Abraham Kuyper once said: “In any successful attack on freedom the state can only be an accomplice. The chief culprit is the citizen who forgets his duty, wastes away his strength in the sleep of sin and sensual pleasure, and so loses the power of his own initiative.”
If Abraham Kuyper is right, then what should we be doing? Some of you have asked that question. As we are proceeding through this sermon series on the Enlightenment, some of you may be left wondering, “Well, this is interesting, but what do I do?” I have given a lot of information, history, quotes, and summaries that do inform you, but what are we supposed to do with it all? Well, as we begin today, I am going to give you some more history and facts, but we will end with some specific principles and applications that I think you will find helpful.
I. Karl Marx & the Steps to Revolution
As I noted last week, all of the governmental conflicts in Europe after the Enlightenment made their way across the pond to America. Just as Charles Darwin threw fuel on the fire that got the Enlightenment going, so Karl Marx put the Enlightenment into one entire systematic worldview. Marx described, in specific steps, how an entire nation could be taken over by Enlightenment thought; how Communism could take over a nation.
Remember that the Enlightenment has only given us government based on raw power – might makes right. But the Enlightenment has also given us moral relativism – the idea that each individual gets to determine good and evil. The end result is that the people think they are God, but all the governments are atheist – the result is endless revolution (French Revolution, Revolutions of 1848, War Between the States, WWI, WWII, Communist revolutions, Korean Conflict, Vietnam, etc.).
So, we need to turn now to see what Marx proposed because, as we will see (almost without looking) his plan has been applied to our own nation almost to the letter. Now, it may seem a bit out of order to do this here, but I think we need to understand that what we see in Marx is what we see in America; and as American citizens, we need to know what we are up against. We need to understand fully the attacks on family, Church, and biblical government.
In his own terms, Marx says that Communism can be summed up in the abolition of private property, but he goes beyond just houses and land. Marx also calls for the abolition of the family. He said, “Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.” He goes on to say that the family structure is just a construct of the wealthy; that they plan to stop the “exploitation of children by their parents” (meaning educating them to live by traditional morality, etc.) and that to do so we must “replace home education (with) social” education. In other words, Marx planned to destroy families through the educational system. As we will see, he proposed an educational system that would take children away from parental authority early in life and hold them longer; would make them cogs in the national economy and teach them that their loyalty was to the State, not home.
Furthermore, Marx declares war on the Church. He says, “Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality…” This was offered as an objection to Communism and Marx’s response was, essentially, “So? Your religion, morality, and so called absolute truth were established to abuse the poor.”
Finally, in order to make it possible for Communism (actually, the Enlightenment worldview) to consume a nation or a people, Marx laid out his own Ten Commandments:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in
its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.
In America, as you can easily see, we follow every one of these steps, some more than others. The enacting of these things is nothing new, no matter how many people want to simply blame Bush or Obama. The first real culprit was Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s sacred cows. Lincoln trampled over the 9th and 10th Amendments which guarantee states the right to govern themselves in any and all ways not granted to the federal government in the Constitution. When states seceded upon his inauguration, he raised an army to invade them even though the right to secede was a staple in the constitution of nearly every state!
We were then told that the war was about slavery even though Lincoln himself only planned to colonize blacks to further segregate them – “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”
When he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the war had been going for 2 years (January 1, 1863) and it only freed slaves in Confederate territory.
Finally, the war was not a civil war. A civil war is when two parties are vying for control of the same government, but the South was seceding. Though Lincoln had previously said, “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.” – Abraham Lincoln January 12, 1848.
In other words, because might made right, because Lincoln needed control of the South to maintain economic authority (as the Int. Communist League said – eliminating the Southern workforce enabled government to take over the economy and means of production), and because government determined the rights of the people, nothing was sacred and no one was free except the government – even if it meant raising an army to invade your own country and sacrificing the lives of 600,000 men, women, and children. In 1862, he also oversaw the mass execution of 38 Indians believed to have raided villages.
Woodrow Wilson continued with the same ideas – passing the Executive Orders Act (President could bypass Congress), establishing the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 and imprisoning those who spoke out against the government, shutting down newspapers, and using those acts to ignore the 4th Amendment (freedom from unlawful search and seizure). Wilson created the framework for the League of Nations (U.N.) with the idea that all nations should be working towards the same global goals – all goals that coincided with Marx’s 10 commandments.
Next week, we will see some specific examples of how Marx’s wars on women, the family and the Church have worked out. In other words, we will see how Enlightenment thought has begun to affect women (feminism, egalitarianism), Church (authority, contemporary practices), and family (education, parental rights).
II. Principles for Christian Citizens/Conclusion
As we have seen, Romans 13:1-7 tells us that government is ordained by God to protect the good and punish evil (good and evil defined by God). We are then called, as citizens, to honor the governing authorities and submit to them as they do so; even paying taxes so they may protect the good and punish evil. But, this passage raises some questions – what do we do when government calls “good” evil and “evil” good? What do we do when government far oversteps the boundaries laid out in Scripture? What do we do to counteract or change the trend of government? Let me offer some biblical principles as we conclude.
- Pray that God will bring the righteous to power & take down the wicked (Prov. 11:11, 14:34, 16:12, 25:5; Exodus 18:21) – We are not to expect perfection among rulers. David was a good king, but he sinned grievously; there were several kings called “good” in Scripture who did not take down the high places. As Doug Wilson has noted, “In Scripture, a king can get a B- and still be a good king.”
- Tyranny is often a judgment from God (1st Samuel 8:11ff.) – The first thing we must do to turn back tyranny is pray and repent – for ourselves, for the Church, for the nation, and for our leaders. Scripture gives multiple examples of the fact that God often uses tyranny to bring a people to repentance.
- All governing authorities are under the authority of God (Rom. 13; Daniel 4:25, 35; Proverbs 21:1) – Another practice we must develop is trusting in the sovereignty of God. He rules the kings. But, this also means that we must never apologize for expecting the governing authorities to act righteously. Who cares if someone misinterprets and misapplies the “separation of Church and State?” The king is in the hand of the Lord and he is to act in righteousness – protecting the good and punishing evil.
- Civil disobedience is sometimes good and even required (Daniel 3:18; Acts 5:29; 1st Samuel 24:5, 22; Acts 12:11; 2nd Corinthians 11:32-33) – In no way am I suggesting that any revolution is a good revolution. I am, however, saying that there are times when the people of God must not obey the governing authorities and there are times when disobedience is best (Rahab, David, Paul, and Peter). And, when we cause a fuss or refuse to be brainwashed or speak the truth when people embrace lies; we will be called troublemakers (Elijah was called that by Ahab – 1st Kings 18:17; the disciples in Acts 17:6).
- The Bible does teach the “consent of the governed” (2nd Samuel 5:3; 1st Kings 12:1) – Do not give your consent to tyranny and, if we are ruled by tyrants, speak out. Talk to people, stay informed, vote by Scripture. Resisting tyranny is not the same thing as failing to submit to legitimate authority (Jehoiada upheld civil authority by removing a tyrant from the throne – 2nd Chronicles 23:11).
- Our specific history matters – We gain greater understanding of “lawful authority” by looking at the foundational documents of our nation: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.
Now, this all gives us much to think about and consider for application. We must begin by praying for our leaders – but that prayer is not simply for blessing, but it ought also to be a prayer for repentance on their part and repentance from the Church, the nation, and individual citizens for the willful ignorance and indolence that has created this mess.
Second, we need to pray for God’s mercy, as tyranny is often His judgment upon a sinful people. Third, we need to talk about these things as we have a chance – informing people about how things got to where they are and how we ought to respond. And we need to be informed of our own history – both explicit Christian history and the events and ideas that got our nation to where we are now.
But, let me end on an ironic note from Scripture. As I have said, Thomas Hobbes is responsible for the idea that government should control all of life. He said so in his book The Leviathan; a treatise on how government should control the people. But, let me end by reading Psalm 74:12-14 – “For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. You divided the sea by Your strength; You broke the heads of the sea serpents in the waters. You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.” May the Lord bring this to pass in our day as well! Amen.