[Discussion on self-pity, and blaming the Evil Other snipped]
Everyone, however, wants to reform others, especially their enemies. We forget that the greatest menace to community comes from this kind of Phariseeism. It is the essence of Phariseeism to see oneself as superior, and others as the problem people of the world. We miss the whole point of our Lord’s indictment of the Pharisees if we forget that, to a very real degree, they were the best people of their day, and they knew it. Their attitude towards others reflected this. In His biting attack on the Pharisees, our Lord portrays one boasting even to God of his superiority: “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (Luke 18:11). What the Pharisee did was to separate himself from other men in terms of his ostensibly superior religious stand. Our Lord tells us that the publican was justified before God, not the Pharisee (Luke 18:14).
Let us remember, too, that our Lord declares that the summation of God’s law is in two commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind . . . And . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37, 39). Not humanistic or social criteria but the love of God must govern all our being. When we love God truly, then we can also love our neighbor as ourselves. Two things are clear in this latter commandment. First, it presupposes that we love ourselves. We can only respect ourselves and have a healthy self-love when we know that we are created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ. Men who cannot love themselves cannot love others. Much of the failure of various groups, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and others, to have the godly respect for groups or persons outside their fellowship that they should is due to a lack of a Biblical view of themselves under God.
God’s repeated test of the integrity of a people’s faith is their care for widows, orphans, and strangers, for those who are outside their normal realm of association. This is the second aspect of this commandment. To love our neighbor as ourselves is to show as great a concern for his or her welfare, rights, and reputation as for our own. To love our neighbor as ourselves means to respect our neighbor’s marriage and its sanctity (“Thou shalt not commit adultery”); his life (“Thou shalt not kill”); his property (“Thou shalt not steal”); his reputation (“Thou shalt not bear false witness”); and to do this in word, thought, and deed (“Thou shalt not covet”).
What this means is very clear. Beyond a very limited sphere, judgment is the province of God. A godless state will assume more and more of the prerogatives of God and assume powers of judgment over all of life. Because we are not God, for us the decisive power in society must be the regenerating power of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us. Not revolution but regeneration, not coercion but conversion, is our way of changing the world and furthering the Kingdom of God. This is the heart of Christian Reconstruction. The heart of Biblical law is that it makes us the basic government of society in and through our personal and family life, through our vocations, churches, and schools. In Biblical law, civil government is a very limited and minor sphere of rule and power.
No society can be healthy if the people are not strong in their faith. A strong state means a weak people. The various civil governments of the world are all strong and overbearing in their power because the peoples are weak in the faith. Statist power grows to fill a vacuum in government created by the irresponsibility of the people. When men say of their Lord, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14), they are inviting anarchy. The book of Judges describes such a time. Men had rejected God as their king, and, because “In those days there was no king in Israel” God having been denied, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25).
Interesting, that the discussion of the rise of the God-State is immediately followed by discussing anarchy.
If our allegiance is to anything short of the triune God and His Word, our loyalties will be humanistically oriented. We will be overly-governed by groups and institutions, however good, and insufficiently governed by God the Lord. A prominent American political leader, a man of unique independence, once told me that peer pressure governs most politicians. Before their election, they are motivated by what they and their constituency want. After their election, the peer pressure of their new group now governs them, and they are less responsive to the demands of their electorate.
Peer pressure is a most potent force in the modern world because religious faith is by contrast weak and fragile. Indeed, in one church college, group dynamics are taught as an important and worthy source of social strength.
This goes hand in hand with a major shift in man’s outlook which came progressively into force with the Enlightenment. The domain belonging to religion and the church was seen as the inner world, the spiritual life of man. The domain of reason and the state was held to be the material sphere. There is no warrant in Scripture for any such division. All things were made by God the Lord, and all things are subject to His law-word and government. His church must declare God’s Word and its relevance to all the world, the state no less than any other sphere. For the church to be silent in any sphere, or to limit the scope of God’s government, law, and rule is to sin and to deny to that degree its Lord.
We are not therefore to be governed by our parochial loyalties, nor by group dynamics, nor by peer pressure. All our churches, institutions, groups, races, nationalities, and allegiances must be subject to the prior government of the triune God and His law-word. Anything short of that is idolatry.
Amen, and amen.