Tuesday, February 19, 2013


We live in an culture in which for most people the terms “intellect” and “intellectual” are dirty words. Illiteracy is all the fashion in Britain today. This can be seen at many levels. Despite the fact that more money is poured into the education system today than at any other time in our history, illiteracy is a growing problem for children in State schools, not a diminishing one. There is even a charity now dedicated to raising money to help solve the growing illiteracy problem among children in State schools. This is in addition to the already massive amount of taxes spent on the State education system. A good example of the growing illiteracy problem in our society is the fact that if teachers in many State schools wish to write a letter to the parents of children in their classes that all the parents will be able to read, they must assume a reading age of eight. If a higher reading age is assumed the likelihood is that the parents of some children in the class will not be able to read the letter.

There are a number of reasons for this growing problem of illiteracy. Despite the fact that the government would like us to believe that the real problem is lack of funding and investment in the latest computerised technology etc., these things count for very little in providing a good education. In Britain the real problems affecting ability to make use of a good education are not lack of opportunity and poverty. Rather they are personal and family problems of a moral and spiritual nature. There is a hierarchy of needs in life for all people, and in the case of children the correct ordering of this hierarchy is essential to their being able to make good use of the educational opportunities before them. An education is of very little value to someone who is homeless and starving. Before one can make use of a good education one needs to be fed, clothed and given a home. Most children have these needs met in our culture. But there is another vital priority that needs to be met before a child can make good use of an education, namely, a stable, loving and disciplined family environment. Without this it is unlikely that a child will be able to make good use of his education, no matter how good that education is. Most behavioural problems afflicting school children today boil down to a deficiency at this level. The Christian ideal of the family—i.e. the married heterosexual two parent family in which the husband and wife remain faithful to each other—is now in a minority in Britain. The decline of this ideal of the family has produced a culture in which a significant percentage of children are having to deal with situations such as their parents going through a divorce, or not having a father or mother, or their single parent’s dysfunctional relationship with the latest live-in partner etc. The emotional turmoil and pain that this kind of family instability causes makes it very difficult for those children having to live through it to make good use of their State-funded, information super-highway saturated education. Until they have their home lives sorted out so that they can develop emotionally in a normal way they will not be able to make good use of their time in school. But do our mamonist politicians take this into account? Not in the least. They do not seem to be able to see past the ends of their own noses. The answer is always deemed to be money. Throw more money at education and we shall get better results. But it does not work. Things get worse not better because the problems are not financial problems, they are behavioural problems that have their root in society’s abandonment of Christian morality. Rather than trying to reverse this problem, our governments seem intent on stripping away as many of the Christian values from our society as they can. They are making the problem worse by their own espousal of secular values and their insistence on the creation of a secular culture. As a result children from dysfunctional families grow up with dysfunctional lives and contribute to the creation of a dysfunctional society in which the values and virtues of being educated (rather than merely schooled) are abandoned. Modern secular values and a highly educated society are ultimately conflicting ideals. The abandonment of Christian family values is one of the causes of illiteracy in our society.

Of course this is not the only cause of illiteracy. Another problem is the way television, and now computers, have changed the way people become informed. Information is not passed on by means of reading to the same extent. To a large extent TV and computers are replacing education with programming. The ability to think critically about the vital issues of life is not on the agenda today. Instead information cramming for the purpose of acquiring a “qualification” (i.e. a certificate) is what matters. This is achieved by drilling not by the encouragement of understanding and critical thought about the real issues confronting the individual and society. And the passive intake of information via the media, TV, videos etc., in which images and the content of the message change constantly and nothing is studied in great detail, seems to have produced among very many people a shortened concentration span and an aversion to applying themselves, perhaps even an inability to apply themselves in a disciplined manner, to thinking for themselves. The result is that people leave school with their heads full of certain kinds of information but with very little understanding, and often no desire to understand the purpose of their lives beyond the mundane task of “getting on” in life. And this brings us to another cause of illiteracy in our society.

The fact is many people just cannot be bothered to use their minds. There are many who do not fall into the category of those who were not able to make good use of their education because a more fundamental human need was lacking in their hierarchy of needs in childhood. They went to school, availed themselves of the opportunities to learn and acquired the skills needed to become educated people. But in the end they might as well have not bothered for all the good it has done them. These are people who simply do not want to be educated, who do not want to understand the vital issues of life and interact with the world in which they live in such a way that they make a meaningful contribution to the development of human culture. Their aim in life is not to make good use of their lives, equipment for which is surely the proper purpose of a good education. Rather, the meaning of life is football, or the next holiday, or getting a better car etc., and the only real purpose of a good education in their eyes is to facilitate their progress up the banal ladder of modern materialism. Such people pass through life passively, resisting by all means possible the hideous idea that any meaningful thought should take up residence in their minds. Despite their ability to use their minds constructively and meaningfully they object to any suggestion that they ought to engage their intellect in life as well as their emotions and passions, and they reject anything that might lead them to do this, particularly if it manifests itself in the shape of a book. This is functional illiteracy, a kind of self-imposed exile from the contemplation of anything meaningful and a refusal to consider using the mind in any way that would compromise this state of intellectual paralysis. There is another and much better word for this condition though: ignorance.

It is particularly troubling, however, that this culture of illiteracy is as strong in the Church as elsewhere, in some respects even stronger. Even many Christians who are able to use their minds and who are required to engage in intellectual activity for their jobs and hobbies will baulk at having to do this in church or in relation to their faith. Ignorance is bliss for many Christians. In one Church house group I attended I was asked by a university graduate in astrophysics to repeat a question I had asked in words of not more than two syllables so that he could understand it—a request that could not even be asked in words of not more than two syllables.

This worship of ignorance, particularly in regard to the doctrines of the Christian faith, has produced a serious deficiency in the Church’s witness to the world. Apologetics—giving a reasoned defence of the faith—is required of all Christians (1 Pet. 3:15). Understanding the faith is not an option therefore, but a requirement of effective witness to Jesus Christ. Emotional testimonies of conversion to the faith and the like will not fulfil our duty to bear witness to the truth of the gospel. We live in an age in which secular humanism has made a frontal assault on the intellectual veracity of the Christian faith, and moreover, in which the Church has, by and large, failed to defend the faith against this assault. As a result many Christians have swallowed, hook, line and sinker, the secular humanist myth of evolution. The facts are out and they stand witness against Christianity in the minds of many Christians no less than non-believers. Instead of challenging this error Christians have come up with “theistic evolution,” which is an attempt to mould the Christian faith into a form that will accommodate the facts as interpreted by secular humanists. But this is nothing more than an accommodation by Christians to the religious apostasy of the modern age. The Christian doctrine of Creation and the doctrine of evolution are based on contradictory religious presuppositions. It is absolutely vital that in our apologetics we make this point clear. If we fail to make this clear and, and having made it clear, fail to hold the non-believer to this point and demand that he address it, we fail to provide him with biblical apologetics that holds him to account for his religious apostasy.

This is why the traditional apologetic method of relying on evidence for the Creator is ultimately futile. It is the fundamental difference between the religious presuppositions of the believer and the non-believer that accounts for the conflict between evolution and Christianity. No matter how much evidence the Christian puts before the non-believer the latter will always interpret that evidence in a non-Christian way because his basic presuppositions about the origin, nature, meaning and value of life are different from those of the Christian faith. In other words, he starts from a different religious perspective, and it is this that accounts for his interpretation of the facts. Facts do not speak for themselves; they are spoken about by human beings with theories about what the facts mean. This does not mean that evidence is of no value, that is does not have a role to play in apologetics. It most certainly does. But arguments from evidence must be set in a context that recognises and exposes the fundamental role that religious presuppositions—the non-believer’s as well as the believer’s—play in understanding and interpreting the evidence. When this is done the theistic evolutionist theory is seen to be no more than a compromise with the presuppositions of secular humanism and the dominant world-view created by those presuppositions, namely the atheist religion of evolution, and therefore just as inconsistent with the teachings of Scripture as the undirected, random evolutionary perspective of the non-believer.[1]

In the past Christians have often been leaders of culture and science not worshippers of ignorance or followers of the latest fads of apostasy. The vigorous intellectual tradition of Christianity is something the modern Church should cherish and emulate. We should aspire to be thinkers for Christ, not mindless morons addicted to chanting repetitive choruses that mean virtually nothing. God requires us to use our minds in his service, i.e. to worship him with our minds (Rom. 12:1–2).

Our appreciation of much of the best in human culture requires us to be educated. The Church has always in the past proclaimed the importance of education and led the way in establishing educational institutions. But why is education so important to the Church’s mission? Not merely because the educated person can “get on” better in life and earn a larger salary etc., but because an educated society can pursue the cultural mandate and the great commission more effectively than an uneducated society can, and as Christian it is our duty to pursue the cultural mandate and the great commission. “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men” (Ps. 115:16). As Christians we are called to develop the earth, physically and culturally, for the greater glory of God and to disciple the nations to Christ. This requires intellectual maturity. Unfortunately, intellectual immaturity as a way of life has become entrenched in the popular culture of modern Britain, and the Church has followed the world in this. If the Church is to fulfil her cultural mandate she must abandon her infatuation with ignorance and apostasy and provide vision and leadership for the world around her, and she must lead the way in developing an ethos of intellectual maturity and integrity that will bear fruit across the whole spectrum of cultural life. This is what the Church has done in the past, however imperfectly, yet with inestimable benefits for mankind as a result, and this is what she must do again. Christianity does not work by magic. God works through his Church—i.e. the members of his body on earth. When the Church is faithful to her calling, when she dedicates herself to the works that God has called her to, the result is the advancement of Kingdom for the greater glory of God and the benefit of the whole earth.

One of the difficult problems we face today is how to get the Church to recognise the importance of her cultural mission once again. Another problem is how to convince Christians that they must abandon the ethos of ignorance and intellectual immaturity regarding matters of the faith that presently hamstrings their ability to pursue the cultural mandate effectively. Until we have addressed and overcome these problems the Church will remain ineffective in her calling to disciple the nations to Christ. A Church that is illiterate in her understanding of the faith and the cultural mandate will be unable to fulfil the great commission. As such she will have lost her saltiness and will be fit for nothing, except to be trodden under foot by men (Mt. 5:13). Unfortunately, this is the sad state of the Church on the whole in Britain today. If the Church in Britain is to recover from this condition she must pursue understanding and intellectual maturity in her practice of the faith. This means that Christians must repent of the culture of ignorance and illiteracy that presently dominates the life of the Church and dedicate their minds to God’s service, as Christ commanded (Mt. 22:37; Lk. 10:27).

   1.  On presuppositional apologetics see Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, [1955] 1967); A Christian Theory of Knowledge (Nutley, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1969); A Survey of Christian Epistemology (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company). On the importance of religious presuppositions as they relate to scientific work see Colin Wright, “Karl Popper’s Scientific Enterprise” parts 1–3 in Christianity & Society Vol. XI, Nos 1–3 (Jan., April & July 2001); “The Presuppositions of a Christian Scientific Enterprise” in Christianity & Society, Vol. XIII, No. 1 (Jan. 2–3). On the problems with theistic evolution (i.e. Christian compromise with the religion of evolution) see Stephen C. Perks, Baal Worship Ancient and Modern (Taunton: Kuyper Foundation, 2010).

Friday, February 8, 2013

Idolatry as Government

The American internet web site LewRockwell.com ran an essay in 2006 by a British libertarian thinker on how the United Kingdom is governed.[1] The thesis put forward in the essay was that the resignation of the man who was at the time the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and the subsequent revelation of the immoral behaviour of one of the candidates for the leadership of the party, along with the election the leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, the general rehabilitation of the Conservatives in the media, and the destruction of the UK Independence Party, was all part of a grand conspiracy orchestrated by the “ruling class” and put into effect by the secret police. The essay sought to fit the deleterious liberal trends of recent British history into an overall conspiracy theory. In doing so it identified some obvious and baneful developments in our society. But in seeking to explain these harmful trends in terms of a grand conspiracy theory the essay has missed the real point about how Britain is governed today.

One should always be sceptical about conspiracy theories, not because conspiracies do not exist—they do, as the Bible clearly teaches. But such conspiracies are underpinned and shaped by a more basic, indeed one could even say fundamentalist, conspiracy that is religious in nature, namely a conspiracy against God and his righteousness, against his anointed, Jesus Christ, and against the social order created by the Christian world-view (Christendom): “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2:1–3).

It is this rebellion against God, originating in the sinful orientation of man’s fallen nature, that determines and shapes the conspiracies of men and nations. But it would be a completely false inference from Scripture to attribute to these conspiracies the kind of power, authority and influence that conspiracy theorists attribute to them because, as the Bible also teaches, the Christian God is a predestinating God who controls history according to his own will, and he holds such conspiracies in derision: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou are my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps. 2:4–12).

Believers should likewise hold these conspiracies in derision. God controls history and uses the evil plans and deeds of men and nations to accomplish his own will no less than the works of his Church. The Gospels themselves make this unequivocally clear in their account of the accomplishment of man’s salvation in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But even given that rulers do conspire against God and his will for the nations, and that in his providence God uses such conspiracies to bring his own purposes to pass, we must seriously doubt the reality of grand conspiracy theories such as the one suggested by the essay in question above, even though they may be theoretically possible.

The real problem we face in Britain is not government by conspiracy, but rather government according to idolatry. After 1500 years of being pulled out of the slime by Christianity the West has rejected the faith and returned to the grand idolatry of all history—the State as God. Our modern Western world is a new Babylon, and we should expect it to engage in the politics of Babylon. The only difference is that this is a secular Babylon.

Idolatry of the State as the supreme authority (God) was the religion of the ancient world. All things were subordinated to the State, which claimed sovereignty over everything, including the cults of the national divinities. This was especially true of Rome. The function of Roman religion was political, to provide social cement and support the State, which is why the official religion of Rome continued long after people had ceased to believe a word of it. In the ancient world Pharaohs and kings were called divine and divine attributes are no longer imputed to our rulers. Because of this people today fail to understand the real nature of the modern State, i.e. that it is a religious institution that claims the rights and authority that legitimately belong to God alone. The only difference between the modern idolatrous State and the idolatrous States of the ancient world is that our modern State does not establish and promote the cults of official deities or insist on the divinity of those who have ultimate rule. It is secular; in other respects idolatry of the State is largely the same today. The only real difference in the modern world is that our gods are secular gods. But the chief God of the modern Babel/Babylon is the State. Of course there are a few secular humanists who are libertarian or anarchist in their beliefs. But libertarianism is very much a minority sport, and always has been. The dominating religion of the modern Western world is the secular humanist religion of politics, the State as God. This is the new Rome.

The contest between the early Church and Rome was a political one, not a religious one in the narrow sense. To say Jesus is Lord was primarily a political statement, and the Holy Spirit, in choosing the word ecclesia as the proper designation of God's people assembled together chose a highly political terms that had no cultic associations whatsoever. The ecclesia was a meeting of the demos—the people constituted as a body politic—for political purpose. The term is purely political. To claim that one belonged to a new ecclesia with a divine king whose law is absolute and whose rule is universal, as the early Christians did, in opposition to the Roman State, which claimed its emperor was divine and that the State was sovereign over all things, was treasonous to the Romans. The early Church was a political threat to the political order of Rome, which was of course a religious order, as all political orders are.

British society, having rejected Christianity, is of course returning to the old religion of politics that governed the world before Christ. Modern politics is secular religion. The irony is that Christians on the whole have failed to see this because they have bought into the lie that "Christianity is not political." They have also bought into the lie that "Christianity is not a religion." These two common errors have been devastating for Christian civilisation. In fact modern atheists have no more problems with religion than they have with politics, though they do not like the term "religion" (because they perceive it as referring to Christianity, Judaism or Islam); but with the concept of religion (i.e. an overarching belief system that structures the life of both the individual and the society to which he belongs) the modern secular world has no problems and is just as religious as every society ever has been. But the religion that is dominant today is the religion of secular humanism, the chief idol of which is the secular State. This is the new secular religion of politics. It is the logic of this idolatry that is now working itself out in our society and in our politics, and it is this idolatry that the above conspiracy theory of government fails to recognise.

It is not really conspiracy that is driving modern political religion but idolatry that is driving men politically, who will of course conspire to achieve their politico-religious topias, whatever their nature. The real point is the religious apostasy of the age, not the conspiracies. Conspiracy theory misses the point because it does not recognise the real issue. Our politics is being driven by idolatry of the secular State, which has usurped the role of God in our lives and society. For the modern atheist God is dead; but men cannot live without their gods and so someone or something has to replace the true God that modern men believe they can live without. The institution that has in our society, as a result of the decline of belief in God, inherited the attributes of deity, though in a secularised form, is the State. The insights of the essay on government by conspiracy mentioned above are virtually non-existent, and those who are taken in by it will miss the real point about how modern Britain is governed and what is happening in the modern world of politics in the UK and Europe. We are returning to the religion of the ancient world, but in a modern secularised form. Our modern politics is highly religious. The Church has not only failed to see this idolatry for what it is, but has become severely compromised with it. We face the return of ancient idolatry today in a secularised form. The Church faces a threat she has not seen for a long time, and has no idea how to deal with it, indeed does not even realise the nature of the threat.

The issue at point here is the fact that the logic of this idolatry will work itself out in all spheres in society, including the political. But Christians no longer believe their faith is a religion that must work itself out in all spheres of life. The faith is seen largely as a form of escapism, not as a religion that structures life, including political life. In the vacuum created by the Church's abandonment of Christianity as the true religion the modern religion of secular humanism has become dominant. This religion is atheistic, not theistic, but it is a religion nonetheless, and in modern Western society the kind of atheism that is dominant can only be described as fundamentalist in nature. Religion is inescapable. Men are religious by nature. The question is, which religion will dominate: the true religion, or a false religion? What dominates modern Britain is the false religion of secular humanism, which is a form of political idolatry. This political idolatry is the form of religion that has overwhelmingly dominated human civilisation outside of the influence of the Christian faith. The difference today is merely in the secularised—i.e. atheist—form in which this idolatry is manifesting itself.

Because the Church does not recognise the issues she does not call her members to abandon this idolatry. Therefore the Church is engaged in a severe form of syncretism. Babylon the Great is back with a vengeance, only in a secularised form, and we must do battle with it. The problem is that most of the Church's soldiers are in the wrong army. They worship in the cult of Jesus on Sundays, but Monday to Saturday they serve in the Emperor's army, send their children to his schools, engage in his politics and thoroughly abominate anyone who tries to point out the problem with this kind of compromise. If the emperors of ancient Rome had only had such an understanding and compliant Church in the first century they would have had no need to persecute the Church and would have retained control over their pagan empire with gratitude to the Church for her subservient attitude to Caesar's claim to be Lord. Fortunately, the early Church did not see it that way and Caesar had in the end to bow the knee to the true Lord, Jesus Christ.

We need to see what is happening in our society from a different perspective to the conspiracy theories of the world and analyse modern politics in terms of the idolatry of the age, to which Christianity as the true religion is the only answer. The choice before us is whether we shall engage in the politics of God or the politics of man. There is no third way. If we fail or refuse to engage in the politics of God we shall, wittingly or unwittingly, engage in the politics of man and deny our true Lord, Jesus Christ, in whom is concentrated all authority in heaven and on earth and therefore whose sovereignty encompasses all things, including how societies should function, politically and economically no less than at the level of the public religious cultus. It is the task of the Church to proclaim this lordship of Christ to the world, a task that, at least in Britain, she has abandoned because of her infatuation with the chief idol of the modern world, the secular State. In a sense the Church in Britain is engaged in a modern secular form of the hybrid Yahweh/Baal cult that vitiated the religious life of ancient Israel before the Babylonian captivity,[2]  and just as Israel was sent into exile for her unfaithfulness in playing the harlot with the Baals, so it seems the Church in Britain shall have to suffer the same consequences at the hands of our own Babylonian captivity.

Please observe that my point here is not that the British nation will be taken into captivity. Britain is already in that condition effectively, and the modern British State is thoroughly part of the new Babylon. My point is that the Church will be taken captive and effectively internally exiled by the idolatrous State in a spiritual and cultural ghetto that will leave her without influence, relevance or the freedom to preach the gospel or even practice the Christian way of life fully. The writing is already on the wall, but few seem to understand this and many more in the Church are ideologically committed, though perhaps unwittingly, to the religion of the new secular Babylon. They are engaged, therefore, in an extreme form of syncretism. If we are to overcome the modern idolatry that confronts us by means of our faith (1 Jn 5:4), as we are commanded (Mt. 18:18–20), and as the early Church overcame the idolatry that confronted her, we must deal with this syncretism and reject the idolatry that is at the heart of it. Jesus is Lord, not the State—in every sphere of life, including politics.

   1. Sean Gabb, “Mark Oaten, Rent Boys and the Secret Police: A View of How England Is Governed at the End of Its History” (www.lewrockwell.com, 24 January, 2016).
   2. See my book, Baal Worship Ancient and Modern (Taunton: Kuyper Foundation, 2010).