Sadly, the mission of moral revolutionaries is to punish evangelicals for moral consistency and banish from the public conscience the ability to define anything. The indignation against morality carries economic consequences along with impacting all freedoms in civic life. The shift in moral climate does affect freedom in all forms. Evangelicals must not compartmentalize church, state, and economy into independent spheres but understand that religious freedom, specifically Christianity, is foundational and concomitant to social, political, and economic freedom.
The moral, religious, and philosophical climate of a populace shapes political, civic, and economic conditions of a nation. The United States has benefited from an inheritance predominately Christian in influence. The populace understood concepts of sin, judgment, salvation, and hope. These concepts, whether believed by everyone or not, created moral norms and an environment where concepts and practices of freedom could flourish. The answer is no. It would not be America; it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil. To say that conformity to a Christian public consciousness in America today is past is needless ink spent.
The question before us is whether freedoms are sustainable in an environment where morality begs for definition? We often speak of political freedom but what about economics? Is the economy an independent machine unaffected by moral climate? As our western society is hyper-secularized embracing nihilistic notions of existence, it is tempting to reduce all social problems to a single system. No singular system, however, accounts for all problems or solutions.
Free societies are the result of complex theological and philosophical thought that is not so easily isolated or cut loose from systemic webs. As we begin, there is particular interest in how Protestant Christianity contributed to freedom and why freedom is failing today. The belief that all human beings are basically evil is one of the most important contributions of Augustinian-based theology and importantly, necessary to civic and economic freedom.
Rather than living in denial of such realities, we should seek enduring solutions that take them into account. Early American knowledge of human nature was vital to the form of government created that protected liberties. The Framers feared centralized government as well as government by majority because they rejected the idea that human nature is basically good. While Original Sin may not have been theologically convincing to all of the Framers, it was certainly convincing to them experientially.
The American Constitution emerged from the historical reality and belief that concentrated power in the hands of one person or group of persons is a recipe for tyranny. To believe that governments, made up of men, would consistently decline their self-interests for the good of the community is deceptive and denies historical experience. The danger of the welfare and entitlement state is that it becomes a vehicle to expand political gluttony of power through further citizen dependency.
Today the name is different, and it is called the redistribution of incomes by taxation. The growing welfare state is expansion of power that invites unitary government through convincing a population that social problems are not rooted in personal moral failure but systems.
So how is the doctrine of human depravity related to economic and civic liberty? First, it teaches us that humans are moral creatures and we have a moral problem. Unlike fairytale notions of utopian idealists, no political or economic system can provide real solutions if it does not have a real diagnosis to the human problem. There is no gospel without revealed truth that humans are guilty of moral failure and need regeneration Rom Unless there is a prevailing public consciousness that humans are basically evil then salvation will always be spoken of in terms of social systems instead of the gospel that demands regeneration.
London: Penguin Arkana; In any case, even if we acknowledge that our two first principles do embody a profound contradiction, does this matter? Second, many of the cases cited do not qualify as "wars" between "democracies. Others require the purchase of premium access to the site. New York: Basic Books. Democracies resolve their domestic conflicts without violence, and they expect that other democracies will resolve inter-democratic international disputes peacefully. Freedom House's ratings show that civil liberties have improved in 10 of the countries Zakaria identifies as "democratizing" and fallen in only 4.
Second, it demands a free society be ruled by law. Without it, immoral behavior is excused through blaming society and in some cases rewarded. A society that divorces itself from moral definition is no longer a society ruled by law but controlled by cronyism, bribery, corruption, and special interest groups. This kind of unjust behavior impacts the economic climate through unfair trade and practices. Third, economic structures should be paradigmatically commensurate to the egotistical principle.
As noted above, rule by law is mandatory for freedom. The biblical truth on human wickedness does not mean we are incapable of producing orderly political and economic structures that promote human liberty and flourishing. What is striking about secularism and its penetrating effects in our society is the more we detach from Christianity, our optimism in human nature increases and convictions over human dignity decline.
The very opposite is true for historic Christian thought. Conviction concerning human dignity begins with recognizing from sacred Scripture that humanity is the result of the Creator. Conviction concerning reveled truth over creation necessitates meaning, order, and purpose. Humanity is designed with certain properties and purposes that we must learn from our Creator to know how to fully experience being human.
For a free society to exist it must believe that humans are not accidental or merely the product of Darwinian selection, but created by God with specific roles. First, human beings are created in the image of God. In summary, humanity possesses both a structural and a functional capacity for imaging God. The structural capacity provides qualities and characteristics that are similar to God such as personhood, sociality, rationality, aesthetic sensitivity, moral awareness, linguistic ability, and the communicable attributes.
The structural reflective sense of the imago Dei is abilities or gifts endowed by God for a particular function. The functional aspects entails imaging God as a representative. So how does this help us? Since humanity is the result of creation and is endowed with faculties for specific purpose, it means the subjects of politics and economics are theological. Work, for example, is now to be understood within the light of revelation that God works not just in creation but even in providence for continued stability.
The implications of this epistemological framework upon society are significant because belief or rejection over the truth concerning creation will result in divergent political and economic systems. A society that believes the natural world and humanity are the result of an accident lacking telos will lead to government and economic systems of exploitation. Simply examine the previous century and the impact of Darwinian, Marxist, and Nietzschen philosophies that resulted in oppressive totalitarian regimes and the murder of millions born and unborn persons. How does humanity flourish within an epistemological paradigm where humanity is reduced to an animal and considered malleable?
Such views result in eugenical sterilization laws, concentration camps, abortion clinics, health courts, cost benefit healthcare, designer babies, and transhuman technologies. If human evil is not checked by transcendent awareness of human creation, meaning, purpose, and fear of judgment then there is no restraint against evils perpetrated by those who wield the sword of power whether on a throne or in a clinic. Concepts of work, rest through enjoyment, private property, freedom, family, and responsibility toward others all take on specific definition in the formation of society.
Private property ownership is the archenemy of the Communist Manifesto. There are implications of this idea such as limited government and the general welfare of society that cannot be ignored. The right to private property means that government should not burden its citizens with taxation that discourages the ability to property ownership. The Bible is not silent over the issue of burdening taxation. The prophet Samuel sternly warned Israel on the consequences of centralized government 1 Sam and how the exacting demands of large government is weary to a citizenry and stifles flourishing.
The burden of taxation split the people of Israel 1 Kgs and it contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. Limited government allows for economic freedom, greater retention of private property, and increased capacity for voluntary social welfare. Increased taxation, regulation, and government impositions limit capital freedom which includes its use toward charity. As marriage continues to decline and government entitlement programs increase, the United States not only burdens its wage earning citizens with higher taxes to support social programs but actually encourages social detachment by destroying ties to family and community.
Eventually, the Internal Revenue Service or even state governments will no longer recognize churches or other Christian based not-for-profit organizations as tax exempt or contributions as tax deductible. What will be the outcome of churches and charitable organizations as voluntary programs are discouraged and government strengthens its paternal role over every citizen? Social Security alone is twenty-four percent of the federal budget while defense is in second place at eighteen percent.
The ratio of retirees drawing benefits to workers is significantly squeezed meaning either taxes will only increase or benefits will decline. Not only does a society become dependent on government benefits but workers are discouraged as their wages are decreased to pay for these benefits. Today, just the Social Security tax rate alone for employees and employers each stands at 6.
As the United States further detaches from Christian influence, taxes will increase, economic production will slow, and income inequality will expand. It happens in every country where centralization occurs. Our tax laws are unnecessarily complex and loaded with numerous deductions, exemptions, credits, preferential rates, and other loopholes that distort economic decision-making and hurt our economy.
Taxation is a major concern because as government control expands it means more is taken away from the private sector and there is less accountability to the tax payer. A third element of human dignity requiring careful explanation is that not all persons are created equal. To make such a statement in our egalitarian day is highly controversial but recognition of functional inequality among persons is necessary for free societies. That not all humans are created equal is obvious. Humans have numerous inequalities about them from size, shape, hair color, eye color, strength, intellect, and aptitude.
While we recognize inequalities among persons we are not suggesting inferiority in their intrinsic value as human. Inequality in capability does not suggest inequality in value, or to say it another way, not all persons are created equal, but all have equal worth. Conversations concerning diversity today are charged with multiculturalism and mutual cohabitation of philosophical-religious pluralism among various ethnic and cultural groups, but such rhetoric does not strengthen a free society, instead it accelerates its demise.
England, Italy, and Austria, until recently, were not. The motto E pluribus unum is a sign that the [American] founders saw diversity as a challenge to be mastered, not a resource to be tapped. The theological conviction of the Imago Dei distinguishes republicanism from idealistic anthropologies rooted in naturalism. The strength of a republic is rule by law, not men. Diversity means there are variations of economic contribution and distribution in a free society. Instead, the conversations concerning equality today create an expectation of distribution without proportionate contribution.
Every person in society has contributive inequality, so why should we expect an economic system that has distributive equality? Our political and economic structures should incorporate this productive inequality as a valuable asset. In a society that accepts inequality in production there is a place for everyone. Not everyone needs college education to perform certain tasks nor is everyone capable of performing the same tasks. A free society needs blue-collar, white-collar, and no-collar contributors to carry out the vast needs of economic activity, provisions, and sanitation each day.
Unity among diversity reflects the triune God where all three members of the godhead possess ontological equality but economic diversity cf. Eph The reality is human beings intrinsically accept and even cheer inequality through meritocracy. We love to compete, win, and enjoy the spoils labor. Non-competitive athletics dehumanizes and reinforces ideas of equal reward without equal work.
Competition and the drive to get better whether in work, athletics, character development, spousal responsibilities in marriage, etc. We as humans need a goal to reach and enjoy a sense of achievement. It is sin and wickedness that invites envy, greed, and covetousness making us discontent to demand equal pay without equal play.
Fourth, the value of each human being demands each life be treated with dignity and never reduced to chattel. Human exceptionalism never supports slavery or its contemporary applications like attempted patenting of human genes or genetic discrimination. Humans are not to be exploited by other humans. This view of human life also opens the hand to charity. When we see a fellow person as equally valuable we will not ignore their suffering but extend the hand of generosity whether through money or time.
We will also desire justice and the equal application of the law knowing that each person is morally responsible for their actions and must apply a dignified view of everyone in society. Change the social conditions … and you can change human nature. Transcendent reality is shorthand for a public theology that is Christian in nature and proclaiming a narrative of creation, providence, sin, salvation, and judgment. Before continuing, it is important to point out what is not meant by transcendent reality.
Civil religion is not a substitute for the gospel. Civic religion that is theologically vague and reduced to orderly behavior is not the gospel and saves no one from the righteous judgment of God. Only the work of the Holy Spirit upon a believing heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ can regenerate a person and reorient their desires. Prosperity does not necessitate idolatry.
Virtue is the necessary restraint against the vices and excesses we witness today to prevent the worship of the work of our hands Isa Transcendent reality buffers our hoarding of worldly possessions, curbs our greed, opens our hand to generosity, and reminds us the best things of our existence are not to be found in this present order.
Unfortunately, the rejection of transcendence ushered in our Darwinian-nihilistic-narcissistic-hedonistic age has given itself over to a consumerist, entertaining, and virtual world with no moral or transcendent vision.
Freedom remains so long as historic-orthodox Christianity is the accepted prophetic voice among our society to proclaim the gospel and the derivative promotion of virtue and moral self-regulation among persons. Below are five reasons why the church is the stabilizer in society to protect freedoms. We have freed ourselves from a meaningful life beyond and from the fear of judgment to come so there is religious zeal in self-worth narcissism and self-fulfillment hedonism. This vision of reality affects us all. Facing another day, with ordinary callings to ordinary people all around me is much more difficult than chasing the dreams I have envisioned for the grand story of my life.
Second, the embrace of transcendent reality not only curbs a consumeristic binge but fosters generosity. People tend to be more generous when they know one is accountable to God. A balanced approached to biblical truth will create an atmosphere of human flourishing by praising the creation of wealth as well as its voluntary release for the benefit of others.
When one knows that wealth is not the foundation of their existence 46 and they are stewards of what is given they enjoy charity because it brings deep satisfaction to benefit another life. Plus, voluntary giving against government extraction allows the giver to gain some accountability and control over the efficiency of their gift in contrast to the unscrupulous waste of bureaucracy.
Third, transcendent reality is the only compatible stabilizer to freedoms. Liberty is not a license for unrestrained individualism but respect for other persons balanced with the respect for unchanging moral norms. Fourth, where humanity is unable to self-legislate, centralized government fills the vacuum.
Government now regulates the most basic matters of life taking the place of the family and the church. Citizens today have come to expect the government to be their provisional resource where smaller institutions of society met basic needs. Citizens actually weaken democracy, however, by placing in the government the trust, hope, and loyalty that properly belong to local associations. The collapse of transcendence and moral norms in a society creates growing irresponsibility among citizens that demands more regulation in the most elementary affairs of everyday life.
The need for transcendent reality is not only for the general populace but for the government as well. For example, current monetary policies breed irresponsibility and encourage indebtedness. Lastly, it is not a general civil religion that will endorse and preserve freedoms in a society, but specifically the theological influence of evangelical Protestantism.
The preamble of the Body of Liberties of the Massachusets Collonie in New England that outlined seventeen rights to be enjoyed by the churches and citizens of the colony is one example of many demonstrating early American convictions that stability and protection of churches secures freedoms in civil society. Defining the prophetic role of the church is necessary in our era of theological confusion. What Americans have come to expect from government today was once provided by the family, church, and local organizations that gave assistance when needed to those in the community.
The destruction of family and decline of evangelicalism have ushered in an age of expansive government control to be the parent and savior of a populace who no longer has moral and transcendent vision. In early nineteenth century America, voluntary societies were the development by Protestants as an innovative and powerful vehicle to link private faith and public life. These were independent organizations, frequently of diverse denominations, that worked to address social problems and needs such as missions, poverty, slavery, and disease.
With no gospel or eschatology, a population expects from a government only what the kingdom of heaven can provide and people become negligent in duties toward one another expecting government agencies to help instead. The redefinition of marriage and family is the poster child of human wickedness and social decline. Despite social and judicial confusion, it does not replace the historic-traditional view of marriage understood and believed by millennia of civilization.
Marriage and family is most basic and indispensable to a free society. It is defined by biblical revelation, restrains the full effects of human wickedness, and upholds human dignity by creating life and directing social relations. Against the rebellious confusion of our day, marriage is for one-man and one-woman and sex is one of many rewards specific to the marriage union. It is a sad day when such definition is required but it is part of the continued assault against Christianity by moral revolutionaries who want public vindication for deviance and acceptance for abnormal behavior.
The problem, however, is that such changes do not impact sex and romantic relationships alone but all of society. The agenda by moral revolutionaries over the last century is to force the idea that sexual activity should be without consequence. The reality is libertine sex in this post-foundational moral climate has direct consequences upon freedom.
The future of freedoms reside in the protection and stability of marriage and family since it is the first political order in society containing the relations of authority and subordination thereby establishing other derivative forms of order.
The ironic twist is that women and children suffer the greatest fallout of feminist achievements from abortion to abuse exacting a heavy toll upon their mental, emotional, physical, and economic well-being. Only deliberate denial of the social chaos today can ignore the fallout created from decline of marriage, no-fault divorces, and sex defined by the pornographic industry. The relentless and invasive pornographic age screams sexual satisfaction as the highest achievement so why be stuck with one spouse for life and a bunch of kids to settle you down? The destruction of family and decline of evangelicalism have ushered in an age of expansive government control to be the parent and savior of a populace who no longer has moral and transcendent vision.
In early nineteenth century America, voluntary societies were the development by Protestants as an innovative and powerful vehicle to link private faith and public life. These were independent organizations, frequently of diverse denominations, that worked to address social problems and needs such as missions, poverty, slavery, and disease. With no gospel or eschatology, a population expects from a government only what the kingdom of heaven can provide and people become negligent in duties toward one another expecting government agencies to help instead.
The redefinition of marriage and family is the poster child of human wickedness and social decline. Despite social and judicial confusion, it does not replace the historic-traditional view of marriage understood and believed by millennia of civilization. Marriage and family is most basic and indispensable to a free society. It is defined by biblical revelation, restrains the full effects of human wickedness, and upholds human dignity by creating life and directing social relations.
Against the rebellious confusion of our day, marriage is for one-man and one-woman and sex is one of many rewards specific to the marriage union. It is a sad day when such definition is required but it is part of the continued assault against Christianity by moral revolutionaries who want public vindication for deviance and acceptance for abnormal behavior. The problem, however, is that such changes do not impact sex and romantic relationships alone but all of society.
The agenda by moral revolutionaries over the last century is to force the idea that sexual activity should be without consequence. The reality is libertine sex in this post-foundational moral climate has direct consequences upon freedom. The future of freedoms reside in the protection and stability of marriage and family since it is the first political order in society containing the relations of authority and subordination thereby establishing other derivative forms of order.
The ironic twist is that women and children suffer the greatest fallout of feminist achievements from abortion to abuse exacting a heavy toll upon their mental, emotional, physical, and economic well-being. Only deliberate denial of the social chaos today can ignore the fallout created from decline of marriage, no-fault divorces, and sex defined by the pornographic industry.
The relentless and invasive pornographic age screams sexual satisfaction as the highest achievement so why be stuck with one spouse for life and a bunch of kids to settle you down? If you are not being sexually gratified as frequently as possible with as many partners as possible, you are somehow being deprived of a life worth living. In order for this leg to remain there must be three convictions on marriage and family: Marriage must be viewed as a covenant, family is the primary institution of moral and character development, and society must protect the family as the smallest unit of political order.
Marriage as a covenant involves three parties: a man, woman, and the triune God. It is a covenant initiated by God in the primal order and is the most basic unit of social relationships because all others derive from it. Marriage, with God as its author, is a bond creating structure for order and communicating mutual love, service, and sacrifice for one another. It also joins together associations of other families with in-laws and blood relatives creating a sense of belonging, history, and permanence. While such a view may seem Norman Rockwell picturesque, Alexis de Tocqueville found marriage in America to be most praiseworthy and most healthy in contrast to other nations in the early nineteenth century.
Christianity and highlights the cyclical reinforcement of the marriage and family to the strength of freedom. State intervention is responsive in a society that revokes such sacred appreciation for marriage and family. If one cannot be faithful to those whom they marry then how can loan agreements be honored, business partners be trusted, manufactures be reliable, and brokers be honorable?
When one is loosed from personal obligation before God there is no moral compulsion to let their yes be yes and no be no. Without exaggeration, the breakdown of marriage disrupts all social relationships because society is reduced from a community to a collection of individuals each looking to promote their interests at the expense of the good of others. Secondly, family is the seedbed of virtue and cultivation of character working compatibly with transcendent reality to sustain freedoms.
Free society must share a common body of values 79 and for the United States this common value system derived from a Protestant-Christian moral framework. Consider this idea relative to economic freedom and activity. Intact families promote character development that is virtuous. Only where common moral code exists can free trade exist. This is in contrast to views that competition alone and harnessing of self-interest against self-interest is sufficient for free market operation.
Those views are too abstract because they are ideas born out of a moral climate created by Christianity. Western society, even during the Enlightenment era, was still guided by a Christian value system so there was a common expectation of how people ought to behave in transactions. When the value system goes away, so do free markets because society becomes dependent upon the state as the regulator for all affairs when people cannot regulate themselves. By promoting moral character and displaying covenant commitment, the family sponsors productive citizens for economic freedom and helps restrain selfish inclination.
Trust comes from virtue which must have the covenant of family to incubate. Without doubt there are a great many loose individuals in American society at the present time: loose from marriage and the family, from the school, the church, the nation, job, and moral responsibility.
Issue 19 of The Other Journal examines our complex relationships with food from a theological bent. The thoughtful contributors to this issue take us to Middle. [KINDLE] The Other Journal: The Food and Flourishing Issue, Vol. 19 by Christopher J. Keller. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can.
What sociologists are prone to call social disintegration is really nothing more than the spectacle of a rising number of individuals playing fast and loose with other individuals in relationships of trust and responsibility. Marriage and family promote selflessness and restraint against a consumerist binge.
Third, a free society must protect the family from policies that suppress its flourishing or state replacement. Family must create the common values, not the state because the state will only cultivate loyalty unto itself not to the family. Social security along with most government subsidies should be viewed as competition against family. He spawned five children, not one of whom he bothered to name, all of whom he abandoned to almost certain death at an asylum. He was a sexual pervert and enjoyed physical punishment and exposing himself to women.
Should it surprise us, then, that he advocated a philosophy of sexual anarchy, state ownership of children, and the subsidization of those unwilling to work? The Gospel is our only hope.
Too often we limit the impact of salvation to reconciliation between God and the individual instead of recognizing the broader social benefits. The Gospel is our only hope both individually and collectively for humanity to flourish and social order to exist as Gospel truths are embraced and lived out. Hope in Christ and the consummation of his kingdom temper our expectations from human government. Nevertheless, history attests to the fact that freedom and human flourishing is possible when society embraces the four convictions of human wickedness, human dignity, transcendence, and family.
When these shared convictions slip from the public conscience, freedom evaporates. All of society benefits from every individual that trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation as they order their lives according to Scripture. Jason Glas is a M. In addition, he is a vice president and commercial banker with Ameris Bancorp and an investor and developer of commercial real estate.
Glas has pastored churches in Kentucky and Georgia and serves on the board of directors for Reaching and Teaching International Ministries, Inc. For the Truth. For the Church. For the World. For the Glory of God. Admissions Academics Students Alumni Give. Apply to Southern Seminary Visit the Campus. Tweet Share. Download PDF. Introduction The headlines over the past few months attest our society is experiencing rapid transformation culminating from decades of moral mutiny.
Unpacking the core ideas of that public consciousness is vital to freedom as well as proclaiming and applying the gospel to all aspects of the human experience that promote human flourishing. The aim of this article, then, is twofold: First, to demonstrate that the majority of the general public must share the four convictions of human wickedness, human dignity, transcendence, and family as necessary for freedom and social order.
It is necessary for Christian pastors and teachers to learn and teach a holistic gospel that brings all of the human experience into focus for the benefit of human flourishing. Law, fair trade, and security of private property are only possible in a society that believes humanity is morally flawed and those flaws must be harnessed in an elaborate system of laws and freedom of religion. An enforced legal system deters people punitively while freedom of religion, particularly the gospel, addresses the will of persons where the commands of God are no longer burdensome 1 John offering the only viable moral corrective.
Recognizing no person is property or should be subject to exploitation has numerous implications for the benefit and promotion of human flourishing. Only when human life is stripped away from divine definition do we find exploitation of others whether in slavery, factories, brothels, abortion clinics, or laboratories. When humans are reduced to mere evolutionary origins rather than an act of divine creation, there is no limit to means of exploitation.
When meaning to life is no longer defined by God but becomes a human construct then the application of law is arbitrary. When life is no longer dignified, then citizens should be wary of those at the helm of centralized power as history attests. The increased vices, destruction of family, widening economic gaps, and centralized government control is the result of a nation having lost its theological grounding and vision of reality.
Centralized government fills the space once occupied by a popular Christian theology that indeed impacted and directed much of the public conscience toward virtue and transcendent reality. The consumption addiction we experience in our society is not because of capitalism but the banishment of transcendence from the public conscience.