By Peter Craig Coker
One of the many perplexing notions of post-modern thought lies within Christianity itself. Within Christianity remain enclaves of humanist thought, with individuals and churches, which appear as comfortable or maybe even more comfortable, embracing a secular philosophy rather than contending to apply a Biblical philosophy. Since the Bible teaches that government is on Christ’s shoulders, what does that imply for mankind? And, why do some Christian’s endorse conforming to man’s ways over God’s ways when it comes to governing God’s kingdom-people? Such questions call to mind, considering the implications of God’s ways, Christian liberty, and especially tolerance; its value, validity, and applications to Christian life; and in the larger sense, the life of communities as well as nations. Should tolerance have limitations, and if so, how do we determine those limitations?
The word tolerance is derived from the Latin word tolerare, meaning to bear or forbearance. It is described as the capacity to endure pain or hardship; or, the allowable deviation from a standard. Toleration is the act or practice of allowing something with endurance, fortitude, and stamina.
In Christianity, tolerance is one of the virtues that springs out of love and humility. It is in essence derived from the commandments to love God and to love thy neighbor as well as possessing a respect for freedom. These virtues also include forgiveness and are therefore integral components of liberty, truth, and community. Tolerance as a Christian value requires a connection to a philosophical set of values or standards that are derived from God’s law-word. If tolerance is disconnected from those values, becoming absolute, it eventually leads to increased nihilistic and chaotic behaviors in a community. On the other hand — a forced coercion to a set of values will lead to tyranny and totalitarianism. Tolerance, therefore, must remain open to innumerable undiscovered truths between life’s certainties and uncertainties, while at the same time remain conscious of certain transcendent values of righteousness. The “value of tolerance,” in Christian life, reflects an eager desire for deeper truths, more valued relationships, and potentially, a more healthy and harmonious community.
The Scriptures teach that believers in Jesus Christ are a separated or “holy people.” God has supernaturally separated believers from non-believing peoples. Believers are spiritually separated from unbelievers by faith through salvation. Jesus continues to spiritually separate the “chaff from the wheat” – unbelievers from believers, from generation to generation. As Jesus said, He came to divide, not to bring peace. This separation is, in part, to help preserve, protect, and grow His church kingdom, as well as His religious and moral order from one generation to the next. In the material realm, believers are called to live amongst unbelievers and be a living witness to them.
Believers in Jesus Christ not only have a duty to manifest righteous God-ordained behavior inwardly amongst fellow believers, but also outwardly towards unbelievers; and are commanded to live quiet, peaceable lives that embody love, grace, mercy, charity, and justice (righteousness) as a general rule as well.1 Although believers are required to embody this attitude and practice, as expressed in the “golden rule,” they are at the same time, not to deny the validity of the transcendent differences with unbelievers, nor embrace or embody evil under the banner of “unity” or “tolerance.” Christian believers are not called to conform to a false unity or a false peace by accepting and embracing unrighteousness without alternately expressing and attempting to persuade fellow citizens to seek righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.
In Biblical Christianity it is considered just as much a sin to encourage or advocate for profane acts and principles as it is to practice them. It is in effect, to praise or encourage wickedness. To help encourage, preserve, and facilitate the health of communities, God has ordained certain basic civil limitations be required for the optimal well being of communities and for nations as well. God’s basic foundations for civil government recognizes not only the fallen nature of man, but also mankind’s potential for progress in godliness, as man willfully submits himself to complying with and obeying God’s ways. Israel’s submission to God’s ways was intended to be a witness to Gentiles, by producing a God-centered harmonious community.
With the New Covenant, mankind was given renewed supernatural capabilities through the death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ (via the Holy Spirit). Christ continues to work generationally on behalf of individual believers and collectively through His betrothed bride; the church. The New Covenant church is commanded to be a witness to all peoples and nations, preaching the gospel and teaching them God’s ways of righteousness.
Secularizing Tolerance Encourages Animosity and Intolerance
Tolerance, in the anti-supernatural secular definition — has come to mean tolerating and accepting anything except Biblical, God-ordained principles and ways. As the Scriptures make clear, God’s ways to an unbending, unbelieving world are considered to be “a strange thing.” As a result of redefining tolerance in a secular humanistic worldview, any semblance or proposition of a godly order inevitably gets attacked, defeated, and trampled-down by secular humanists. It then follows that any group, neighborhood, or community that advocates exercising the ideal of “tolerance under Christ,”automatically becomes the enemy of a secular humanist order and is targeted for ridicule, suppression, and destruction.
A somewhat mild and simple example of how tolerating of all kinds of evil in a secular paradigm encourages animosity towards righteousness was cited by Pastor-Theologian, R.J. Rushdoony, who referred to a most revealing Ann Landers’ newspaper column:
Dear Ann Landers: Why do you pin orchids on the virgins without knowing the facts? If you could see some of those white flower girls you’d know they couldn’t give it away. Why not use your valuable newspaper space to praise the sought-after, sexy girl who is constantly chased by men and is sometimes caught?
I’m a woman in my middle forties who has worked ten years with young girls in a steno pool. I see the goody-goody types in their little white shirt-waist blouses and oxfords, so smug and proud of their chastity, as if they had a choice. They make me sick.
Only last Friday a darling little redhead, just 21, sobbed out her story in the ladies’ room. Lucy had been jilted by an executive after six months of steady courtship. They had been intimate and she was counting on marriage. It was the fourth time she’d had this terrible thing happen to her. Girls like Lucy need Ann Landers to tell them they aren’t all bad. Give them encouragement, not a put-down. I’ve been reading your silly column for 12 years and I think you are a perfect fool. – Mama Leone.
Dear Mama: Thanks for the compliment, but nobody’s perfect.
I don’t happen to have any good conduct medals lying around for girls who think the bedroom is a shortcut to the altar. Moreover, a girl who makes the same mistake four times is what I call (in polite language) a non-learner.
In the above letter, as Rushdoony noted, “Mama Leone” displays her own intolerant opinions that include a hatred of virtue and a strong sympathy for anti-virtue. In her view, promiscuity is superior to virginity. Thus sin is superior to morality; unrighteousness is superior to righteousness, etc. This simply and very clearly demonstrates the basic premise of the modern doctrine of toleration. Its basic premise calls for the acceptance and integration of sin (evil), apart from offering the need for repentance and forgiveness or the need to turn from your former sinful lifestyle with salvation. It not only calls for the acceptance and integration of sin, it seeks to suppress and impugn any expression towards repentance and forgiveness of sin in the public arena. It has in fact become intolerant of such expression and has come to deem it “politically incorrect.” It is now often stigmatized by many liberals as “hate speech” to express the Christian antidote to sin and the benefits of being liberated through the Christian gospel.
Tolerance – Positive and Negative
In the post-modern era, as a result of implementing lop-sided views of tolerance, Biblically influenced ideas and societal-orders have become increasingly suppressed; often even denied outward expression. The reason for this antagonism lies in the true nature of exalted humanist-orders — where human expression is continually (morally and ethically) leveled downward in order to compensate for its own regressive natural failures.2 In a sense, any influence of God’s transcendent “moral and ethical bar” or “standard,” routinely gets lowered to accommodate alternate humanistic ideals. Humanists seek to alter, change, or eliminate Biblical law standards to accommodate and accept tolerating what they consider more reasonable and acceptable laws. These law changes are often touted as “more compassionate,” so humanists, consciously or sub-consciously, make themselves out to be more tolerant, compassionate, and righteous than God! Some even claim to be doing the work of God, while, at the same time, denying or criticizing the Biblical teachings of God’s ways!
For sure, tolerance can naturally be a tricky thing in certain ways. We were created with a built-in proclivity towards much toleration. We are, for example, innately capable of tolerating many things that are initially annoying. We have an inner mechanism that can tune-out or ignore many annoying things; a dog barking in the distance…the noise of traffic…the ticking of a mechanical clock…the noise from a factory…the nightly howl of coyotes…certain habits or idiosyncrasy’s of others…and much, much more. And, with just a little imagination we can certainly see that toleration can have both positive and negative implications. Tolerating certain dangers, warnings and unknown risks could certainly prove to be disastrous if left unchecked.
The same principle holds true for tolerance; both positive and negative implications apply in the realm of human moral behavior as well. Over time, moral standards gradually degenerate if certain sins are ignored, tolerated, and not kept in check. Any parent understands that their children need to be corrected and taught virtuous and good behavior over bad behavior. Individually, we recognize within ourselves many positive and negative traits – especially as our children mimic those traits – both, good and bad.
In order to have some semblance of cohesive order a basic system of rules and laws must govern a healthy community or society. These rules and laws help to provide a certain degree of protection, safety, and justice for the overall community. The source and standard for any law system always reflects the “god” of that society, whether religious or non-religious. If non-religious, for example, an ancestor-culture may serve as the god of a culture, or mankind’s perceived intellectual reasoning may serve as the god or ultimate authority of that system.
It is often said that “you cannot legislate morality,” which is, of course, both true and false. It is true that laws cannot necessarily make an individual or even a community moral; but, it is also true that all law is based on someone’s perception of morality, or right behavior. Laws denote a code of right or wrong, or what is considered to be acceptable in a community. Certainly, bad laws can have devastating and disruptive effects on community life; former slave laws, for example, have had repercussions for generations after slavery was abolished. Even lesser “bad laws” can ripple through and disrupt a community’s well being.
On a side note — in regarding humanist law vs. God’s revealed law — it should be highlighted, emphasized, and not overlooked, that under God’s Law, not all “sins” are to be punishable by human civil magistrates. Not all sins are civil crimes. Many laws are only punishable by God. Since God’s Law is based on reality it is reality-expressed. Therefore, the essence of God’s Law is most practical for civil life. In Christianity, it is generally acknowledged by theologians that the Old Testament ceremonial and ritual laws were brought to fruition in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and are no longer necessary or applicable to civil life under God’s New Covenant in the Age of Gentiles.
God provided mankind certain basic moral laws to punish particular sins in the human civil realm in order to provide maximum liberty and justice for the benefit of the overall community. Man is instructed to carry-out certain judgments seriously, carefully, and justly within a God-ordained justice system that is to be administered by courts. Those sins not under God’s instructive command to man, are to be judged and punishable by God only. Further, God’s laws and principles are far fewer in number when compared to the ever-growing myriad of laws, rules and regulations that are adopted every year under secular humanist orders.
Humanist Governing – Forcing a Value Shift
The implementation of the secular humanist philosophy and governing in America gained cultural and legal status with the publication of the “Humanist Manifesto” (1933) and with the implementation of Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” (1933). Prior to these, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were also instrumental in setting-up the legal mechanisms for the demise of the legal authority of the original U.S. Constitution. The Humanist Manifesto declared itself to be anti-supernatural (anti-theistic/anti-Christian) in no uncertain terms; this was in direct opposition to America’s “Declaration of Independence.” Philosophically, the Humanist Manifesto sought to undermine and subvert the religious nature of the Declaration of Independence, which was originally considered a founding document along-side the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The ‘Declaration’ not only declared America’s independence from England, it also declared and outlined America’s dependence on God; His supreme authority and divine providence.
The original Humanist Manifesto was published and signed by many dignitaries of the day, thus, giving it an air of authority. The original publication set forth a new set of secular ideals for the United States of America which coincided with the implementation of Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” The original Humanist Manifesto was amended by the Humanist Manifesto II in 1973; and, further amended by the Humanist Manifesto III in 2003.
In addition to The Humanist Manifesto and FDR’s New Deal, the “Social Gospel” movement had become popular with many young Pastors during the Great Depression years. The Social Gospel movement had previously gained a small foothold in the 1880’s and after a couple of decades was adopted (in 1908) by the newly created, Rockefeller-funded, Federal Council of Churches. By the 1920’s, the Social Gospel movement had gained prominence in mainline denomination churches and in the 1930’s was involved in helping implement FDR’s New Deal policies. The Social Gospel movement became convinced of the need for government policies to help the poor and naively believed they were on the moral high-ground in supporting such policies. Unfortunately, New Deal policies helped to deepen and prolong the Depression.
In proposing the Humanist Manifesto for America, the ‘humanists’ broader goal (by their own definition) was to arrive at an overall consensus for a “united design for a secular society on a planetary scale.” Although Secular Humanism positioned itself as a “neutral” civil entity, it was and is an anti-theistic religious order designed to secularize and de-Christianize American culture. It is not neutral — but a biased civil entity which is against anything that is perceived to be supernatural or god-ordained. The Humanist Manifesto not only referred to itself as a secular religion, but less than thirty years after its debut, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized it as such (Torasco v. Watkins, 1961). It is, by its own definition, an anti-theistic religious order, not the neutral civil entity they often refer to as a cover for their anti-theistic activism.
The historic goals of the Secular Humanists, since the 1930’s, has been the incremental elimination of any and all Christian laws or law principles and their influence on culture. Since the publication of the Humanist Manifesto, Humanist’s and their allies have continuously and incrementally carried-out a variety of assaults on religious life in America. They view any civil-order created “under God” as mankind’s (dangerous) superstitious problem. Thus, they believe in the authority of mankind’s “overall consensus” as being the solution to mankind’s “superstitious problem.” In so doing, they usurp the authority of God’s-revealed-word and thereby claim for themselves not only autonomy from God, but also absolute power and authority in place of God. In possessing such a high degree of self-righteousness, they see themselves as more reasonable, tolerant, compassionate, and loving than the God of the Bible.
With this cold view of man’s authority over God, it naturally follows that any expression of orthodox Christianity be necessarily suppressed and kept private – out of, and away from public consumption. In America, this suppression of expression gained “federal” legal status in the Supreme Court with the “Emerson vs. Board of Education” case (1947). This ruling unjustly handcuffed the original Constitutional concept of free expression of religion and outlawed all expressions of Christianity at any governmental level! This religious suppression worked extremely well for several decades at intimidating individuals and churches — especially in targeting conservative Christianity — but in recent years has begun to gain some pushback.
In retrospect, even prior the 1930’s, the adherents to the philosophy of the Humanist Manifesto began the incremental implementation of ‘Humanist ideals’ in Universities, Teacher-training colleges, news outlets, literature, and throughout American culture. Funded to a large degree by the foundations of America’s philanthropic elite, the “Humanists” overall ideal for America (and beyond) was for their “elite” colleagues to arrive at an “overall consensus” with – “a set of common principles that could serve as a basis for united action.” The long term intent, as previously noted, was to design and enforce a secularist society on a planetary scale. However — the culmination of incrementally implementing such ideals has caused an ever widening divide not only on the political and the religious landscape of America, but also throughout the broader culture. It has since become common practice of intolerant humanist’s to exploit and drive wedges between society’s rich and poor; racial ethnic groups; employers and employees, the religious and non-religious, the sexes, etc.; while simultaneously feigning peace, tolerance, and unity.
Liberal Christian thought and its political alignments have generally followed the ideals expressed in Unitarianism and the Humanist Manifesto(s) fairly closely. It is most revealing that liberal-Christianity actually agrees with the ways of atheist thought and are opposed to discovering and advancing the true basic principles of their faith. In so doing, they have inadvertently agreed to the absolute power and authority of mankind over God. This is, of course, Humanism’s plainly stated intent, but, why would self-professing Christians agree with such a notion? Is it because God gave mankind the ability to reason over and above the transcendent thoughts of God Himself? Apparently, in the view of liberal-Christianity, God’s ways — the ways of Christ — have become completely irrelevant and inadaptable to the modern world …because…or so it appears…the consensus of atheists and humanists are far superior to God’s ways? We used to call these kinds of so-called Christians, carnal Christians, or ostensible Christians, or nominal Christians, for good reason.
Liberalism — How to Suck the Life out of a Church
In the early 1900’s, America’s mainline Christian churches began to be infiltrated by liberal clergy. These liberals, often pretending to be orthodox, managed to get on the boards of church government bodies. They were then able to influence or gain control of the church and turn it into a liberal church entity. They were further able to gain control of church assets and pension funds, which were considerable in established mainline churches. This, was one of their main goals, as it is with liberalism overall. That is, to steal the capital and investments of others to fund their own liberal projects. Once they gained monetary control, they, for the most part, had no consideration for the well-being of the church itself; thus, mainline churches began a slow demise to mediocrity and lifelessness.
Many of the signatories of the Humanist Manifesto II were liberal Christians and clergy. The Democratic Party and Liberal-Christianity in the U.S., long ago became the home of the Humanist Manifesto philosophy in civil governing and in influencing cultural trends and ideals. The foundational standard for Liberal Christianity is not found in the word of God, the Ten Commandments, or principles derived from them; but by the “overall consensus of man.” In America, it is increasingly among those who agree with the tenants of the Humanist Manifesto(s) and the liberal philosophies of absolute secularists that influences legal and cultural standards.
Government under God is directly contrary to the liberal-humanistic law-orders which attempt to regulate every area of life and control every-little-thing in society under its own authority. In short, humanistic law-orders claim an overall, absolute authority – which, in Biblical terms, it is not entitled to claim or possess. Humanistic law-order’s by nature become totalitarian and intolerant of competing law orders. [Liberal toleration] naturally becomes absolutely intolerant of and in conflict with, any form of a Judeo-Christian law-order.
This, in itself displays the true “anti-liberal” connotation of the term liberal in its true classical sense. “Classical Liberalism” was originally based on the fundamental principle of discussion and debate. Contrarily, modern liberalism values “unity” over “debate,” and seeks to impose a false unity through a totalitarian order that regulates every area of life, including one’s thought life. This was in essence, the basis of Mussolini’s Italian fascism.3 Modern liberalism may be liberal in allowing for increased immorality against religious standards; but, it becomes increasingly intolerant of outward religious expressions that may be in opposition to liberal standards. It increasingly seeks to suppress and limit religious expression to a “private matter,” out of public view; thereby limiting debate and oppressing religious expression and liberty. For the liberal, it then becomes acceptable to routinely ridicule religious expression as; “out of the mainstream,” “against the greater good,” “a strange thing,” “a thing of the past” “outdated” or even “hate speech!” – So-much for tolerance, compassion, and love thy neighbor — so-much for debate, consideration, and openness. In its contemporary form, liberalism is a bastardization of classical liberalism and has been better described as “smiley-face fascism.”
In light of this, what seems particularly striking in the realm of Liberal-Christianity and Christian-Atheistic movements is the acceptance of anti-Christian laws in the name of Christian tolerance! It would seem that a certain reverence for God and His instructive revelations for right living and right governing would logically be considered a standard of righteousness for self-professing Christians to promote and attain to — not by following and accepting the ways of rehashed failed philosophies of pre-Christian and anti-Christian cultures. Instead of working towards the teaching and implementation of “observing the commands of Christ for all nations;” they seem to prefer implementing and carrying-out the anti-Christian ways of humanist governing by ways of a completely secularized democracy.
Liberal-Christianity in essence proclaims that the “ways of the world,” the ways of pagan belief systems are superior and preferable to Christ’s command to teach nations to observe God’s ways. They seem to be under the mistaken understanding that Christianity has an obligation to be subservient to secular world-orders. And, for some mysterious reason, they seem to think nations and their governments are exempt from being under Christ’s authority. Following this misconception would lead believers to simply tolerate and accept ruthless dictatorships and communist-socialist orders that naturally suppress the vitality of a God-ordained Christian life and its growth! Certainly, Christianity can exist in such places, but never well. Liberalism, in its modern contemporary form, only creates enclaves of fear, intimidation, and hopelessness by using the tactics of envy, jealousy, covetousness, lust, greed, and retribution.
Christ not only judges individuals, but also judges’ nations (sheep and goats) in their obedience to God’s ways. Christians are called to influence kings and kingdoms as well as minister to the needy. God’s kingdom people have been called to be an example and a witness to nations and the unbelieving world at large. The Parable of the Mustard Seed teaches that God’s gospel-kingdom on earth is an ever growing, ever expanding, influential kingdom that provides a refuge for believers and unbelievers alike.
God Reveals True Love Ways
God’s law reveals the love of God and His desire to restore His relationship to mankind. His law embraced, encourages love and harmony between neighbors, communities, and nations. Overall, God’s Law set-up the general principles of true faith: love, mercy, and grace. These principles of faith were further expressed in laws pertaining to: government, citizenship, taxation, militaries, marriage, religion, property, contracts, loans and interest, domestic relations, welfare, foreigners, criminality, punishment, justice, protection, sanitation, and treatment of animals. God’s law reflected the mind of God and His purposes in regulating fallen man’s evil nature and restoring mankind’s relationship to Himself. God, in creating man, commanded him to subdue the earth and exercise dominion (under God) over all the earth. Man, as a result of the fall, attempted to establish a separate (apart from God) autonomous dominion.
Jesus summed up all of God’s law as being under the umbrella of the love of God and the love of neighbors; “On these commandments hang (depend) all the law and the prophets.” Thus, all the law and proclamations of the prophets are to be administered with the love of God and the love of neighbors in mind. This did not give license to ignore the law of God nor to invalidate the law of God; it is the command to administer the law justly and righteously, through love, grace and mercy. Christ did not ignore the law nor put God’s Law-Word aside; He demonstrated how to apply the Law justly, in righteousness, as demonstrated with examples such as: the woman caught in adultery; Healing on the Sabbath; Working on the Sabbath; and with the Pharisees who tithed rightly, but passed by justice and the love of God, etc.
Jesus not only used and applied the Law justly; He did so without being legalistic, proving that the correct use of the law is not legalism. He defined and interpreted the Law correctly as it was originally intended. He demonstrated how to do it correctly with love, grace, and mercy. Is Christ not our example? Any supposed failure in God’s law for man was not in the law itself; it was in mankind’s mis-use and mis-application of God’s law. Mankind’s mis-administration of God’s Law is basically rooted in the arrogant self-righteousness of man’s autonomous fallen nature. New Covenant believers are born-again and called to overcome their fallen nature through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, i.e., the Spirit against the flesh.
Christ affirmed the New Covenant integrity of the Old Testament moral law and often made references to the authority of Old Testament laws in His teachings, in answering His critics, and in rebuking Satan’s provocations. He quoted freely from many Old Testament sources that included Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus as well as confirming stories such as Jonah in the belly of the great fish. Jesus expounded on a host of issues from Old Testament law, explaining to His followers that they are not only to do the things contained in the law, but are also commanded to transform their thoughts and motives in accordance with God’s Law. These issues included: murder and anger; adultery; lust; divorce; oaths; swearing; honesty; retaliation; justice; forgiveness; giving to others; love; hate; good deeds; charitable deeds; proper motives; prayer; fasting; wealth and loyalty to God; priorities in poverty; worry and anxiousness; faith; judging with proper motives; and proper discernment. Jesus included in His discourse, the Golden Rule: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” In Christ’s view, the Golden Rule was the summation of the Law and the Prophets. In the discourse which began with the Beatitudes, and includes the Lord’s Prayer, the Golden Rule, and ends with the Parable of the Two Builders (Matthew 5: 3 – 7: 12), Christ made references to: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Isaiah, and The Book of Malachi and other Old Testament sources as well.
Jesus, when overhearing the Pharisees ask His disciples why their Teacher eats with tax collectors and sinners, responded by instructing the Pharisees to go and learn the meaning of Hosea 6:6; “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Mercy in this verse’s context, more precisely refers to “faithfulness” or “loyalty.”
The Old Testament Book of Hosea deals with Israel’s idolatry in transgressing God’s covenant and its rebellion against God’s Law. Israel, while in its idolatry, simultaneously continued in offering ritual sacrifices and burnt offerings to God. God declared that their worship was in vain. Israel had compromised its faith and relationship to God by turning from faithfulness and loyalty to God’s Law — to a syncretistic faith combined with Gentile (heathen) ways. Here, Jesus instructed the Pharisees to go learn from the Old Testament Scriptures and the prophet, Hosea.
Israel had become influenced by its surrounding pagan culture. This, in God’s view, was “spiritual adultery.” Israel by departing from God’s covenant had rebelled against His laws and ways. Israel had mixed herself with unbelievers who considered God’s law “a strange thing.” In their unfaithfulness and lawlessness God said they had become “like a silly dove without sense” – or more literally, without heart. Jesus point to the Pharisees was that they too had departed from “faithfulness to God’s law” to only observing man-made traditions and rituals; thereby becoming self-righteous. When the Pharisees demanded a sign from Jesus, He said they could only expect the sign of Jonah; they would therefore be judged by the repentant men of Nineveh.
Jesus later taught His followers to beware of false prophets; that their fruits would be of “lawlessness.” The Scribes and Pharisees were considered “lawless” because: (1) they obeyed the lesser matters of the law while ignoring the weightier matters of the law; (2) they perverted the law in order to exempt themselves from obeying the law; (3) they were being hypocritical – by telling others to obey laws they themselves were not keeping; and (4) they were teaching false doctrines; teaching the “doctrines and traditions of man” as Commandments of God.
The Scribes and Pharisees had developed beliefs and traditions that were contrary to God’s law-word. Jesus never condemned the religious leaders when they correctly kept the law – He condemned them for their misuse and perversions of the law. “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore, whatever they tell you, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do” (Matt. 23: 1-3).
God’s Universal Love and Law
Jesus and the New Testament in general expressly confirm the Law. Christ based His teaching on the Law. The Apostle Paul said that faith confirms the Law (Rom. 3: 31). Further, keeping God’s commandments also helps; promote spirituality (Rom 7; 12, 16; 8: 3-4), is important to holy living (1Cor. 7: 19; Jn. 2: 3,4; 5: 3), and encourages holiness, justice, and goodness (Rom. 2: 13; 1Tim. 1: 8-10; Heb. 2: 2; Heb. 8: 10). It also helps serve as a witness to others and helps restrain evil. Paul further stated that “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Rom. 8: 7). The carnal mind is defined as being against God and His law-word.
Not only is God’s law relevant for believers, it is a universal law encompassing the entire world. God’s judgments on pagan nations of the Old Testament were based on the universality and equity of His Law. God’s condemnation of Babylon; His judgment on the entire Sodom-Gomorrah region; His threatened judgment of Nineveh, and His command to Israel to expel the Canaanites from the land was due to their breach of God’s Law. Even certain pagan rulers acknowledged the superiority and authority of God’s Law, including; Cyrus of Persia (Dan. 6: 25), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4: 1, 25), and Artaxerxes (Ezra 7: 25). It should also be noted that the nations surrounding Israel were often judged for breaching God’s moral standards but not for the Mosaic covenantal form itself; this was also the case in Abraham’s era with the judgment of the Sodom-Gomorrah region (Gen. 19: 15; 2 Pet. 2: 9).
Under the Mosaic Law there existed a separation of church and state, a distinction between the civil ruler and the priestly head. Yet, the Law itself was the “standard” of civil justice. The same model holds true in the New Testament era as a study of Romans 12 and 13 reveals. Civil magistrates, as ministers of God, are commanded to rule according to the ethics and moral standards of God’s Law in order to help encourage and promote personal sanctification and social righteousness.
In the New Testament era, the Spirit of grace is placed before the Law but does not abolish the Law; as God’s Law reflects God’s will for man. Man ultimately sees God’s Law as an impossible unreasonable demand. This is certainly true apart from God’s provision of faith. “The Spirit of grace, therefore, causes us to have faith, in order that through faith, we may, on praying for it, obtain the ability to do what we are commanded…since we are not able to do what the Law commands unless we obtain strength to do it by the prayer of faith.” (Augustine on Grace and Free Will 28, in NPNF 5: 455)
A civil example of a basic Biblical principle in Israel and of later Christian influenced law-orders, (including America’s legal system) was the police power of each and every individual citizen. To obey a law meant also to enforce that law in one’s own life and thus, in one’s own community. Obedience, then, in a particular sense, required the individual acceptance of a universal godly order that is valid for an entire community, beginning with the individual; and the enforcement by one’s self. This was also true of Biblical Old Testament Israel.
An example of an Old Testament principle being carried through (even if the direct application no longer existed) to the New Testament era was stated by the Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 9: 9), who was quoting Deuteronomy 25: 4; “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” The Apostle Paul went on to explain that God’s concern is not to the ox, but for “our sakes.” Paul went on to say “he who plows should plow in hope and he who threshes in hope should be partakers of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?” The Apostle Paul then went on to make the case that this principle carried-out meant that those entrusted to preach the gospel deserve to be compensated. Paul appealed to Mosaic case law (“Thus saith the law…”), as authority in the New Testament era, which, in principle, taught that ministers of the gospel should be compensated monetarily.
Critics of the relevance of the Mosaic Law often assert that God’s Law did not exist outside of Israel and is therefore limited to Israel. But, if that were correct, why did God come against Nineveh; or why did God judge Egypt, Edom, the Canaanites and many others for their immorality as pertaining to God’s moral law?
In the New Testament Book of Hebrews, the New Covenant is not described or defined as the removal of God’s moral law-word; but is more accurately described as making obsolete the sacrificial and ceremonial aspects of the law. It is this aspect of the law that is specifically addressed as no longer valid. As Hebrews (8:10) also states, “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.”
The Law and the Lawless
The Apostle Paul notes that “the Law is good if one uses it lawfully (1 Tim. 1:8-11). Paul then said the law was made to govern — “the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is opposed to sound doctrine…” These are all categories taken specifically from Mosaic Law that the Apostle Paul referenced.
Many modern Christians have completely rejected any use of God’s law and the standards God gives in His Law. They have rejected God’s moral authority as the only objective standard for righteous and just governing. Do they actually believe they are being more just and merciful than God through their own superior reasoning capabilities?
Jesus Christ, as the Great High Priest, has, by His life, death, and resurrection, fulfilled the Law and abolished any need for the symbolic, sacrificial and ceremonial aspects of the law. But, Jesus in the New Covenant era does not advocate abolishing the moral and civil aspects of the law. Believers in Christ are called to be slaves to Christ, and friends of Christ. Freed from sin and freed from the curse of the law. But, we are not free to live any way we see fit by establishing our own personal autonomous morality. 1st Timothy 3: 16 says: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”…and 2nd Peter 1: 20-21 reminds us that: “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Jesus Christ is not only Savior; He is also our Redeemer, Lord of all. Believers, are not born-again in order learn the heathen’s ways of living, or continue in the ways of heathen inspired nations. Christians are not only called to turn and break-away from the ways of pagan nations and worshippers of false-gods, but also to preach to them the gospel and the ways of God.
Humanism presents a subconscious return to the repackaged ways of heathen inspired governing; a return to serving the ancient concepts of false gods and idols of the non-believing and polytheistic nations. In opposition to Biblically-based governing and far from establishing any real new ideas for a secular utopian order, humanists have only put forth rehashed ideas of historically failed civilizations. Communism, socialism, pagan polytheistic orders, and previously failed democracies, all reflect alternate forms of ungodly ancient civilizations.
The Law of Love — Intent and Act
Humanists apparently believe that their view of love and human governing is superior to God’s love as revealed in the Scriptures. Hence, humanists, liberal clergy, and many liberal-Christians believe in the humanistic concept that man is basically good. Thus, love has been redefined by humanists to reflect an anti-biblical definition. This hypocrisy has been clearly demonstrated in the life of Rousseau; recalled by the late R.J. Rushdoony as follows:
“One of the most important of all humanists was Jean Jacques Rousseau, the father of democracy. Rousseau was a tramp, a “kept man” for Madame de Warens, and a thoroughly irresponsible man. He lived for many years out of wedlock with Therese Levasseur, a hotel employee. Five children were born to them, and all were immediately carted-off by Rousseau to a foundling home. This great expert on child training could not be bothered with children. Rousseau was for virtue, and he tells us that he wept when he thought about it, but in action he was a totally irresponsible and vicious man. He believed his heart, and the heart of all men, to be good; organized society and environment makes men bad. A very typical act of this great humanistic reformer took place in Venice. Rousseau took a prostitute to his room. After she undressed, and they both lay down in bed, Rousseau began to beg her to take the path of virtue. He was, of course, in the wrong position for such a plea, but it mattered little to him. For Rousseau, the heart, the feelings of man, were everything.” This idea, the distinction between intent and act goes back to Greek philosophy and Aristotle; and is most basic to humanistic law.”
“Under the influence of such humanistic beliefs, law and life have been extensively eroded. It is no longer the act of the murderer which is judged, but his feelings or mental state in the commission of the act. Like Rousseau, a murderer may not be guilty by virtue of his mental state. Love, thus, as the great humanistic virtue, has become all-important. Those who belong to the “party of love” are the holy ones of the humanistic world even in the commission of crimes, whereas the orthodox Christian, as a hate-monger by definition, is guilty even in the non-commission of a crime. Love, of course, does appear in the Law, but in the context of law, not humanistic feelings. Love of neighbor is required by the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 19: 17, 18.”
“St. Paul’s explanation sums up the matter: ‘Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13: 10). To love one’s neighbor means to keep the law in relation to him, working him no ill, in word, thought, or deed.”…The law of love here gives no grounds for trying to govern our neighbor, nor does it reduce love to a frame of mind: it is a principle which is manifested as a totality in word, thought, and deed.”
Rushdoony continued; “Rousseau mistook his fantasies and illusions concerning his heart and mind, as the reality concerning himself, whereas he was evil in heart and mind and therefore in his fantasies. It is a part of that evil imagination for man to think well of his own evil.”… “The true test of love was thus the act of love. Love works no ill to the neighbor, and love means the keeping or fulfilling of the law in relationship to other men. Love is thus the law-abiding thought, word, and act. Where there is no law, there is also no love. Adulterous persons do not love their spouses, although they may claim to do so; they may enjoy their wives or husbands, as well as their lovers, but love is the keeping of the law.”… “Since the humanistic doctrine of love is antinomian through and through, it inescapably becomes the love of evil. The love of evil not only includes embracing evil-doers who mock and refuse repentance, but also embraces the hatred of God’s Law and His ways. It is thus a logical development of humanistic love that it eventually becomes evil [adopts, embraces, and flaunts evil]. Love without law is in essence the affirmation of evil and its manifestations.” (R.J. Rushdoony)
Some Parting Thoughts and Observations
It has been demonstrated that the Humanistic ideal of “absolute tolerance,” as opposed to Christianity’s “tolerance under Christ,” soon becomes intolerant of Christian righteousness and justice. The increasing animosity towards Biblical justice and righteousness inspires increasing lawlessness, which in turn is often perverted by humanists as virtuous behavior! To flaunt sin in the face of orthodox belief becomes an act of virtue to the humanist. This has historically been the view of some of the worst philosophers and human philosophies ever devised. (“…every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually.”Gen. 6: 5)
Under the Humanist’ Doctrine of Tolerance, evangelism and sharing the gospel with unbeliever’s increasingly constitutes infringing on one’s religious rights and is now considered in violation of religious tolerance! Christian’s claiming their faith’s exclusive truth that “Christ is the way, the truth, and the life,” and that “no one truly comes to God except through Christ Jesus,” is now being considered in violation of religious tolerance. The United Religions Initiative at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, a division of the U.N., has redefined religious tolerance in their “Spiritual Agenda 21” statement; in which they recommend that “claims of exclusive truth” be a form of religious intolerance and a major threat to the environment and world peace!
Socialism and Communism are, from a religious perspective, totalitarian “law-saving-orders” that ultimately seek a perverted man-generated salvation by changing his environment with extensive laws, rules, and regulations along with a system of forced redistribution. *The liberal view of “social justice” violates the equity of God’s Law because wealth redistribution violates the equity of God’s property laws and love for one’s neighbor. Further, the so-called “Social Gospel” paradigm violates the gospel by attacking the principle of grace. *Salvation is a gift, and a system based on gracious giving is ultimately more just than a system of forced coercion, based on taking from others. *(paraphrased from John B. King, Jr., Ph.D.)
Similar to ancient civil orders — humanistic law-orders of central planning enforce a multi-faceted totalitarian law-order that seeks to govern all aspects of human life and activity including judging one’s thought life. This is contrary to God’s law, which, being limited, provides a civil justice system that includes maximum liberty and freedom with fewer laws and regulations overall. In addition, on a practical level, the basic problem of any communist, socialist, or mixed-economy is that of “capital consumption” – they consume capital rather than create capital – or in mixed economies — consume capital faster than they can create it. In time, the capital eventually runs out and endless borrowing schemes become necessary. Many opponents of capitalism claim it is a “materialistic” system which promotes “consumerism.” But, it is the opponents of capitalism who are the true consumptionists, who ultimately “consume an economy’s capital” rather than create sufficient capital.
In power-hungry secular humanistic social-orders civil government is all-encompassing; ruling and regulating all areas and spheres of life. Contrarily, transcendent Biblical Law, sees God’s power and authority as being in God’s hands, [Who], then discriminately delegates to mankind his responsibilities and dominion. In secular humanist social-orders power and authority begin and end with mankind — with the abuse of power being routine. Liberal-Christianity in advocating secular-world-orders has, in effect, denied that in God’s revealed reality, all social-orders owe their overall duty to serving under God’s authority — whether they recognize it or not. It is truly the “men of little faith” who choose to embrace or advocate for the modern secular-humanistic social-orders; such as, socialism, neo-socialism, communism, or any of their related cousins. (Fabianism, Keynesianism, etc.)
Overall, secularism’s legacy of autonomy and self-righteousness has arrogantly led to appeasing lawlessness, unrighteousness, and evil — thereby, retarding the overall moral and ethical progress of transcendent justice in the Western world. When earthly authorities set out to deny the free expression of God’s law, His principles and ways; they judge and oppress God’s people, and therefore judge God. As the Apostle Paul noted: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2: 10).
Pew Research, in measuring nations for governmental religious restrictions, has recently reported (in 2012) that under President Obama’s Administration, the United States has moved from the low category of religious government restrictions to the moderate category4 (from mid-2009 to 2010) where it has since remained. This is a major step backwards for religious freedom in the United States of America. It used to be taught in American schools that religious freedom was foundational to the advancement of all freedoms. Religious morality was given free expression in order to help curb those freedoms which might be destructive to individuals and communities, as well as aid in promoting positive, healthy growth for every sphere of life.
Humanist’s and Liberal-Christianity’s secularized version of the Doctrine of Tolerance is but a one-way-street as they exhibit absolute intolerance of certain competing law-orders; especially those of Judeo-Christian influenced law-orders. Their secularized philosophy of “absolute tolerance,” has not brought about the propagated path to utopia; it has only brought about a dystopia of human failures and horrors. Progress in mankind’s outward material life and advancement in technologies should not overshadow the true and “weightier” need for helping promote progress in mankind’s spiritual and moral, inward life.
When and where mankind is free to serve and obey his Redeemer, there is true Biblical liberty. It is not found in the nature worship of environmentalism, the false gods of false religions, or the intellectual idols of autonomous philosophies. God is man’s only Redemption; thus, faith and salvation are gifts from God. God’s Law-Word was given to His kingdom people as His way of righteousness and His way of justice for all of mankind. The law was never meant as the way of salvation, but as the way of sanctification for God’s people. Jesus demonstrated the true meaning and intent of the law with love, grace, and mercy. Pharisee-ism and its legalism led to religious leaders appealing to statist enforcement of profane laws outside of Biblical laws in order to attempt to put an end to Christ’s ministry.
Following the death and resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit was sent by Jesus on the Day of Pentecost to embody and empower believers in the fulfilling of the law of love in order to transform, embolden, and sustain His betrothed bride, the Church. The Holy Spirit empowers believers to further affect change for the future of all mankind. Ultimately, truth and the fate of the world are in the hands of God and believers are commanded to put their faith, their trust, in the faithfulness of God.
The call for “tolerance under Christ” requires reconsidering God’s ways of righteousness and His transcendently revealed enlightenment as the most humane path to reconstructing and influencing social orders? “We have been saved to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, in order that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us.” (Romans 8:4, Paraphrased)
- This was also true of Old Testament Israel, although grace and mercy eventually became a forgotten theme of God’s Law with the religious leaders, who, over time devolved into merely practicing ritual religion.
- This has clearly been demonstrated from the Humanist Manifesto I to the Humanist Manifesto II. In just forty-years, HMII had already viewed HMI as too lofty a goal.
- Fascism is a product of Socialism, used in its modern form with Mussolini in Italy, then with Hitler in Germany. It was temporarily championed and adopted by the left and the right in America then quickly dropped and condemned. It was quickly and quietly picked-up by the left-wing again as a means to achieving their goals in serving the “greater good.” Fascism in the U.S. (as in all modern democracies) is incrementally imposed by increased laws, regulations, court orders, and police power; it continues to be used (although, not the word) by communists, socialists, neo-socialists, the Democratic Party, and some liberal Republicans, — and among certain left-wing special interest groups.
The root word of fascism is fasces, which means to bundle, or group together – collective. Politically, fascism is forced conformity to a set of certain ideals and values by force of law, regulations, etc.
- The Low to Moderate Category in measuring religious freedom is based on a six-year Pew Study. Pew Research Study coders looked at reports from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the International Crisis Group, and the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office.