Posted in Musings

The Year 2020: “gods” Among Us

“The authority of any system of thought is the god of that system. If a national government establishes the will of the people, an elected elite, a law court, or an individual as the ultimate authority, that is the nations god… Too often…people decide who they want to be their authority rather than acknowledge the absolute authority of God. But in rejecting the one authority, they accept another authority. Either God is the ultimate authority or man is”

(Gary DeMar, God and Government, 63).

Some may wonder why we are where we are at socially, politically, culturally? The year 2020 A.D. has been very interesting. It has shed a lot of light on an underlying issue which has permeated nearly every facet of our American way of life. Years ago I noticed the path we were taking. I’m not alone. There have been others who have likewise noticed this down hill trend towards a totalitarian, communist styled state. Individuals who have experienced the blessings of our Lord and Savior to a larger extent than I have saw the proverbial writing on the wall. Now that things have transpired to the depth that they have down the rabbit hole, some of those closest to me have admitted that they were genuinely surprised I was spot on with many of the things I’d been warning about.

The civil government has in many sectors grown intolerant to the Christian faith and message. They have within their cross-hairs the biblical worldview. But who elects our governmental officials? Who chooses (from a humanly standpoint) our leaders? Who do those leaders ultimately reflect? The answer to such questions is not difficult. WE DO!

Culture is a religious driven expression of thought. The food, the entertainment, the art, the language, the mores, even the ethical standards adhered to are reflective of the guiding light behind cultural expression. It is the religion of the people that determines the cultural reality that confronts us. “Who is God?” is not an abstract question mulled over by various philosophers smoking pipes, cigars, and drinking scotch. It is THE question asked and answered by ALL.

Two Viewpoints…

God, from the Christian viewpoint is the supreme Being over and above all things. He is the absolute authority that gives to all other lesser authorities the right to rule in their various spheres of influence. This authority is not only given but is vicariously put on display for all of creation in the Holy Trinity. God is the quintessential Being.1

God, from the non-Christian worldview (there are many) is that authority in which the man, woman or child in question feels comfortable bowing down to. Whatever is viewed from the human point of view as authoritative that is what will be appealed to in an ultimate sense. In short, something will be god for all people, but that god will not be revealed until the authority submitted to in faith has been identified.

The late R. J. Rushdoony explains it this way,

“No man can escape the problem of authority. Every man will consciously or unconsciously appeal to some authority as basic and ultimate to life. Most authorities are revered by men today are human authorities: the individual, the people, the elite thinkers and planners, science, reason, or the State, these are all humanistic authorities.”

(Law and Liberty, 40).

Those authorities appealed to are the god(s) of the person in question.

Reflections…

I have often reflected upon what we read in the historical books in the Bible. Specifically, the accounts of the judges and the years of Israel’s kingly regime. During these periods of history you are given the above cited examples in revelatory Scripture. In nations like Egypt, Babylon, Persia and Rome (not to mention the much smaller city-state styled kingdoms) you have kings who are viewed as god-men; god’s in human flesh. What the king decided was in a sense divine fiat.

Remember that either God is viewed as the supreme authority or man is. We read in Deuteronomy what God required of the king who would rule under Him over His people:

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel” (Deut 17.18-20; italics added ).

Lessons from Israel…

When we look at the history of Israel what we find is that they struggled along this very line. Long before 1Samuel 8 (vv. 5-9;, 18-20) the people wanted a king over them that looked like the rest of the people (i.e., the nations) surrounding them. For when they lived their lives they often lived as if their was no king over them (cf. Judg 21.25). Their king2 was their appetites.

The contrast in Scripture is identified as those who served the Lord and those that served the Baals. The Baals—various representations of false gods/goddesses—amounted to the worship of any created thing besides God (cf. Rom 1.18-23). Mixed worship (syncretism) was another way the people expressed false worship. Rather than swear allegiance to the One God of Creation, many preferred adding other idols to the religious mix (e.g., 1Kgs 18.21).

The point being, the people bowed down to one of either two realities: the gods of their own hearts (appetites, desires, etc.) or the God of Scripture. It was to the authority of others that they showed reverence and ultimately appealed to or it was the Lord of Life, the Creator of all things. This reality was present in the idols they surrounded themselves with. To be as clear as possible, the gods/goddesses of the people—that to which they offered their lives to, appealed to, reasoned from—were seen in the visible expressions of their perspective culture.

Back to Present Times…

The cultural war in our midst is the result of two very different standards. There are essentially two yardsticks at work; two ethical norms being appealed to. This leads to disagreements. It also is the source of much of the fighting we see in our present day. As Greg L. Bahnsen observed:

“Often we disagree with the actions of the state. All of life is ethical, but making ethical decisions can be confusing and difficult. Everyone of us needs a moral compass to guide us through the maze of moral issues and disagreements that confront us every moment of our lives.

To put it another way, making moral judgments requires a standard of ethics. Have you ever tried to draw a straight line without the aid of a standard to follow, such as a ruler? …Or have you ever tried to determine an exact measurement of something by simple eyeball inspection? As close as you may come by guessing [using either method], the only way to be sure and accurate was to use a proper standard of measurement, such as a yardstick.” .

(By This Standard, 14)

Who determines right and wrong? Who decides what is acceptable or not? The way one answers these questions will reveal the yardstick that they appeal to.

Our current dilemma politically—which speaks of the social issues of our day—is directly tied to the yardstick being appealed to. We have raised a few generations of young people now who have been taught that might makes right, that each individual is responsible for their own truth, that reality is best determined by emotions and personal intuitions, rather than logic and reason.

The resultant outcome is now before our eyes in the year 2020. My grandpa used to complain to me that politics is crooked business. “It doesn’t matter which side you are talking about they are all corrupt…they are all about the money.” There is some truth to this statement. But, it does not automatically mean that all politicians are guilty of this at the same level or in the same way, as some grand broad brush stroke might imply.

Closing Remarks…

In this short article I have avoided specific policies or issues present in our day. I’m sure that you are aware of some of them. You can probably even name a few. This does not mean that we will share the same convictions/conclusions regarding them, but you know that they are there. Lord willing, it is my intention to address some of those specifics in the weeks ahead.3

Until then I will give you a little food for thought and wrap up my musings. There is a popular video game entitled, Gods Among Us. It is a DC universe game that earned enough street cred among the kids that they came out with a sequel. I’d imagine that some find the title catchy (you may not and that’s okay), but I find it revelatory. There are “gods” among us, and they have been put on visible display, and their tenets are being screamed by the masses. Politicians greedy for power are appealing to them in an effort to silence the voice of those who dare declare: There is but One God in Heaven who rules the heavens and the earth and His Name is… I AM (Exodus 3.14). We are a culture at war, whose side will you be found fighting for? To which God among us will you appeal to, obey and lean on? The “gods” among us, or the God who is over all?

ENDNOTES:

1 He is love. He is Holy. He is Good. The Father gives the Son, the Son lays down His life for those given to Him by the Father, and the Holy Spirit moves the called to embrace the Son and in so doing embrace the Father. All three persons do this in the One God of Creation. In so doing they exercise their love for One another and for those called by their Name. In this is the perfect display of holiness where sin is judged and yet righteous obedience is upheld. In this we find mercy (goodness offered to those freely who are not good) where the undeserving are granted pardon as if they deserved it.

2 Now David is set up as an example of one who desired to fulfill all the law of the Lord. He was a type or foreshadowing of the true Christ (the anti-type). It was the Lord’s authority that he desired inwardly to obey (cf. Psa 40.8); although, his own history tells the tale of a man that failed at this duty at many steps during his life. But this does not erase the fact that God viewed David as a man after His own heart. One that wanted to live righteously before a holy God, but due to human limitations failed as he walked along the way. (From his example and many others we ought to say, “Praise God for not basing our salvation on our weak efforts, but by His mighty hand.)

3 On a side note: My summer has been very busy. I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would like reading and writing or even posting things on my site. This is not a complaint on my part. I consider it a blessing, for when others have been deemed non-essential the Lord has given me much work. As of right now my family is well taken care of. I am thankful for this, but I have not been hiding in a hole.

Posted in Worldview Analysis

Respecting the Office and Not the Madman Who Sits Upon the Throne

“…so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice” (Matt 23.3; ESV).

What is Jesus saying here? In verse 2 he says that “the scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat” (Matt 23.2). What does that mean? Jesus is highlighting the fact that the positions that they hold are positions of authority. The seat of Moses was founded upon the Law-Word of God. Moses’ authority, like all other spheres of authority, was not personally established, but divinely ordained. God instituted the authority that Moses had as a prophet and a judge. As a prophet, Moses spoke the truth to the people as God had revealed it. As a judge, Moses discerned the rightness or wrongness of an action committed by (or to) a person in light of that revealed truth. The people were to listen to Moses’ word and judgment because He spoke in the place of God. In other words, Moses was God’s representative to the people.

A Similar Position…

This being the case, Jesus says of the Pharisees and scribes—those who had the Law-Word of God and were established as teachers in Israel—that they share the same role of authority. They represented God to the people. They like Moses were to speak the truth of God and to make life decisions (judgments based on right and wrong) in light of God’s Word. Therefore, Jesus says to the people gathered before them to “do and observe whatever they tell you…” (Matt 23.3).

Pay Attention…

Now this is where things get a bit tricky. Jesus tells the people to listen to them, to do what they say. Whatever they say? No, whatever they say in light of God’s Word insofar as it is consistent with biblical thought. For Jesus adds a little caveat at the end of his statement to “do and observe whatever they tell you [to do], but not the works they do” (Matt 23.3; italics mine). Why add this? If their authority was similar to that of Moses, then why would Jesus add an exception? The short answer is that the Pharisees and scribes were hypocrites. They were double-minded.

Derived not Innate…

This is normally where the conversation goes and stays. However, I want to highlight something else. Their authority is a derived authority, not an innate authority. That is to say, their authority does not come from themselves, but is vested to them by someone else. This is true of all authorities and governing spheres of influence. They have authority granted, but not authority in and of themselves.

Conditional Authority…

This is of paramount importance. Why? Because the moment that an authority tries to deviate from the source that grants (gives) it authority, that authority is lost. An authority without a standard or foundation is in essence no authority at all.

The people are to “do and observe whatever they tell you” in light of Scripture, but not just because they told you to do so. Such authorities are not granted divine fiat. Only God has that sort of authority. He has that authority because He alone is the true standard of right and wrong. He does not command that which is arbitrary, but He commands that which reflects His holiness. God is righteous because He never deviates from His holy standard.

Conditional Obedience…

All other standards therefore are derived from God and not the whims of any creature (created thing). When the Pharisees and scribes spoke truly in light of God’s Law-Word, then they were to be obeyed. When they went beyond what was written—either by adding to or taking from the instruction that the Lord had given—they were no longer to be obeyed. To obey them at that point would be to violate God’s rule. If He is the one that establishes every authority (cf. Rom 13.1-2; 1Pet 2.13-15), then an authority that seeks to establish its own rule of law in opposition to what God has spoken (what is written) is acting as rebel tyrant.

**It is the office that one is called to respect, not the whims of every madman that sits upon the throne.**

Such truths are sorely needed in our day. For there is a great number of those who bear the Name of the Lord, who seek to bow to every governing authority on the mere premise that they are a governing authority. But we must first realize to whom they owe their exercise of power before we follow their various edicts. Secondly, we must allow prudence to guide our hearts. We need to discern not only the source of the law being touted, but also the motivations behind it (or them).

We must ask who is being elevated by this command, and who is being brought low. Ultimately, if a law is to have any merit it must satisfy the demands of the Law-giver: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength; also, love your neighbor as yourself” (ref to: Luke 10.27). This holds true even if the true reasoning behind the law is forgotten by the person who establishes and seeks to enforce it.

More on this topic in upcoming posts…

Posted in Truth and Error

Irony of Bible Burning on Behalf of BLM: An article by Jerry Newcombe

americanvision.org/24173/the-irony-of-bible-burning-on-behalf-of-blm/

An excellent, articulate, concise article that accurately summarizes the importance of the biblical worldview and why an accurate historic viewpoint, while unfortunately lacking in our current cultural climax, is desperately needed today.