This address was delivered by the late Dr. Schaeffer in 1982 at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is based on one of his books, which bears the same title.
A Christian Manifesto
by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer
This address was delivered by the late Dr. Schaeffer in 1982 at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is based on one of his books, which bears the same title.
Christians, in the last 80 years or so, have only been seeing things as bits and pieces which have gradually begun to trouble them and others, instead of understanding that they are the natural outcome of a change from a Christian World View to a Humanistic one; things such as overpermissiveness, pornography, the problem of the public schools, the breakdown of the family, abortion, infanticide (the killing of newborn babies), increased emphasis upon the euthanasia of the old and many, many other things.
All of these things and many more are only the results. We may be troubled with the individual thing, but in reality we are missing the whole thing if we do not see each of these things and many more as only symptoms of the deeper problem. And that is the change in our society, a change in our country, a change in the Western world from a Judeo-Christian consensus to a Humanistic one. That is, instead of the final reality that exists being the infinite creator God; instead of that which is the basis of all reality being such a creator God, now largely, all else is seen as only material or energy which has existed forever in some form, shaped into its present complex form only by pure chance.
I want to say to you, those of you who are Christians or even if you are not a Christian and you are troubled about the direction that our society is going in, that we must not concentrate merely on the bits and pieces. But we must understand that all of these dilemmas come on the basis of moving from the Judeo-Christian world view — that the final reality is an infinite creator God — over into this other reality which is that the final reality is only energy or material in some mixture or form which has existed forever and which has taken its present shape by pure chance.
The word Humanism should be carefully defined. We should not just use it as a flag, or what younger people might call a “buzz” word. We must understand what we are talking about when we use the word Humanism. Humanism means that the man is the measure of all things. Man is the measure of all things. If this other final reality of material or energy shaped by pure chance is the final reality, it gives no meaning to life. It gives no value system. It gives no basis for law, and therefore, in this case, man must be the measure of all things. So, Humanism properly defined, in contrast, let us say, to the humanities or humanitarianism, (which is something entirely different and which Christians should be in favor of) being the measure of all things, comes naturally, mathematically, inevitably, certainly. If indeed the final reality is silent about these values, then man must generate them from himself.
So, Humanism is the absolute certain result, if we choose this other final reality and say that is what it is. You must realize that when we speak of man being the measure of all things under the Humanist label, the first thing is that man has only knowledge from himself. That he, being finite, limited, very faulty in his observation of many things, yet nevertheless, has no possible source of knowledge except what man, beginning from himself, can find out from his own observation. Specifically, in this view, there is no place for any knowledge from God.
But it is not only that man must start from himself in the area of knowledge and learning, but any value system must come arbitrarily from man himself by arbitrary choice. More frightening still, in our country, at our own moment of history, is the fact that any basis of law then becomes arbitrary — merely certain people making decisions as to what is for the good of society at the given moment.
Now this is the real reason for the breakdown in morals in our country. It’s the real reason for the breakdown in values in our country, and it is the reason that our Supreme Court now functions so thoroughly upon the fact of arbitrary law. They have no basis for law that is fixed, therefore, like the young person who decides to live hedonistically upon their own chosen arbitrary values, society is now doing the same thing legally. Certain few people come together and decide what they arbitrarily believe is for the good of society at the given moment, and that becomes law.
The world view that the final reality is only material or energy shaped by pure chance, inevitably, (that’s the next word I would bring to you ) mathematically — with mathematical certainty — brings forth all these other results which are in our country and in our society which have led to the breakdown in the country — in society — and which are its present sorrows. So, if you hold this other world view, you must realize that it is inevitable that we will come to the very sorrows of relativity and all these other things that are so represented in our country at this moment of history.
It should be noticed that this new dominant world view is a view which is exactly opposite from that of the founding fathers of this country. Now, not all the founding fathers were individually, personally, Christians. That certainly is true. But, nevertheless, they founded the country on the base that there is a God who is the Creator (now I come to the next central phrase) who gave the inalienable rights.
We must understand something very thoroughly. If society — if the state gives the rights, it can take them away — they’re not inalienable. If the states give the rights, they can change them and manipulate them. But this was not the view of the founding fathers of this country. They believed, although not all of them were individual Christians, that there was a Creator and that this Creator gave the inalienable rights — this upon which our country was founded and which has given us the freedoms which we still have — even the freedoms which are being used now to destroy the freedoms.
The reason that these freedoms were there is because they believed there was somebody who gave the inalienable rights. But if we have the view that the final reality is material or energy which has existed forever in some form, we must understand that this view never, never, never would have given the rights which we now know and which, unhappily, I say to you (those of you who are Christians) that too often you take all too much for granted. You forget that the freedoms which we have in northern Europe after the Reformation (and the United States is an extension of that, as would be Australia or Canada, New Zealand, etc.) are absolutely unique in the world.
Occasionally, some of you who have gone to universities have been taught that these freedoms are rooted in the Greek city-states. That is not the truth. All you have to do is read Plato’s Republic and you understand that the Greek city-states never had any concept of the freedoms that we have. Go back into history. The freedoms which we have (the form / freedom balance of government) are unique in history and they are also unique in the world at this day.
A fairly recent poll of the 150 some countries that now constitute the world shows that only 25 of these countries have any freedoms at all. What we have, and take so poorly for granted, is unique. It was brought forth by a specific world view and that specific world view was the Judeo-Christian world view especially as it was refined in the Reformation, putting the authority indeed at a central point — not in the Church and the state and the Word of God, but rather the Word of God alone. All the benefits which we know — I would repeat — which we have taken so easily and so much for granted, are unique. They have been grounded on the certain world view that there was a Creator there to give inalienable rights. And this other view over here, which has become increasingly dominant, of the material-energy final world view (shaped by pure chance) never would have, could not, has, no basis of values, in order to give such a balance of freedom that we have known so easily and which we unhappily, if we are not careful, take so for granted.
We are now losing those freedoms and we can expect to continue to lose them if this other world view continues to take increased force and power in our county. We can be sure of this. I would say it again — inevitably, mathematically, all of these things will come forth. There is no possible way to heal the relativistic thinking of our own day, if indeed all there is is a universe out there that is silent about any values. None, whatsoever! It is not possible. It is a loss of values and it is a loss of freedom which we may be sure will continually grow.
A good illustration is in the public schools. This view is taught in our public schools exclusively — by law. There is no other view that can be taught. I’ll mention it a bit later, but by law there is no other view that can be taught. By law, in the public schools, the United States of America in 1982, legally there is only one view of reality that can be taught. I’ll mention it a bit later, but there is only one view of reality that can be taught, and that is that the final reality is only material or energy shaped by pure chance.
It is the same with the television programs. Public television gives us many things that many of us like culturally, but is also completely committed to a propaganda position that the last reality is only material / energy shaped by pure chance. Clark’s Civilization, Brunowski, The Ascent of Man, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos — they all say it. There is only one final view of reality that’s possible and that is that the final reality is material or energy shaped by pure chance.
It is about us on every side, and especially the government and the courts have become the vehicle to force this anti-God view on the total population. It’s exactly where we are.
The abortion ruling is a very clear one. The abortion ruling, of course, is also a natural result of this other world view because with this other world view, human life — your individual life — has no intrinsic value. You are a wart upon the face of an absolutely impersonal universe. Your aspirations have no fulfillment in the “what-isness” of what is. Your aspirations damn you. Many of the young people who come to us understand this very well because their aspirations as Humanists have no fulfillment, if indeed the final reality is only material or energy shaped by pure chance.
The universe cannot fulfill anything that you say when you say, “It is beautiful”; “I love”; “It is right”; “It is wrong.” These words are meaningless words against the backdrop of this other world view. So what we find is that the abortion case should not have been a surprise because it boiled up out of, quite naturally, (I would use the word again) mathematically, this other world view. In this case, human life has no distinct value whatsoever, and we find this Supreme Court in one ruling overthrew the abortion laws of all 50 states, and they made this form of killing human life (because that’s what it is) the law. The law declared that this form of killing human life was to be accepted, and for many people, because they had no set ethic, when the Supreme Court said that it was legal, in the intervening years, it has become ethical.
The courts of this country have forced this view and its results on the total population. What we find is that as the courts have done this, without any longer that which the founding fathers comprehended of law (A man like Blackstone, with his Commentaries, understood, and the other lawgivers in this country in the beginning): That there is a law of God which gives foundation. It becomes quite natural then, that they would also cut themselves loose from a strict constructionism concerning the Constitution.
Everything is relative. So as you cut yourself loose from the Law of God, in any concept whatsoever, you also soon are cutting yourself loose from a strict constructionism and each ruling is to be seen as an arbitrary choice by a group of people as to what they may honestly think is for the sociological good of the community, of the country, for the given moment.
Now, along with that is the fact that the courts are increasingly making law and thus we find that the legislatures’ powers are increasingly diminished in relationship to the power of the courts. Now the pro-abortion people have been very wise about this in the last, say, 10 years, and Christians very silly. I wonder sometimes where we’ve been because the pro-abortion people have used the courts for their end rather than the legislatures — because the courts are not subject to the people’s thinking, nor their will, either by election nor by a re-election. Consequently, the courts have been the vehicle used to bring this whole view and to force it on our total population. It has not been largely the legislatures. It has been rather, the courts.
The result is a relativistic value system. A lack of a final meaning to life — that’s first. Why does human life have any value at all, if that is all that reality is? Not only are you going to die individually, but the whole human race is going to die, someday. It may not take the falling of the atom bombs, but someday the world will grow too hot, too cold. That’s what we are told on this other final reality, and someday all you people not only will be individually dead, but the whole conscious life on this world will be dead, and nobody will see the birds fly. And there’s no meaning to life.
As you know, I don’t speak academically, shut off in some scholastic cubicle, as it were. I have lots of young people and older ones come to us from the ends of the earth. And as they come to us, they have gone to the end of this logically and they are not living in a romantic setting. They realize what the situation is. They can’t find any meaning to life. It’s the meaning to the black poetry. It’s the meaning of the black plays. It’s the meaning of all this. It’s the meaning of the words “punk rock.” And I must say, that on the basis of what they are being taught in school, that the final reality is only this material thing, they are not wrong. They’re right! On this other basis there is no meaning to life and not only is there no meaning to life, but there is no value system that is fixed, and we find that the law is based then only on a relativistic basis and that law becomes purely arbitrary.
And this is brought to bear, specifically, and perhaps most clearly, in the public schools (I’ll come to that now) in this country. In the courts of this country, they are saying that it’s absolutely illegal, from the lowest grades up through university, for the public schools of this country to teach any other world view except this world view of final material or energy. Now this is done, no matter what the parents may wish. This is done regardless of what those who pay the taxes for their schools may wish. I’m giving you an illustration, as well as making a point. The way the courts force their view, and this false view of reality on the total population, no matter what the total population wants.
We find that in the January 18 — just recently — Time magazine, there was an article that said there was a poll that pointed out that about 76% of the people in this country thought it would be a good idea to have both creation and evolution taught in the public schools. I don’t know if the poll was accurate, but assuming that the poll was accurate, what does it mean? It means that your public schools are told by the courts that they cannot teach this, even though 76% of the people in the United States want it taught. I’ll give you a word. It’s TYRANNY. There is no other word that fits at such a point.
And at the same time we find the medical profession has radically changed. Dr. Koop, in our seminars for Whatever Happened to the Human Race, often said that (speaking for himself), “When I graduated from medical school, the idea was ‘how can I save this life?’ But for a great number of the medical students now, it’s not, ‘How can I save this life?’, but ‘Should I save this life?'”
Believe me, it’s everywhere. It isn’t just abortion. It’s infanticide. It’s allowing the babies to starve to death after they are born. If they do not come up to some doctor’s concept of a quality of life worth living. I’ll just say in passing — and never forget it – it takes about 15 days, often, for these babies to starve to death. And I’d say something else that we haven’t stressed enough. In abortion itself, there is no abortion method that is not painful to the child — just as painful that month before birth as the baby you see a month after birth in one of these cribs down here that I passed — just as painful.
So what we find then, is that the medical profession has largely changed — not all doctors. I’m sure there are doctors here in the audience who feel very, very differently, who feel indeed that human life is important and you wouldn’t take it, easily, wantonly. But, in general, we must say (and all you have to do is look at the TV programs), all you have to do is hear about the increased talk about allowing the Mongoloid child — the child with Down’s Syndrome — to starve to death if it’s born this way. Increasingly, we find on every side the medical profession has changed its views. The view now is, “Is this life worth saving?”
I look at you… You’re an older congregation than I am usually used to speaking to. You’d better think, because — this — means — you! It does not stop with abortion and infanticide. It stops at the question, “What about the old person? Is he worth hanging on to?” Should we, as they are doing in England in this awful organization, EXIT, teach older people to commit suicide? Should we help them get rid of them because they are an economic burden, a nuisance? I want to tell you, once you begin chipping away the medical profession… The intrinsic value of the human life is founded upon the Judeo-Christian concept that man is unique because he is made in the image of God, and not because he is well, strong, a consumer, a sex object or any other thing. That is where whatever compassion this country has is, and certainly it is far from perfect and has never been perfect. Nor out of the Reformation has there been a Golden Age, but whatever compassion there has ever been, it is rooted in the fact that our culture knows that man is unique, is made in the image of God. Take it away, and I just say gently, the stopper is out of the bathtub for all human life.
The January 11 Newsweek has an article about the baby in the womb. The first 5 or 6 pages are marvelous. If you haven’t seen it, you should see if you can get that issue. It’s January 11 and about the first 5 or 6 pages show conclusively what every biologist has known all along, and that is that human life begins at conception. There is no other time for human life to begin, except at conception. Monkey life begins at conception. Donkey life begins at conception. And human life begins at conception. Biologically, there is no discussion — never should have been — from a scientific viewpoint. I am not speaking of religion now. And this 5 or 6 pages very carefully goes into the fact that human life begins at conception. But you flip the page and there is this big black headline, “But is it a person?” And I’ll read the last sentence, “The problem is not determining when actual human life begins, but when the value of that life begins to out weigh other considerations, such as the health or even the happiness of the mother.”
We are not just talking about the health of the mother (it’s a propaganda line), or even the happiness of the mother. Listen! Spell that out! It means that the mother, for her own hedonistic happiness — selfish happiness — can take human life by her choice, by law. Do you understand what I have said? By law, on the basis of her individual choice of what makes her happy. She can take what has been declared to be, in the first five pages [of the article], without any question, human life. In other words, they acknowledge that human life is there, but it is an open question as to whether it is not right to kill that human life if it makes the mother happy.
And basically that is no different than Stalin, Mao, or Hitler, killing who they killed for what they conceived to be the good of society. There is absolutely no line between the two statements — no absolute line, whatsoever. One follows along: Once that it is acknowledged that it is human life that is involved (and as I said, this issue of Newsweek shows conclusively that it is) the acceptance of death of human life in babies born or unborn, opens the door to the arbitrary taking of any human life. From then on, it’s purely arbitrary.
It was this view that opened the door to all that followed in Germany prior to Hitler. It’s an interesting fact here that the only Supreme Court in the Western World that has ruled against easy abortion is the West German Court. The reason they did it is because they knew, and it’s clear history, that this view of human life in the medical profession and the legal profession combined, before Hitler came on the scene, is what opened the way for everything that happened in Hitler’s Germany. And so, the German Supreme Court has voted against easy abortion because they know — they know very well where it leads.
I want to say something tonight. Not many of you are black in this audience. I can’t tell if you are Puerto Rican. But if I were in the minority group in this country, tonight, I would be afraid. I’ve had big gorgeous blacks stand up in our seminars and ask, “Sir, do you think there is a racial twist to all this?” And I have to say, “Right on! You’ve hit it right on the head!” Once this door is opened, there is something to be afraid of. Christians should be deeply concerned, and I cannot understand why the liberal lawyer of the Civil Liberties Union is not scared to death by this open door towards human life. Everyone ought to be frightened who knows anything about history — anything about the history of law, anything about the history of medicine. This is a terrifying door that is open.
Abortion itself would be worth spending much of our lifetimes to fight against, because it is the killing of human life, but it’s only a symptom of the total. What we are facing is Humanism: Man, the measure of all things — viewing final reality being only material or energy shaped by chance — therefore, human life having no intrinsic value — therefore, the keeping of any individual life or any groups of human life, being purely an arbitrary choice by society at the given moment.
The flood doors are wide open. I fear both they, and too often the Christians, do not have just relativistic values (because, unhappily, Christians can live with relativistic values) but, I fear, that often such people as the liberal lawyers of the Civil Liberties Union and Christians, are just plain stupid in regard to the lessons of history. Nobody who knows his history could fail to be shaken at the corner we have turned in our culture. Remember why: because of the shift in the concept of the basic reality!
Now, we cannot be at all surprised when the liberal theologians support these things, because liberal theology is only Humanism using theological terms, and that’s all it ever was, all the way back into Germany right after the Enlightenment. So when they come down on the side of easy abortion and infanticide, as some of these liberal denominations as well as theologians are doing, we shouldn’t be surprised. It follows as night after day.
I have a question to ask you, and that is: Where have the Bible-believing Christians been in the last 40 years? All of this that I am talking about has only come in the last 80 years (I’m 70… I just had my birthday, so just 10 years older than I am). None of this was true in the United States. None of it! And the climax has all come within the last 40 years, which falls within the intelligent scope of many of you sitting in this room. Where have the Bible-believing Christians been? We shouldn’t be surprised the liberal theologians have been no help — but where have we been as we have changed to this other consensus and all the horrors and stupidity of the present moment has come down on out culture? We must recognize that this country is close to being lost. Not, first of all , because of the Humanist conspiracy — I believe that there are those who conspire, but that is not the reason this country is almost lost. This country is almost lost because the Bible-believing Christians, in the last 40 years, who have said that they know that the final reality is this infinite-personal God who is the Creator and all the rest, have done nothing about it as the consensus has changed. There has been a vast silence!
Christians of this country have simply been silent. Much of the Evangelical leadership has not raised a voice. As a matter of fact, it was almost like sticking pins into the Evangelical constituency in most places to get them interested in the issue of human life while Dr. Koop and Franky and I worked on Whatever Happened to the Human Race, a vast, vast silence.
I wonder what God has to say to us? All these freedoms we have. All the secondary blessings we’ve had out of the preaching of the Gospel and we have let it slip through our fingers in the lifetime of most of you here. Not a hundred years ago — it has been in our lifetime in the last 40 years that these things have happened.
It’s not only the Christian leaders. Where have the Christian lawyers been? Why haven’t they been challenging this change in the view of what the First Amendment means, which I’ll deal with in a second. Where have the Christian doctors been — speaking out against the rise of the abortion clinics and all the other things? Where have the Christian businessmen been — to put their lives and their work on the line concerning these things which they would say as Christians are central to them? Where have the Christian educators been — as we have lost our educational system? Where have we been? Where have each of you been? What’s happened in the last 40 years?
This country was founded on a Christian base with all its freedom for everybody. Let me stress that. This country was founded on a Christian base with all its freedom for everybody, not just Christians, but all its freedom for everyone. And now, this is being largely lost. We live not ten years from now, but tonight, in a Humanistic culture and we are rapidly moving at express train speed into a totally Humanistic culture. We’re close to it. We are in a Humanistic culture, as I point out in the public schools and these other things, but we are moving toward a TOTALLY Humanistic culture and moving very quickly.
I would repeat at this place about our public schools because it’s worth saying. Most people don’t realize something. Communism, you know, is not basically an economic theory. It’s materialistic communism, which means that at the very heart of the Marx, Engels, Lenin kind of communism (because you have to put all three together to really understand) is the materialistic concept of the final reality. That is the base for all that occurs in the communist countries.
I am wearing a Solidarity pin — in case you wonder what this is on my lapel. We had two young men from L’Abri take in an 8 ton truck of food into Poland — very bad weather — they almost were killed on the roads. They got in just three days before the crackdown. We, of L’Abri, have taken care of small numbers of each successive wave of Europeans who have been persecuted in the communist nations, the Hungarians, Czechoslovakians, now the Poles. A dear wonderful Christian schoolteacher that we love very much (she’s a wonderful, wonderful Christian young woman, brilliant as brilliant, and she studied at L’Abri for a long time and she was one of the contact points for the destination of the food) — thought that the crackdown might come. So she sent me out this Solidarity pin. This wasn’t made in Newark! This came from Poland. I have a hope. I hope I can wear it until I can hand it back to her and she can wear it again in Poland. That’s my hope! But all the oppression you have ever heard of in Mao’s China, Stalin’s day, Poland, Czechoslovakia — any place that you can name it — Afghanistan — all the oppression is the automatic, the mechanical certainty, that comes from having this other world view of the final reality only being material or energy shaped by pure chance. That’s where it comes from.
And what about our schools? I think I should stress again! By law, you are no more allowed to teach religious values and religious views in our public schools than you are in the schools of Russia tonight. We don’t teach Marxism over here in most of our schools, but as far as all religious teaching (except the religion of Humanism, which is a different kind of a thing) it is just as banned by law from our schools, and our schools are just as secular as the schools in Soviet Russia — just exactly! Not ten years from now. Tonight!
Congress opens with prayer. Why? Because Congress always is opened with prayer. Back there, the founding fathers didn’t consider the 13 provincial congresses that sent representatives to form our country in Philadelphia really open until there was prayer. The Congress in Washington, where Edith and I have just been, speaking to various men in political areas and circles — that Congress is not open until there is prayer. It’s illegal, in many places, for youngsters to merely meet and pray on the geographical location of the public schools. I would repeat, we are not only immoral, we’re stupid. I mean that. I don’t know which is the worst: being immoral or stupid on such an issue. We are not only immoral, we are stupid for the place we have allowed ourselves to come to without noticing.
I would now repeat again the word I used before. There is no other word we can use for our present situation that I have just been describing, except the word TYRANNY! TYRANNY! That’s what we face! We face a world view which never would have given us our freedoms. It has been forced upon us by the courts and the government — the men holding this other world view, whether we want it or not, even though it’s destroying the very freedoms which give the freedoms for the excesses and for the things which are wrong.
We, who are Christians, and others who love liberty, should be acting in our day as the founding fathers acted in their day. Those who founded this country believed that they were facing tyranny. All you have to do is read their writings. That’s why the war was fought. That’s why this country was founded. They believed that God never, never, never wanted people to be under tyrannical governments. They did it not as a pragmatic or economic thing, though that was involved too, I guess, but for principle. They were against tyranny, and if the founding fathers stood against tyranny, we ought to recognize, in this year 1982, if they were back here and one of them was standing right here, he would say the same thing — what you are facing is tyranny. The very kind of tyranny we fought, he would say, in order that we might escape.
And we face a very hidden censorship. Every once in a while, as soon as we begin to talk about the need of re-entering Christian values into the discussion, someone shouts “Khomeni.” Someone says that what you are after is theocracy. Absolutely not! We must make absolutely plain, we are not in favor of theocracy, in name or in fact. But, having said that, nevertheless, we must realize that we already face a hidden censorship — a hidden censorship in which it is impossible to get the other world view presented in something like public television. It’s absolutely impossible.
I could give you a couple of examples. I’ll give you one because it’s so close to me. And that is, that after we made Whatever Happened to the Human Race, Franky made an 80 minute cutting for TV of the first 3 episodes (and people who know television say that it’s one of the best television films they have ever seen technically, so that’s not a problem). Their representative presented it to a director of public television, and as soon as she heard (It happened to be a woman. I’m sure that’s incidental.) that it was against abortion, she said, “We can’t show that. We only shoe things that give both sides.” And, at exactly the same time, they were showing that abominable Hard Choices, which is just straight propaganda for abortion. As I point out, the study guide that went with it (as I quote it inChristian Manifesto [the book] with a long quote) was even worse. It was saying that the only possible view of reality was this material thing — this material reality. They spelled it out in that study guide more clearly than I have tonight as to what the issue is. They said, “that’s it!” What do you call that? That’s hidden censorship.
Dr. Koop, one of the great surgeons of the world, when he was nominated as Surgeon General, much of the press (printed) great swelling things against him — a lot of them not true, a lot of them twisted. Certainly though, lots of space was made for trying to not get his nomination accepted. When it was accepted though, I looked like mad in some of the papers, and in most of them what I found was about one inch on the third page that said that Dr. Koop had been accepted. What do you call that? Just one thing: hidden censorship.
You must realize that this other view is totally intolerant. It is totally intolerant. I do not think we are going to get another opportunity if we do not take it now in this country. I would repeat, we are a long way down the road. I do not think we are going to get another opportunity. If the Christians, specifically, but others also, who love liberty, do not do something about it now, I don’t believe your grandchildren are going to get a chance. In the present so-called conservative swing in the last election, we have an opportunity, but we must remember this, and I would really brand this into your thinking: A conservative Humanism is no better than a liberal Humanism. It’s the Humanism that is wrong, not merely the coloration. And therefore, at the present moment, what we must insist on, to people in our government who represent us, is that we do not just end with words. We must see, at the present opportunity, if it continues, a real change. We mustn’t allow it to just drift off into mere words.
Now I want to say something with great force, right here. What I have been talking about, whether you know it or not, is true spirituality. This is true spirituality. Spirituality, after you are a Christian and have accepted Christ as your Savior, means that Christ is the Lord of ALL your life — not just your religious life, and if you make a dichotomy in these things, you are denying your Lord His proper place. I don’t care how many butterflies you have in your stomach, you are poor spiritually. True spirituality means that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of all of life, and except for the things that He has specifically told us in the Bible are sinful and we’ve set them aside — all of life is spiritual and all of life is equally spiritual. That includes (as our forefathers did) standing for these things of freedom and standing for these things of human life and all these other matters that are so crucial, if indeed, this living God does exist as we know that He does exist.
We have forgotten our heritage. A lot of the evangelical complex like to talk about the old revivals and they tell us we ought to have another revival. We nee another revival — you and I need revival. We need another revival in our hearts. But they have forgotten something. Most of the Christians have forgotten and most of the pastors have forgotten something. That is the factor that every single revival that has ever been a real revival, whether it was the great awakening before the American Revolution; whether it was the great revivals of Scandinavia; whether it was Wesley and Whitefield; wherever you have found a great revival, it’s always had three parts. First, it has called for the individual to accept Christ as Savior, and thankfully, in all of these that I have named, thousands have been saved. Then, it has called upon the Christians to bow their hearts to God and really let the Holy Spirit have His place in fullness in their life. But there has always been, in every revival, a third element. It has always brought SOCIAL CHANGE!
Cambridge historians who aren’t Christians would tell you that if it wasn’t for the Wesley revival and the social change that Wesley’s revival had brought, England would have had its own form of the French Revolution. It was Wesley saying people must be treated correctly and dealing down into the social needs of the day that made it possible for England to have its bloodless revolution in contrast to France’s bloody revolution.
The Wall Street Journal, not too long ago, and I quote it again in A Christian Manifesto, pointed out that it was the Great Awakening, that great revival prior to the founding of the United States, that opened the way and prepared for the founding of the United States. Every one of the great revivals had tremendous social implications. What I am saying is, that I am afraid that we have forgotten our heritage, and we must go on even when the cost is high.
I think the Church has failed to meet its obligation in these last 40 years for two specific reasons. The first is this false, truncated view of spirituality that doesn’t see true spirituality touching all of life. The other thing is that too many Christians, whether they are doctors, lawyers, pastors, evangelists — whatever they are — too many of them are afraid to really speak out because they did not want to rock the boat for their own project. I am convinced that these two reasons, both of which are a tragedy and really horrible for the Christian, are an explanation of why we have walked the road we have walked in the last 40 years.
We must understand, it’s going to cost you to take a stand on these things. There are doctors who are going to get kicked out of hospitals because they refuse to perform abortions; there are nurses that see a little sign on a crib that says, “Do not feed,” and they feed and they are fired. There’s a cost, but I’d ask you, what is loyalty to Christ worth to you? How much do you believe this is true? Why are you a Christian? Are you a Christian for some lesser reason, or are you a Christian because you know that this is the truth of reality? And then, how much do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? How much are you willing to pay the price for loyalty to the Lord Jesus?
We must absolutely set out to smash the lie of the new and novel concept of the separation of religion from the state which most people now hold and which Christians have just bought a bill of goods. This is new and this is novel. It has no relationship to the meaning of the First Amendment. The First Amendment was that the state would never interfere with religion. THAT’S ALL THE MEANING THERE WAS TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT. Just read Madison and the Spectator Papers if you don’t think so. That’s all it was!
Now we have turned it over and we have put it on its head and what we must do is absolutely insist that we return to what the First Amendment meant in the first place — not that religion can’t have an influence into society and into the state — not that. But we must insist that there’s a freedom that the First Amendment really gave. Now with this we must emphasize, and I said it, but let me say it again, we do not want a theocracy! I personally am opposed to a theocracy. On this side of the New Testament I do not believe there is a place for a theocracy ’till Jesus the King comes back. But that’s a very different thing while saying clearly we are not in favor of a theocracy in name or in fact, from where we are now, where all religious influence is shut out of the processes of the state and the public schools. We are only asking for one thing. We are asking for the freedom that the First Amendment guaranteed. That’s what we should be standing for.
Now, I come toward the close, and that is that we must recognize something from the Scriptures, and that’s why I had that Scripture read that I had read tonight. When the government negates the law of God, it abrogates its authority. God has given certain offices to restrain chaos in this fallen world, but it does not mean that these offices are autonomous, and when a government commands that which is contrary to the Law of God, it abrogates its authority.
Throughout the whole history of the Christian Church, (and again I wish people knew their history. In A Christian Manifesto I stress what happened in the Reformation in reference to all this) at a certain point, it is not only the privilege but it is the duty of the Christian to disobey the government. Now that’s what the founding fathers did when they founded this country. That’s what the early Church did. That’s what Peter said. You heard it from the Scripture: “Should we obey man?… rather than God?” That’s what the early Christians did.
Occasionally — no, often, people say to me, “But the early Church didn’t practice civil disobedience.” Didn’t they? You don’t know your history again. When those Christians that we all talk about so much allowed themselves to be thrown into the arena, when they did that, from their view it was a religious thing. They would not worship anything except the living God. But you must recognize from the side of the Roman state, there was nothing religious about it at all — it was purely civil. The Roman Empire had disintegrated until the only unity it had was its worship of Caesar. You could be an atheist; you could worship the Zoroastrian religion… You could do anything. They didn’t care. It was a civil matter, and when those Christians stood up there and refused to worship Caesar, from the side of the state, they were rebels. They were in civil disobedience and they were thrown to the beasts. They were involved in civil disobedience, as much as your brothers and sisters in the Soviet Union are. When the Soviet Union says that, by law, they cannot tell their children, even in their home about Jesus Christ, they must disobey and they get sent off to the mental ward or to Siberia. It’s exactly the same kind of civil disobedience that’s represented in a very real way by the thing I am wearing on my lapel tonight.
Every appropriate legal and political governmental means must be used. “The final bottom line”– I have invented this term in A Christian Manifesto. I hope the Christians across this country and across the world will really understand what the Bible truly teaches: The final bottom line! The early Christians, every one of the reformers (and again, I’ll say in A Christian Manifesto I go through country after country and show that there was not a single place with the possible exception of England, where the Reformation was successful, where there wasn’t civil disobedience and disobedience to the state), the people of the Reformation, the founding fathers of this country, faced and acted in the realization that if there is no place for disobeying the government, that government has been put in the place of the living God. In such a case, the government has been made a false god. If there is no place for disobeying a human government, what government has been made GOD.
Caesar, under some name, thinking of the early Church, has been put upon the final throne. The Bible’s answer is NO! Caesar is not to be put in the place of God and we as Christians, in the name of the Lordship of Christ, and all of life, must so think and act on the appropriate level. It should always be on the appropriate level. We have lots of room to move yet with our court cases, with the people we elect — all the things that we can do in this country. If, unhappily, we come to that place, the appropriate level must also include a disobedience to the state.
If you are not doing that, you haven’t thought it through. Jesus is not really on the throne. God is not central. You have made a false god central. Christ must be the final Lord and not society and not Caesar.
May I repeat the final sentence again? CHRIST MUST BE THE FINAL LORD AND NOT CAESAR AND NOT SOCIETY.
May we pray together?
Our heavenly Father, we come together, and we have no illusions that these things are serious, but have no illusions, either, that they were serious to the early Church when they watched their loved ones dragged off and thrown to their death when all they had to do was say that they worshipped Caesar.
We have no illusions that it was easy for Peter to stand and say that he would obey God rather than the Sanhedrin. We have no illusion that for our Reformation forefathers who won the liberties that we have, not only in the church but in state, that it was easy for them in those hard and difficult days.
And, our heavenly Father, we would ask tonight that you will forgive the Christians of the United States. May we be repentant for the silence of the last forty years, when we have denied what we say we believe by our silence.
We ask Thee, that you will stir the Church of the Lord Jesus, across this country, across northern Europe, across other places. Give us that which, our heavenly Father, Wesley really understood, and Finney, the evangelist that most people know in this country and Whitefield and many of the others. A call for the individual to accept Christ as Savior and come under the shed blood of Christ and pass from death to life. A call for those of us who are Christians, oh God, to bow our hearts more completely and not let other things get in the way — to let the Holy Spirit have His place under the teaching of Scripture and within the circle of the teaching of Scripture, and then, Heavenly Father, to realize that everything belongs to the Lord Jesus. That He died not only to take our souls to heaven — but that our bodies will be raised one day from the dead.
The one day, as Peter said, just right after His ascension, “He’s going to heaven until He comes back to restore all things.” That His death there on Calvary’s cross is for us individually, but it’s not egotistically individualistic. Our individual salvation will one day be a portion of the restoration of all things. It is our calling until He comes back again that happy day, to do all we can — while it won’t be perfect as when He comes back — to see substantial healing in every area that He will then perfectly heal, and that Wesley did understand. Finney understood. Men like Blanchard, who founded Wheaton College, understood that if there is a true preaching of the Gospel, it carries with it then an action out into the social life around us into the world. That the Church is to preach the Gospel, but it is also to live the Good News — that there are answers to these horrendous questions, and that we might see a turning back from the absolute tragedy and tyranny which we face in our Western culture and in this country tonight. Help us! Forgive us! Use us!
And Father, as we just think of the number of people sitting here from so many backgrounds and different churches and different levels of life: If only these things were carried out into something in the power of the Holy Spirit… into the totality of life, as salt and light… that we might make a change and save this country from utter tragedy. Help Thou us, so we ask, and we ask it in no lesser name than the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lamb and our God.
This video is about the God and Government Project at the Institute on the Constitution. This is a talk given at Liberty University by the Director of Communications for IOTC, John Lofton.
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