Every time there is a crisis or tragedy, there is the usual call for our government to do something. Consider this Facebook post:
Guns in our country are a little too sacred. There needs to be something done, hope our leaders can figure it out.
By “our leaders,” he meant “The White House, The Senate, The House of Representatives.”
What have they fixed? This is not a government problem. What law — there are thousands of them already on the books — would have stopped any of these murderers? There are millions of people with guns who have never shot anyone.
I then offered this response:
How would “our leaders” have fixed this?: “A suspect is in custody after killing at least four people and injuring two others apparently targeted at random in a deadly stabbing and robbery spree across two cities in Orange County Wednesday, authorities said.” No guns were used.
These things can’t be fixed by civil governments. There’s a moral crisis akin to the Mind Flayer, also known as the Shadow Monster, in Stranger Things. You can’t beat this moral evil with superpowers from a pre-teen girl.
Today’s operating worldview is pure secularism. There is no room for God and moral transformationalism. In fact, it’s impossible since we are told that we are the product of a long-ago evolved chemical soup that reached the heights of evolutionary ascendency — survival of the fittest — through violence. There is no this-world moral remedy where matter is all that matters.
We’ve been made to give up the superstition of a transcendental deity. This doesn’t mean that deities are passe. There’s always going to be a deity. In our day, it’s the State. We’re not fully there yet, but we’re close.
What does this look like in real life? My wife and I watched the German foreign language film The Life of Others (2006). It’s a depiction of what life was like in East Germany in 1984, five years before the fall of the Berlin Wall when the GDR was ruled by a cadre of secret police. Life looked normal on the outside, but every word and action was under constant scrutiny. You could be sent to prison or lose your livelihood by defying the State in word or deed. The State defined what defying meant. The film is worth watching but with some caution. It’s rated R because of language and a couple of sexual encounters. Have your FF on your remote ready.
James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries has a helpful commentary on where we are:
There is almost more light to be found in what is NOT being said about the recent shootings than in what IS being said. Listen to the conversation: nothing about God, our being creatures, God’s will, God’s law, purpose in life, eternal punishment, the basis of responsibility, the value of human life as defined by its transcendent value as created by God, nor the appropriateness of punishment upon evil in this life. A few people slipped and referred to the shooters as “evil,” but mostly it was “sick” or “ill” or “disturbed.”
And the only source of answers? Government of course. Yes, a few folks talked about the fatherlessness issue (common grace still exists!), but that is about the only ray of light in an otherwise sickening mass of darkness. It’s just astonishing how fast this decline has taken place.
The fact is these young men have grown up in a purposeless world where they have no value — just walking bags of fizzing chemicals amongst other walking bags of fizzing chemicals. No future, no judgment, “no hell below us, above us only sky.” The restraint that once existed upon man’s evil (the common acknowledgment of God’s existence, the day of judgment, at least some vague idea of right and wrong) has been removed, purposefully and gleefully, by the leftist elitists who crank out the curricula for the public indoctrination centers.
No person with the slightest functioning knowledge of biblical anthropology should be surprised that not only do mass shootings take place (rarely, despite the media spin), but that every weekend hundreds die in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and in other major cities across the leftist-ruled metropolitan centers producing a far higher total than any single mass shooting incident (but since those shootings are directly related to the left’s policies that produce government-dependency, drug culture, etc., they are ignored by the narrative-controlled media sources). There is nothing surprising here at all: when a nation revels in its rebellion and sin, what else should you expect? “The wicked strut about when what is vile is honored amongst men” (Psalm 12:8).
What are pastors teaching today? Christian television is mostly pious mush. Enthusiasm is the attraction of the day. It’s a sugar-rush effect for the moment. Almost nothing is said about the day-to-day issues that are affecting people’s lives. The Bible is a big book and it has something to say about everything either directly or indirectly. Pastors are afraid to address contemporary issues for fear that people might leave. Many pastors don’t believe it’s spiritual to apply the Bible beyond individual piety.
This was not always the case. The Puritan educational system trained church and civil leaders. The emphasis was to prepare men intellectually so that future generations would not be left with “an illiterate ministry” since the pulpit was the means by which the colonies received their news and instruction. The training that went on in these earliest colonial schools affected the entire colony. The minister became the spiritual leader as well as the town’s news reporter, political pundit, and futurist.
Unlike modern mass media, the sermon stood alone in local New England contexts as the only regular (at least weekly) medium of public communication. As a channel of information, it combined religious, educational, and journalistic functions, and supplied all the key terms necessary to understand existence in this world and the next. As the only event in public assembly that regularly brought the entire community together, it also represented the central ritual of social order and control.1
Many of these preachers became instructors in the early colleges. “Although each of the three earliest colleges, Harvard, William and Mary, and Yale, was chartered by the established church in its colony, each also held a direct relationship to the state and served as the center for training civic as well as clerical leaders for its region.”2
Since civil government was a major concern in the colonies, courses in ethics, politics, and history were also required. Many of the constitutional framers of the eighteenth century were steeped in basic Bible doctrines. These biblical concepts found their way into our political system (e.g., decentralized political power, checks and balances, a republican form of government, abhorrence of an absolute democracy, jurisdictional separation between church and state, the protection of private property, the gold standard, keeping of the Lord’s Day, protection of Christian worship, etc.). These principles are most evident in the state constitutions and the Articles of Confederation.
How many ministers today could preach on these and similar topics? I suspect, not many.
1. Harry S. Stout, The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 3. [↩]
2. William C. Ringenberg, The Christian College: A History of Protestant Higher Education in America (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984), 42. [↩]