kingdom of man and the tower of Babel. Francis Bacon gave this marvellous statement on dominion, “Man by the fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over nature. Both of these losses, however, even in this life, can in some part be repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and sciences.”

ENVIRONMENTALISM VS DOMINION

Francis Schaeffer, who I will often be quoting in this lecture from his book, “Pollution and the Death of Man” wrote the following, “As Christians we should know the roots in order to know why those who speak and act against Christianity are doing so, and in order to know the strength of the Christian answer in each area.” So who are the antagonists which speak out against the content of the Westminster Catechism question concerning God’s work of creation? Additionally, what our antagonists saying when the speak out against it? Furthermore, what is the strength of the Christian answer to them? When it comes to the Catechisms question regarding God’s work of creation debate often in focus is that of creationism vs. evolutionism. Nonetheless, at this point in our lecture we are going to observe the debate when it comes to the purpose of creation or nature, namely, dominion vs. our antagonist party, environmentalists. The latter, environmentalism, is becoming an ever increasing rancorous attack on dominion, and thereby, an attack on God’s work of creation. Dominion is  a mandate given by God the Creator to man for his dominion over nature, to take ownership and responsibility, stewardship and care, where cultivation, utilization, and development of the earth is a necessary aspect. Environmentalism is a mandate given by atheists, pantheists, and panentheists, to society for their domination under nature where political, legal, and economical domination  is a necessary aspect. We have to recognize environmentalism, not merely as a movement, nor just as a political capaign, but as an antithetical worldview to the Biblical doctrine of creation.

ENVIRONMENTALISM

Why has this word-view risen to such heights in our society? What is it’s origins? Environmentalist, Lynn White, acutely wrote the following, “What people do about their ecology depends on what they think about themselves in relation to things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and our destiny – that is, by religion.” Summarily, men do what they think. Environmentalism is a strong ethics based worldview as Richard Means wrote, “The great fault of all ethics hitherto has been that they believed themselves to have to deal only with relation of man to man. The notion that man’s relation to nature is a moral one finds very few articulate champions, even among contemporary religious writers.” Up to this point Christians can very much concur with the statements of these men. How we treat ecology, the balance of living things in nature, does pivot upon our religious beliefs and is an ethical decision to make. Furthermore the decisions we make concerning nature and ecology today are becoming increasingly important. The environmentalist is witnessing every day a drastic upsetting in the balance of nature. They realize that nature is divided and it is a matter of upmost importance, of quality of life, and of future survival. Their only theory for this division in nature is the greed and haste of pollution and only plan redemption is social control. The Christian too witnesses great division in nature with every day but knows the reason for its “groaning and travailing in pain” as the apostle Paul wrote. The reason is the Fall of Man. When man fell, man was decidedly divided from God. Man was also divided from other men. Man was divided from nature, and nature was divided from nature. Now the environmentalist seeks to heal this division in nature, but not through God’s provided way of redemption.

CHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD

Environmentalism as I stated previously is a radically antithetical worldview to the Bible. Firstly, its primary doctrine is the denial of a Biblical Creator. To the environmentalist, as E. Calvin Beisner wrote, “If there is no personal Creator distinct from the universe, who created the universe out of nothing, then the universe effectively takes God’s place, since it turns out to be the Supreme Being. If all of nature is part god, it becomes impossible to distinguish sacred from profane. Consequently, environmentalism tends to define all of the earth and all that dwells therein as holy.” Of course then, when everything is holy, nothing is. Why do they hate God so? We as Christians realize that the word as it is today is in an abnormal state from the normal state it had in the Garden of Eden. However, the environmentalist in denying God’s original perfect creation, sees the world in its abnormal state today as normal, that is to say, the way it has always been. They see its pain, its groaning, its travailing and say only an evil creator could create the world in such a state. The Christian answer is simple, He didn’t, but you did. Now it stands to reason that since the first environmentalist lie is about the Creator’s  existence, the second would be about His creative purpose, dominion. “The Lord gave; man hath taken away. Cursed be the name of man.” This is a statement concerning the ocean written on a tombstone on a beach in California. The teaching of environmentalism on the Christian dominion mandate can be summarized in Lynn White’s remarks, “Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions, not only established dualism of man and nature, but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.” The second lie of the environmentalist is that dominion is simply and excuse for exploitive domination. Now that the environmentalist has summarily dismissed God and his overpopulating capitalistic Christians, they proceed to lie about the redemption of our fallen world.

ROMANTICIZING NATURE

The first indoctrination of the environmentalist is the romanticizing of nature.  Incessantly in media, films, and papers you see this romanticizing of nature. Romanticizing simply means that one looks at an object of nature and projects into it human reactions, emotions, and feelings. The pure fabrication and mysticism of the trees and the birds and the bees having feelings, thoughts, reactions, and even souls as we humans do. As ludicrous as it sounds it is a logical conclusion which follows from the denial of the Creator. If God did not create the word, then mankind was not created in His image, and if mankind is not created in his image we have no inherent difference than the animal. Romanticizing is also the attempt to evade the reality of fallen nature. It is a futile attempt to explain the benevolent and un-benevolent sides of nature. Rather than the division in nature being a indictment and judgment against fallen man, it is simply romanticized. But this leaves the environmentalist with a series dilemma. As Francis Schaeffer put it, “To project our feelings and thoughts into a tree would mean that we would have no base upon which to justify cutting down and using the tree as a shelter for man.” The sane and Biblical response of the Christian is, no, to romanticize a tree is to invade the true reality of nature. While we are not to romanticize the tree or nature, Christians must also realize that God made it out of nothing, just like he did us, and therefore it deserves from us the same value, respect, and use as God endowed it with when he created it. Once again the root of the environmental debate is origins. Environmentalists have a wrong sense of origin; and in having the wrong sense of origin, they have no categories sufficient to treat nature as nature any more than they have to treat man as man. Could their be an any more extreme  and grievous example of this severe confusion than the saving of unwanted pets and the murder of unwanted children? Francis Schaeffer encapsulated this misconception, “So if nature and the things of nature are only a meaningless series of particulars in a decorated universe, with no universal to give them meaning, then nature is become absurd, the wonder is gone from it. And wonder is equally gone from me, because I too am a finite being.” Environmentalists have now fully worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator by synthesizing humanity into nature via romanticism. As Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi observed, “Once you being to worship nature, you are making yourself inferior to nature, which is paganism. If I am responsible to take care of nature then I am the ruler over nature. That is why environmentalists are destroying the very basis for environmentalism, which is man has a unique dignity as being made in God’s image and created to govern nature. Pagans believe that mother, mother earth, is to take care of them, not them take care of her.” To the environmentalist nature is best untouched by human hands. Nature is no longer to be ruled by mankind but mankind is to be ruled by nature.

CREATION & DOMINION

The Church has not gone unadulterated by the  murderous heresy of the environmentalist. Modern Christians have been notorious for imagining a dichotomy between the spiritual and the natural. Even among us young earth creationists we have the tendency to reduce nature to merely an academic proof of the existence of God with otherwise little value in itself. We have come to accept a platonic conception of the natural as having less value than the spiritual. Of being so heavenly minded we are no earthly good as the saying goes. This again comes down to a wrong sense of origins and a mistaken belief of the future redemption as well. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There is no place here for any sense of “lowness.” To think of any created thing as intrinsically “low” or “inferior” or “menial” is to insult the God who made it. This truth rests upon the reality of creation being ex-nihlo, that it to say, out of nothing by God. It follows then that since all things, including man,  are created equally out of nothing by God that they are equal in their origins. Nature does have intrinsic value, the value that God endowed each thing with when he created it. If we deny value to these created things it not only insults God but it degrades us. If we treat nature as having no intrinsic value, our own value is diminished. God did indeed create things in a sense of order and category, but for us to imagine the spiritual being superior to an inherently evil or deficient natural order is to reject God’s first decree of creation. On the side of God’s infinity and eternality, everything, the man, the animal, the plant, and the machine are equally separated. To say that we are closer to God’s infinity and eternality than an animal would be like a tall man boasting he’s closer to the sun than a child. But on the side of God’s personality, man, unlike all else, is created in His image. Therefore man’s relationship is upward rather than downward. He is united to God in his image; but he is united to all other creatures as being created. Man must not diminish or deny the proper relationship he has downward on the side of him being just as equally created out of nothing and dependant upon God as the fowls of the air or the lilies of the field, or the grass of the field clothed by God. The second reality which corrects the misconception of the spiritual having some superiority over the natural is Christ’s ascension. We often emphasize his resurrection but neglect that Christ ascended into heaven as the incarnate God-man. Therefore the material and the spiritual are not opposed. In fact our bodies are going to be raised as Christ’s body was. Much to the chagrin of those who embrace the dichotomy of the physical from the spiritual Christ sits at the right hand of God in incarnate human form. This is the line of serration between the Christian and the Environmentalist. The Christians relationship is primarily upward. The Environmentalists relationship is totally downward.

DOMINION VS DOMINATION

So, having reviewed both the creationists and the environmentalists view of God, origins, dominion, and the fallen world let us observe how each worldview seeks to heal the divided world we live in. For the environmentalists as stated previously, “Environmentalism is a mandate given by atheists, pantheists, and panentheists, to society for their domination under nature where political, legal, and economical domination  is a necessary aspect.” For them nature is divided due to the the sin of a society having an overpopulating, capitalist word view of historic Western Christian civilization. Redemption and healing is achieved through reversing the decree of God. No longer does man have dominion of nature, but nature has domination over man. The saviour is national government controlling our laws, economics, property, and population. Dominion on the other hand embraces a proper view of origins. God created everything equally out of nothing. He created everything in its own sphere and category and treats them throughout redemption history in their respective categories. He treats his creation with integrity; each in its own order, each in the way he made it. So it is that the Christian is a man who has a true reason for dealing with each created thing with a high level of respect. So it is that the Christian can rationally refuse to mythologize and romanticize nature as much as he can refuse to dichotomize it. So it is that the Christian can not only say that one day there will be healing to the that which the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, but that substantial healing can be attained now. It is the Christian that knows that his division from God is healed by justification. That their division from other men is healed by reconciliation. That their devision from nature is healed by stewardship. That nature’s division is healed by godly, holy dominion. As Schaeffer wrote, “The Christian is called upon to exhibit this dominion, but exhibit it rightly: treating the things as having value in itself, exercising dominion without being destructive.” As Francis Bacon observed, the first fruits of this is a new sense of beauty. No longer with the natural by romanticized or minimized, but recognized with the sense of beauty that God has created all of nature with. So practically how is this realized. When it comes to the proper treatment of nature mankind is faced with two choices. The first is an economical one and the second is a matter of timeliness. These are also the two leading factors of destruction, money and time, or to say it otherwise, greed and haste. We can take the extra time and extra money to develop the Kingdom of God here on earth or we can choose the greed and haste to build the Kingdom of Man. Our decision between the two ultimately comes down to our view of origins. That God created the world, all out of nothing, all by his power, all in six normal consecutive day, and all very good. Our duty as Christians is to keep it, by exercising godly dominion, all very good.

THE SINGULARITY OF GOD

Continuing in our teaching series on the Westminster Shorter Catechism we come upon a singularly simple and short inculcation of Christian doctrine. Despite its short measure in pronouncement, it’s profoundness in thesis is without measure. For many there is not a more repudiating doctrine to be averred than in all Christendom. The eminent theologian, John Owen wrote, “This is the whole faith’s concernment in this matter as it respects the direct revelation of God made by Himself in Scripture, and the first proper general end thereof. Let this be clearly confirmed by direct and positive divine testimonies containing the declaration and revelation of God concerning Himself, and faith is secured as to all its concern, for it has both its proper formal object and its sufficiently enabled to be directive of divine worship and obedience.” To put it in layman’s terms, this doctrine has the greatest effect on our worship and obedience. But in our egalitarian and pragmatic age such a declaration by the Catechism is interpreted as a doctrinaire parti pris. This one question is the point of departure and indeed many have departed. To the Legal Positivist, monotheism cannot be observed. To the pragmatist, monotheism has no practical outworking. To the existentialist, monotheism is yet another discussion of vanity. To libertarian theology, monotheism is elitist. To the new age cultist, monotheism is a heresy. To the feminist who sings “A Mighty Goddess is our Forte”, monotheism is masculine and stereotyping. Yet, this question is a necessary conclusion of the last question we studied and furthermore the premise for the next question. If one answers this question in any enigmatic terms or with any dubious, dithering dubiety we will have sure cause to be concerned. With a doctrine of this magnitude there is no place for cunctation, but only concurrence.

Q: Are their more God’s than one?

A: There is but one only, the living and true God.

ONE BEING. ONE ESSENCE.

Why only one? Foremost, because He asseverates so. “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” John Owen in his treatise on the Trinity taught we are simply to accept this declaration. “It is not to be prostituted to the captious and sophisticated scanning of men of corrupt minds, but to be humbly adored, according to the revelation that He has made of Himself.” Secondly, He forbids otherwise. “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” In this last passage God affirms His Aseity, that is, His self-existence. As was stated previously, numerically speaking, only one Divine Being can exist. Furthermore this one Being must have a oneness of inner unity in His essence. He cannot be any more divisible in essence than He can be multiplied in being. There are not parts of God (Essence) and there are not gods in part (Being). We cannot consider God to be composite even to the most exiguous point of essence or that of being. There is not room for more than one God or more than one essence in God because both the essence and the being of God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. There is mathematically not sufficient room for two coterminous beings of such nature. The riposte of the Greeks and Romans was to celebrate multiple gods. But as Francis Scheffer acutely observed, the problem with many gods is they are not big enough. Scheffer wrote that, “Plato understood that you have to have absolutes or nothing has meaning. But the difficulty facing Plato was the fact that his gods were not big enough to meet the need. So although he knew the need, the need fell to the ground because his gods were not big enough to be the point of reference or place of residence for his absolutes, for his ideals. In Greek literature the Fates sometimes seem to be behind and controlling the gods, and sometimes the gods seem to be controlling the Fates. Why the confusion? Because everything fails in this thinking at this point—because their limited gods are not big enough. That is why we need a personal-infinite God.” There is no room for multiple infinite Gods and finite gods are no gods at all.

ONE GOD. ONE LAW.

Because there is on infinite, eternal, and unchangeable God there can only be one infinite, eternal, and unchangeable law. Morecraft noted, “To abandon God’s law revealed in the Bible for another system of law and morality is to change gods.” Rushdoony wrote, “The strength of man is in the absoluteness of his God.” Law is the revelation of righteous character and consequentially the outward expression of inward holiness. Man has denied the righteous character and holiness of God by renouncing his law in various and sundry manners. The legal positivist claims the only absolute is there are no absolutes and consequentially in denying infinite, eternal, and unchangeable law, must in return deny it’s infinite, eternal, and unchangeable lawgiver. The pragmatist is one who holds himself as his own law-system because there is no universal order in his worldview. The pragmatist in his anarchy denies the King of kings in His monarchy. The libertarian in affirming his own economic order denies God’s created order when it is in contradiction to his. As Rushdoony wrote, “Men’s social applications and approximations of the righteousness of God may alter, vary, and waver, but the absolute law does not.” The new ageist confuse the separation between God and man and thus abjure God’s exclusive law order. The feminist in throning her own social order dethrones God of His in the process. Two infinite Gods is one to many and two law orders likewise. Many little gods are not enough and many law orders either. You cannot abandon God’s law without abandoning the God of that law first.

ONE GOD. ONE TRUTH.

Rather than their being a nimiety of hierologies there is one truth. Only God sets the terms of the law. Man does not set the terms of obedience, repentance, salvation, and peace with God. Only God sets the terms of reconciling us lawbreakers to Him, the lawgiver. Only God sets the terms of both the present remedial judgment and ultimate, final judgment of lawbreakers. Because there is one God there is one truth, the Gospel of God. Whosoever will may come, but he must come according to the one God’s terms in His one Gospel.

ONE GOD. ONE OBEDIENCE.

God does not require our ceremonial sacrifice but rather our obedience to His law. Those who worship God must worship him in Spirit and in truth. David Chilton in his excellent book, “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulation”, stated “The mark of a Christian movement is its willingness to submit to the demands of Scripture.”  Some would attest my approbation of Biblical law and obedience would border on legalism. This misjudgment is due to an incorrect understanding of true legalism. If indeed legalism was an ardent and zealous application and maintenance of the law, then Jesus Christ would be the prevailing legalist of all times. Legalism, rather, is based on justification by works and obedience to man-made regulations. Righteousness is based on God’s one Law, or to state it in reverse, God’s Law is the basis of righteousness. Whereas, legalism is based on man’s myriads of laws. Righteousness is the response to grace. Legalism is a response of antinomian rebellion. You may reasonably question how I can logically annex legalism with antinomianism. As one understands, that Antinomianism seeks to dispose of God’s authority in human affairs. Furthermore, Antinominaism can only replace the void of God’s law with the legalism of man’s. Legalism and antinomianism are not diametrically apposed, but fundamentally agreed in the rebuffing of God’s law. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20. Without obedience to God’s law we only face obedience to man’s law. It takes Biblical wisdom to connect all of life to God’s laws. It takes a fool to disconnect all of life from God’s laws. Otto Scott wisely wrote, “The figure of the Fool is widely misunderstood. He is neither a jester nor a clown nor an idiot. He is, instead, the dark side of genius. For if a genius has the ability to see and make connections beyond the normal range of vision, the fool is one who can see – and disconnect.”