Religious Earthquake (2)
Religious Earthquake (Part II)
Religious earthquakes on the human scene are not limited to those who cause them. Humanism has led to radical erosion in every sphere and an anarchic lawlessness is increasing. Not long after World War II, Dr. R.M. Lindner wrote ‘Rebel Without a Cause.’He described the mindless, purposeless rebellion of modern youth. Critics in some instances felt that Lindner had taken a few extreme cases and generalized in terms of them. Very soon, however, beginning with the 1960s, this senseless anarchism and criminality became routine. It sometimes used some social cause, anti-war, pro-environment, and a like endeavor as a pretext for indulging the bent to causeless rebellion and violence. The result has been an earthquake; a fracturing of society, of the family, the school, politics, and every other realm including Humanism. The children of humanists have been the mindless rebels. But at the same time, this decadent temper has infected other groups.
In the United States, this has been very true of Islam. There are, as of 1990, about 5 million Moslems in the United States. Elsewhere, as in Australia, Britain and continental Europe, Moslems have retained their separateness and become powerful forces. In this respect, the United States has been dramatically different. First, unlike other countries, Americans are more inclined to accept foreigners and to help them, although there is a history of some hostility at times, to aliens, nowhere else is there at the same time a greater assimilation. This has made it difficult for Moslems to retain their separateness. Also, the prevalence of Christian radio and television and such broadcasting has an effect on the Moslems in the United States precisely because of the American openness to various peoples. ‘Islamic Horizons,’ winter 1991 gives an entire issue of the journal over to this problem. At a convention of the Islamic Society of North America, one woman, Ameena Jandali, a first-generation America Muslim, mother of four children, said; “I believe that perhaps only one out of 100 children that grows up in this country really keeps that Islamic identity.”
Now, Mrs. Jandali’s statistics are not precise. But the editors recognize that the numbers are alarmingly high. Mrs. Jandali calls attention to other problems; “Muslims have allowed their children to be raised by T.V.s, by videos, by media, by sports and these have become the focus of children’s lives,” she said. “Muslim youth are gaining their values from potentially dangerous North American popular culture. On top of that, Muslim children have to deal with the Western school environment that affects the way they think. You put children in school eight hours a day, five days a week, and then you expect them to come out of that with an Islamic personality. That’s almost an impossible task,” Jandali said.
Christian mothers can say the same about the influence of our humanistic state schools on their children, but the results are not as bad. Some Muslim schools have been started, but not too many. At this point, it is well to interject that countries which provide state funds for all schools are the ones that are seeing Islam prosper in their midst. The voucher plan in the United States would be a bonanza for all schools ready to receive such funds. It is hardly likely that state authorities will then seek to control Islamic or Buddhist schools as they would the Christian schools.
In another article, ‘Islamic Horizon,’ summons Moslems to live together. The Muslims feel intensely hostile to Israel and the Jews. Since Moslems, with immigration, are increasing, they militantly expect soon to equal and then surpass the number of Jews in the United States and then to move against them politically. Ironically, their model for retaining their identity and gaining power is taken from the Jews in New York. Abdul Latiff said of the New York Jews; “…they have developed a community, they live together, they have taken over a particular neighborhood.” Abdul Latiff also called attention to New York’s Italian, Chinese and German communities, and he objected to the unwillingness of American Moslems to live together. It is a grimly ironic fact that his example is New York City, and that Abdul Latiff, neither mentions the black community, nor the virtual state of warfare caused there by lawlessness and organized crime.
What is noteworthy is that Islam, successful in colonizing and organizing elsewhere, has encountered serious problems in the United States where assimilation on the one hand, and the erosive popular culture on the other, are having a devastating effect on Moslem youth. This is aggravated by the fact that most Moslem countries tolerate neither dissent, nor competing faiths. So that Muslim youth are radically, totally unprepared to move in an open and competitive society where rival faiths and lifestyles are available options. They collapse under that. They are not inner-directed, but outer-directed, as we saw earlier today.
It must be added, however, that our popular culture, with its radical humanism and its situational or existential ethics has been erosive of Christians as well. At the same time, the theological decay within the churches has led to antinomianism, Arminianism, Modernism, and a variety of other heresies. All the same, there has been some resilience. Before dealing with that fact, it is important to note the comment of J. van Bruggen; “…the history of the church is a process of deformation and reformation.” This process has been repeated many times. The world of Christianity has shown a remarkable and incredible ability for reformation and renewal.
We saw earlier that Humanism and Islam emphasized the external and the coercive. They demand conformity far more than an understanding and an inner faith and renewal. As a result, one can say that Humanism, in its own way, has been a faith related to Islam, being statist, coercive and totalitarian in its developed forms.
As against this, Paul in Romans 2:29 declares, “…but he is a Jew,” (that is, a covenant man) “…which is one inwardly and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but of God.” In other words, true faith begins in the inner man. The outward form, or sacraments, such as circumcision, baptism or communion is important, but without commitment of heart, of the core of our being, it is meaningless. Thus, the letter or outward conformity is not the goal, but life in the Holy Spirit. We are to seek the praise, not of men but of God. This is the meaning of biblical faith.
We have a vivid illustration of this in a part of the Law not normally given much attention, Deuteronomy twenty-seven. In Deuteronomy twenty-seven, one part of the nation was to recite the curses of the Lord on a whole series of crimes and the other half to say, “Amen!” to those curses, to all who practiced those offenses. Now, this text, Deuteronomy twenty-seven, gives us in succinct form, the direction of biblical faith. Here are twelve curses, to which all of Israel, all of God’s chosen people now as well as then must give assent to, a very remarkable fact. Now, these curses cover a variety of offenses, and they seem to have a miscellaneous character, but Boecker’s comment, ‘Law and the Administration of Justice in the Old Testament and Ancient East,’ is very important. He says; “The curses contain no principles not exemplified elsewhere in the Law. What brings them together in one unit, the key word occurs in verse twenty-four, ‘in secret.’ All the curses concern crimes committed in secret and therefore undetected in the normal course of justice. All the crimes named, from moving the neighbor’s boundary stone to misdirecting a blind man, from withholding justice, to killing for reward are hidden from the public gaze.”
Let us think again of Dr. Shirrmacher’s article, in April ’92 in The Chalcedon Report on the true definition of varying faiths as law-systems, that the term ‘religion’ was introduced into Christendom by The Renaissance. Now God’s laws number a little more than six hundred commands, only a handful are enforceable by either church, state, family, or any other human agency. The fulfillment, the true putting into force of God’s Law is its internalization, so that it becomes a way of life for us. What this means is clearly stated by van Bruggen; “The Law was not given to enable us to attain our salvation by observing it, for the Lord says that He freed us. He adopted us as His people, and now He gives us the Law as the rule of His house so that we may know how we should live in it.”
The outward law is not abolished. We live in community, true law-keeping in God’s sight is the union of mind and hand, faith and works, and belief and life. God’s promise of renewal to His people stresses this very plainly. In Ezekiel 36:26,27;
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
Law-keeping is a result of regeneration, of new life in man. The Greek separation between mind and body, mind and hand, led to a coercive world. The thirty tyrants of Greece were students of Plato. They could make no connection between ideas, mind or principles on the one hand, and life on the other except by means of coercion on the part of the philosopher-kings. This is the premise of Plato’s ‘Republic’ and of all utopian social orders.
Our Lord, in The Sermon on the Mount, describes all such divisive thinking as false. It is the mindset, He said, of false prophets who are inwardly ravening wolves. That’s the way He introduces His remarks. And what does He say? “Ye shall know them by their fruits!” You cannot say; well, his heart may be good no matter what he does. That’s Greek” That’s anti-Biblical!” “Faith without works is dead.” “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And anything that contradicts that contradicts The Scriptures. Our faith requires the unity of mind and hand, of faith and works and of grace and law. As against the coercive religions of our day, Christianity means that regeneration is the necessary starting point, and the life of grace and law begins in our hearts and lives. We are in a world crisis because the churches have abandoned Christianity as grace, law, faith, for Pietism. In this they are repeating an ancient failure of Greeks, Romans, medieval and modern societies, the flight into some variety of Neoplatonism.
Neoplatonism has been called ‘the final form taken by the revived Platonism of the Roman Empire.’ It influenced Jewish, Arabic and Christian thought quite extensively. Neoplatonism holds to two kids of being; mind and matter. Matter tends to be identified with evil, and mind, or spirit, with good. Man must turn his mind away from the material to the spiritual, whereas for us, of course, all things are fallen; mind and matter equally. Neoplatonism has always led easily into mysticism and a flight from the world on the one hand, and on the other to a surrender of the material realm to evil forces, because the world of matter is irredeemable, it is held and must be forsaken.
As a result, Neoplatonism not only has a mystical bent, but it is congenial to surrendering the world to the state. At this point, it must be recognized and noted that the rise of pietism in the churches went hand-in-hand with strongly statist tendencies and trends. In 1937, Koppel S. Pinson saw Pietism as an important source of German nationalism. With The Renaissance and then the Enlightenment, the transcendent power of Christianity over man’s life and the world was superseded by the belief that Christianity is merely one aspect of man’s life and even more peripheral to society, the state and most of life. Purer religion was supposedly attainable by this separation from the world. The catholicity, or universality of the faith was readily surrendered. It was discarded. The natural was seen as common to all men and governing all men, whereas the spiritual governs only a limited sphere. Pietism emphasized enthusiasm in prayer, enthusiasm in service, enthusiasm in all the relations of man and God and of man and man. In other words, if you did not whip yourself up into a lot of pious gush, interminably, you were losing your faith.
One can add that this enthusiasm was limited to things personal, it was not biblical. The catholic, or universal realm, with the rise of Pietism, became the State, not the church or Christianity, and so naturally, you have had the development of a one-world sentiment, the huge one-world catholic state. This surrender of catholicity was so marked, that Johann Kaspar Lavater, nominally a Protestant, was suspected of being a secret Catholic, but in reality was simply a detached pietistic thinker, with an influence in all circles, who actually went so far as to say, “Every man has his own religion, just as he has his own face. And everyone has his own god, just as he has his own individuality.” Universal language, universal monarchy, universal religion, universal medicine were, for Lavater, synonyms with human failings and presumptuousness.
This is why with Pietists, every man has his own private Jesus, his little idol that he has created in his own image, and it has no relationship to the Jesus Christ of the Word of God. Instead of God’s law-order for man and the world, man’s inner life as well as his outer life, this view abandoned the catholicity of biblical faith for a purely humanistic approach to Christianity.
Citing Pinson again, on the origins of Pietism, he said;
“The English religion, wrote Zinzendorf, is adapted to the Englisher and the Catholic religion to the Spanish and Portuguese. The French atmosphere, not being adapted to either of these, has given rise to the Ecclesia Gallicana, a mixture of Catholicism and Calvinism which allows for more freedom than in any other Catholic land. Protestantism is more suitable for Germany and especially for the northern countries, hence its predominance in these lands.”
Not surprisingly, when Pinson in 1935, visited the birthplace of Zinzendorf’s pietism, in Herrnhut, Germany, he found that Zinzendorfplatz and Adolf-Hitler-Strasse intersected.
In such a perspective, Christianity ceases to be a true religion, that is, a law-system, and becomes a personalized version of Neoplatonism in the name of Christ. It becomes a perversion, not a power. The impotence of the churches should not therefore be surprising. This is why Theonomy, Christian Reconstruction, is so hated by both the church and the world, and its growing power is feared. It is a restoration of catholicity to the faith, to Christianity rather than to a church.
The religious earthquake which is now in its beginning will bring the present world order crashing down. It is God’s judgment upon the world to clear the ground, so that His world order, His true faith, may prevail. “The things which are…,” St. Paul declares, “…must be shaken so that only those things which are unshakeable may remain.” The magnificent prophecy of Ezekiel 25:26,27, applies to our Lord’s birth and to all of history to the end of time. Therein, the crown is removed from the humans and placed upon the Lord, who declares; “I will overturn, overturn, overturn and it shall be no more, until he comes whose right it is and I will give it to him.”
We are entering the great and fearful years of God’s overturning. Nothing but what He ordains, whatever name it bears, shall stand. The rains of judgment shall come and they shall beat upon all houses built upon sand and their fall shall be great. It is otherwise for those who build upon the rock, Jesus Christ, the blessed and only potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. “Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine…,” saith the Lord, “…and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon the rock” Jesus Christ. “And the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house and it fell not for it was founded upon the rock.” Our purpose here is to prepare ourselves to be builders. We will either build upon the rock or as the prophet declared, be crushed by it. Amen.
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books. Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder