Yet another interaction. This time with Gary DeMar of American Vision.
These people mass produce this type of material and I compliment them on their ability to package and market what they write. People read it and do not think it through. We better start and helping our friends to start thinking or we're in trouble. DeMar and others have contributed to the erection within the church of an intellectual framework that teaches Christians NOT to think. They have made them very susceptible to propaganda. Just look at their websites and read the comments after the articles.
In this post, DeMar builds up an argument, making great hyperbolic leaps to the point he's really trying to get to....Two Kingdom theology lets something like Nazi Germany happen.
If you've read anything at this site, you'll know I argue the exact opposite. I argue Sacralist Constantinianism creates the culture and cultural conformity that leads to a compliant church-population (wherein church is defined as culture) that will allow atrocities to happen and even willingly participate in them. History has shown this, and we can play all the little games we want with the history of 19th century and inter-war Germany, but as the video I linked to a few days said.....Gott Mit Uns, says it all.
Germans believed God was with them. American Vision promotes the same idea for the United States.
Here's the link to the DeMar article.....
Facts Do Not Speak for Themselves
By Gary DeMar
Published: July 27, 2010
Many Christians claim a form of factual neutrality where some subjects (e.g., science, medicine, technology, geography, politics, mathematics) can be taught without any regard to religious presuppositions since “facts speak for themselves.” This is most evident in education where a self-conscious sacred-secular divide is maintained and supported by Christians.
A common tactic is to take and explode arguments in a hyperbolic fashion in order to make the other side appear absurd. It's one of many straw-man techniques. While everyone certainly has religious presuppositions, to deny the unbeliever can ascertain a certain and sufficient level of truth in the natural realm is to deny the effectiveness of Natural Revelation and the validity of the Common Grace realm. And I argue that's what this variety of Van Tillian Dominionism does.
While the unbeliever cannot engage in neutrality with regard to metaphysics, certainly for Common Grace to work, God has granted enough non-redemptive grace accompanied by Providence to provide sufficient data regarding science, medicine, technology, geography, politics, and mathematics.
Will Christians have a different understanding of these things? Of course. But DeMar is asking these questions with a specific agenda in mind. The agenda is to conquer and transform the Common Grace realm prior to the Eschaton. If the Scriptures don't support Dominionism, which I argue they do not, then the effects of this type of thinking prove to be not only a distraction for the Church of Christ, but quite harmful. The Kingdom as a present reality is re-defined and given a different commission.
Ninety percent of Christian parents send their children to government schools. Since these parents believe that math is math and history is history, the religious stuff can be made up at church. But one hour of Sunday school and an hour at Youth Meeting each week and maybe a mission trip in the summer can’t make up for five days a week, six hours each day, 10 months of the year, 12+ years of a government-developed curriculum that is humanistic to the core.
Perhaps that's true for some. Of course I utterly reject DeMar's constructions and yet I too homeschool my children. I wouldn't say math is math and history is history. Rather I would say for the unbeliever...that is sufficient. For us, as Christians, it is certainly different. Although, what a group like American Vision does with history is probably worse than what the unbelievers do.
I don't send my children to Sunday School, because of the Sufficiency of Scripture.
Certainly public education is humanistic and I wouldn't throw my children to the wolves when they're not ready. That's for adulthood. Yet lies are lies, and revisionist history because 'we know better' having a 'christian' worldview is just as pernicious.
The argument seems to be, since everyone engages in propaganda, we'll just do it too....but consciously.
One huge reason we wouldn't send our kids to public school is because they are indoctrinated into Americanism.....patriotism, nationalism, supporting the troops, accepting the categories of history and politics given to us by the establishment.
With American Vision we get all this and much more.
Knowledge of what works in the field of medicine still leaves doctors, for example, with decisions relating to abortion and euthanasia. An abortionist can be an expert in the way he performs an abortion. He has honed this “skill” through scientific study of the created order (general revelation). But is it right and just to use this knowledge in the destruction of pre‑born babies? Where does one go to find out? Dr. Jack Kevorkian designed a “suicide machine” that was efficient, effective, and painless, three criteria to consider in the practice of modern medicine. But was what he did right and just? This is the real issue. Procedures that were designed as part of the healing craft are now being used to destroy life. There is no doubt that abortionists and doctors like Kavorkian are skilled practitioners of their respective crafts, but that’s not enough.
This is the same type of hyperbolic argument I mentioned above. This is a common tactic. Take the less than 1% scenario, explode it and run with it to make your whole argument.
Unbelievers will deal with ethical questions in a sinful matter. No surprise. Does DeMar think legislation will change that? Pagans will rightly deal with ethics? They'll make right choices because they're the right thing to do? God is glorified when the wicked 'keep' his commandments?
Christians will deal with these issues differently. Can we legislate away the antithesis between unbeliever and believer? Do the Scriptures not say that all Christians will suffer persecution? Will that change before Christ comes back? DeMar says yes. The Bible says no. So his questions here are largely a waste of time. We ought instead to be asking, what should our response be as we encounter persecution? How can we live in the world and not be of it?
The study of the facts alone might lead some medical practitioners to conclude that since animals often abandon and kill their young, therefore homo sapiens, also an evolved species, are little different if they do the same. A more highly evolved species like man can do it more efficiently and for “high” social reasons. Such a view is not as far-fetched as it seems. Some years ago, after a debate on the issue of abortion, a discussion arose.
[M]ost of the students already recognized that the unborn child is a human life. Nevertheless, certain social reasons are considered “high enough” to justify ending that life. According to some of the women, examples of “high enough” reasons include protecting pregnant teenagers from the psychological distress of bearing a child, helping poor women who aren’t able to care adequately for a child, and preventing children from coming into the world “unwanted.” Many charged that pro‑life philosophies are not “socially acceptable” because they fail to deal realistically with these problems.
The modern‑day evolutionary hypothesis rests on a study of “nature.” A majority of scientists have made a thorough study of the cosmos and concluded that man has evolved from some type of primordial chaos. Such a conclusion has numerous ethical implications. A number of ideological, political, and economic systems are based on the doctrine of evolution. It is this independent study of the facts alone that leads them to their anti‑Christian conclusions.
Right, so unbelievers think like unbelievers. Providence can withdraw His hand of restraint.
DeMar can look at the facts and proclaim America as a God honouring nation, while someone else might look at it and find it to be an abomination? Who's right? Well I can tell you DeMar will be the last person who will be able to sit down and study the matter and come to a conclusion. With his presuppositions, he already has the answer.
Christians have to think like Christians. No one is arguing against that. But this whole discussion is about something else....
Has it ever occurred to DeMar that some people have presuppositions that say...
I need to look at history being conscious of my cultural bias? I need to make sure I'm not guilty of anachronism? I need to try and understand how people were thinking in a specific context before I interpret their actions?
Will they fail at stripping away their bias and presuppositions? Somewhat.
I don't find this with DeMar. With the Dominionist historiography, they're not even asking the questions. They take their presuppositions and run with them. With Dominionist historiography, facts certainly will not speak for themselves. They won't even be given an opportunity to try. They have to be appropriated and put to use.
The humanists understand the importance of education in creating worldview shifts and control, so why don’t Christians? Charles Francis Potter, who founded the First Humanist Society of New York in 1929 and signed the first Humanist Manifesto in 1933, made no secret of the purpose of the American public schools:
Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-school, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?
R. J. Rushdoony pointed out the Humanist design for education in Intellectual Schizophrenia (1961) and The Messianic Character of American Education (1963). According to Rushdoony, modern government education “is erosive and destructive of all culture except the monolithic state, which is then the ostensible creator and patron of culture. When it speaks of the whole child, it speaks of a passive creature who is to be molded by the statist education for the concept of the good life radically divorced from God and from transcendental standards.” Rushdoony was not the first to understand the goal of statist education. Robert L. Dabney (1820–1898) saw it more than 100 years ago:
[T]he Jeffersonian doctrine of the absolute severance and independence of church and state, of the entire secularity of the State, and the absolutely equal rights, before the law, of religious truth and error, of paganism, atheism, and Christianity, has also established itself in all the States; and still the politicians, for electioneering ends, propagate this State education everywhere. By this curious circuit “Christian America” has gotten herself upon this thoroughly pagan ground; forcing the education of responsible, moral, and immortal beings, of which religion must ever be the essence, into the hands of a gigantic human agency, which resolves that it cannot and will not be religious at all. Surely, some great religious body will arise in America to lift its Christian protest against this monstrous result!
I'm sorry but it seems to me, by 'worldview' teaching you're also treating education in a messianic fashion. I totally agree, Christians should not be sending their children to public school. And yet when I see a propagandist organization arguing this point, it makes me want to defend public school. What American Vision is doing is just as bad, no worse because it's being done in Christ's name.
It's not about the truth. It's about an agenda. There are good teachers in the public school. Not even necessarily people professing to be Christians. There are teachers who genuinely are trying to teach a full-orbed truth. Do they fail? Of course, but that doesn't mean we run to the other extreme and deliberately craft our own version of the universe and reality.
Wisdom demands we strive to the utmost to seek the truth. Hence, I want to read people who will say things I don't like. Even the narrative history in the Bible doesn't read like Sacralist history. The Bible tells the truth, warts and all.
No fan of Jefferson, his separation idea is spot on for the Church. We should demand it. We would never want the state to persecute religious error, paganism, or atheism. As I've written elsewhere, Theonomic Reconstructionism would re-erect the Sacralism of the Middle Ages. People like me would fall under their sword. We would have to take to the underground. Dabney's quote proves this and it also shows that many of the freedom-Confederacy notions Theonomists espouse are misrepresentations. There was indeed a libertarian streak in the Old South. And many Theonomists wish to champion the days of freedom and the smaller government of an agrarian culture. What they don't realize is, they're actually the hyper-Yankees they despise. When Dabney speaks that way, he speaks not in the tradition of the Scots-Irish backcountry. He speaks like a New England Puritan.
State Education was started by Sacralist Protestantism in Prussia and championed in Sacralist America by non-Christians. Though they weren't believers, Dewey and Mann were cultural descendants and in many ways the torch-bearers of the culture of New England. Blame Knox and Calvin in Geneva for the genesis of public education.
Dabney may protest it, because he didn't like what it was doing to his antebellum and reconstruction South, but it's part of his heritage.
Rushdoony was right about education serving the monolithic state, but what he didn't see was that if his disciples take over, they will do the same thing. History shows it. And though they champion homeschool now, if DeMar and his people ran the country, I don't see them allowing dissenters, non-Sacralists, or liberals or whatever the same rights they demand now for themselves.
I've argued this elsewhere. It's not a strategy, it's a tactic. For to enforce the very notion Dabney talks about...suppressing religious error, paganism etc.... how will they do that if they're allowing pagans and heretics like me to home-educate our children? Dabney says it, they should not have equal rights before the law. Dabney would say I cannot instruct my child the way I want. And if I happen to be on the wrong side of his "Christian America," then I guess I'm in trouble.
It would seem they speak with forked-tongues.
Of course DeMar also speaks of this Christian America. And herein lies the true problem and the real issue. You can't build Sacralist culture in a pluralistic society. That's the core of this. They want to eliminate social pluralism.
As Christians we reject Theological pluralism, but we heartily embrace and demand the necessity of Social Pluralism. Society will never become Monistic. The wheat and the tares remain until the end.
Sacralism rejects the imagery of Christ's parable. This agenda is the impetus behind the whole discussion. Don't be fooled.
For decades before the rise of Hitler, Christians were subjected to arguments like the following from pastors and theologians based on the two-kingdom theory:
“The Gospel has absolutely nothing to do with outward existence but only with eternal life, not with external orders and institutions which could come in conflict with the secular orders but only with the heart and its relationship with God.”
“The Gospel frees us from this world, frees us from all questions of this world, frees us inwardly, also from the questions of public life, also from the social question. Christianity has no answer to these questions.”
Once the Christian understands the moral significance of the state, Wilhelm Hermann declared in 1913, “he will consider obedience to the government to be the highest vocation within the state. For the authority of the state on the whole, resting as it does upon authority of the government, is more important than the elimination of any shortcomings which it might have. . . . For the person who is inwardly free, it is more important [that] the state preserve its historical continuity than that he obtain justice for himself.”
Here's where it become particularly dangerous. Luther taught something of a two-kingdom theology which he never really implemented. His ideas were a muddle. He sometimes spoke in terms of a spiritual kingdom but he always embraced the Sacralist heritage of the Middle Ages. Even near the end of his life, his diatribes against the Jews exhibit this. The presence of the Jews gave society a pluralist construct Luther could not accept. In fact Two Kingdom theology was never implemented in Germany and was formally repudiated at Augsburg in 1555. DeMar knows this.
Read 19th century German history. What you'll find is a worthless state-church in a Sacral construct that was completely culturally assimilated and thus entirely subject to the propaganda of the state. Think about that a minute.....America is different and yet in some ways very much the same.
The German church was conditioned to be conformist. What DeMar is presenting is not the Two Kingdom doctrine anyone is arguing for today. Call it what you will, but it was One Kingdom theology, merely the variety demanded when the Sacralists are in control.
We recognize an antithesis between the Church and the World. While we argue the Kingdom's means of warfare is spiritual, this in no way implies compliance or acquiescence. We are vigilant and very conscious of our identity and IN NO WAY confuse it with the state or the culture. We are in permanent conflict with the secular order, but the way we wage war is with the gospel of truth, not politics.
Sacralism teaches people to believe their country is Christian. God is on our side. In a 'democracy' such as America, we can even have the illusion that we're making a difference, our leaders are accountable. Meanwhile since we're waving the flag as a holy symbol, we can be lead down dangerous paths.
Two Kingdoms theology would never teach us to be free from all questions regarding the world or public life. Christianity has specific answers to these questions...the gospel. Does that mean I'm arguing the church is going to solve the economic crisis? No. Does the Bible tell us how we as Christians respond to it and interact with it? Absolutely.
It would seem to me when the Conservatives are in power, the tone in the American Evangelical church is....don't question them. They know what they're doing. The President sees the intelligence we don't get to see, we need to trust him. He's a good man. This type of thinking led us into two wars, signing away many of our constitutional rights and protections, supporting prison camps and torture, etc.....
It fits the pattern. DeMar trying to suggest modern Evangelicalism is Two-Kingdom is just laughable. For the majority of American Evangelicalism, Christianity is little more than politics and therapeutic psychology. Turn on Christian radio. That's all you get. Republican Nationalism with some pop-psychology. This combined with culture war ministries has dulled the minds of American Christians to the point that they don't even know what the Kingdom of God is anymore. It's about America and it's about power.
DeMar is trying to pin a certain type of thinking on Two-Kingdom theology. In reality, Germany knew nothing of it. It did have a pietist tradition, but that's something quite different....that as I've written elsewhere is generated by a holy view of culture...same as DeMar. The Pietist deals with it differently and retreats. DeMar believes you have to conquer. I'm arguing both are mistaken in how they view culture as something Holy, something belonging to the Realm of Christ's Kingdom.
Again, when in the minority the Sacralists are vocal and want to stir the pot. But when in control, then the tone changes.....remarkably. Even though Bush was a disappointment to them, just the change in tone from when he was president to now under Obama is remarkable.
As one comedian put it a few months after Obama was inaugurated, "To criticize the president six months ago was treason, now it's patriotic."
Exactly. That's what we have here.
Obedience to the state is a problem for Two Kingdom people? Gee, Dabney wants everyone to bow to the Sacralist state and if they don't he calls for their persecution. That's precisely what I'm arguing against. I'm saying we live in it, but we're never of it. We'll never be fooled. The way to oppose Nazi Germany was to proclaim the truth no matter what the price. DeMar wants to politics to prevent something like that, but he doesn't realize it was people like him that actually supported it! They're the ones promoting nationalism, militarism, revisionist history, cultural unity, economic imperialism etc....
Germany went Nazi not because of Two Kingdoms but because of the very Sacralist theology DeMar is promoting.
While many Germans might have been opposed to Nazi policies at a personal level, they had been conditioned to believe—because they were Christians living in two kingdoms operating with two sets of standards—that they could not do anything about these rapidly implemented policies at a political level.
Rubbish! It was not Two Kingdom theology. It was Sacralist conformity.
The Kingdom of God is not politics Mr. DeMar. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Quit polluting the Kingdom of God by dragging it through the cesspool.
We speak the Truth. That's our weapon. We're not interested in political power. In Nazi Germany, we would speak the truth, if people listen, great. If not we either die or flee. It's called submitting to Providence.
Could we then flee to Britain and take up arms against the Nazis? That's a separate issue. I would argue in the case of WW2, yes. But never for Sacralist principles.
What I cannot understand is, does DeMar not see this, or is he deliberately being untruthful? I don't know. With someone like Colson I can point to many occasions where I think he's simply lying, an end justifies the means ethic or something.
But what's happening here is flipping truth on its head.
What would America be like today if the Church of Jesus Christ had heeded Dabney’s warnings and some “great religious body” had arisen to make the break from an educational system that was designed to be the indoctrination center for the State and its messianic motives?
Nazi Germany or a variety of it. The Theonomists would erect the same type of totalitarian government. Read Dabney. Read especially Rushdoony.
The usual Christian response is to reform the public schools, to get more parents involved, sue to get a moment of silence, prayers at sporting events and commencement exercises, release programs, and pass laws to teach the Bible as literature. There’s the question of how the Bible will be taught. Will the Old Testament be taught as myth? Will someone teaching on the Olivet Discourse point out that Jesus was mistaken about His coming? There is no neutrality in education. The sooner Christians understand this, the sooner they will be able to turn this nation around.
I have no interest in reforming public school. But I also have no interest in turning the nation around. Just look at the American Vision website. It's nationalistic idolatry, the very thing the Germans did in the late 19th century.
Sacralism confuses nation and culture with the Kingdom of God. This is what the Christians in Germany did and this is what American Vision is trying to do.
If you look up the work DeMar is citing, one will find the author is arguing that Luther's doctrine did not match the later Two-Kingdom view. I made this point. And the so-called Two-Kingdom view the paper tries to present was a political tool used by the state. So it's not the Two-Kingdom theology I'm arguing for at all. Rather, it is a tactic the state used to control the population. DeMar is completely misrepresenting the issue and even misusing the work he's citing.
One must ask....why did they fall for it? Why did the fall for a government argument telling them to comply and not concern themselves with politics etc....?
Only a Sacralist understanding of culture would create such a mindset. In a pluralist society, the unity is weakened. Bad for the nation, bad for the Sacralists, good for the church. In a pluralistic society, we self-identify, we don't go along with the herd mentality.
Look at the middle ages, the last time we had a comprehensive Sacralist society. Sure promoted a lot of non-herd thinking didn't it?
It did among the dissenters, but they were persecuted and in hiding.
The rest of them went into a multi-century stupor living in a totalitarian society that sought to crush all pluralism.
Christians continue to fall prey to the worst kind of propaganda. God help us.
Read the Theonomists, just read them carefully. Don't accept the way they argue. Don't accept the way they frame the argument. But take note of how they argue, how they treat information, and how they draw conclusions.