3 Marks of the God of the System

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Every system has a god, which means that when you have identified certain markers, you have identified the god of the system. If the god of the system is not the true God, the God who made Heaven and earth, then the god of the system is an idol.

In order to be an idol, the god of the system need not be an inert object, adored only by the superstitious. Paul says that those who sacrifice to idols sacrifice to demons (1 Cor. 10:20), and Paul certainly believed that the demons were there. Idolatry is not when you worship something that is non-existent; idolatry occurs when you worship something created.

The bailiff will please show the gentleman to the door.
The bailiff will please show the gentleman to the door.

Because people (in the grip of modernity) have come to believe that idols are necessarily nullities, they subsequently have come to believe that anything that is not a nullity — like the Supreme Court, or the spirit of the age, or what all the cool kids are doing — cannot be an idol. But it can be, and if it is created and is the god of the system, then that is precisely what it is. And that is why our current American polity is profoundly idolatrous.

Here are the markers of the god of the system:

First, the god of the system is the final court of appeal. There is no appeal beyond him. Once you get to his court, and the decision has been made, the matter is settled. If you continue to resist after that point, then you are a disruptive rebel, and an enemy of mankind. You are out of the appeals process, and into the justice system.

Second, the god of the system requires that his words be interpreted according the historical/grammatical hermeneutic. Lots of legal theorists think that the Constitution is a living document, which is elastic and stretchy, but only when you are stretching it to the left. The fact that you can mess around with constitutional words in this creative way means that the words of the Constitution are not part of the god of the system. But notice how nobody ever says that the majority opinions in pursuit of judicial activism are “living documents” also. No, you have to interpret their words with sobriety and respect, no funny business, and why? Where respect for the plain meaning of words is demanded, you have identified the god of the system.

And last, the god of the system is the fountainhead of morality. This is why Christians have an easy distinction in their minds between “legal” and “moral.” But for those who believe that there is no intelligence beyond our corporate and collective intelligence, there can ultimately be no such distinction. Right? Christians worship the God who is outside all our systems — He is transcendent — and that is why we can distinguish sins and crimes.

And this is why, going back to how profoundly idolatrous this project is, Christians are dealing with our current set of confrontations. But that’s all right. This is what Christians have always done. It’s our job.

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Kent
6 years ago

Just as we know that abortion is “legal” does not mean it is either “moral” or “right”. Thomas Jefferson warned about the dangers of allowing the Supreme Court to be the “decider” on what is constitutional and what is not. And Pastor Wilson is exactly right on the fact that although liberals want the Constitution to be elastic and malleable, any Supreme Court opinion that supports their liberal wish list is “Set in stone” and “the law of the land”. “The question whether the judges are invested with exclusive authority to decide on the constitutionality of a law has been… Read more »

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Kent

Conservatives treat the Constitution no better than liberals. Every war fought since WWII has been unconstitutional, as there had been no declaration of war, yet it is by and large the conservatives who support such wars and even today, clamor for more. There are countless other ways in which conservatives disregard the Constitution and the liberties it was supposedly written to protect, such as their support for the police state, the drug war, welfare, and the Federal Reserve.

Kent
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

You won’t get an argument out of me that conservative politicians as well as liberal ones don’t hold the constitution in high regard. This is the reason term limits seem like an enticing idea. Long term politicians tend to feather their own nest the longer they serve. Best to keep their terms limited to limit the damage they can do.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Kent

Yeah but if they’re all funded by the same special interests then it would seem that switching them out is just putting new lipstick on the same old pig.

Kent
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I seriously doubt if lipstick would help most of them. :)

JEFFREY SINGER
JEFFREY SINGER
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Huh? Just because Article One, Section Eight says Congress has the power “to declare war”, it seems to this humble layman that if Congress passes a law authorizing the use of force against another nation that is just as good as a law formally declaring the U.S. is now at war with nation X, Y, and Z. And of course Congress gave many Presidents war fighting powers via legislation that never said the U.S. was formally at “war” with Tripoli or Algiers, Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq (twice.) I would think Presidents as diverse as Jefferson and Johnson and Bush I… Read more »

Frank_in_Spokane
Frank_in_Spokane
6 years ago
Reply to  JEFFREY SINGER

“Authorizing the use of force” is not the same as “declaring war.”

The former is permission, not a requirement. The POTUS MAY use force, but he doesn’t HAVE to. Truly, it is Congress unconstitutionally delegating to the executive branch a power reserved to the legislative branch.

The latter is a legal declaration by the legislature of a fundamental change in the relationship between us and the enemy nation(s); it is a law that the POTUS must execute.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

“This is why Christians have an easy distinction in their minds between ‘legal’ and ‘moral.'”

Uh…. not sure what Christians you’re referring to here. Even you, Doug, have difficulty with this by supporting the reprehensible, unbiblical drug war. Or perhaps you don’t, but just refuse to speak out on it, which means you’re afraid of eliciting the ire of your fellow evangelicals. Which means you know they don’t really get this distinction.

Brandon Klassen
Brandon Klassen
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

>>which means you’re afraid of eliciting the ire of your fellow evangelicals

Dude. Seriously.

This is the one thing that it is readily apparent that Doug is NOT afraid to do.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

Either he’s afraid of making others upset, or he actually does support the drug war. Honestly I’d prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s just afraid, since supporting the drug war is a truly reprehensible position.

Brandon Klassen
Brandon Klassen
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Supporting the drug war (whatever that means) is WORSE than being a namby pamby???

At least the former takes conviction…

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

Yes, because it involves supporting violence against innocent people. Being a namby pamby doesn’t.

lloyd
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

What exactly do you mean by “innocent people?”

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  lloyd

People who have not aggressed against or defrauded others. For example, drunkards, glue sniffers, painkiller over-users, and pot smokers.

JohnM
JohnM
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Have you been around many drunks or other drug abusers? It doesn’t appear you have been.

Barnabas
Barnabas
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Ben, no offense meant. But you have a very black and white understanding of some complex social problems and you appear to reason in a very emotional manner. Are you by any chance a teenager?

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Barnabas

No, I am not. I actually used to be more “nuanced” on these issues than I am now, believe it or not, and was what you might call “traditional conservative.” Have I been illogical at all, or specifically, on the drug issue? It’d be better to tell me how I’m wrong than to ask me my age, which is irrelevant.

Barnabas
Barnabas
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I probably don’t want to get into a full takedown of Ancap or legalization, particularly since I’m not totally against those things but there are obviously positives and negatives. Its too bad we don’t live under a more federalist system where you and yours could try out your ideas. I think you’d find that the population of people going to jail on drug charges have a host of other problems that legalizing drugs won’t solve.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Barnabas

It’s just a little bothersome when you say that my thinking is too black and white and juvenile, my reasoning is “emotional,” and that I’m naive in that I somehow don’t understand that people who use drugs tend to have a host of other problems, yet you won’t take the time to dismantle my arguments, which should be pretty easy considering how poor my thinking obviously is.

If you think my rhetoric is emotional, that’s different, but that’s not what you said.

Nord357
Nord357
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

What exactly do you mean when you say “support the drug war?”

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Nord357

Advocating for its continued existence.

Nord357
Nord357
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Would you characterize a pastor who advises his flock that drug abuse is bad and they should not partake thereof nor have any truck with the promoters thereof as advocating for the continued existence of your “drug war” ?

Just trying to understand how you define your terms.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Nord357

No. Any true God-fearing pastor would say this. I’m not talking about condemning drugs morally, I’m talking about advocating for making them illegal.

Nord357
Nord357
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Never heard that from Doug.

Jon Swerens
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

“I’d prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s just afraid.”

Wow, with benefits like that, who needs disapprovals?

Barnabas
Barnabas
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Ben, what do you think of this take on drug legalization? http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/01/legalizing-drugs/

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Barnabas

I think the author is wrong that somehow legalizing drugs will have a deleterious on society. The no-fault divorce comparison is not apt, as it was not no-fault divorce that destroyed the family, but the welfare state. Moreover, to legalize no-fault divorce is to legalize backing out of a contract with no penalties, which is the exact opposite of what a government is supposed to allow. So yeah, the author can say that society will become much worse, and I can say it will become much better, but who’s to say who’s right? We’re at a stalemate. The difference between… Read more »

Jerry Bowyer
Jerry Bowyer
6 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

Because you didn’t denounce it in this particular article. You’ve got to end every speech with it it, like Carthago delendum est or else you’re a namby pamby or something :).

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Douglas Wilson

You’ve never spoken out against it, as far as I know (and correct me if I’m wrong). Considering how many big name evangelicals do support it, and how willing you usually are to go to the mat with them, this seems like something you would have addressed by now, considering how big of a social injustice this is, that there are hundreds of thousands of people being thrown in jail and having their lives destroyed over it. I found where you said in a previous blog that you didn’t want to legalize marijuana. In all fairness you said you weren’t… Read more »

Barnabas
Barnabas
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

You keep saying innocent when I assume you mean non-violent. Ultimately even the least of our laws is backed by violence, as I think I’ve seen you say. If I get enough parking tickets and I don’t pay them then eventually I’ll go to jail. If you think its outrageous that anyone ever go to jail for any offense that isn’t violent then I don’t think you are a very serious person. Parking tickets serve a purpose as do many other laws. Second of all, I am sympathetic about people getting an arrest record that makes them unemployable but the… Read more »

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Barnabas

By innocent, yes, I mean nonviolent, or what would be considered legally innocent in a sane society. Not morally innocent, obviously. If a person is parking illegally, they are trespassing and should receive their just punishment. I’m not saying what that should be, but yes, it is violence to some degree, as it is intruding on someone’s private property. Moreover, you could even say it is “stealing” if someone charges for that particular parking space (though this wouldn’t apply to government “property,” as the government doesn’t own anything). So yeah, trespassing is violence. Selling drugs is not. Nearly half of… Read more »

Kent
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

It is estimated that 1 out of every 99 Americans is behind bars. We have the highest (by far) incarceration rate on the planet. I DO believe we have a problem with over criminalizing way too many offenses. And your chart only addresses Federal Prisons. State prisons have even more a similar track record.

Nord357
Nord357
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Seems to me that you want to pick a fight simply because Doug is not firing at your favorite target.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Nord357

I was just pointing out one pretty glaring instance in which Christians don’t see that distinction.

Nord357
Nord357
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

UMMM “Even you, Doug, have difficulty with this by supporting the reprehensible, unbiblical drug war. Or perhaps you don’t, but just refuse to speak out on it, which means you’re afraid of eliciting the ire of your fellow evangelicals. Which means you know they don’t really get this distinction”. False dilemma, casting aspersions (ad hominem) Come on Ben.That is a bit more than “just pointing out anything. It is in fact picking a fight. I suggest that you are attempting to pick said fight because you dont like the fact that Doug is launching mortar rounds somewhere other than your… Read more »

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Nord357

Actually, no, I was showing how his assertion that Christians understand the difference between sins and crimes was called into doubt by the drug war example.

Nord357
Nord357
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

…Called into doubt by the drug war example”
By which you mean, “Doug you haven’t been firing your ammunition at t”the drug war” choosing instead to use your resources to try to stem the slaughter and butchery of innocent babies. Therefor I judge you,and all Christians as unable to distinguish between sins and crimes.

That sir is picking a fight. and for the reasons aforesaid.

Kent
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I agree that simple possession of a controlled substance should not necessarily result in a stiff prison sentence, which is NOT to say there should be NO legal consequences. There are drugs that in the wrong hands can wreak devastation. If all drugs were legally available, would you be in favor of imposing an age limit such as required to purchase cigarettes or beer? These two products in the hands of a 12 year old can cause enough concern for most parents. We know that juveniles will always find a way to get what is prohibited to them. Do we… Read more »

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  Kent

The issue of children has nothing to do with what I’m saying. Children can get high on butane, sharpies, airplane glue, and all kinds of other stuff. You want to make those things illegal too? For all we know, if drugs were legalized, they’d actually become safer, as the market would tend to demand the ability to get the same high without the negative consequences, and entrepreneurs who could meet that demand would be successful. All of those things you mentioned involved violence or fraud. That’s where I draw the line. Using and selling drugs does neither. It is purely… Read more »

Kent
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

All I have seen you talk about is drugs and prostitution. Are those the only “innocent” crimes that you are concerned with? Or just the most egregious, glaring examples?

JEFFREY SINGER
JEFFREY SINGER
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

“All of those things you mentioned involved violence or fraud. That’s where I draw the line. Using and selling drugs does neither. It is purely voluntary.” Ben, I take it you are some kind of libertarian? How do you feel about pornography? Prostitution? Let’s assume we are talking about only legal adults — purely voluntary transactions, no violence or fraud. Sometimes immorality involves the voluntary participation of willing adults — that doesn’t mean a good government should let those adults do what they want as their actions do indeed impact the broader society. Like taking drugs, or two men practicing… Read more »

Ben
Ben
6 years ago
Reply to  JEFFREY SINGER

So you want to put two men who have sex with each other in jail where they will be raped? This seems like an equitable punishment to you? What if a man and woman have sex the day before their wedding? That’s sexual sin, like sodomy. Why not throw that couple in jail as well.

JEFFREY SINGER
JEFFREY SINGER
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Ben,

You seem obsessed with prison rape. No one should get raped in prison. No one should get raped outside of prison. Your point?

bethyada
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

‘legal’ and ‘moral’.

Ben, one can understand legal and moral without agreeing as to which sins should be crimes and which sins should not be crimes.

Further, one can favour making (keeping) drugs illegal without buying into the “war on drugs” rhetoric.

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Ben, you should meet Gregory McDivitt. Unless you’re him. Then it would be creepy.

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
6 years ago

“This is what Christians have always done. It’s our job.”

We came, we saw, we gave our lives.

Alex in Wonderland
Alex in Wonderland
6 years ago

Of rooks and queens…
Starter links for candidates’ views on abortion and related issues:
http://ballotpedia.org/2016_presidential_candidates_on_abortion
http://www.ontheissues.org/Abortion.htm

timothy
timothy
6 years ago

What is their god’s name?

BooneCtyBeek
BooneCtyBeek
6 years ago
Reply to  timothy

It is a pantheon. Tolerance. Diversity. Et. Al.

"A" dad
"A" dad
6 years ago

1. First, the god of the system is the final court of appeal. There is no appeal beyond him. Once you get to his court, and the decision has been made, the matter is settled. 2.Second, the god of the system requires that his words be interpreted according the historical/grammatical hermeneutic. 3. And last, the god of the system is the fountainhead of morality. Well…That “Ben” sure sounds like the god of his own system at least, not to mention the drug culture and the prostitution culture are much more violent than Ben cares to admit. Finally, considering “legal” and… Read more »