Last week, I pointed to social and political phenomenon that I thought evidenced our slide into socialism. That slide, I said, would stop only if a new generation of Vivien Kellems arose, a people with the courage to stand against a totalitarian state; however, I predicted such courage would only arise from people inspired by pulpits aflame with a radical form of the gospel, not a new one, just one too many seem to have forgotten. What, then, is this gospel and how does it apply?
The Bad News That Precedes the Good News
The gospel, though literally and substantively good news, is understood as good only in light of the bad news. In this case, culturally, the bad news is that our legal system, including the legal philosophy of the U.S. Supreme Court, no longer believes that there is any pre-political law “created,” “posited” or “imposed on” us from a source outside of ourselves.
This source, of course, is a Creator God, who the theologians describe as having the quality of transcendence. Now, bear with me just a moment, because that term shows up in the Supreme Court.
Transcendence, from a Christian worldview, means God is distinct in His very essence from that which He created, including us. It is not that God is immeasurably more than us in terms of intellect, strength, wisdom, and ethics. He is simply not like us; we only bear His image, much the same way that our image in a mirror is not us.
The existence of a transcendent Creator God makes it logical and rational to believe that He has imposed a law on all of His creation by which everything is governed, including us.
But in 1938, in Erie Railroad v. Tompkins, the United States Supreme Court officially declared that there is no “transcendental body of law,” which necessarily means that, for legal and constitutional purposes, there is no pre-political source of rights that we could assert against the demands made on us by our civil government.
Therefore, inalienable rights are officially dead; the only “sovereign” is now civil government, and the “God” who arbitrates disputes between competing claims of civil right given us by civil government is the U.S. Supreme Court.
That is a description of what our Founding Fathers would have called totalitarian civil government and tyranny.
The Good News of the Kingdom
Now that we have the bad news, we need to realize the good news. The good news is not that Jesus is the great psychologist come down from God to help us cope with life’s challenges and heal the wounds to our inner child, as much as that may be needed. Rather, the good news is we can be free of the tyranny that humankind produces and be at liberty in relationship with God, our Creator.
The gospel is the proclamation among the kingdoms of this earth, including the personal ones we create inside our own heads, that the Kingdom of God has come near, and all such kingdoms need to live and see things accordingly. That may sound like theological mumbo jumbo, but let me allow theologian turned Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Abraham Kuyper, to interpret and apply that gospel.
In 1898, Kuyper spoke to the seminary students at Princeton University and warned that America would soon be facing its own French Revolution from which followed the clamor of socialism to satisfy the Revolution’s unfulfilled promise of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Their credo, like many of our leaders today, was, “No God, No Master.”
In response to a socialist “remedy” promising liberty, equality, and fraternity, Kuyper called people to a gospel that proclaims the absolute authority of a sovereign transcendent Creator God, which “places our entire human life immediately before God.” From this, he said:
[It] follows that all men or women, rich or poor, weak or strong, dull or talented, as creatures of God, and as lost sinners, have no claim whatsoever to lord over one another, and that we stand as equals before God, and consequently equal as man to man. Hence we cannot recognize any distinction among men, save such as has been imposed by God Himself, in that He gave one authority over the other, or enriched one with more talent than the other, in order that the man of more talents should serve the man with less, and in him serve his God. . . . [It] condemns not merely all open slavery and systems of caste, but also all covert slavery of woman and of the poor; it is opposed to all hierarchy among men; it tolerates no aristocracy save such as is able, either in person or in family, by the grace of God, to exhibit superiority of character or talent, and to show that it does not claim this superiority for self-aggrandizement or ambitious pride, but for the sake of spending it in the service of God1. (emphasis supplied)
That is a radical gospel. It creates liberty from the bondage that comes with jealousy and envy. It leads to equality in the only place that really matters, before the eyes of the God who made us. And it leads to real fraternity, because none dare see themselves as greater than another, for we have all been made in God’s image and our differences are from God and for His glory.
Only this gospel, one that believes in and points to the sovereign authority of a transcendent, Creator God, contains a sufficient motivation for its proclamation, for it speaks to what we long for, and only that gospel can provide the courage we need to do so. It just needs to be unleashed and lived out.
- Abraham Kuyper, The Stone Lectures: Lectures on Calvinism, p.27.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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