Josiah Audette

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

Tag: Creation

On The Origin of Sin: By Means of Natural Selection

Origin of Sin

Question 13: Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?

Answer: Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

“Nothing is so easy to denounce, nothing is so difficult to understand.” Augustine.


Original Righteousness

Before we can address the doctrine of Original Sin we ought address first the much neglected doctrine of Original Righteousness. Namely, that period in Scripture and history where man was created and living in righteousness, knowledge, and holiness in the image of God. In the prose of Milton,

“Of living creatures new to sight and strange…

The image of their glorious Maker shone,

Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure.”

Here was the life of our representative heads in the Garden of Eden under the Covenant of Life. The estate wherein they were created was that of original righteousness. God created Adam and Eve, “very good.” C.S. Lewis observes, “God created all things without exception good, and because they are good, ‘No nature (i.e. no positive reality) is bad and the word Bad denotes merely privation of good,’…. What we call bad things are good things perverted.” Lewis goes on to say, “From this doctrine of good and evil it follows that good can exist without evil, but not evil without good.” Adam’s original existence was that of the former, good without evil. While Adam was created perfect, his perfection and the benefits of his perfection were not yet guaranteed. Hence, “God entered into the Covenant of Life with him, upon the condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience.” In Milton’s fictive reflection of Eve speaking to Adam,

Needs must the power that made us, and for us this ample world

Be infinitely good, and of his good

As liberal and free as infinite,

That raised us from the dust and placed us here,

In all this happiness, who at his hand

Have nothing meretied, nor can perform

Aught whereof he hath need, he who requires

From us no other service than to keep

This one, this easy charge, of all the trees

In Paradise that bear delicious fruit

So various, not to taste that only Tree of Knowledge planted by the Tree of Life,

So near grows death to life, whatever death is,

Some dreadful thing no doubt, for well thou now’t

God hath pronounced it death to taste that Tree,

The only sign of our obedience left

Among so many signs of power and rule”

Probationary Prohibition

This Covenant of Life was a limited, representative probationary period. An indefinite opportunity was given to innocent Adam to virtuously secure for himself and all his posterity that state of righteous innocence. “Innocence is life untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant” says one reformer. Within this probationary period Adam’s innocence was not guaranteed. Morecraft writes, “A temporary probationary period of testing was accepted by God in place of an everlasting exposure to the possibility of falling into sin under the perpetual demands of God. God limited the probationary testing period for Adam, and in so doing, accepted temporary obedience during that time frame, as equivalent to what Adam’s perpetual innocence would have accomplished.” However God not only graciously limited the time of probation, but also the persons under the probation. “Without the Covenant of Life” says Morecraft, “Wherein Adam stood for all men, representing all who would descend form him in ordinary generation, each individual would have to stand or fall according to his own individual obedience.” Hence the Covenant of Life was an indefinite, representative, probationary period by prohibition upon reward of life or threat of death. A probationary period constitutes four elements. 1. In a probationary period, the status of the probationary persons are not yet confirmed. So while Adam did not have death in him from the Tree of the Knowledge, neither had he yet attained to eternal life through the Tree of Life. 2. In probation, the persons are tested. The test for the Covenant of Life was very clear, a prohibition against eating of the Tree of the Knowledge. 3. In a probationary period the outcome has the status of the probationary persons confirmed. The outcome of obedience in the Adamic Covenant was eternal life from the Tree of Life and of disobedience, death. The fact that Adam (post-fall, post-probation) was denied the Tree of Life indicates that the Tree of Life was in fact the reserved, future award for obedience to the Covenant of Life. 4. Consequently, in a probationary period the testing is for a limited period of time. Albeit indefinite, Adam’s testing was indeed limited otherwise their would have been no mention of a promised reward or threatened punishment indicating finality to the probation.

Free Agency & Moral Ability

“I made him just and right, 

Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.”

Illustrates Milton of God concerning Adam. Scripture is incredibly clear that post-fall, post-probation man is not able not to sin by reason of his sin nature.  In this regard Karl Kraus was correct in stating that “The Devil is wildly optimistic if he thinks he can make human beings worse than they are.”  We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. “Free-Will” for us, the moral ability to select between good and evil, is an empty word. A man cannot prefer against his preference or choose against his choice, and Scripture is clear our only preference is evil and our only choice is sin. This is what we may call “The freedom of slavery.” Not free-will but self-will. As Lorraine Boettner writes, “We deny the existence in man of a power which may act either way, on the logical ground that both virtue and vice cannot come out of the same moral condition of the agent.” Martin Luther wrote, “Free will is an empty term, whose reality is lost. And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.” However, if there ever was a man who had free-will, apart from the incarnate God-man, it was Adam. He had no such “freedom of slavery”, no lost liberty, no self-will, no sin nature. To say differently would be to hold God liable as the creator of faultiness, or author of evil. Our representative’s moral ability and free-agency to guarantee his state of righteous innocence was being tested in the probationary period. Unlike us, Adam had both the capacity and ability for either virtue or vice. The power of contrary choice, as the angels before him, and the incarnate Christ after, was his to avail. John Murray notes, “There was no necessity arising from his physical condition, nor from his moral nature, nor from the state of his environment, why he should sin.”


The Origin of Original Sin

Original Sin did not originate in Adam, although it was indeed perpetuated by him.

“He trusted to have equaled the Most High,

If he opposed; and with ambitious aim

Against the throne and monarchy of God

Raised impious war in Heav’n and battle proud

With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky

With hideous ruin and combustion down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.”

The origin of sin as Milton here portrays, was with Satan. As one theologian writes, “Sin did not break out on earth in the first instance, but in heaven, in the immediate presence of God, and at the foot of his throne. The thought, the wish, the will to resist God arose first in the heart of the angels.” Now sin’s originator, the original sinner, Satan, conspired against God’s creation vowed to his legions,

“To waste his whole creation, or possess

All as our own, and drive as we were driven,

The puny habitants, or if not drive,

Seduce them to our party, that their God

May prove their foe, and with repenting hand

Abolish his own works. This would surpass

Common revenge, and interrupt his joy

In our confusion, and our joy upraise

In his disturbance, when his darling sons

Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse

Their frail original, and faded bliss

Faded so soon.” Milton.

Thus arose the originator who would supply the external suggestion of original sin to Adam. Laidlaw writes of original sin in Adam, “It arose with an external suggestion, and upon an external occasion, but it was an inward crisis.” Samuel Rutherford clarifies, “Can Satan force us against our will to sin? A. No, he tempts us and knocks at the door without, but our will and lust opens the door. Satan is the midwife that helps forward the birth but our will and lust is the father and mother to all our sins.” So our parents fell from the estate wherein he was created by sinning against God. “What is the Fall?” asks C.S. Lewis, “The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience – doing what you have been told not to do: and it results from Pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.”


Original Knowledge

The fall from original righteousness was through the original sin of original knowledge.

“Will God incense his ire

For such a petty trespasss, and not praise

Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain

Of death denounced, whatever thing death be,

Deterred not from achieving what might lead

To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;

Of good, how just? Of evil, if what is evil

By real, why not known, since easier shunned;

God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;

Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:

Your fear itself of death removes the fear.

Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,

Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,

His worshipers; he knows that in the day

Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,

Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then

Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as gods,

Knowing both good and evil as they know.”

Know as they know the knowledge of Good and Evil. The prohibition of the probationary period went far beyond sensual intemperance and mammon appetite. Its grimace was graver than gluttony. It would also be a mistake to say that knowledge was prohibited in the Covenant of Life. Our first parents were indeed created in, “knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.” Their knowledge must have been surpassing for Adam to have the originality of thought and the discernment to give names to the creatures and to manage paradise itself. This quality of knowledge, this pure and vast natural knowledge was not an inducement to the fall. So too ought we not abandon learning, scholarly pursuits, and intellectual cultivation in the work of the dominion mandate. It was not the quantity of Adam’s knowledge (as vast as it was) which induced the fall, but rather the quality of knowledge. Namely, moral knowledge. Francis Bacon writes in his essay on “The Advancement of Learning” , “It was not the pure knowledge of Nature and universality, a knowledge by the light whereof man did give names unto other creatures in Paradise as they were brought before him according unto their properties, which gave the occasion to the fall; but it was the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and to depend no more upon God’s commandments, which was the form of the temptation.” The limitations of righteous knowledge are therefore threefold as Bacon considers, “1. That we do not so place our felicity in knowledge, as we forget our mortality.” This was the original lie in the original sin of original knowledge. “Ye shall not die.” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, “As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? As the fool.” Momento Mori, remember your mortality. Bacon continues, “The second, that we make application of our knowledge, to give ourselves repose and contentment, and not distaste or repining.”  The latter quality of knowledge puffeth-up. It set our first parents at enmity with God and then with themselves. “The third, that we do not presume by the contemplation of Nature to attain to the mysteries of God.” Herein again was the lie of original knowledge. “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Bacon wonderfully summarizes, “Let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation think or maintain that a man can search too far, or be too well studies in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficiency in both; only let men beware that they apply both to charity, and not to swelling; to use, and not to ostentation;” 


Apologetics for Dogmatics

It makes God the author of sin.

Not so.

“And man there placed, with purpose to assay

If him [Satan] by force he can destroy, or worse,

By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;

For man will hearken to his glozing lies,

And easily transgress the sole command,

Sole pledge of his obedience: so will fall

He and his faithless progeny: whose fault?

Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me

All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.”

Again, the fall arose out of external suggestion, upon external situation, but from an inward crisis. Adam was the author of his own sin. “God left him [Adam] to the freedom of his own will, and that freedom he abused. No doubt God could have prevented his fall if he had pleased, by giving such influences of his Spirit as would have been absolutely effectual to hinder it; but this he was under no obligation to do. He did not withdraw from man that ability with which He had furnished him for his duty, nor did He infuse any vicious inclinations into his heart – He only withheld that further grace that would have infallibly prevented his fall.” Robert Shaw. Consequentially, God allowed the fall. We meant it for evil, but God decreed it for good.

“As my eternal purpose hath decreed:

Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will,

Yet not of will in him, but grace in me

Freely vouchsafed; once more I will renew

His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthralled

By sin to foul exorbitant desires;

Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand

On even ground against his mortal foe,

By me upheld, that he may know how frail

His fall’n condition is, and to me owe

All his deliv’rance, and to none but me.”

So if God decreed the Fall as Milton depicts, how then can there can be moral responsibility without free agency?

The decretive will of God which is the cause of the futurition of the Fall is neither its physical cause (infusion of sin in Adam) or its ethical cause (Approval of sin in Adam). Nor because Adam fulfilled the decretive will is he held less guilty as he still violated the preceptive will of God graciously revealed to him. John Piper refers to this most wisely as the two wills of God. Piper writes, “We must certainly distinguish between what God would like to see happen and what he actually does will to happen, and both of these things can be spoken of as God’s will.” The preceptive will of God is “His general intention and longing, not his effective purpose.” The decretive will of God is his inviolable sovereign decree or effective purpose of what will happen. The former is what he would delight in happening. The latter is what he finally decides in happening. The former is what he would want to happen. The latter is what he wills to happen. The two wills of God working together are paradoxical but not contradictory. Furthermore, the Pelagian doctrine that goodness and vice are measured in proportion to the selection  of either being devoid of any influence is fallacious. Calvin deduces, “The goodness of God is so connected with his Godhead that it is not more necessary to be God than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged from goodness that he can do nothing but evil. 

Should anyone give utterance to the profane jeer that little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is it not obvious to every man to reply, “It is owing not to violent impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil?”

Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded, because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of sinning?”

The voluntary or involuntary nature the natural selection of virtue or vice does not effect the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of such a choice.


Conclusion

“But to destruction sacred and devote,

He with his whole posterity must die,

Die he or Justice must; unless for him

Some other able, and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Say Heavenly powers, where shall we find such love,

Which of ye will be mortal to redeem

Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save,

Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?”

He asked, but all the Heavn’nly choir stood mute,

And silence was in Heav’n: on no man’s behalf

Patron or intercessor none appeared,

Much less that durst upon his own head draw

The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.

And now without redemption all mankind

Must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell

By doom severe, had not the Son of God,

In whom the fullness dwells of love divine,

His dearest meditation thus renewed.

“Father, thy word is past, man shall find grace;

And shall grace not find means, that finds her way…

Behold me then, me for him, life for life

I offer, on me let thine anger fall;

Account me man; I for his sake will leave

Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee

Freely put off, and for him lastly die

Well pleased, on me let Death wreck all his rage;

Under his gloomy power I shall not long

Lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess

Life in myself forever, by thee I live,

Though now to Death I yield, and am his due

All that of me can die, yet that debt paid,

Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave

His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul

Forever with corruption there to dwell;

But I shall rise victorious, and subdue

My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil;

Death his death’s wound shall then receive, and stoop

Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed.

I through the ample air in triumph high

Shall lead Hell captive mauler Hell, and show

The powers of darkness bound. Thou at the sight

Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,

While by thee raised I ruin all my foes,

Death last, and with his carcass glut the grave:

Then with the multitude of my redeemed

Shall enter Heaven long absent, and return,

Father to see thy face, wherein no cloud

Of anger shall remain, but peace assured,

And reconcilement; wrath shall be no more

Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.”

His words here ended, but his meek aspect

Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love

To mortal men, above which only shone

Filial obedience: as a sacrifice

Glad to be offered, he attends the will

Of his great Father. Admiration seized

All Heav’n, what this might mean, and whither tend Wondering.”

The Lord’s Day

Sabbath Rest

To begin with a puritan prayer on the Lord’s Day.

“This is thy day,

the heavenly ordinance of rest,

the open door of worship,

the record of Jesus’ resurrection,

the seal of the sabbath to come,

the day when saints militant and triumphant unite in endless song.

I bless thee for the throne of grace,

that here free favour reigns;

that open access to it is through the blood of Jesus;

that the veil is torn aside and I can enter the holiest

and find thee ready to hear,

waiting to be gracious,

inviting me to pour out my needs,

encouraging my desires,

promising to give more than I ask or think.

But while I bless thee, shame and confusion are mine:

I remember my past misuse of sacred things,

my irreverent worship,

my base ingratitude,

my cold, dull praise.

Sprinkle all my past sabbaths with the cleansing blood of Jesus,

and may this day witness deep improvement in me.

Give me in rich abundance the blessings the Lord’s Day was designed to impart;

May my heart be fast bound against worldly thoughts or cares;

Flood my mind with peace

beyond understanding;

may my meditations be sweet,

my acts of worship life, liberty, joy, 

my drink the streams that flow

from thy throne, 

my food the precious Word,

my defence the shield of faith,

and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.


I being with that great puritan Jonathan Edwards, “Let us be thankful for the institution of the Christian Sabbath.”

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within they gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.

The Sabbath is a pattern of one day in seven as a holy rest oriented to God. The Sabbath provides us with meaningful work and meaningful rest. David Palison stated, “To get hard work and sweet pleasure right is to image forth the One who made you. To get hard work and sweet pleasure right is to image for the One who saved you.” The Sabbath is the principle of freedom under God and of liberty under law, in that it summons us to obedience to the ordinance of rest. Rest, which delivers us from ourselves and from our work. The Lord of the Sabbath’s accomplishment of our redemption binds and enjoins us to the observance of the weekly Sabbath which prefigures our eternal Sabbath. Our rest  is witness to our confidence in the redemption of Christ through faith alone and not by works.

THE DECALOGUE

The Sabbath Rest is not only a creation ordinance but is also to be found in the Fourth Commandment as the culmination of the previous three commandments. Morecraft observes, “The Sabbath is a day of rest and delight in the Lord, corresponding to the first commandment. It is a day consecrated to the worship of God according to His Word, corresponding to the second commandment. And it is to be filled with works of worship, necessity and mercy in the name of Christ to the glory of God, corresponding to the third commandment.” In addition to being the consummation of the right exercise of the previous three commandments it also aids the Christian in keeping the remainder of the Commandments. Hence, the Fourth Commandment is “found in the bosom of the ten commandments, which are supreme, life-embracing, verbal foundational principles of God’s revealed will for the human race.” The significance of Sabbath Rest to the Christian lies not only in its commandment but its example by God. Divine example is as valid and instructive a guide to duty as express Divine command. As Morecraft writes, “We keep the Sabbath on the first day of the week for the same reason Adam kept the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week: the example of God.” To clarify the previous statement, the morality of the Sabbath is not affected by changing the day from the Adamic and Mosaic practice of Saturday to the Christian practice of Sunday. Robert Shaw observes, “The morality of the Sabbath is not affected by the change of the day. The substance of the institution consists in the separation of the seventh portion of our time to the immediate worship of God… It is not said, ‘Remembert the seventh day;’ but ‘Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.’ Neither is it said, ‘God blessed the seventh day;’ but ‘God blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.” So dear Christian, know that this is a personal command of God to each of us individually. “Thou” not “ye.” “Let it be considered” reminds Edwards, “… when God challenges of us one day in seven, he challenges his own. He doth not exceed his right.” Our Lord commands and commends it to his own children in Christ. Furthermore he has bestowed it as a personal gift. “Moreover, I gave them also my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.” It is a duty, but not a burdensome one, no more than it is a duty to nourish bodies with mammon, how much more our souls with Christ? Christian we may be assured that God observes his own institutions. He will not permit them to be attended without blessing as they are a means of grace to the believer. God has given to us a hallowed day to pursue His blessings, which most assuredly will be found in abundance by those who are diligent towards the observation of it. God’s blessing is never an empty one, and He has both blessed and hallowed this day, how much more ought we?

MAN’S REST VS GOD’S REST

History has record of the men who have sought this same rest, but sought it outside God, such as Stalin. According to Stalin, “If God exists, He must have ordained slavery, feudalism, and capitalism. He must want humanity to suffer, as the monks were always telling me. Then there would be no hope for the toiling masses to free themselves from their oppressors. But when I learned that there is no God, I knew that humanity could fight its way to freedom.” Consequentially, in the course of Stalin’s quest for the true sabbath, man’s true rest, he enslaved more men than any other tyrant in all history and had more men killed than any other man in all history. Stalin, like all men who attempt to enter heaven on their own terms, placed himself instead in hell. Contrary to a puritanical priggishness, the Sabbath is not a day of inactivity or idleness for man, because it certainly was not so for God. When God rested on the seventh day of the creation week, yes, he ceased from the work of creation, but began the works of providence and redemption. The work of the Sabbath is contrasted to the work of the prior six days labour. It must have a specific character of rest in worship. Men, how clearly is the sort of character being produced in your homes? The Sabbath is to be engaged and filled with works of worship. The Westminster Longer Catechism states, “The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.” Do you make the Sabbath your delight? Jonathan Edwards praised, “The Christian Sabbath is one of the most previous enjoyments of the visible church. Christ showed his love to his church in instituting it; and it become s the chistian church to be thankful to her Lord for it. The very name of this day, the Lord’s day, or Jesus’ day, should endear it to Christians, as it intimates the special relation it has to Christ, and also the design of it, which is the commemoration of our dear Saviour, and his love to his church in redeeming it.” While the New Testament clearly practices and urges the pattern of weekly worship, the sabbath is fundamentally a day of rest, (Not exclusively a day of worship.) This rest is a soteriological reality and symbol. Sabbath rest is a salvific reality of our redemption, liberation, and wholeness of life in God’s work. Sabbath rest is also a salvific symbol of our total confidence in God as our redeemer as we cease from our own labors. Calvin gave it beautifully when he wrote in his “Catechism of the Churches of Geneva”, “We keep holiday from our own works, that God may perform his own work in us.” Summarily, the essence of the sabbath is our rest in Christ, and our growth in the knowledge of that salvation by His grace. “There remainieth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, hath also ceased form his own works, as God did from his. Let us study therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the example of disobedience.” It is well worth our while to improve this day and enter into this rest. Edwards exhorts, “This should be a powerful motive with us to the observation of the Sabbath. It should be our study above all things to honour and glorify God. It should be the great thing with all that bear the name of Christians, to honour their great God and King… If it be your inquiry, if it be your desire, to honour God; by this subject you are directed to one way whereby you may do much in that way, by honouring the Sabbath, and showing a careful and strict observance of it.”

SABBATH WORK

It would be a terrible mistake to confuse the Sabbath rest with idleness. The former brings God’s blessing and the latter his curse. The Sabbath rest is a picture of our eternal one in heaven, where we may be sure to be employed in spiritual and heavenly exercises. Isaiah 58:13-14 clearly lays out the duties of the Christian towards the Sabbath. “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy will on mine Holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight to consecrate it, as glorious to the Lord, and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor seeking thine own will, nor speaking a vain word, Then shall thou delight in the Lord, and I will cause thee to mount upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Edward J. Young interpreted the fourth commandment positively in this way, “Thou shalt take exquisite delight, not just in the Sabbath but in the Lord of the Sabbath.” How well we delight in the Sabbath is a powerful barometer of our real delight in the actual Lord of the Sabbath. Sabbath keepers are covenant keepers that will enjoy the benefits of the covenant of God. “Feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father” is covenantal language and the metaphor is clear: to eat the heritage of our spiritual fathers realized and administered to us by Christ is to receive and enjoy the nourishment, strength, and vitality within.  Do you find your Sabbath’s to be nourishing? Are you especially promoting the exercise of religion not only in yourself but also in others; to be assisting them for their spiritual good? Are you partaking in the benefits of the Covenant of Grace? In the right exercise of the Sabbath we find delight and our subsistence that we may truly live. When we rightly exercise the Sabbath we draw from the Divine Rest, the glory of God revealed in his special act of creation. We draw from the Covenantal Rest of the eternal bond believers have with God in Christ. We draw from the Redemptive Rest, being delivered from the bondage and slavery of sin by virtue of Christ’s atonement. We draw from that Spiritual Rest, which is our new life in Christ indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Finally, we partake in our Eternal Rest that will be consummated in our Lord’s second coming. “For the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name continue. And from month to month, and from Sabbath to Sabbath shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Heaven is one massive, infinite, glorious Sabbath which we will partake of as believers in Christ. Yet here on earth we have an opportunity to experience something of that ineffable glory weekly. Will you pass it by?

SIX & ONE

“The sabbath presupposes work, work fulfilling God’s creation mandate and performed under God’s law, and the sabbath is the joyful rest from the exercise of this godly dominion. On the sabbath, a man rejoices that the earth is the Lords, and all the fulness thereof (Ps. 24:1). In that confidence man rests, and in that joy he surveys the work of his hands, knowing that his labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)” R.J. Rushdoony. As Meredith Kline wrote in his work, “Treaty of the Great King”, “The sabbatic cycle of covenant life symbolizes the consummation principle characteristic of divine action. God works, accomplishes his purpose and, rejoicing, rests.”  The human life is a copy of the Divine life, to work and to rest. Life finds purpose in the sabbath, in that the sabbath makes labor meaningful and purposive. It does so by annexing to work, joyful consummation. Our six days of labor finds its fulfillment in the day of rest, and similarly, our day of rest finds its meaning in the preceding six days of labor. The relationship between the sabbath and work is one which brings all things into harmonious relationship to God and in universal dedication to Him. Examine then, the quality of your work and rest and observe how it can be improved upon. Sabbath rest and your six days work are not strictly isolated or without consequence upon each other. “In keeping the Sabbath holy” remarks Morecraft, “we are rewarding the week by weekly enjoyment of God’s promises and the benefits of being in His love and covenant; and with victory after victory, dominion, revival and reformation over the earth, week by week as we move through history towards God’s final goal for us.” How well are you diligently administrating your duties in those six days of labour so you can rest on the Sabbath day?

FORSAKING FELLOWSHIP

“Not forsaking the fellowship that we have among ourselves, as the manner of some is: but let us exhort one another, and that so much the more, because ye see that the day draweth near.” The Christian assembly has priority for the Christian on the Sabbath. No better a preacher than Charles Spurgeon could impress this as commendably. “God delights in the prayers and praises of Christian families and individuals, but he has a special eye to the assemblies of the faithful… This should lead each separate believer to identify himself with the church of God; where the Lord reveals His love the most, there should each believer most delight to be found. Our own dwellings are very dear to us, but we must not prefer them to the assemblies of the saints.” Christians, we must not be weary of well doing in this. That which is the business of the Sabbath is the greatest business of our lives, that of religion. To be weary in Sabbath observance is to stay at home or worse, go to church so you can go home. It is to regard the public worship of God as boring, to be neglectful of its sanctity, to be indifferent or callously unconcerned to its remembrance, to abandon physically or emotionally the fellowship of the brethren. How can one, who claims the name of Christ, be weary of Him and His love? Morecraft cautions, “Weariness of the Lord’s day is weariness with the Lord; and this is a sign of the most dangerous of all conditions: hardness of heart.” “Take heed brethren, lest any time there be in any of you an evil heart, and unfaithful, to depart from the living God… And to whom swear he that they should not enter his rest, but unto them that obeyed not.?” Hebrews 3:12,18. Sabbath breakers are covenant breakers. We are covenant breakers when we heed the opposite of Isaiah’s words by “doing thy will on my Holy day, and call the Sabbath a bore to deconsecrate it, as miserable to the Lord, and shalt dishonour him, doing thine own ways, seeking thine own will, speaking a vain word.” “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the poor… Saying, When will the new month be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, and make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger.” There are consequences to being a covenant breaker beyond just depriving yourself of joy and rest in Christ. “Moreover I gave them also my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me… and my Sabbaths have they greatly polluted: then I thought to pour out mine indignation upon them… But I had respect to my name.” Ezekiel 20:12-14.

SPECIAL DUTY TOWARDS PARENTS

The Fourth Commandment is orientated towards parents. “Nor thy sons, nor thy daughters.” Patriarchs have a special duty before God to take great pains in seeing their family and children keep the Sabbath holy. Q. 118 in the Westminster Larger Catechism asks, “Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors? A.: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.” Convicting words towards parents. Do you hinder your own from delighting in the Sabbath because you are entangled in your own employments at the time? Do you children recognize the significance of the Sabbath rest and the gathering of believers in the local church? Do you example delighting in the Sabbath? Do you lead them into the true Sabbath rest?

CONCLUSION

“The pattern of the sabbath is in the past, from the sabbath of creation. The entrance into the sabbath is also in the past; for Israel, it was the redemption from Egypt; for the church, it is in the resurrection. The fulfillment of the sabbath is in the new creation. The sabbath is a present rest, based on past events, with a future reference and fulfillment.” R. J. Rushdoony. More craft gives 4 helpful exhortations toward rightly exercising the true Sabbath.

  1. Get a good grasp on the Sabbath laws and promises of the Bible. Delight in the Christian Sabbath, and keep it faithfully with all your heart, for many false teachers profess to teach the truth, with appealing systems (2 Tim. 4:3, 4), who would rob you of the glory and rest of the weekly Christian Sabbath.
  2. Train your children by word and example to delight in the Lord’s Day and in the Lord of the Sabbath all the days of their lives.
  3. Be sure that Satan will seek to make your observance of the Sabbath less consistent than your doctrine of the Sabbath. Resist him to the death and he will flee from you.
  4. Believe the glorious promises of Isaiah 66:22–44, Ezekiel 20:12 and Exodus 31:12–18. Live, work, witness, worship, pray, and rest in their light.

““For the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name continue. And from month to month, and from Sabbath to Sabbath shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.”

“Moreover, I gave them also my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.”

The Covenant of Life

Dominion ManQ. 20 (Q. 12 in the Shorter Catechism): What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created? 

A.: The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the Sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death. 

INTRODUCTION

It is my impossible task today to give complete justice to and glorification of God’s providence. Despite my utter inability to fulfill such demands, I hope give at least some inspiration today with the Words of God on his most holy, wise, and powerful special acts of providence towards us. Providence, as I concluded with my last message, should imbue us with an awareness of our independent worth in the eyes of God. True understanding of Providence, an understanding which bridges the gap of the acknowledgments of our mind with the affections of our heart, will demystify and clarify the purposes God has summoned us toward. Providence will both encourage and edify the disposition of our mind and the deportment of our actions in the Christian life. The Christian therefore ought to always recall God’s providential acts, that they might preserve themselves from the grumbling and murmuring spirit we read of in Exodus of the forgetful nation of Israel. Providence gives us mastery over that melancholic angst which, if not fought, would otherwise keep us laid up in the slough of despond. So today we review the first and a foremost special act of God’s providence, The Covenant of Life. God gloriously revealed this gracious act with our first father and representative, Adam in Genesis 2. Within this first covenant, God establishes five institutions which are central to the development of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

INSTITUTION OF PROPERTY

The first institution established by God was that of private-property. “Placing him in paradise… putting the creatures under his domain.” Christians today, influenced by neoplatonic dualism, have often mistakenly disowned the material as a “fleshly” form of bondage to the spiritual man. This is far from the original intent of God who by his exclusive and active role in creating all things physical imbued within them His signature of worth, beauty, and significance. Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all that therein is; the world and they that dwell therein.” God’s first special act of providence was to establish physical property, together with its commodities, provisions and fruits, flora and fauna, as the instrument man would utilize to fulfill the Covenant of Life. Property was given as the infrastructure of Christendom, the implement of dominion, and the milieu for the accomplishment of the Covenant. “Then the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, that he might dress it, and keep it.” “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 crept and moveth on the earth.” We read also “The heavens, even the heavens are the Lord’s: but he hath given the earth to the sons of men.” Ps. 115:16.

INSTITUTION OF WORK

The second institution of God by his decree and example in the Covenant of Life was work.   “Appointing him to dress it.” Work in a much neglected sense, is God-like. Because God directed this precedent by His own working in the acts of creation and providence. Furthermore distinguished by his subsequent rest from work. In addition to being instituted by way of precedent, it is also established by way of command to, “dress it, and keep it.” In this sense we must be earthly minded to be of any heavenly good. We were created as stewards of creation, trustee’s of God’s property, representative servants of our master. Contrary to popular opinion, work, specifically physical labour, is a blessing instituted in the pre-fall garden and not a curse of the post-fall. We deceive ourselves when we consider the mundane, physical labor of a “blue-collar” job to be far beneath the grand and glorious enterprise of the dominion mandate. Contrarily, the dominion mandate, the garden of Eden, and the Covenant of Life, ascribe nobility and dignity to the accomplishments of the manual labourer, the blue-collar worker, and the average layman. There is no greater substantiation to the principle of the dignity of manual work than in God’s own selection for Adam’s vocation, namely, agriculture. Of all the vocations, callings, tasks, and accomplishments which God could easily ask of Adam, the prevailing, pertinent, and positive venture He required was that which is the most elementary, laborious, and average to our human experience. Consider just for a moment the unbelievable precedent the Creator of the Universe established in appointing the representative of humanity to the position of field labourer. Consider for a moment the incalculable worth and preeminence that manual labor has been endowed with by such a decree. Then rejoice and look at your own callous hands, and reconsider just how much pride and joy you have every right to claim in your glorious vocation. The whole tenor of Scripture, with its examples, its hero’s, and its exhortations are not given to the aristocratic, the fortuned, the noble, the mighty, but given to the lunchpail worker. God has and does build economies, nations, Christ’s own family line, Christ’s own vocation, and societies from that same manly labor, that intelligent labor, and that independent labor of our forefather Adam. Manual work is dominion work. E.C. Wines notes the effect of the centrality of manual, agricultural labour in Hebrew society, “It is the nurse of the human rase… It is the nurse of health, industry, temperance, cheerfulness and frugality; of simple manners and pure morals; of patriotism and domestic virtues; and, above all, of that sturdy independence, without which a man is not a man, but a mere slave… In a word, this great business, the cultivation of the earth, lies, so far as any branch of human industry can be said to lie, at the foundation of all that is important and valuable in civil society.” Thus it is by work, productivity, procreativity, and dominion that the totality of a man’s life reflects the likeness of God’s ultimate work, creation, and sovereignty.

INSTITUTION OF PATRIARCHY

“Then the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, that he might dress it, and keep it.” The institution of dominion work was inherited by the institution of the godly patriarch to which all the men here today are a part of, and at some point us sons as well. We have received, or will receive, a noble and high calling. By nature we all have this dominion passion, this dominion orientation. But if you are as myself, you wonder how being just an average layman in the church and a lunchpail worker in society can amount to anything in the scope of the dominion mandate. This doubt is only reinforced when we hear of great, historic men in the church and in nations who changed the course of history for the glory of God and are are only left with a profound sense of smallness, maybe emptiness or even futility in our own lives. Unfortunately, men have been confused about the inherent worth of their calling in life by the Roman Catholic influence of dualism. Where the sacred and the secular are placed in opposition one to another and you are left either with selecting a sacred vocation in life or a secular vocation in life. Furthermore we are wrongly informed that in order to be a part of the dominion work our professions have to be validated by the appropriate authorities. We have to be validated by the church bishopric if we are to pursue a sacred vocation. Or we have to be validated by the government bureaucracy of schooling institutions to rightly pursue a secular calling. This marginalizes a vast majority of Christian men with neither church or state validation and who know not whether to pursue a secular or sacred calling. Who are now discouraged from labouring in the church and in the nation due to this artificial distinction. The great doctrine from the Reformation of the priesthood of all believers shattered these myths. We can now boldly declare because of the priesthood of all believers that all men, noble or peasantry, are peers in Christ. All men can join the dominion work and serve God and serve him honourably in their professions. The success of the institution of patriarchal manhood pivots upon the right understanding of the institution of dominion work. Dominion men conduct dominion work in primarily four areas as Geoffrey Botkin acutely observes. Firstly, dominion men are family men. They are managers either their inherited or personally pioneered family estates of physical and spiritual capital for their future multi-generational succession to enlarge upon. Dominion men are also churchmen of militant, Kingdom oriented local churches. None are devoid of responsibility within the church as they are either to be officers in it or bold supporters of her officers through prayer and active service. Dominion men are thirdly statesmen who start in their community. They are nation builders who reconstruct godly order in their communities starting in the home, to the church, to the community, to the community of nations. Dominion men, lastly, are businessmen. Stewarding and enlarging every physical and spiritual asset which makes the dominion work possible. They are business resource developers and service providers to a free economy. The average man who seeks first the Kingdom simultaneously in these four areas will advance the dominion of Christ. These spheres are small and limited but they are monumental in transforming nations. Greatness does not constitute a dominion man, rather a dominion man is what constitutes true greatness.

INSTITUTION OF THE MULTI-GENERATIONAL FAMILY

The centrality of the patriarchal, multi-generational family within the dominion work is a theological fact with an eschatological framework. “Be fruitful and multiply.” In God’s Kingdom the first shall be last and the last shall be first. First in God’s dream-job list, and last in human consideration, is manual labour. Similarly, first in God’s government authority, and last in human tendency, is the family unit. Church, state, and self-government are indeed additional establishments in Scripture, but none so central as the basic family unit. God bestowed the high calling of the dominion mandate and bequeathed property with its social power and material provision to Adam and his family. By way of precedent, God has thus established the family and its future succeeding generations, not the church or state, as the primary institution responsible for the work of dominion. This established the family in two areas. Firstly it established the family, not individuals or social classes, as the basic unit of social government. As dominion labouring families our first and foremost mandate is a family government of holiness. Without holiness we cannot accomplish our covenant job. Similarly, without pursuing our covenant job, holiness cannot be fulfilled in our families. Dominion thus means holiness, and holiness in return means dominion. The dominion family is a holy family, you cannot have one without the other. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be ministered unto you.”  Secondly, the family was also not only established as the centre of government, but as the centre of industry, the basic economic unit. Family estate provided the family with power to govern society in holiness and provided the family with material provisions to invest in dominion. Wealth and gain were to be cultivated from the land and retained in the family estate and improved upon by succeeding family generations. This God designed centralization of power and property in the family is the highest safeguard to tyranny and the greatest asset to the dominion work. The average family who is seeking first the Kingdom in the areas of family holiness and family estate and family enterprise can and will extend the crown rights of King Jesus. Godly families command the future as they command the children, estate, enterprises, inheritance, welfare, and education in their homes. Our families may be little things but they are colossal in transforming nations. It was not to aristocratic associations, nor to political societies, nor to corporate boards, nor even to church elders that was given the trusteeship of God’s earthly property or the responsibility of building a godly society on earth, it was the family. We will lead empty houses and abandoned estates and dwindling generations if we fail to recapture this responsibility. It will require us critically rethinking all areas of life and thought from this perspective. Geoffrey Botkin so beautifully stated, “The home is the incubator of Christendom, the engine of renewal and reformation, the centre of dominion and warfare, a powerhouse of discipleship, ministry, and evangelism.”  When parents are shortsighted in this, and forget the centrality of the family in God’s society, the duties of the family in godly work and generational fruitfulness, and the future of the family in rebuilding culture we rob our children of purpose, our communities from blessing, ourselves from joy, and God from glory.

INSTITUTION OF FEMININITY & MARRIAGE

“And ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself.” Another institution of God’s special providence is the marriage between the patriarch and his help-meet. “It is not good that the man should be himself alone: I will make him an help meet for him.” The very reason for the establishment of this institution and the foremost quality of it has been forgotten in the main. Marriage and femininity were founded upon the exact same objective as patriarchy and that is namely, work. Marriage was created for work. Femininity was designed for work. As much as Adam, our representative patriarch, received the noble calling of dominion labor, so too was Eve’s high calling to help assist him to this very end. Contrary to our Jane-Austen-like perception of femininity, Eve was not created just as a decorative ornament of beauty in the garden, nor as an idle accessory to Adam’s lifestyle, nor as an adornment of life accomplishment for Adam. In our day where the greatness of femininity is evaluated based upon how greatly removed a woman is from manual labour it is difficult to recognize that God’s design for femininity was the very manual labour which it so despises today. Inour culture, depictions of the great-age-of-femininity during the Victorian period in shows such as Road to Avonlea, Pride & Prejudice,  Mr. Selfridge, or Dowton Abbey present to us a state of womanhood that was characterized by being objects of delicacy, household ornaments of daintiness, practically useless, economically burdensome, and humorously unhelpful to a man’s work. Sure, we celebrate the notion that they were stay-at-home mothers and daughters but we are completely oblivious to their absolutely deplorable way of living, or better stated lack of living, in the home. Historian Frank Dawes writes of femininity in the Victorian era, “Women of the Victorian and Edwardian middle classes regarded a life of complete idleness as being essential to maintaining their position in life. If they put a piece of coal on the fire, lifted a duster or answered a doorbell, they were ‘letting their husbands down.’ Or worse, depriving a needy person of employment. So, during the Great Age of Servants, a whole class of women was reared that was incapable of performing even the simplest domestic services for itself. These gentle mistresses never had to make a pot of tea, wash a cup, darn a sock, post a letter, or even brush their own hair.” Obviously we do not live to such a extreme degree, but nonetheless we can have a misguided tendency to be attracted and even aspire to such an idealized feminine deportment. We may even begin to despise or devalue our own manual work in the family, home, and estate. We may begin to instead hold our past-times as more woman-like than our times of productivity. In the Biblical Hebrew society where femininity was defined by its industriousness and gain, fathers received monetary payment for their daughter’s hands in marriage from the suitor. This was a fair and understandable recognition of a daughter’s economic profitability in the family unit and just compensation for taking her away. This Biblical principle was foisted on its petard during the Victorian era where fathers now had to pay suitors to take their daughter’s hands in marriage. The moral of the story is this, when women are of no economic value because they do not participate in the dominion work of the family you can’t even give them away, literally. In Biblical femininity there is no distinction between stay-at-home and work or between the home and the workplace. Because in the family economy work and the workplace is within the home. By home I mean more than the walls of a residence, I mean within the family enterprise whenever that work may be conducted geographically. As you may begin to see, all of these institutions created as a special act of God’s providence are homogeneously tied together. The institution of marriage and femininity was created as an integral advantage to the institution of patriarchy, the fruit of which is the institution of the multi-generational family to whom was given the institution of property that the institution of dominion work could be fulfilled. If femininity is segregated or isolated from the institution of work or the institution of the family or any of the other institutions, or vice versa, the covenant falls apart and these institutions are destroyed.

PRESENT STATUS OF THE COVENANT OF LIFE

While a covenant by nature is eternal, there are elements obviously of this covenant which have changed as we are all well aware of. Firstly, the human race is no longer on probation. Our  first father and representative Adam broke the “Condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge” by   eating “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.” However there are elements an institutions of this covenant which remain and our binding upon us today. Obviously marriage, patriarchy, property, family, and dominion work were not abrogated by the fall. Furthermore that intimate communion with God which our forefather Adam experienced still remains for those who live in terms of the Covenant of Life. As a matter of fact the terms of the Covenant of Life are still in existence to this day of “personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience.” The pledge of this covenant, the tree of life, also still exists awaiting the covenant keepers. But as we are all painfully aware, we broke the covenant and destroyed the institutions in Adam. While the pledge, the blessings, and the benefits of the covenant remain we cannot attain to them for our transgressions and the transgressions of our First Adam. However, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by that obedience of that one, shall many also be made righteous.” God executed yet another special act of providence in the representative, mediator of Jesus Christ to restore us from the position of covenant-breakers to covenant-keepers. Once again we are re-established in the work of godly dominion. Once again we have the responsibility to resume the mandate given to Adam to subdue the earth to the glory of God. At the Lord’s Table today let us remember our restoration to covenant keeping, our receiving the benefits of the covenant, our duty to restore the institutions of the covenant, and how Christ has won this for us to His glory.

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.