“Since a sovereign must have absolute power, the state, where it claims sovereignty, whether a democracy or anything else, moves toward totalitarian powers. Sovereignty with such powers becomes the saving power, and the state becomes man’s god and savior. It then governs and controls man’s total life.”1 —R. J. Rushdoony
Christians, especially Christian Reconstructionists, are often accused of “trying to impose their values on the rest of society.”
But those who are loudest in their railing accusations are also the guiltiest. Since the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, humanists—Christianity’s most vociferous critics—have self-consciously labored to impose their values on society. Their aim is nothing less than the total reconstruction of all human society into a secular world order.
Yes, we would like to see society reconstructed along Christian lines and be made conformable to God’s laws; we admit it. But humanists admit to no religious agenda of their own. Instead, they distract the public by accusing Christians of the very thing that they themselves have been doing every day for centuries.
This is a vast subject, and Chalcedon has reported on it extensively. You will find in this article many references to these earlier reports. Please refer to them for details; they are archived on our website (www.chalcedon.edu) under “Articles.”
The Humanist Program
How do we know humanists are purposely trying to reengineer society?
They tell us so.
Thousands of scientists, including many Nobel Prize winners, academics, educators, public officials, jurists, media figures, artists, and even church leaders have signed their names to The Humanist Manifesto II, a 1973 document, slightly amended in 2003, which articulates the humanist vision for mankind.2 It is not the only such document in circulation, but it is the most comprehensive of its type. Thanks to the stature of its signers, it has the prestige to stand as the quintessential expression of contemporary secularism.
Claims the manifesto, “[F]aith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith.” Christianity “offers false hopes” and is “a disservice to the human species.” “There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body,” say the humanists.
Condemning world religions for offering “Utopian promises,” the manifesto goes on to state the humanists’ own program:
“Using technology wisely, we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our lifespan, significantly modify our behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life.”
They mean to put this scheme into action, and are doing it—by means of legislation, regulation, international treaties, court rulings, public education, and round-the-clock use of the media as a pry bar to get into people’s hearts and minds.
Secular humanism permeates every human institution. It might not be going too far to say its influence is felt in every human mind—even in the minds of Christians. We live in a civilization saturated with secularism.
For the sake of brevity, we will focus on how two of these institutions—the church and public education—have been affected by humanism and what part they play in the attempt to create a secular world order.
A Church without a Voice
“European freedom was created, because the monolithic power of the state was challenged by the church, and a law over all kings and lords was upheld … The modern democracies are leading to slavery, because they have no guarantee against the monocratic tendencies of popular government.”3 —R. J. Rushdoony
If the church is not able to call the state to account before God, what happens to freedom?
Much of the church today has lost its voice, and the loss is self-inflicted. Too many churchmen have abandoned scriptural authority—the only real authority that the church has ever had—in favor of emotional, “spiritual” experience, popular and personal opinion, and worldly politics.
What has the church done to itself to lose its voice?
*Pietism, an attitude of disengagement from the world, took root in the nineteenth century and has removed many Christians from the battle for dominion. Once upon a time, pietism moved Christians to isolate themselves in the wilderness as monks or hermits. Today pietists are content to wash their hands of the business of this world. Although Christ commands the church to go and proclaim the gospel to all nations, pietists equate that with “polishing the brass on a sinking ship.”
*Syncretism is the practice of adding pagan elements to Christianity or Christian elements to paganism. The Bible frequently admonishes us not to add to or subtract from God’s Word, but in the church in America today, syncretism is widespread.
In March of 2006 Chalcedon published a five-part series on “Paganism in Our Churches” (see the archived articles at Chalcedon.edu). Driven primarily by “feminist theology,” many of our churches, representing most denominations, have adopted “goddess” worship, Buddhist chants, Hindu dance, and even pure idolatry complete with idols. In September 2007 we reported on an Episcopal priest in Seattle who says she is also a Muslim4—an action for which she has incurred no penalty from her superiors.
Syncretism devolves into a muddle of superstition and personal idiosyncrasy that is unable to speak authoritatively to any issue.
*Outright rebellion against God’s law-word takes its most flagrant form in the “gay-affirming” movement now seen in many churches. Even the Reformed Church in America (RCA)—small, but the oldest Protestant denomination in America—wrestles with renegade clergy who insist that God’s Word is wrong and that homosexual behavior is something to be “affirmed” and “celebrated.”5 In the winter of 2004–2005, the RCA had to dismiss the president of its New Brunswick Theological Seminary—for performing the “marriage” of his daughter to another woman.6
What are Christians—to say nothing of non-Christians and potential converts—to think when their church leaders contradict the plain teachings of the Bible? What moral authority can be exercised by churchmen whose teachings reflect not the everlasting Word of God, but fleeting trends in popular opinion?
*Salvation through works of the flesh has always been a heresy, but that doesn’t stop certain churchmen from embracing it.
We reported in our “Paganism” series that goddess worship and gay-affirming are nearly always accompanied by political activism, almost always of a socialist tinge. Even where syncretism or sodomy hasn’t touched it, the “social gospel” has a problematic theology.7
What’s wrong with churches focusing on aid to the poor, world peace, homes for the homeless, etc.? Nothing, of course: churches have always done these things.
But today the church’s charity often morphs into political advocacy. Whether or not these “social gospel” churches themselves actually aid the poor, they tend to demand that everyone be coerced to do so by government action. When John Lofton confronted a United Methodist Church official on “the immorality of the federal budget,” he was told that “charity” and “concern for the poor” are best expressed through government taxation!8
By imitating and endorsing the humanists’ big government agenda, the church legitimizes the state as the agent of salvation, makes itself redundant, and loses sight of its God-given mission of preaching, teaching, and prophecy. Who cares if I offer honey-cakes to the goddess, as long as I have a small carbon footprint?
Schools vs. the Family
“Today, the attack on the family is being stepped up. Humanistic statism sees control of the child and the family as basic to its drive toward totalitarianism … The family must give way to the Family of Man.”9 —R. J. Rushdoony
“When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can’t see the truth.”10
—James Corbett, public school teacher, California
With much of the church having neutered itself, the family remains the secular state’s chief competition for the loyalties of the individual. Humanists are using the public schools to destroy that competition.
This is in itself an enormous topic. For a deeper understanding, we recommend two books: The Messianic Character of American Education by R. J. Rushdoony, a history of the secularist, anti-family ideology of public education, and Bruce Shortt’s The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, a painstakingly documented examination of how that ideology is being put into practice in the public schools today.11
Public educators (when they’re not actively denouncing or mocking Christianity) assault the family by drilling into children’s heads a mantra of sexual anarchy. The schools incessantly promote homosexuality—to name just one “alternative lifestyle” favored by the educators.
God ordained the family as the basic unit of human society, responsible for raising and educating each successive generation. To define the family, and protect it from dissolution, God’s laws set boundaries on sexual behavior. Without such boundaries, the family cannot exist: hence the Biblical laws against adultery, incest, sodomy, and other sexual experiments.
Secular schools are out to erase those boundaries. There are literally thousands of examples to prove this claim. To name just a few:
*A new California state law, SB 777, due to take effect this year, will allow “gay-affirming” educators to begin preaching homosexuality to children as young as two years old.12 In fact, the new law will require California public school teachers to promote a positive view of homosexuality.13
*The Maryland State Board of Education has ruled that Maryland’s public schools have a duty to promote the acceptance of homosexuality, whether parents like it or not.14 Parents’ rights, under this ruling, must always give way to whatever the schools deem necessary.
*In Boston last summer, public school students attended a publicly funded “Youth Pride Day” celebrating the virtues of transgenderism.15 This new penchant for artificially changing one’s biological “gender” is cutting-edge in public education today.
*And who can forget “The Little Black Book,” handed out in 2005 to middle and high school students in Massachusetts—a manual explaining how to perform assorted deviant sex acts, complete with a directory of “gay bars” where teens can meet adult male sex partners.16 It was made available to teens at a “safe sex conference” at Brookline High School.
These are just a few of a very many examples; in fact, they are just a few of the examples reported by Chalcedon. It’s simply not possible for any one news outlet to report them all. Nor have we space here to discuss the public schools’ advocacy for abortion, divorce, “living together,” and general sexual promiscuity.
In addition to strenuously pushing ungodly behaviors, public schools also advocate for “social justice.” When used by educators, the term means indoctrinating children into a soft Marxism of collectivism, groupthink, internationalism, and an all-embracing statism.17 Schools of education—where college students learn how to be teachers and begin their certification process—have actually insisted on students pledging, in writing, their commitment to “social justice” as a prerequisite to certification.
What Will It Look Like?
“A basic doctrine of theology is the unity of the Godhead. No god can be truly a god if he is divided within himself. Every humanist attempt to replace God with a one-world humanistic order leads to efforts to bring all mankind under a common civil government. This is a theological necessity: the ultimate power cannot be a divided power. Every effort is made to compel human unity in the name of the new faith.”18—R. J. Rushdoony
A secular world order would have to swallow up all the competition. Above all, it could not tolerate the continued existence of Biblically orthodox Christianity. The humanist state sees itself as the sole authority on all matters of morality and law. It cannot allow the church to preach that God is the authority, not the state, and that the state is and must be under God’s authority.
If somehow a fully secular world order could be imposed, what would it look like?
Certainly it would include these features:
*Marriage and the family, as we know them, would be lost in a welter of “alternative marriages” and “alternative families.” Real families might survive, here and there, but most children would grow up without fathers, in ever-shifting “family arrangements.” In practice, they would be wards of the state, spoon-fed state-prescribed ideas and ideologies, and carefully dumbed down into a mentality of entitlement and hedonism.
*What little religion is allowed to remain will be syncretistic, vapid, and meaningless. The true church, like the church in North Korea, will have to go underground.
*The only freedom left will be the freedom to sin. Opposition to the state will be deemed “unreasonable” or “undemocratic.” With the state in control of all communications media, no dissenting message will be heard.
*Living standards in the Western countries will drop as the world state “allocates resources equitably” and “saves the planet” by taking away individuals’ mobility, air conditioning, property ownership, private medical care, food choices, etc.
*The overarching objective of all this is to install a world government, managed by self-appointed elites, that will control everyone’s health, education, welfare, and access to information.
How do we know it will look like this?
The humanists’ writings say so. And communist countries already look like this, and the socialist countries of Western Europe and elsewhere resemble it more every day. We see it in the world all around us. One would have to be blind not to see it.
Will the humanists prevail?
We see in history, from the Tower of Babel onward, that Godless enterprises can never be maintained. The humanist vision, if achieved, would be the end of history. But we are taught in Psalm 127, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”
The threat is not that secular humanists will accomplish their design and end history. The threat is that in their efforts to do so, and in the ruin of all those efforts, they will cause an immeasurable amount of unnecessary suffering. How many will die from AIDS or other STDs, or heat prostration, or the inability to obtain a much-needed medical procedure, or imprisonment, or in a war or revolution, or of suicide prompted by despair, because they or their leaders bought into the secular vision and tried to make it a reality?
Driven by an ideology of replacing God with man, and a lust for supreme power on a global scale, secular elites are trying to reconstruct human society into a secular world order. These elites include teachers and academics, liberal churchmen, politicians and bureaucrats, news pundits and movie stars, scientists, and single-issue types like gay activists, feminists, and environmental extremists. Because they all serve the same master, Satan, and obey the same marching orders (“Ye shall be as gods,” Gen. 3:5), their efforts naturally tend to converge and reinforce each other.
Western, humanistic, secular civilization, which attempts to carry on its business as if God did not exist, is like a tribe of lunatics lining up to jump off a cliff because they don’t believe in gravity. It has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
When it sinks into historical oblivion, the human race, under the providence of God, will move on to something better. God will carry out His redemptive plan for all creation. And the true church, which survived the fall of Rome and two thousand years of all the worst a fallen world could throw at it, will endure to the end.
1. R. J. Rushdoony, Sovereignty (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2007), 471.
2. For complete text, see http://www.americanhumanist.org/about/manifesto2.html.
3. Rushdoony, Sovereignty, 142.
4. Lee Duigon, “How Can a Christian Priest Be a Muslim?” Faith for All of Life, September/October 2007, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2772.
5. Lee Duigon, “Can the Reformed Church Stay Reformed?,” June 2006, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=1800.
6. Lee Duigon, “Reformed Church Seminary President Faces Dismissal for Performing Daughter’s ‘Gay Marriage’,” December 2004, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=502.
7. Lee Duigon, “Review of The Call to Conversion by Jim Wallis,” Faith for All of Life, March/April 2006, 30-32.
8. Lee Duigon, “John Lofton on the Immorality of the Federal Budget,” Faith for All of Life, March/April 2006, 24-27.
9. Rushdoony, “The Family,” Roots of Reconstruction, 1979 position paper (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991), 35.
10. “Teacher rants against South, church, Rush Limbaugh,” World Net Daily, December 13, 2007, http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=59197.
11. Rushdoony (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1963; 1995 edition) and Shortt (Vallecito, CA: The Chalcedon Foundation, 2004).
12. Bob Unruh, “Revealed ‘Gay’ plans to target 2-year-olds,” World Net Daily, December 17, 2007, http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=59259.
13. Lee Duigon, “It’s the Law! California Schools Must Push Homosexuality”, November 6, 2007, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2786.
14. Lee Duigon, “Maryland State School Board Upholds Pro-Sodomy Curriculum,” July 25, 2007, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2755.
15. Lee Duigon, “Youth Pride Day Celebrates Abomination,” June 27, 2007, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2740.
16. Lee Duigon, “Attention Christians! Educators Use ‘Little Black Book” to Push Gay Sex,” May 19, 2005, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=8.
17. Lee Duigon, “Public Schools ‘Social Justice Education’ Cloaks Marxist Teaching,” December 21, 2007, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2810.
18. Rushdoony, Genesis (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2002), 110.