Walking in the Ways of Unfaithful Fathers
In the last half of the nineteenth century, secularism had not just gained a foothold in the West. It was making rapid strides to the fore. The causes and signs of this overthrow of the First Christendom were numerous. As is always the case, hindsight shows them up more clearly.
Many of the causes lay with the Church, God’s people. They became unfaithful in numerous ways. They forgot what their forefathers had taught them. They forgot that the Kingdom of Christ was and remains a totalitarian kingdom–embracing the totality of all reality throughout the entire created universe. They accepted a dichotomy between the realms of the sacred and the secular (courtesy of Immanuel Kant) and conceded that in the secular realm, the sacred had little claim and no authority. God had His “sphere”–invisible, secret, beyond time and history–and the material or secular world had its sphere of autonomy–independent of God, operating under its own rules, truths and authority. Thus began the long retreat, which cast children out of formerly Christian homes, seduced Christian parents away from Christ and His Church, and gradually turned Christian loyalties more and more toward the secular god–the State.
A generation which conceives of just one sub-atomic particle operating independently of the all encompassing command of the living, infinite, eternal, and unchanging God will be followed by generations which deny God in everything. And so it has come to pass. The surrender began in the Church as it tried to make room for the gods of this world.
One form of the capitulation was to elevate the State to a quasi-divine position of being the means of bringing God’s Kingdom upon the earth.
The preaching of the Gospel to all and discipling all nations to Christ was supplanted by legislating and regulating the Kingdom through the increasingly intrusive powers of the State. Christians, living in the dichotomy, were at the forefront of this idolatry.
The United States has seen many Presidents come and go. Many were Christians. Almost all saw their office as a way to extend God’s Kingdom upon earth. They were responsible for vastly increasing the power, the overreach, and the dominion of the State. Woodrow Wilson springs to mind, a Christian pacifist who sought to increase the Kingdom of the Prince of Peace by the dictats and legislation and administration of the State. As an easy tool of secularism, he did Unbelief’s bidding under the cloak of Christian social responsibility.
FDR provides another example. Christian historians and political philosophers see FDR’s “reign” as one which achieved a significant increase in centralising Federal power in the United States. President Obama, a latter day champion of Progressivism, is Roosevelt’s true child. But Roosevelt was a Christian, albeit one who worshipped God as if He were an idol, with limited power and authority over His creation. Roosevelt lived the Great Dichotomy. He remains thus a poster child for so much Western Christian unfaithfulness.
We came across an example recently of just how Roosevelt demonstrated his belief in Christ. It was a by-the-by incident, which is all the more credible for being incidental. Winston Churchill had visited the United States at the end of 1941, soon after Pearl Harbour, spending weeks with Roosevelt and US authorities planning the conduct and strategy of war. One achievement was a putative agreement amongst the allied and neutral nations on how the world should organise itself after the Nazi’s and Japan had been defeated. It was called the United Nations Pact. President Roosevelt had spent much time trying to persuade the Soviet Union’s ambassador to accept Western notions of freedom, human rights, and limited government. Churchill writes:
The President had exerted his most fervent efforts to persuade Litvinov, the Soviet Ambassador, . . . to accept the phrase “religious freedom”. He was invited to luncheon with us in the President’s room on purpose. After his hard experiences in his own country he had to be careful. Later on the President had a long talk with him alone about his soul and the dangers of hell-fire. The accounts which Mr. Roosevelt gave us on several occasions of what he said to the Russian were impressive. Indeed, on one occasion I promised Mr. Roosevelt to recommend him for the position of Archbishop of Canterbury if he should lose the next Presidential election. [Winston Churchill, The Second World War. Volume III: The Grand Alliance (London: The Reprint Society, 1952) p.532.]
Behold the Great Dichotomy. President Roosevelt personally and privately sharing the Gospel with the Russian Ambassador. President Roosevelt laying down the foundations for the modern, secular soft-cum-hard despotic State.
In Old Covenant Israel it was Israel’s unfaithfulness which brought the Assyrians down like a wolf on the fold, and brought the Egyptians up like a butcher in the abattoir. Israel wanted Yahweh to be sure, but it also wanted to do obeisance to the gods of surrounding nations. They wanted Yahweh on their idolatrous terms.
Our modern Christian fathers have walked in their paths. We, like Israel, have become unfaithful in numerous ways.
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