1. Much has been said and written about the loss of civility in recent decades, but it has not altered the situation. Prior to World War II, there was no lack of strong dissent and debate, but with it some decency prevailed. When then-famous columnist Westbrook Pegler overstepped the bounds, he soon lost his audience.
In those years, it was commonplace for me to share a meal with friends who were Marxists and argue extensively without nastiness or loss of respect for one another. We did not see one another as evil, only mistaken. Now all who disagree with the Left or Right are all part of an evil conspiracy, it seems.
Why is this so? I believe that the origins of this attitude go back to the early years of Unitarianism and Transcendentalism, and, through them, to Hegel. The Christian belief in the harmony of interests (because of God’s overriding Providence) had given way to the conflict of interests. As a result, instead of solutions to slavery, these people worked for conflict with the South. Prior to this time, much of the North, being more prosperous, had a higher percentage of slaves, as Shane White showed in Somewhat More Independent, The End of Slavery in New York City, 1770-1810 (1991). But the new ideology of conflict was then absent. As Otto Scott has often pointed out, many countries had more slaves than did the U.S., but only the U.S. went to war over the matter because too many in the North and South wanted conflict. Since then, we have been a conflict society. Insults and attacks are the “solution.” But they only intensify the problem. No man has ever changed his views, I often tell people, by having someone spit in his face. Disagreement, yes, but not offensiveness and conflict.
2. The Poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is not as well-known now as he once was, although he is still recognized as one of England’s greatest poets. In “An Essay on Man” (1733), Pope cited charity as basic to man’s life; all mankind’s concern is charity: All must be false that thwart this one great end. Pope went on to praise some of the benevolent noblemen of his day, and to cite their charities. A generation later, Oliver Goldsmith also honored charitable men, as did William Cowper (1731- 1800), and others.
3. The world seems to be determined to go mad. Here in California, we have another environmental problem. “The Delhi sands flower-loving fly” has been placed on the endangered species list by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And here we foolish Californians thought it was an annoying fly to be slapped out of existence! But some cities in Southern California are in trouble because costly studies of this fly’s needs are at the least postponing developments for two years. Fontana may be forced into defaulting on bond payments. The case is now before a judge. Of course, we all know that judges are experts on flies.
4. I commented recently on the lack of morality in the business and corporate world. World magazine, September 14, 1996, p. 12 ff., has an account of how a major corporation is providing Red China with a technology with a single purpose, to locate women who want more than one child, to find home churches, and priests performing mass. The excuse is that they are not responsible for the use made of their technology.
Meanwhile, here in the States, corporations often require staff, salesmen, etc., to attend weekly seminars to promote better management and sales. Those attending are told to shed “negative” thinking such as marked Jesus, “a loser.”
All hell would break loose if any company held even a voluntary program of Christian Bible study and fellowship.
5. Peter Hammond, in Faith Under Fire in the Sudan, reports not only on the persecution and enslavement of Christian women and children (black) but on the crucifixions of Christian men (black) by the Islamic Arabs of the North. But the media will not carry this story.
6. Some have documented the prevalence of Gnostic thinking in our present culture, most notably Peter Jones in The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back (1992). (He has a second and larger study of current Gnosticism in the press.) Here is a revealing comment by a scholar, not a Christian, loan P. Couliano: The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to Modern Nihilism (1990). He writes on “the resemblance between Gnostic myth and the myth of Neo-Darwinian biology as emphasized by Hans Jonas” (p. 262). It is time someone developed this fact fully.
Couliano ties the Paulicean sect of the seventh century to Marcionism and cites their alliance with the Moslems (p. 38f).
7. One of the major events of the twentieth century was the amazing rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher. She had revived English prosperity and made Britain again a world of power.
Her own party ousted her, a startling fact, to resume Britain’s decline. Some day we may know more about this era in history.
8.I like the statement by E. Calvin Beisner in God in Three Persons (1984) that the Nicene Creed “is an exercise in systematic theology” (p. 145). Churches that use the Creed in worship are thereby teaching their people basic theology.
9. Enough for now. Don’t step on any sand flies or maybe some federal officer will come after you! Abort as many babies as you want, but steer clear of the sand flies!
- R. J. Rushdoony
Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.