The Natural Law

John Locke and the Second Treatise of Government

John Locke (1632–1704) was one of the greatest philosophers in Europe at the end of the seventeenth century. Locke grew up and lived through one of the most extraordinary centuries of English political and intellectual history. It was a century in which conflicts between the Crown and Parliament and the overlapping conflicts between Protestants, Anglicans and Catholics swirled into civil war in the 1640s.1

Locke’s Second Treatise of Government was published in 1690 and would heavily influence the political philosophies of those who would go on to craft the “Declaration of Independence.” Some would argue that the Founders, “….succeeded admirably in condensing Locke’s fundamental argument into a few hundred words.”2

In his Second Treatise of Government, John Locke dismantled the flawed philosophy supporting the idea that monarchs could justify their authority over their subjects by claiming to be Divinely superior to any human court or governing body.3

He said…

For Men being all the Workmanship of one Omnipotent, and infinitely wise Maker; All the Servants of one Sovereign Master, sent into the world by his order and about his business, they are his Property, whose Workmanship they are, made to last during His, not one another’s Pleasure.4

By saying that all men were the “…workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise maker,” he was stripping away the manufactured rank and title that some had asserted as a way to elevate themselves over their peers. Rather, we were to perceive ourselves as equals having been created by God in His Image for His Purpose and not our own.

You can see both his verbiage and his thinking represented in the opening lines of the “Declaration of Independence” penned by Thomas Jefferson when he said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.5

While many throughout history would sort men according to distinguished sounding titles and family crests, the United States built its argument on the platform that says our rights are not a king’s to dispense, but they are God’s to guarantee.

The Law of Nature

But because the Declaration doesn’t cite a specific chapter and verse from Scripture, it’s tempting to wonder if those who crafted the Declaration as well as the 56 delegates that signed it were expressing an agnostic disposition towards religion and simply reinforcing their political views with an academic acknowledgement of a general, spiritual concept.

But if was the writings and philosophy of John Locke that shaped their thought processes, than it only makes sense he would impact their verbiage as well.

In an article entitled “John Locke and the Declaration of Independence” featured in the “Cleveland State Law Review,” Locke’s perspective on how a political revolt can be justified according to his theory of “natural rights” is cited as being the background from which the Declaration of Independence sprang.6

In his Second Treatise of Government, he says:

 THE natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule. The liberty of man, in society, is to be under no other legislative power, but that established, by consent, in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact, according to the trust put in it.7

According to Locke, Humanity, in its original, “natural” state, enjoys a status of perfect freedom to enjoy and protect all that is afforded to him by the Law of Nature.

“Natural Rights,” then, refer to the unhindered ability to, not only engage the opportunities and benefits represented by the Law of Nature, but to also exact justice on those who would infringe upon those things that are considered inalienable.8

But what is the Law of Nature? If a person’s rights and their individual freedoms are both defined and guaranteed by the Law of Nature, is it only that which is arrived at by Reason and Time, or is there a definitive Source that transcends the collective mindset of a civilized group or even the educated individual?

Locke answers that question in his “Questions Concerning the Law of Nature…”

This law of nature can, therefore, be so described [as a law] because it is the command of the divine will, knowable by the light of nature, indicating what is and what is not consonant with a rational nature, and by that every fact commanding or prohibiting.9

Locke saw the Law of Nature as the system of Absolutes put in place by God Himself that define the difference between right and wrong and establishes the inherent dignity and worth of every person.

So, when you see that verbiage in the Declaration of Independence, and you can know for certain that it was the writings and political philosophies of John Locke that informed their convictions, you can confidently say that any reference to “Providence” or “Creator” or “Supreme Judge of the world” is referring to the same God that Locke referred to as the basis for his political theories.

The Importance of Context

When you’re attempting to evaluate the political landscape of 1776, you have to remember that you’re looking at a timeframe that was meticulously shaped by the previous two century’s approach to government and the church.

As Edwin S. Gaustad says in his book, “Neither King Nor Prelate…”

…it’s easy to persuade ourselves that a comprehension of American history requires going back no father than, say, the Age of Jackson – surely no earlier than the inauguration of George Washington. But when that latter event took place in 1789, the British colonies of North America had nearly two centuries of history behind them. Or, to put it another way, the period from Jamestown to Washington’s assumption of office would stretch in the other direction from Washington’s presidency to that of Richard Nixon.10

The New World was initially settled by those seeking to escape religious persecution. It was things like the Act of Uniformity11 that compelled those who were resolved to base their relationship with Christ on a purely biblical foundation that inspired them to sacrifice all that was familiar and face all of the dangers and challenges inheritant to life in an undeveloped wilderness.

But even in the New World, while there was opportunity for Quakers and Baptists that were nonexistent in Europe, by the time of the Revolution, the dominating schools of thought were those of the Anglicans and the Congregationalists. While today an Episcopal and a Presbyterian aren’t going to necessarily get into an argument over specific points of doctrine, back then it was more than just doctrinal differences.

The Act of Uniformity dictated how you were to set up your church government, how you were to pray and how you were to conduct your worship services.12 Part of the “Common Book of Prayer” included having to swear allegiance to the ruling monarch as the “Supreme Governor of the Church.”13

The “establishment” of a religion is not being accomplished by the presence of the Ten Commandments in a public building anymore than Congress proclaiming a national day of prayer and fasting. 12 Nor are you “preventing the free exercise thereof” by saying “Merry Christmas” anymore than Benjamin Franklin was articulating a spiritual mandate when, along with David Hartley, he began the Treaty of Paris with “In the name of the most Holy and Undivided Trinity.”13

The First Amendment, interpreted in its proper context, is nothing more than the government saying that you have the right to choose which church you want to attend.

It doesn’t mean that you have the right to reimagine the historical and practical context of the Constitution so you can assert a different philosophical foundation to replace the biblical basis upon which our nation is built.

Conclusion

Most want to believe that the separation of church and state is a gag order. You don’t talk about Christianity. You tolerate the words on our currency, but you don’t invoke them as anything other than a meaningless tradition because of the way it implies a Standard that prevents the individual from asserting himself as his own moral Absolute. You dismiss the words of the Declaration of Independence that refer to the “Supreme Judge of the World” as a generic deity that doesn’t interact with humanity apart from simply setting the universe in motion. You say the Pledge of Allegiance, but gloss over that part about “under God” and imagine it to be an antiquated tradition that needs to be discarded.

But that was not the collective spiritual disposition of the Second Continental Congress let alone the people they represented. When John Adams wrote to his wife to describe the spiritual composition of the delegates that gathered in Philadelphia, he referenced specific denominations of the Christian faith, all of which acknowledged the Deity of Christ…

When the Congress first met, Mr. Cushing first made a motion that it should be opened with prayer. It was opposed by one or two, because we were so divided in religious sentiments – some were Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists – that we could not agree in the same act of worship. Mr. Samuel Adams rose and said, “He was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country. He was a stranger in Philadelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duche deserved that character and, and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche, an Episcopalian clergyman, might be desired to read prayers to th Congress tomorrow morning.”14

And while the collective conviction of the Second Continental Congress was decidedly a Christian perspective, you could say the same for the context of the words used in the Declaration in that it was influenced by the writings of John Locke. The “Natural Law” and the rights of men were derived from the Absolute of God’s Authority. You can see him point even more specifically to his philosophical starting point in, “The Reasonableness of Christianity” where he says…

It is not enough to believe him to be the Messiah, unless we also obey his laws, and take him to be our king to reign over us.15

Regardless of how you try to put some distance between the ideas that shaped our approach to liberty and the biblical foundation that justified those ideas, you inevitably come up short because of the way those who crafted our Constitution, inspired the Declaration of Independence, and risked their lives and fortunes by standing up to tyranny made frequent references to Christ, God, Scripture and the Truth that cannot, nor will it ever, be denied.

It is the God of the Bible that is the Supreme Judge of the Word, the Creator, the measure by which we guage the moral rectitude of our intentions and He is the Author of the Natural Law.

 

 

 

1. “John Locke”, “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy”, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/#SecoTreaGove, accessed January 22, 2023
2. “The American Constitution, Its Origins and Development”, Alfred Hinsey Kelly, Winfred Audif Harbison, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, NY, 1963, p90
3. “Divine Right of Kings”, Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/divine-right-of-kings, accessed January 22, 2023
4. “The Project Gutenberg eBook of Second Treatise of Government, by John Locke”, Gutenberg.org, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/7370/7370-h/7370-h.htm, accessed January 22, 2023
5. (n.d.). Declaration of Independence: A Transcription. National Archives. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript
6. “The Project Gutenberg eBook of Second Treatise of Government, by John Locke”, Gutenberg.org, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/7370/7370-h/7370-h.htm, accessed May 9, 2023
7. Ibid
8. In his Second Treatise of Government, Locke says, “Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an uncontrolled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men; but to judge of, and punish the breaches of that law in others, as he is persuaded the
offence deserves, even with death itself, in crimes where the heinousness of the fact, in his opinion, requires it.” (“The Project Gutenberg eBook of Second Treatise of Government, by John Locke”, Gutenberg.org, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/7370/7370-h/7370-h.htm, accessed May 9, 2023)
9. “Questions Concerning the Law of Nature”, John Locke, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 1990, p101
10. “Neither King Nor Prelate”, Edwin S. Gaustad, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987, p12
11. “The Act of Uniformity” was conceived in 1558 and passed by Parliament in 1559. Its purpose was to regularize prayer, worship and the administration of sacraments in the Church of England. In addition, all persons had to attend Anglican worship services once a week or be fined 12 pence which amounted to about three days wages. (“Act of Uniformity 1558”, “Wikipedia”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Uniformity_1558, accessed May 20, 2023)

In 1662, the scope of “The Act of Uniformity” was enhanced to include the mandate that all ministers be ordained according to an Episcopal format and anyone who held an office within the church was to swear allegiance to the monarchy. (“Act of Uniformity 1662” “Wikipedia”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Uniformity_1662, accessed May 20, 2023 | “Act of Uniformity”, “Encyclopedia.com”, https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/modern-europe/british-and-irish-history/act-uniformity, accessed May 20, 2023)
12. Church Government, according to the Anglican format, was defined according to a priest who answered to a Bishopa. It was similar to a Catholic hierarchy, although they rejected the authority of the Pope. The result was a state supported enterprise that was centrally controlled by a network of bishops who ultimately answered to an Archbishopb.  This is inconsistent with the Bible that sets up church government using individuals that were selected from within the congregation according to their spiritual maturity (Titus 1:5-9).

The Church of England used its authority to arrest ministers for preaching without a license.12c. The Great Awakening directed people to the Bible as that which defined and established an individual’s relationship with Christ, as opposed to a sacrament or relying on a minister.12d Even one’s prayerlife was being reevaluated as something that was deeply personal and based on The Lord’s Prayer as opposed to something dictated by the “Common Book of Prayer,” which included having to swear allegiance to the reigning monarch as the Supreme Governor of the Church.12e. (12a. “Enclycopedia.com” “Anglicanism and Revolution”, https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/anglicanism-and-revolution, accessed May 14, 2024 | 12b. “The Episcopal Church”, “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church”, https://www.episcopalchurch.org/glossary/archbishop/, accessed May 14, 2024 | 12c. “The Presbyterian Historical Society”, “Presbyterians and the American Revolution”, https://www.history.pcusa.org/history-online/exhibits/asserting-right-religious-freedom-page-2, accessed May 14, 2024 | 12d. “Great Awakening”, https://www.history.com/topics/european-history/great-awakening, accessed April 5, 2023 | 12e. “The Book of Common Prayer”, “The 1662 Book of Common Prayer:
The Original Manuscript”, http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1662/Orig_manuscript/ordinal.htm, accessed May 14, 2024)
13. Ibid (see also “Wikipedia”, “Oath of Supremacy”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Supremacy, accessed May 14, 2024)
14. “Massachusetts Historical Society”, “Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 September 1774”, https://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/archive/doc?id=L17740916ja, accessed May 17, 2024
15. “Online Library of Liberty”, “The Works, Volume 6 – The Reasonableness of Christianity”, https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/locke-the-works-vol-6-the-reasonableness-of-christianity, accessed May 20, 2024

For more excellent reading, refer to “The Appropriation of Locke” by Joseph Laconte Ph.D.

What’s Your Point?

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. (Ps 14:1)

What’s your point?

When you say, “You can’t force your beliefs on me,” what’s your point?

If what I’m saying is true and you respond by saying that you’re not going to change your mind, you’re not being reasonable, you’re being selfish.

What’s your point?

If you say,”What’s true for you may not be true for me,” you’re attempting to change the definition of Truth to something that’s based on what’s preferred as opposed to what’s accurate.

Declaring that something is true for one person, but not for another, is to claim that the truth is relative to or dependent on the subject being considered. Therefore, there is no universal truth applicable to all men, making the judgment of others futile. Thus, the endgame of this phrase becomes quite clear. To claim, “That may be true for you, but not for me” is to deny any objective and universally applicable standard by which men can be judged. Consequently, it outright denies and stymies the possibility of judgment.1

You’re not being reasonable, you’re being selfish.

What’s your point?

You say the truth makes you uncomfortable, but just because you don’t like what’s being said doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

If you’ve shot yourself in the foot and you want to blame all your pain on the person or principal that told you not to pull the trigger to begin with, you’re not a victim, you’re a fool.

What’s your point?

People who want to maintain themselves as their own absolute have to demonize or dismiss anything that prevents them from being able to justify the way that they think. But if you’re determined to believe that there are no bottom lines and truth is relative, not only do you subscribe to a philosophy that contradicts itself, you reveal yourself as the fool who believes that because they have the right to think for themselves, they can think in a way that has no regard for anyone other than themselves.

What’s your point?

You don’t have a point, you have a problem: There is a God, and you’re not Him.


  1. “Faulty Phrases: ‘There Are No Absolutes’ & ‘The Truth is Relative'”, Jaret Kanerek, “The Intellectual Standard”, October 20121, https://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=tis#:~:text=Declaring%20that%20something%20is%20true,this%20phrase%20becomes%20quite%20clear, accessed March 28, 2024

Two Religions

There’s only two religions in the world.

Either God is God or you are.

First of all, “religion” is simply the term given to the way you answer four basic questions:

  • Where did I come? (Origin)
  • What happens when I did? (Destiny)
  • How am I supposed to behave? (Morality)
  • What’s the point of my existence? (Purpose)

How you answer those four questions determines your religious framework. From that standpoint, even the atheist is just as “religious” as his faith based counterpart, the only difference being that the name of his god just happens to match the name on his birth certificate.

Every religion save Christianity provides a way in which you can merit the favor of your preferred deity. With Islam you’ve got Jihad, as a Buddhist you’ve got Nirvana. Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to be among the 144,000 referenced in Revelation 7:4 , Hindus pursue Moksha in order to be liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth. Mormons believe that they can attain the status of gods in the afterlife through their works here on earth. The atheist evaluates his need to be redeemed as well as the source of his redemption according to what he sees in the mirror every morning. In each scenario, you have the ability as a human being to improve your spiritual status.

Christianity, on the other hand, says that you are a spiritual corpse (Eph 2:1). You are dead in your sin and you have no option available to you that can offset your default status as a sinner that is permanently and irretrievably separated from God (Ps 14:3Is 64:6). That’s what makes Christianity distinct from every other religious school of thought – you are completely destitute apart from some kind of miracle that can somehow transform you in the eyes of God from being sinful to sinless.

In that regard, Christianity is not only a standout, it’s the only authentic religion in the way it positions humanity as being utterly subordinate to God as opposed to being somehow comparable to Him.

This goes back to the book of Genesis where satan told Eve that by disobeying God you would become “like God.” (Gen 3:4-5)

Yes, there are many doctrines and creeds, but they all boil down to the same thing in that you are “like God.”

Christianity, however, says you are created and loved by God and it’s because of His Love and amazing grace that you can know Him.

But you first have to accept that you need Him, which is a tall order for those who are determined to be their own spiritual bottom line.

There are only two religions: Either God is God…

…or you are.

For further reading…

Something to Hide

Although it’s not always the case, when you hear someone say, “That’s your opinion,” you’re hearing someone who can’t disagree with what’s being said without sounding selfish or foolish.

Knowing they can’t get people to agree with them, they focus instead on getting people to feel sorry for them by asserting the idea that to be questioned or criticized is a violation of their right to think for themselves and they are now a victim of a cruel and unjust environment.

It looks like this:

  • I can’t get people to agree with me…
  • So I’ll get people to feel sorry for me…
  • Now should someone criticize me…
  • Everyone will side with me.

This is how bad ideas and distorted perspectives get introduced into our society as noble concessions.

You can’t criticize someone who’s in pain without being labeled cruel and intolerant. So by posing as a victim, you don’t have to answer any questions or take responsibility for your actions.

This is the signature tactic of someone who doesn’t have something to say as much as they have something to hide.

But how can you argue with someone who maintains that their reasoning can’t be challenged without you being categorized as hateful and intolerant?

Ask them questions about other situations and let their own answers reveal the lack of logic that characterizes their beliefs.

For example…

Was Hitler justified in killing six million Jews because he was entitled to his opinion?

Of course not.

In the same way, just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you’re always right.

If you believe yourself to be correct in the way you think, you have to prove that in the context of what happens when your perspective is put into practice. In other words, you have to run the play and show how it moves the ball down the field. If it doesn’t work, then you’re not trying to win the game as much as you’re trying to validate a self-serving mindset.

That’s your opinion.

Not everyone feels that way.

Separation of Church and State.

You can’t force your beliefs on me…

None of these phrases constitute an argument in and of themselves as much as they’re used as way to conceal one’s inability to defend their viewpoint without sounding selfish or absurd. And in some cases, not only do they not have a point as much as they have a hole in their shoe because they’ve shot themselves in the foot and now they want to blame all their pain on the person or the principle that told them not to pull the trigger to begin with.

They don’t have something to say as much as they have something to hide.

 

 

Who’s In Charge?

Who’s in charge?

The Oval Office?

It changes every 4-8 years.

How about the Supreme Court?

They can reverse their decision.1

When our Founding Fathers delivered their Declaration of Independence to King George, they began by answering that question by saying our rights were not dispensed by a monarch, rather they were guaranteed by God.2

Throughout the war, Congress would continue to answer that question by proclaiming a national day of prayer and fasting on sixteen different occasions.3

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”4 James Madison insisted that before anyone could be “…considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.”5

Who is in charge?

This is the question you need to ask the person who wants your vote, your subscription or your support.

How you answer that question either puts your name alongside those who signed the Declaration of Independence and ratified the Constitution, or…

…it defines you as someone who wants to replace the One Who is in charge with someone who looks a lot like themselves.

 

 

1. “Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, ending right to abortion upheld for decades”, NPR, Nina Totenberg, Sarah McCammon, June 24, 2022, https://www.npr.org/2022/06/24/1102305878/supreme-court-abortion-roe-v-wade-decision-overturn#:~:text=In%20a%20historic%20and%20far,half%20century%2C%20no%20longer%20exists, accessed March 10, 2024

2. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”, “Declaration of Independence – A Transcription”, National Archives, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript, accessed March 10, 2024

3. From July 20, 1775 to August 3, 1784, Congress called for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting. You can read the text as it’s preserved in the Library of Congress and see who it was that drafted each of the Proclamations by reading “The Finish Line,” which you can access by heading out to http://muscularchristianityonline.com/forum/the-finish-line/

4. “From John Adams to Massachusetts Militia, 11 October 1798”, “Founders Online”, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-3102, accessed March 10, 2024

5. “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, [ca. 20 June] 1785”, “Founders Online” https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-08-02-0163, accessed March 10, 2024

How Did That Happen?

In the “That’s Your Opinion” series, we talked about how when you subscribe to a viewpoint that can’t be championed directly because of the problems that are inherent to your perspective, you can nevertheless be perceived as credible by shifting the attention away from the subject matter and instead make the conversation all about the way you’re being made to feel.

If you can successfully cast yourself as either a victim or someone who’s in pain, you’re able to avoid that line of questioning that has the capacity to reveal the flaws of your argument. Reason being is that no one can be critical of someone who’s “wounded” without being labeled cruel and intolerant.

In the absence of an objective evaluation, a genuinely ridiculous idea can be embraced as an enlightened inspiration. Not because of its intellectual merits or practical utility, but simply because of the way you’ve been able to manuever the dialog so the focus isn’t on your logic or on your actions. Instead, it’s now on your emotions and by making your sensibilities the only things that matter, you can place a restriction on any questions or comments that pertain specifically to both your thought process and your behavior. Your pain becomes your platform, the problems you create are blamed on other people and your behavior is excused rather than corrected.

You see this everywhere. It’s in the news, it’s in our society, you’ll see it in politics and you’lll see it in relationships as well.

When a person does something hurtful and you call them on it, watch to see how they respond. If they reply by apologizing, you’re dealing with an honest invididual in the context of a healthy relationship.

If on the other hand, they answer by talking more about your reaction than their behavior, that’s not someone who wants to take responsibility for their actions let alone acknowledge that they’ve done something wrong.

It’s not always obvious. You can be in the middle of telling someone that they’re wrong for what they did and suddenly you find yourself apologizing…

How did that happen?

It’s a signature strategy of someone who’s got something to hide as opposed to having something to say is to “react” to whatever correction or questions they’ve having to field by shifting the focus of the dialogue off of their behavior and instead attempt to make it into a situation where they’re being treated unfairly.

It goes back to that verse in Proverbs…

Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright. (Prov 14:9)

You always want to be sensitive to, not just what you’re saying, but also the way you say it (Prov 25:11). But it’s not always about being more patient or more willing to forgive or even a determination to be a better communicator. This is about being wise enough to recognize a tactic if, in fact, a tactic is being used.

How to Win…

When you’re talking with somone who has something to hide more than they have something to say, one of the more common tactics they use to avoid that line of questioning that has the potential to reveal their argument as fundamentally flawed is to pose as a victim.

But it’s more than a mere agenda. It’s part of a philosophical paradigm that has to be engaged strategically in order to avoid a bogus perspective being given precedence over an objective evaluation of what’s true.

There is no “Right” or “Wrong”

A Liberal doesn’t believe in there being any sort of Absolute Standard by which their behavior is measured. Consequently, there is no “right” or “wrong” only preferences and perspectives. This is why when they’re having to contend with the consequences of their actions – because in their mind they have done nothing “wrong” – they can feel justifed in claiming the status of a victim. They’re either being limited by an oppressive society or they’re struggling beneath the weight of unfortunate circumstances, they’re never simply reaping what they have sown.

Even when you can successfully navigate the conversation to that place where they’re willing to concede they made a poor choice, they will defend that choice by saying they had no other option. By clinging to the notion that they had no alternative, they’re able to preserve the idea that they’ve done nothing inappropriate and whatever code or creed would otherwise result in an indictment is effectively circumvented and they remain a world unto themselves.

The Wrong Side of the Road

Imagine someone driving on the wrong side of the road.

If they position themselves as someone who’s under duress, it becomes very hard to be critical of their behavior without appearing indifferent and perhaps even cruel.

For example, if they’re trying to get their wife to hospital before she gives birth, that changes the way in which you evaluate their choice to risk a head on collision, even if it’s not a good idea.

But if on the other hand they’re just being reckless and irresponsible, then their behavior is rightly identified as such regardless of how they might try to justify it.

Still…

The challenge is to be able to figure out whether or not the person you’re speaking with is, in fact, someone having to deal with mitigating circumstances, or if they’re just trying to appear that way in order to avoid having to take responsibility for their actions.

You can do that by keeping the conversation focused on the problems created by your opponent’s behavior as opposed to their feelings.

For example…

You: “You’re driving on the wrong side of the road.”

Them: “You accusing me of driving on the wrong side of the road is a manifestion of an oppressive socieity and you’re making me feel uncomfortable.”

You: “I’m sorry that’s the way you feel, but we’re not talking about your emotions, we’re talking about the way you’re choosing to drive.”

Them: “I choose to drive that way because I’m naturally drawn to driving on the wrong side of the road. I have the right to be happy and you questioning my perspective constitutues an assault on my personal freedoms.”

You: “Your freedom to choose does not mean that every option you have available to you translates to the same outcome. In this instance, your choice translates to you being a threat to yourself and others. Neither your freedoms nor your feelings exempt you from having to take responsibility for your actions.”

The Way You Think + the Way You Act…
This isn’t about perspective, this is about math…
You want to shoot yourself in the foot and then insist it’s because someone told you not to do it that you’re in pain. The way you think plus the way you act equals the price you pay. You either make wise decisions that cost you very little or you make foolish choices that can be very expensive. Either way, it’s you that pays the bill and you don’t demand someone else pay the tab simply because you don’t like the amount.

Them: “I’m not hurting anyone.”

You: “You’re forcing everyone to adjust the way they drive in order to accommodate what amounts to a self serving resolve to ignore the law and a healthy flow of traffic. From that standpoint, you’re hurting everyone.”

Them: “I belive the law to be corrupt and can therefore be interpreted according to person’s individual preferences. Furthermore, whatever your opinion may be, while you are entitled to it, you cannot force your beliefs on me.”

You: “You cannot conceal or deny the problems your decisions produce by criticizing the very rules that were designed to prevent those problems to begin with. We’re not talking about what I believe. Rather, we’re talking about the natural consequences of your behavior.”

Them: “Fine. That’s the way you feel, but that’s not the way I see it.”

You: “This isn’t about perspective, this is about math. You want to shoot yourself in the foot and then insist it’s because someone told you not to do it that you’re in pain. The way you think plus the way you act equals the price you pay. You either make wise decisions that cost you very little or you make foolish choices that can be very expensive. Either way, it’s you that pays the bill and you don’t demand someone else pay the tab simply because you don’t like the amount.”

Them: “That’s your opinion.”

You: “No, that’s your responsibility. The validity of your perspective is ultimately gauged according to what happens when that perspective is put into practice. You can’t say your approach to a particular issue is credible simply because it’s yours. You have to demonstrate that it works and if it doesn’t, then you have to be willing to admit that you might be wrong. But if all you do is blame somone or something else, you’re not looking for the truth as much as you’re looking for an excuse.”

Them: “You can’t make me think like you.”

You: “No, I can’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a car coming and you’re in the wrong lane. Regardless of how you feel or what I believe, there are consequences to your actions and you are responsible for the decisions you make.”

“You might want to get over.”

Choices and Results

That’s how you win.

Your opponent may not yield to your line of reasoning, but…

…by keeping the conversation focused on choices and results, you can avoid the concessions that are often made when the dialogue focuses more on opinions and complaints.

How Do You Know God is Real?

Prove God is real.

OK.

When you look at the complexity of the universe, you can see your Creator. When you look at the historical references to Christ, you can see your Savior.

Let’s break it down…!

Go Outside

Go outside. What do you see? You see nature, you see animals and human beings. What you’re looking at constitutes some of the most complex and intricate examples of mechanical engineering that you can’t even begin to imagine.

And it goes beyond what you can see. In order to fully appreciate what you’re looking at, you need to pop the hood on what’s going on in the context of Biochemistry.

Consider for a moment the atom. The atom is the basic building block of matter.  It’s a nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons. In the case of a Hydrogen atom, each electron is moving at a speed that would allow it to orbit the earth in a little more than 18 seconds.

A molecule is a group of two or more atoms. For example, H20. That’s the chemical expression of water which consists of two Hydogen atoms and one Oxygen atom.

Water, by the way, is one amazing molecule. We take it for granted because it’s a very normal part of our lives. But water is the only substance in the universe that floats in its solid form. From the standpoint of creation, that’s a convenient attribute given the fact that otherwise all marine life would be crushed once the temperatures got below freezing!

Mathematically Impossible
Astro-physicists estimate that there are no more than 1080 infinitesimal “particles” in the universe, and that the age of the universe in its present form is no greater than 1018 seconds (30 billion years).
Assuming each particle can participate in a thousand billion (1012) different events every second (this is impossibly high, of course), then the greatest number of events that could ever happen (or trials that could ever be made) in all the universe throughout its entire history is only 1080 x 1018 x 1012, or 10110 (most authorities would make this figure much lower, about 1050). Any event with a probability of less than one chance in 10110, therefore, cannot occur. Its probability becomes zero, at least in our known universe. (Institute for Creation Research)4

125 Zeroes

A Protein is a molecule that’s considered to be the basic building block of life. It’s a chain of amino acids, which are molecules in and of themselves, that has to be constructed very intentionally in order for the result to be a fully functioning protein molecule. The odds of that happening are one chance in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. That’s a ten with 125 zeroes after it.1

A typical cell takes ten million, million atoms to build.2 What makes a cell especially significant is that it’s alive and it’s typical of all living things. And when you take an inventory of how a cell functions and how it’s organized, you realize very quickly that’s it’s an incredibly intricate mechanism consisting of artifical languages, decoding systems, memory banks, elegant control systems, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication with a capacity not equaled in any of our most advanced machines.

We have always underestimated the cell…The entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines…Why do we call them machines? Precisely because, like machines invented by humans to deal efficiently with the macroscopic world, these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts. (Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences) 3

The bottom line is that the level of precision that characterizes the known universe is such where the chances of that intricacy coming together purely by chance is considered mathematically impossible (see sidebar).

And Biochemistry is just the tip of the iceberg.

The Cosmoslogical Constant

When you consider the world of Physics, it becomes even more difficult to speculate our world came together purely by chance.

For example, the Cosmoslogical Constant is the rate of speed with which the universe is expanding. If the power of gravity within the universe was not being offset by some kind of opposing force, it would collapse on itself. On the other hand, if it were not strong enough, the universe would unravel.

Although this anomaly has yet to be specifically qualified, it is nevertheless an incredibly precise value. It is but one more example of a “fine tuning” that can neither be dismissed nor explained by those who want to ignore the Reality of a Creator. It has been conservatively estimated to be at least one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion. That’s a 10 with 53 zeroes.5

When You Look at a Cupcake…

When you look at a cupcake, you see a baker. When you look at a work of art, you see an artist. Given that as a logical approach to anything that resonates with any degree of complexity, to look at the universe –  something that requires that much more of an intentional effort and sophisticated design than a cupcake or a painting – you see an accident?

No.

That’s not science, that’s not even a theory. In order to rationalize the notion that all that we can observe when it comes to life and the human experience is a result of purely random forces…

…the skeptic needs to invent a whole new set of physical laws and a whole new set of mechanisms that are not a natural extrapolation from anything we know or have experienced. (Robin Collins)6

When you’re looking for “proof” that God is real, go outside. Consider what it is you’re looking at. When you ponder the complexity of the universe, you can see your Creator.

Historical References to Christ

To be able to confidently identify Christ as the Son of God, you can:

  • look at the historical references to Jesus as having existed
  • the account of Josephus who refers to Christ’s Resurrection and…
  • …the fact that thoughout history you have people who refused to submit to the idea that the tomb of Christ was either occupied or the body had been stolen – even to the point where it cost them their lives
Apologetics

While Tacticus and Josephus are the only historians cited in this article, there’s an entire field of study dedicated to the validation of the Christian faith called, “Apologetics.” For more examples of Christ’s Presence in History, the authenticity of the Bible and the Fact of the Resurrection, the following books represent an excellent collection of resources and a great place to begin:

Tacticus

Cornelius Tacticus was a Roman historian who lived approximately between AD 56 and 120.

When Nero blamed the Christians for the devastating fire that destroyed much of Rome in AD 64, the result was what would become an aggressive persecution of anyone who believed that Christ had risen from the dead.

Tacticus documented what happened and in his writings, he references Christ and how He was put to death by Pilate.

But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.7

This doesn’t prove the Christ rose from the grave, but it does validate the accounts given in the New Testament that Christ did live and was sentenced to death by Pilate.

Josephus

You can see an extra-biblical reference to the Resurrection by Josephus, who was a Jewish historan that lived between AD 37 and died around 101. In his “Antiquties of the Jews,” he had this to say about Christianty:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man [if indeed one ought to call him a man.] For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. [He was the Christ.] When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him.  [On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him.] And the tribe of the Christians, so-called after him, has still to this day not disappeared. (Antiquities of the Jews)8

 Some scholars dispute the authenticity of the those portions of the above quote that reference the Resurrection. But while there is some speculation, there is enough reason to believe that the comments pertaining to Christ’s Resurrection are, in fact, authentic.

The Resurrection as a Marketing Campaign

The Resurrection doesn’t work as a marketing campaign. It is an absurd attempt to establish credibility and makes absolutely no sense in light of the way so many religions are able to win converts simply by promising eternal rewards and temporary fulfillment.

From the very beginning, believing that Christ was Divine put you at odds with the established hierarchy in ways that often proved lethal. Again, why build a creed on something so unnecessary and at the same time so toxic in the minds of those in positions of authority?

It’s ludicrous…

unless…

It’s true.

We don’t have raw footage of His crucifixion, we don’t have a photograph of Him coming out of the empty tomb. But we have documentation in addition to the New Testament written by people who were alive when Christ’s life, death and Resurrection were fairly recent events. They reference Christ as a historical reality and not just a rumor.

You can neither prove the Reality of God nor the Fact of His Resurrection with the same certaintly you might have in the way you successfuly solve a math problem. When it comes to validating ancient texts and events that happened 2,000 years ago, you have to base your convictions on what is most likely true given the evidence that is available.

If Christianity was nothing more than a pretty little fiction based on a personality that failed to distinguish Himself as anything other than a noble individual, you don’t have a creed, you have a celebrity. And while a celebrity can be influential, by himself he doesn’t command the kind of commitment that people are willing to die for.

This is the other piece of the gospel that qualifies as a substantial piece of evidence.

You Don’t Die for a Lie Knowing That it’s Not True

Josh McDowell, author “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” makes a logical observation about the disciples.

Yes, many people have died for a lie, but they did so believing it was the truth. If the Resurrection had not happened, obviously the disciples would have known it. Therefore, they would not only have died for a lie—here’s the catch—but they would have known it was a lie. It would be hard to find a group of men anywhere in history who would die for a lie if they knew it was a lie. (More Than a Carpenter)9

You can look at the complexity of creation and deduce a Creator. You can look at the historical references to the existence of Christ, the work of Josephus as well as the those who opted for a martyr’s death than deny the Resurrection and deduce a Savior.

An Intelligent Faith

There’s no good reason to doubt the historical accuracy of the New Testament. From a bibliographical perspective, it absolutely dominates when compared to other works of antiquity. It has been repeatedly verified with Archaeology, but…

…to the individual who risks having to reconfigure their approach to themselves and the world around them, it’s a tall order to concede the Reality of Christ.

But should you ignore the substance of what exists, as far as that which validates the Scriptures, you do so, not because of a lack of evidence, but in spite of it.

There is a rational thought process that leads to an intelligent faith. But to get there, you have to be objective. You cannot dismiss the substance of the evidence that exists and simultaneously cling to the Theory of Evolution. The aforementioned probability values exceed the statistical boundaries of that which is possible. If you’re going to deny the miraculous, you cannot do so and not at the same time admit that you subscribe to a paradigm that bends the very laws of nature you’re trying to explain.

You want proof that there’s a God and that Christ is as real as the air you’re breathing?

You have it.

It’s not a question of “proof” as much as it is “pride.” Believing yourself to be your own absolute may look alluring, but it doesn’t stand up beneath the weight of a logical analysis of the facts. Grace is a gift. It requires nothing more than a willingness to accept it. You don’t sacrifice your intellect to do so…

…rather you embrace it.

 

1. “The Case for a Creator”, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2004, p229
2. Ibid, p194
3. Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. 1979. Probability and Order Versus Evolution. Acts & Facts. 8 (7)
4. “The Case for a Creator”, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2004, p193
5. “The Case for Faith”, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2000, p133
6. “The Case for a Creator”, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2004, p145
7. Wikipedia contributors, “Tacitus on Jesus,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tacitus_on_Jesus&oldid=1119705350 (accessed January 17, 2023)
8. Wikipedia contributors, “Antiquities of the Jews,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Antiquities_of_the_Jews&oldid=1133911009 (accessed January 17, 2023)
9. “More Than a Carpenter”, Josh McDowell, Living Books, Wheaton, IL, 1977, 2004, chapter 7

Who Makes the Rules?

A great deal of the tension that exists in our society today – be it a cultural anomaly or a political argument – can be resolved by simply considering how you would answer one fundamental question.

Who makes the rules?

We’re not talking about the person who occupies the Oval Office nor are we looking to the Justices on the Supreme Court.

Rather, we’re talking about something even more foundational and to arrive at that bottom line, we’re going to look at a sequence of definitions and realities that begin with what serves as the basis for all governments and then building on that in a way that reveals the source of all the angst that characterizes the discourse pertaining to politics and morals.

The goal is to do this in a manner that’s irrefutable, regardless of your political persuastion or spiritual convictions in that it’s not so much about a perspective as much as it’s a common sense treatment of what otherwise is a volatile exchange of ideas and opinions that’s based more so on passion than principle.

Here we go…

What is “Religion?”

From a purely philosophical standpoint, every religion answers four basic questions:

  • Where do I come from (orgin)?
  • What happens when I die (destiny)?
  • How am I supposed to behave (morals)?
  • What’s the point of my existence (purpose)?

Regardless of creed or deity, every religion proposes an answer to those four questions. And it’s how you answer those four questions that defines your religious framework and dictates the way you define yourself and the way you process the world around you.

Bear in mind as well that using this approach, Atheism can be appropriately categorized as a “religion” in that it too proposes answers to these questions, the only difference being that the name of the Atheist’s god matches the name on their birth certificate.

Amazing Grace

According to Scripture, you are a spiritual corpse (Eph 2:1). You are dead in your sin and you have no option available to you that can offset your default status as a sinner that is permanently and irretrievably separated from God (Ps 14:3Is 64:6).

That’s what makes Christianity distinct from every other religious school of thought – you are utterly destitute apart from some kind of miracle that can somehow transform you in the eyes of God from being sinful to sinless. And the only way that can happen is through the Solution God engineered through the death and resurrection of His Son.

There Are Only Two Options

While there are many religions, there are only two options.

Either God is God or you are.

Every religion on the planet empowers the individual with the ability to faciliate their own salvation. Either by doing something or making some kind of sacrifice – you’re able to put enough spiritual points on the board to merit the favor of your preferred deity.

Christianity, on the other hand, says that the the only thing you contribute to your salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.

So, while other religions place you in a position where you are “god-like” in that you can accomplish what needs to be done in order to rate an enhanced supernatural status, the gospel of Jesus Christ defines you as utterly destitute apart from the life God offers as a gift and not as something you can earn.

Either God is God or you are.

Every Government is Based on a Church

Every government that has ever existed is ultimately based on the way you define a human being which is an extension of one’s religious framework. From that standpoint, you are no longer talking mere policy as much as you are now entering the realm of theology.

A Monarchy, for example, is looking at a person’s bloodline to determine their rank and title. A Socialist will categorize an individual under one of two headings: Either the Bourgeoisie or the Proletarians – the Bourgeoisie being those who own the means of production, and the Proletariat – the worker who suffers beneath the weight of an oppressive Capitalist system.

The Six Types of Government

Consider the way Aristotle outlined the Six Types of Government.

Rulers Correct Deviant
One Ruler Monarchy Tyranny
Few Rulers Aristocracy / Republic Oligarchy / Plutocracy
Many Rulers Direct Democracy Anarchy

The idea is that you can have different formats, all of which can conceivably work depending on the character of the “rulers.” When the goal is to govern for the good of the community, you have what’s categorized  as “Correct.” On the hand, when those who are in positions of authority govern for the good of themselves, it’s then when you have the “Deviant” verison of that particular approach.

But regardless of the virtue that is present or the corruption that is apparent, you have an underlying way of defining those who are being governed.

However you craft your approach to the way in which human beings are to be governed, your starting point will always be the way in which you characterize the individual.

You’re either created or you’re merely sorted.

This is part of what makes the Declaration of Independence so significant because of the way it bases its content on the fact that all men are created equal. But this is also why any effort to suggest that the “separation of church and state” translates to a scenario where there is neither a need nor a desire for a “religious” premise to be included in the way a country’s government is to be defined is revealed as being logically flawed. It’s there by default because of the manner in which the essence of the individual is being evaluated.

It’s Not About the Freedom of Religion

Because government is a fundamental extension of the way a human being is defined, you have a religious dynamic in place because you’re either seeing humanity from a purely secular standpoint or you’re seeing him as someone who is made in the image of his Creator. Again, this goes back to the fact that while there are any one of a number of “religions,” there are only two options: Either God is God or the individual is his own deity.

When you hear someone launch a verbal assault on the presence of the Christian doctrine in our nation’s founding and its continued influence in our legislative landscape today, it’s usually spearheaded by a passionate appeal to their interpretation of the “separation of church and state.”

While much of their content can be refuted by demonstrating the lack of context that characterizes their platform, the structural flaw of their argument is the way in which they want to position their viewpoint as one that replaces Christianity with a spiritual vacuum where no “religious” statement is being made or acknowledged.

But that is a philosophical impossibility because of the way every governmental system is founded on the way in which a human being is to be defined.

What they want to present as “freedom of religion” is actually an attempt to asssert a different religious hierarchy where the individual is his own absolute. They’re wanting to either ignore or qualify every reference to Christianity in a way where it is stripped of any significance and in so doing promote the idea that there is no Authority save the one that is consistent with their preferences.

That’s Your Opinion

At this point, we have…

  • Revealed how religion, from a purely philosophical standpoint, answers four basic questions and it’s how you respond to those questions that dictates the way you see yourself and they way your process the world around you.
  • Demonstrated how there are many religions but only two options: Either God is God or you are based on the way every religious school of thought empowers the individual with the ability to facilitate their own salvation with the exception of Christianity.
  • Shown how every form of government is based on a “church” in that every legislative framework is built on the way that particular approach defines a human being. Given that philosophical starting point, the contemporary usage of the phrase, “separation of church and state” is revealed not as a noble effort to foster the freedom of religion as much as it’s an attempt to replace Christianity with a spiritual paradigm that says the individual is his own Absolute.

Confronted with a platform that’s difficult to refute without conceding the selfish character of their argument, it’s here where the most vocal advocates of the separation of church and state will say, “That’s your opinion.”

While it’s not always the case, more often than not, when you’re involved in a debate and someone says, “Well, that’s your opinion,” you’re hearing that person attempt to avoid the line of questioning that has the potential to reveal their platform as being fundamentally flawed. So, rather than stay engaged, they retreat behind the premise that suggests everyone is right all the time which is by default accompanied by the idea that to disagree with whatever they believe represents a form of oppression.

On the surface, it has the appearance of cooperation and compassion. But in the hands of those who have something to hide more than they have something to say, responding to an argument by saying, “That’s your opinion,” is a tactic designed to make their platform appear logically and morally comparable to whatever other options may exist, regardless of how nonsensical or unsustainable their perspective may be.

And that’s the problem…

What Actually Happens

The fact that a person has the “right to be happy,” or the “right to choose” or, “is entitled to their opinion” doesn’t mean that every option that’s available to them translates to the same outcome.

At some point you have to evaluate the mindsets being considered according to what actually happens when those viewpoints are deployed.

We’re not talking about your feelings, my beliefs or the rules you want to dismiss as corrupt simply because they prevent you from being your own bottom line. Rather, we’re talking about those things that result from the perspective you subscribe to.

If someone is driving on the wrong side of the road it’s hard to imagine that person defending their being in the wrong lane by saying, “You accusing me of driving on the wrong side of the road is a manifestion of an oppressive society and you’re making me feel uncomfortable.”

Yet that is the approach taken by someone who wants to ignore the practical results of their perspective and instead focus only on the way they feel. To their way of thinking, anything that’s wise, healthy or beneficial is secondary to whatever it is that best promotes the idea that they are in charge.

Who Makes the Rules?

You Can’t Make Me Believe

Saying, “You can’t make me believe…” is neither a defense nor an indictment. You’re not defending your position nor are you challenging the substance of your opponent’s argument. All your doing is attempting to assert the idea that your perspective is somehow superior, not because of it’s logical density but because you’re uncomfortable with what’s being said.

Your discomfort doesn’t qualify as a rebuttal nor does the damage your philsophy creates gets overlooked simply because you prefer a different approach.

Every argument and school of thought has a starting point – a collection of assumptions that dictate the direction and the strength of the line of logic that proceeds from that philosophical baseline.

If your perspective on a particular issue begins with the belief that there is no God, then you’re inevitably basing your mindset on a human agency – be it a court, a legal document or a cultural trend. All of these things can be altered to accommodate a shifting consensus and are therefore fluid.

This can be a very handy tool in the hands of someone who’s looking to promote a specific agenda that requires a noble sounding justification in that you can sound compassionate, yet be morally bankrupt because of the way you guage the difference between right and wrong according to an adjustable scale.

But if, on the other hand, you believe that the Bible represents the Authoritative bottom line on the human experience, your perspective will be based on Something that does not and can not change, thus providing a dependable approach that isn’t compromised by dynamics that can be corrupted.

Who Makes the Rules?

Whatever polls, soundbytes, headlines or subject matter experts you compile, at the root of your argument will be either a Divine Absolute that gives it weight and substance or it will be a human preference that can be challenged and overruled.

The reason the Declaration of Independence resonated as a cause and not just as a complaint is because we referenced the Creator as being the Standard that showed how the monarchy of King George violated the rights that were not his to dispense but were God’s to guarantee.

It’s because God makes the rules that we can embrace them as tools that strengthen the barriers that prevent the deterioration which causes us to stumble and fail both on a personal and national level.

They’re free and they work.

But to the individual who chooses to engage his existence believing himself to be his own bottom line, he will condemn anything that challenges his authority as cruel and antiquated. Determined to process safeguards as limitations, he blames the pain and problems caused by his personal regime on either the God Who supposedly doesn’t exist or the people who aren’t willing to certify his calamities as accomplishments.

This is why it can be a difficult conversation to navigate. Those who dismiss the Reality of God’s Influence in the universe and in their lives will insulate themselves from any correction or criticism by insisting any system or opinion that doesn’t reinforce their mindset constitutes an attack that qualifies them as wounded and oppressed.

But the fact of the matter is, they’re simply trying to create new standards of behavior in order to avoid being held accountable for both their actions and their chosen perspective.

As long as the dialogue is defined as a noble activist fighting against an oppressive and opinionated system, the odds will swing in their favor when it comes to determining what’s a fair and appropriate approach to politics, morals, medicine and religion.

But let the conversation be steered according to who it is that’s making the rules to begin with and you’ve got a much more revealing exchange. Once it becomes apparent that their concept of justice and morality are founded on an entirely different foundation than the one upon which our nation is built, their topics are rightly perceived as tactics to replace rabbis, priests and pastors with lawyers, judges and magistrates.

Before you can make the right decision, you first have to establish what is True.

And in order to figure out what is True, you first have to identify the One Who defines the Truth.

Who makes the rules?

Let that be where you begin and sensation will give way to substance, the real problems can now be discerned and the answers you seek can now be discovered.

The Central Truth | Part IV

If you think we’re getting ready to talk about religion, you’re not wrong, but there’s a purely pragmatic element here that often gets overlooked because of the way it tends to reveal the unsustainable and nonsensical paradigm represented by those who want to perceive themselves as their own absolute.

Nonsensical

If you’re right to be happy includes your having the authority to define the difference between right and wrong, in order for that to work, you have to extend that same privilege to everybody else. This is part of the reason why Moral Relativism is regarded as a self-defeating axiom because if everyone is entitled to their opinion, that means that everyone is right all the time, including the one who is being critical of you.

I’m Not Hurting Anybody…

The Gay Activist says that they’re not hurting anybody when, in fact, they’re hurting everybody by virtue of the way their lifestyle constitutes an assault on the institution of the family as God created it.

Those who subscribe to the Pro Choice school of thought have a hard time maintaining their position when confronted by an adult who could’ve been aborted but wasn’t and, as a result, was able to live a healthy and happy life and even have children of their own.

Of course that wouldn’t have happened had they been killed in their mother’s womb.

Do you smell what we’re cooking, here?

If someone says that truth is relative, than that very statement is relative and therefore cancels itself out. That’s why if you insist on believing that everyone is entitled to their opinion – that there no definitive “right” or “wrong” – then it becomes logically impossible to protest the way in which another person condemns your rationale.

This is what happens when you reduce principles to preferences in that you you cannot logically dispute the actions or attitudes of another person as long as the only thing that governs their behavior is their personal opinion which cannot be questioned.

And attempting to circumvent the obvious problems represented by the possibility of something heinous being labeled as acceptable by establishing certain situations as “obvious” moral boundaries doesn’t work either.

For example, insisting that, “As long as you’re not hurting anybody,” provides the necessary community framework that allows for all of its members to peacefully coexist fails the moment a person feels like they can justify whatever pain is being experienced by another provided the outcome is perceived as a positive.

“Pain” becomes a very subjective thing when weighed against what can be gained in the mind of someone who’s main priority is themselves. But even if you bristle at the thought of being referred to as “selfish,” as someone who either maintains themselves as their own bottom line or denies the existence of any kind of moral absolute, you can’t object to however you might be labeled without invoking a standard of behavior that, according to you, cannot exist because, again, if everyone is entitled to their opinion, then there is no universal rule, there is no standard, only the mindset of the individual which is, by default, neither noble nor sinister.

Dr Maarten Boudry is a Dutch-speaking Belgian philosopher and skeptic. He has been a researcher and teaching member of the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences at Ghent University since 2006. To date, he has published over 30 articles in various philosophy of science journals. He had this to say about Moral Relativism in his article, “Why Relativism is the Worst Idea Ever…

As anyone with two neurons to rub together can see, the thesis is self-defeating. If it’s ‘true’ that truth is relative, then the assertion itself is also relative and cancels itself out. Relativism about what is morally right and wrong less obviously defeats itself, since it is not entirely clear if the claim that “moral standards are relative” is itself a moral claim. But in practice, moral relativism is an equally self-defeating position. For instance, moral relativists will typically condemn the belief in universal moral standards as a form of ‘cultural imperialism’, the implicit assumption being that cultural imperialism is bad. But if moral standards are relative, then so is the claim that cultural imperialism is reprehensible. In any rational discussion, relativism is the intellectual equivalent of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’, the deterrent used by nuclear superpowers during the Cold War. Pressing the red button will destroy your enemy, but ensure your own destruction as well.

You can’t be criticized but neither can you be critical of others. In other words, your dominion over all things moral works as long as you’re surrounded by people who agree with you and are willing to concede that you’re the only one allowed to be right all the time. However ludicrous that sounds, it is nevertheless what ultimately results when there is no absolute and every viewpoint therefore has to be accepted as a valid perspective.

Unsustainable

Another reason why any attempt to justify one’s behavior by suggesting that there is no “right” or “wrong” is because if you extend that line of reasoning to its inevitable conclusion, then even the most heinous crime and the most horrific miscarriage of justice both have to be condoned as agreeable.

Dr Boudry uses an illustration referenced by Andy Norman in his book, “Mental Immunity” that describes bad ideas as “mind parasites.” He says…

Just like biological parasites can invade our bodies and make us sick, mind parasites can infect our minds and make us stupid. From that immunological perspective, relativism is a major disruptor of our mental immune system. Objective standards of right and wrong are our main defenses against bad ideas. If we lose those standards, then anything goes. By disabling our natural immunity, relativism makes us vulnerable to a whole host of bad ideas (because who’s to say that an idea is really bad?) and prevents us from picking up good ones (because why learn anything new if it’s all relative anyway?). It is also corrosive to our social norms, because it undermines the very notion that we are accountable for our beliefs and behaviors, and that we need to be able to justify them if it’s  challenged.

 In that sense, relativism is not just some bad idea, but the mother lode of bad ideas. It’s about time we stamp it out.
(
Why Relativism is the Worst Idea Ever)

If there is no standard, then there is no law. Every moral issue is now reduced to a purely mechanical response that can neither be questioned let alone criticized because there is no objective guideline to gauge its merit, only the subjective filter of the individual at that moment.

As Dr Boudry pointed out, we are accountable for our beliefs and we need to be able to justify them. We also need to be able to recognize bad ideas before they’re allowed to metastasize into something that damages both ourselves and our community.

But none of that is possible apart from a standard that transcends personal preferences and can be used to measure the moral substance of any given behavior. Without that barometer, evil can be packaged in any one of a number of plausible sounding containers and made to sound sensible, fair, scientific and even enlightened.

But where does that standard come from?

Who makes the rules?

There Are Only Two Options

While up to this point the tenor of the conversation has been tuned to the pitch of a pragmatic philosophy, it’s here where we’re logically obligated to acknowledge the fact that there’s only so many ways in which you can build the scales you use to test and define the moral content of a particular behavior or thought process.

In fact, there’s only two.

Either God is God, or you are.

However you want to regulate “religion” to something that has no place or application to the way in which you process morals or politics, you cannot discuss anything that can be perceived as either “right” or “wrong” without implying a certain standard.

That standard is based on the way in which you answer four questions:

  • How did I get here?
  • What happens when I die?
  • How am I supposed to behave?
  • What’s the point of my existence?

The way in which you answer these four questions constitute the basis for your spiritual framework. From that perspective, atheism is just as much of a “religion” as Christianity or Islam in that from a purely practical standpoint, regardless of how you answer these questions, the way in which you respond to these questions indicates who you regard as your Absolute: Either God or yourself.

Every religion on the planet empowers the individual with the ability to facilitate his own salvation. As a Muslim, you have the option of Jihad, as a Buddhist you have the pursuit of Nirvana or as a Hindu, you have Moksha.  And while an atheist may not subscribe to the idea of needing to be redeemed per se, the reason they don’t is because they cast the final vote as to what they will admit to being good and acceptable and therefore do not need to be forgiven let alone evaluated. Every other doctrine, save what’s represented by the gospel, positions the individual as the one who can either achieve their own redemption or define the terms that makes the need to be redeemed a moot point.

You are your own deity.

Christianity, on the other hand, posits the idea that you are a spiritual corpse and the salvation that God offers is made available in the only way that it could be offered given your being utterly incapable, undeserving and destitute:

As a gift (Eph 2:8-9).

It’s by God’s grace alone that a person can attain the standard required in order to rise above his humanity and enjoy a relationship with His Judge, His Lawgiver and His King (Is 33:22).

The Declaration of Independence

This was the prevailing school of thought that characterized our Founding Fathers approach to government and the philosophical essence of a human being. This was our corporate, metaphysical ground-zero and in that regard, our nation was never an advocate of the contemporary usage of the term “separation of church and state.” Rather, it was the foundation of the “church” and the Christian creed that gave form and substance to the state that would go on to be a beacon of freedom and opportunity for the entire planet.

It’s also why a citizen of this country can confidently assert their “rights” as a collection of entitlements that cannot be altered or denied by any human agency because of they way they are rooted in the Wisdom and Character of the Supreme Judge of the world.

You see that reflected in the verbiage used in the Declaration of Independence:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

When we made our case to King George, we began by establishing our resolve to be independent had as its basis a Divine Truth and not just a reasonable perspective. It was our appeal to Scripture that gave our platform the substance it required in order to qualify as a legitimate cause rather than just a noble complaint. And while some want to dismiss the influence of Scripture on the Second Continental Congress and claim that any reference to Providence was nothing more than a token courtesy, they ignore the spiritual composition of those delegates who fixed their signature to a document that represented certain death as they were committing high treason by signing it.

Sexual Freedom is a Human Right…?
From shedecides.com – “Sexual freedom is a human right. It means having the freedom to define, explore and experience your own sexuality as you want, without fear of repression or violence.”

Bottom Line

Bottom line: When defining the Central Truth, any aspect that qualifies as a moral element has to be based on a Biblical Standard if it is to stand up beneath the weight of objective scrutiny.

Moral Relativism fails to provide a coherent and consistent basis for any kind of a logical definition of morals because of the way it contradicts itself. Given the way all religious, including atheism, promote the individual as both the cause and the remedy for his human shortcomings, the Christian faith is not only a standout, it’s the only creed that qualifies as a rational reply to the questions pertaining to our behavior and destiny in that it doesn’t attempt to assert the weakness of our humanity as the foundation for our existence.

And while Christianity does provide the necessary philosophical stability required for a successful system of government and a fulfilling life, it’s also why a Homosexual or a Pro Choice advocate cannot validate their platform as being a morally acceptable choice by attempting to frame it as a “right.” If the Foundation upon which they base their legal argument condemns the very behavior they’re seeking to justify, while they may have the right to rebel, they cannot use an indictment as an endorsement.

Separation of Church and State

The thing that drove the First Amendment was not the elimination of God from the marketplace, but to prevent the government from creating laws that favored certain denominations.

The Mayflower Compact gave local officials the legal ability to promote church attendance. The Massachusetts Bay Colony used government taxes to support local congregations and in some colonies, you couldn’t hold public office without being able to demonstrate that you were a member of a particular denomination.

It wasn’t the acknowledgement of God that was sanctioned, it was the manner in which you were obligated to support a specific denomination that inspired the first article in the Bill of Rights.

Our government is not based on a Christian “tradition.” The very word, “tradition” implies the non-existence of a Divine Absolute, only the nostalgic preferences of the individual. It’s based on the Truth of God’s Word. And when someone wants to try and undermine the spiritual foundation upon which our country is built by invoking the idea of the “separation of church and state,” they’re overlooking the way the First Amendment was designed to prevent the government from dictating a particular denomination and not the elimination of God from the marketplace in general.

And when you hear, “Well, that’s your opinion,” or “You can’t judge me” or “Not everyone believes the way you do,” they’re asserting the idea that because everyone can be their own moral authority, they are therefore ranked as a respectable character and cannot be criticized.

And yet…

If those who differ are also entitled to their opinion and they cannot be judged for whatever point of view they maintain because there is no “right” or “wrong” – only the perpetual myth that there are no incorrect answers, only multiple perspectives – then they can’t dispute whatever criticism might be leveled at them without violating their own personal paradigm.

And that doesn’t work.

In Conclusion

  • You have to ask the right questions in order to make the right decisions…
  • …and you have to make the right decisions in order to do the right thing…
  • …and the the right thing is going to be defined by the Central Truth – the goal that when realized results in you doing the right thing at the right time in the right way for all the right reasons.

By rightly identifying the Central Truth, you’re able to prevent seemingly crucial elements from compromising that which is most important.

To do that, especially when there’s a moral aspect involved, you need more than a spreadsheet and a subject matter expert. You need a Standard and a Wisdom that goes beyond what the human dynamic is capable of manufacturing. Otherwise, you wind up catering more to goalposts that fail (Prov 14:12; Matt 7:13-14 [Jn 10:7-9]) as opposed to guidelines that succeed (Josh 1:8; Ps 1; Matt 6:33).

And it’s here where you have to ask, “Who makes the Rules?”

And that really is the starting point for this whole process. The way you view yourself and the world around you has as it’s starting point who you regard as the Ultimate Authority in your life, be it the God of the Bible or the one who stares back at you every time you look in the mirror.

If you want to succeed and prosper, if you want to be able to approach life with a clear conscience and an enthusiastic disposition, if you want to enjoy the kind of energy provided by a Divine Perspective, then your Central Truth is not just a concept or a personal mantra, it’s the Person of Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6).

And it’s that Truth that fuels the success of individuals as well as nations. When you ask the right questions, you make the right decisions, you do the right thing and you honor your King.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. (Ecc 12:13)

That is our goal, that is our starting point and that is the greatest Central Truth.

 

  1. “Declaration of Independence: A Transcription”, “National Archives”, https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript, accessed August 30, 2022