Broken Loose

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We live in a bad neighborhood, meaning this world of ours, and so this means that we have two kinds of problems. The first would be, naturally, the bad dudes roaming the neighborhood. The second problem would be those endearing but exasperating naifs living inside the house with us, who persist in leaving invitational lights on and doors unlocked. One problem is direct, and the other is indirect. One problem is assault and the other problem is failure to take the real possibility of a real assault into account.

So here is the the unlocked door. It is what W.W. Bartley called the “retreat to commitment.” (The phrase is his. I am doing something else with it than what he is doing.) Becaue the word commitment is being used, we all feel all orthodoxy and everything, but because an actual retreat has occurred, a realm where that commitment need not be applied is ceded to the adversary. That abandoned realm may be different for different faith communities, and it is usually huge. Some abandon reason, others science, others business, others the arts, and so on. Others abandon absolutely everything that lies outside the walls of Wabash Bible College, which is pre-mill and pre-trib all the way out to the fences. Still others abandon everything outside the mind and heart of the last remaining Christian instructor in the grad program at Slewfoot Seminary.

Now one of the real problems with natural revelation (for those retreating, that is) is that it doesn’t allow for a coherent retreat, and that is because natural revelation is what it is, and it is that way all the way out to the edges. Some with a piercing gaze have noticed that Christian churches have New Testaments and mosques and synagogues don’t. This means that they can pretend that the claims of Scripture are simply a constitutional framework for our own faith community, and need not be applied in that imperious way that Charlesmagne might have applied it to the Saracens, for example. There were some things that went on back then that were deeply hurtful, and we have renegade bombers in our day who are still upset about it.

So, we mutter, this is “our” text, and we want to deeply respect those other faith communities with “their” texts and everything. We have retreated to our commitment, and — fair is fair — we let them retreat into theirs. In fact, we kind of insist, though with a querulous voice, that the bombers retreat to theirs.

But somebody outside is still running the show. Somebody is outside the walls of all our faith communities applying the tenets of his religion to absolutely everybody. But he is shrewd enough to call it secularism, leaving out the tell-tale prayers, candles and altars, and poof, nobody notices that it is an imposed faith system into which not everybody has been baptized. But it is still just as mandatory as that time when Ivan the Terrible had that fellow’s hat nailed to his head.

Now that “somebody” who is still running the show doesn’t like any reminders that Somebody Else is really running the show, and He is the one who will bring all human history to a final crashing unveiling day when every last one of us will be standing before the throne of the Almighty God — some of us in white robes given to us by Jesus, and others completely naked. One portion of the human race will be on the right, and the other portion will be on the left. There will be no third spot for the secularists to stand.

But the God who passes judgment on that day is the same God who inspired the Scriptures to be written, and He is also the same God who governs the fall of sparrows, the motion of atoms in all of Neptune’s moons, the number of hairs on every head that will come up before Him at the judgment, the intricate mathematical patterns found in the waving grass in every field on earth, and the gutteral praise of all the frogs in springtime. But this means that God’s revelation of Himself goes all the way out to the edges. We can’t get away from it. God wrote two books — the Word and the world. His name is on the spine of both of them. They each can be read apart from the other, but neither can be read fully without some working knowledge of the other.

To take an illustration from Cornelius Van Til, if there were a place on the dials of our radios where God was not constantly broadcasting, 24-7, where would we sinners all have our radios tuned? Right — they would all be carefully tuned to that one place where God was not speaking. We don’t want God to speak, we don’t want Him to reveal, we don’t want Him. But on the built-in radios that God gave every mother’s son of us, spiritually welded to the inside of our occiput bone, there is no silent spot. It is all God, all the time, that intolerable broadcaster.

Those who claim otherwise are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. One of the best ways, incidentally, for ignoring things that you really know, besides getting stoned or drunk, is the pursuit of sexual licence. This is why the pagans in Romans 1 wind up where they do — they refuse to honor God as God, and refuse to give Him thanks, and so they wind up receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error (Rom. 1:27-28). This is why the Bible consistently describes the pursuit of idols as whoring (Ex. 34:16). Why would this principle change just because the idols were forged in our postmodern rebellion? All idolatry is whoredom, and so believers ought not be shocked that we have arrived at that part of the golden calf dance where the girlz are taking off their tops. This is what always happens.

But God does not cater to us or our sinful whims. He speaks the authoritative Word, and He is never not speaking, and we are never out of ear shot. We cannot turn anywhere for a moment’s peace and quiet. What we have mistaken for peace and quiet is the clamor of our own voices trying to shout down faithful Christians, and we tell ourselves that under the noise of our yelling (made necessary by those hate-filled fundamentalists) is the true peace and quiet we all desire. We will finally be able to enjoy that peace and quiet when the last hater is loaded onto the trains going out to the Peace and Joy camps.

In the great words of Francis Schaeffer, He is there and He is not silent. Got that? Not silent. Find me one place in the universe that is silent about Him. The stars sing about Him. The oceans provide the bass line. The mountain ranges skip like a calf, and the trees reach yearningly toward the Heaven that they so wonderfully represent to us. And the azure sky tells men to stop bonking their girlfriends.

“And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies) . . .(Ex. 32:25, ESV).

Aaron was that kind of fellow I refered to at the beginning, the one who insisted on leaving doors unlocked. Wise rule would have kept the people from breaking loose, and unwise rule allows for them to break loose. Because we are currently being ruled by miscreants and incompetents, America has broken loose. The pattern is true, down to the derision of our enemies.

What we need are some Levites with the sword of the Spirit to ascend into their pulpits and fix it. But that might require some courage, and so as a proposed alternative we have built a conference circuit, and a series of networks and coalitions, and let’s not forget the blogs, where we have all agreed to wave our swords in the air, and to do so in a gospel-centered way.

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11 years ago

Excellent, Doug!

I pulled the bit about two books for my Sunday Quotes post, but the paragraph beginning, “those who claim…” Is bang on. I’ve been mumbling about religious feminism and the inevitability of Romans 1 playing out in their ranks since I made my escape. Not surprising, then, that they have had Jenell Willims Paris speaking at their conference, is it? She made the claim in her book that celibacy can be harmful and was, to put it charitably, a bit wobbly on sexual activity between persons of the same sex.

Thank you for a bracing reminder.