Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Ground of Liberty: The Word of God

Henry Van Til remarked that culture is the “externalization of religion,” a product of the religious presuppositions that under gird a culture. The blessings of Western culture thus are merely the outworking and externalization of the faith of Christendom.

Constitutionalism, the rule of law and the free market are outgrowths of a Christian worldview. True liberty is found in Christ and other forms of freedom are merely derivative of that fact. The blessings of the West and the resultant freedom of men to develop property and fulfill their callings is a product of fidelity to scripture.

Trinitarian Christianity resolves the tension between the one and the many, providing for a social structure balancing order and freedom. Humanism by definition lacks any basis for law and values and ultimately collapses upon itself. For Christians, that base or foundation is God’s written law revealed in scripture. The content and the authority of the law is ultimately grounded upon and rooted in God Himself. Therefore, neither the church nor state is above the law. Economic and political freedom are thus a product of a biblical social order which places a priority on liberty in Christ, recognizes land and freedom to use land as an aspect of salvation—a place to have dominion, and condemns theft, including theft perpetrated by the messianic state.

Unbelief naturally creates conditions of lawlessness because it attempts to destroy the Lawgiver. As a result a culture of death and present mindedness arises which ultimately stifles economic growth and destroys political liberty. Consequently, humanistic cultures become imperial in nature as a means of survival.

Unfortunately the zeal of the imperial crusader can often be found in the hearts of many professing believers sitting in the pews of our churches. Such zeal is usually masked or baptized. Witness this quote from Richard Land as an example:

We believe that America has a special role to play in the world. Now we do not believe that America is God’s chosen nation, but we do believe that God’s providence has blessed this country, and that that is a belief that brings with it obligations and responsibilities and that America has a special obligation and responsibility to be the friend of freedom and the friend of democracy in the world.

And I cannot tell you the number of Southern Baptists and other evangelicals and Catholics who told me that they were moved to tears by the president’s second inaugural address and the statement that we are going to be the friend of freedom. People of traditional religious values believe America has a special obligation and responsibility because of the blessings we have received to be the friend of the oppressed ... and to help those who want freedom for themselves.

Francis Schaeffer, a hero to many evangelicals, understood that liberty was a product of culture, specifically Christian culture, and could not grow in the soil of alien worldviews. He wrote, "When the men of our State Department, especially after World War II, went all over the world trying to implant our form-freedom balance in government downward on cultures whose philosophy would never have produced it, it has, in almost every cases, ended in some form of totalitarianism or authoritarianism."

Heathen cultures reject the King and ultimately devolve into statism and tyranny, the rule of godless men (I Sam. 8:7-20). The urge to dominion, a God-given impulse, is perverted by sin. Ungodly men still yearn for power and possession, but their authority no longer stems from servant-mindedness but from the exercise of raw power.

As David Chilton says, capitalism and freedom cannot be exported to those cultures hostile to true liberty:

To unbelieving economists, professors, and government officials, it is a mystery why capitalism cannot be exported. Considering the obvious, proven superiority of the free market in raising the standard of living for all classes of people, why don't pagan nations implement capitalism into their social structures? The reason is this: Freedom cannot be exported to a nation that has no market place for the Gospel. The blessings of the Garden cannot be obtained apart from Jesus Christ. The Golden Rule which sums up the law and the prophets (Matt. 7:12)—is the inescapable ethical foundation for the free market; and this ethic is impossible apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to keep the righteous requirements of God's law (Rom. 8:4).


Blogger tubwell said...

ohhmagawd!!!...a literate, traditional protestant, (not a crypto-unitarian), and one not taken in by all the right-wing televangelists' bull-oney...How wonderful to stumble across your blog this evening! Well here's from a dyed-in-the-wool pape wishing you all the best. keep up the good work and keep up this blog! Tubbs

9:52 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Thanks for the kind comments. If only others were as discerning and wise :)

I'm not really posting frequently these days, so if you are interested in some of my older writings that will give you an idea where I'm coming from, check out my website...

2:34 PM  

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