Tuesday, 26 February 2008

This Day You Will Be With Me in Paradise

“This Day You Will be With Me in Paradise”: our Lord’s Second Word from the Cross

As we come to our Saviour’s second utterance from the Cross, we remind ourselves that we are on holy ground, amidst the sea of our wickedness. We acknowledge that we have no right to be here. We are conscious that momentous events are happening—holy transactions between the Father and the Son—that are not of our making or design. Human artifice has no place here.

Into this Holy of all Holies we are not permitted to look. Yet during the transactions of this great sacrifice that will become the atonement for our sin and which will turn away God’s wrath from us, we have been granted glimpses, pale reflections, to help us understand, for the encouragement of our faith. But let us not imagine we are doing anything else than seeing the mere fringe of His garment as we meditate upon our Saviour’s words from the Cross.

Each word, then, is for our benefit. Each word instructs us. Each has its own contribution of encouragement.

This day you will be with me in Paradise.” The second word is spoken to one of the criminals crucified with Him. It is an utterance of sublime grace which has given hope to every repentant sinner from that time onwards. It gives hope to me today.

We are not told why two criminals were crucified with Him. We know that it was an act of prophetic fulfilment, for Isaiah had said that He would be numbered amongst the transgressors. It is possible that Pilate used the occasion to express once again his cynical hatred and despite of the Jews. He had determined that he would crucify their pathetic King (Whom he knew did not deserve to die) amidst his typical “subjects”. The criminals stand forth as a public statement of Pilate’s estimate of the Jewish people. Thus he insists that the placard, “King of the Jews” remains over Jesus.

When Jesus is lifted up to die we hear a loud outpouring of jeering and mockery. Those passing by, the onlookers, the chief priests, the scribes, and the soldiers all spat out their fierce hatred of Him. Even the two thieves crucified with Him joined in with this public humiliation and execration. (Matthew 27: 44; Mark 15:32)

We hang our heads at the shame. They are mocking Him Whom we love. But we also know that they serve a purpose—these hateful scorners—a redemptive purpose! For Christ is now entering the horrors and desolation of Hell. He is now entering the realm of complete forsakenness that comes from God, His Father, utterly cursing the Son of man in our place. He must taste completely the pains of Hell for us.

There is laughter in Hell. Isaiah tells us of the bitter mockery in Hell as the king of Babylon is brought down: “Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. They will respond and say to you, ‘Even you have been made weak as we; you have become like us.’" (Isaiah 14: 9—11) The citizens of Hell rejoice over others made like them. The joy of Hell is always a cruel hateful mockery.

As they mock and revile, as they jeer and insult, our Lord is hearing the welcoming chorus of Hell.

How utterly isolated and alone He is! He is now outside Zion, outside the gate, outside the Law—removed from its protections. He is now beyond the Covenant, under its curse. There is no mutual bond of commitment, no promises, no divine oaths to which He can appeal to His Father for mercy. The language of, “Lord hast Thou not said . . .” or “Lord, remember Thy promises . . . “ or “Lord, remember the oath which You swore unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” has no relevance, meaning or application for Him now.

But at another and deeper level the Father loves Him still. This is the “Deep Magic” which we cannot comprehend. Our Father brings Him comfort and consolation and encouragement, even as He enters Hell. It is the greatest comfort and deepest consolation that can come to our Lord, than anything else, apart from a word of approbation from the Father—which will not, which cannot, come in these hours.

The Spirit blows where He wills, and unseen, completely unexpected, a dying sinner is born again. The thieves had been joining the hellish chorus, one abused Him with bitter sarcasm: “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39).

The other thief, who had been joining in the mockery, falls silent. Then, suddenly, he separates from the chorus of Hell and stands against it, and takes his stand with the Messiah. To Hell’s ambassador, which a few moments ago he also was, he says: “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

But to the Lord, he says, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” Miraculously, a stony heart, a heart of Hell, has been transformed into a heart of flesh. Jesus does not reply immediately. The original language indicates that the thief cried repeatedly to our Lord, before Jesus answered.

Finally, in response, Jesus utters these wonderful words, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.”

We cannot pass by without at least observing some remarkable things in this transformation and transaction. Firstly, remember the name, Jesus means “Saviour”. “You will call His name, Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” The once wretched thief (now our beloved brother in the Lord), takes that name of our Lord upon his lips to express his plea and need—salvation from his sin.

Secondly, it is a prayer of abject humility. He asks that our Lord might have regard for Him—that there might be room in His heart and mind for himself.

Further, it is a prayer of the most astonishing faith in all history. He confesses Jesus to be the King. Here is our Lord, beyond the Law, under the curse of God, dying upon a Cross, utterly helpless, without hope and without God in the world. The air is filled with the sound of imprecation, of mockery and of spitting. Yet the thief speaks of Him as the King and asks that he might have a part in His Kingdom.

Of Jesus' response, much could be said, but three things stand out. Marvel, firstly, that our Lord does not hold back from taking upon His lips the formula that reflects the affirmation of the Covenant. Truly. Amen. All that God has said is true: therefore, I can speak with confidence and a sure certainty. God is faithful.

Jesus does not sin upon the Cross. He does not cease to believe in His heavenly Father as His Father. He does not doubt. It is now the third hour of crucifixion, but His faith in God does not fail—although all His experience now tells Him that God has stopped believing in Him. But He does not accept that. He believes in the “Deep Magic”—that though He is under the curse of the Covenant, yet He still believes, He has faith that God will not lie and that He can still speak as if the terms still applied, and that His Word carries complete authority in heaven and earth. His language is the language of faith: “Truly . . .”

Secondly, we are arrested by the word that Jesus uses for Heaven. It is not often used in Scripture—Paradise—and all that it conveys stands in the most graphic contrast to what was being experienced at that time. Paradise! “Paradise” alludes to the Garden of Eden, to the world of creation before sin, to perfection, to the hour when the Lord looked at all He had made and pronounced that it was “very good.”

Jesus has chosen this word deliberately. It is His affirmation of faith that the work He is now doing will result in the restoration of all things—and the first fruits will be tasted this very day.

Finally, the significance of the phrase “with me” hits us. “Today you will be with Me in Paradise”. This is the language of a priest. A priest, we are told, can only be appointed by God. He is appointed to come into the very presence of God, as the representative of the people. He is one of them. The priest comes into God's presence to appear before God's face, bringing his people with him. The identity of the priest with the people he represents is constitutive of priesthood. “For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God. (Hebrews 5:1). He can deal gently with the ignorant and the misguided since he himself is also beset with weakness. To the dying repentant thief, Jesus affirms His solidarity—you are of Me, you will be with Me. When I present my sacrifice for sin before My Father, you will be with Me. I will be representing you, your Advocate before my Heavenly Father and your Heavenly Father. "This day, you will be with me as I come to the Father. . ."

I spoke a few moments ago about comfort and consolation to the heart of our Saviour as He entered Hell—and to this theme we must now return. We know that one of the sustaining supports of our Saviour upon the Cross was the prospect of joy that lay before Him. It helped Him endure the sufferings of Calvary and despise its shame. But this joy is inextricably connected to Him being the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12: 2). It was the prospect of redemption, of delivering those beloved-of-the-Father from sin and presenting them to Him, holy and complete, that filled His heart with joy.

The extent to which this motivated and encouraged our Saviour cannot be exaggerated. We see glimpses of it in the Gospels. Recall the scene at the well of Sychar. Jesus is wearied from travel and sinks gratefully down at the well to rest, while the disciples go into the town to buy food. They had been walking for several days. It is mid-afternoon. He is exhausted. A woman approaches and He asks for a drink. A conversation ensues, which results in the woman believing and returning to the town to announce that she had met the Messiah, and summoning people to Him.

The disciples meanwhile had returned and they were begging Jesus to take sustenance. But Jesus said, “I don’t need food any more. I have had something to eat. I have food that you don’t know about” He was now vibrant and alive; the tiredness had gone. The disciples were puzzled. Where had the food come from? Did someone bring it while they were away?

Then Jesus told them what had revived Him and filled Him again with vibrancy and energy: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work. . . . Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (John 4) He was thrilled to the core of His being about reaping the fruit of salvation from that Samaritan town. It was the work for which He had been sent. It was the work of His Father. If the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents, how much more did the heart of our Saviour rejoice over that beloved Samaritan woman, once lost, now found.

Now, at the hour of death, against all human reason and wisdom, a sinner repents. “Jesus, remember me . . .” The Saviour is harvesting, even upon the Cross. Our Father grants the Son of Man such food and sustenance in His hour of need that is beyond all earthly comfort. It is a sign, an indication, that redemption is being accomplished, and that God’s benediction, “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased,” still holds.

We have commented upon the improbability of that conversion: how the transformation from hellish darkness to heavenly light happened so quickly, with means apparently so inadequate and weak. We realise that we, as well as the Saviour, are being given a sign. Our memories return to those words of Jesus uttered in John 10—words that have a ring of such flat, emphatic, declarative certainty about them that the only adequate response commanded is loud silence. Let the words echo through the ages.

I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me,” (Yes, I know you, my beloved co-crucified. I have seen you from afar. And now, as you die, you recognize me, you know me) “even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. . . . . I know my sheep, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. (You are mine. Today you will be with me forever.) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

The Father was giving a precious sheep to the Good Shepherd as He hung on the Cross. But the mode of this conversion is a sign of what will characterize the Kingdom of God, under the new Covenant. There is no power in heaven or upon earth that can or will thwart that harvest. Nothing will ever stop the sheep whom He knows from coming to Him.

Are the means of grace in our day weak? Not so weak as at Golgotha. Is the message we hear mumbled from so many pulpits today unclear? Not nearly as murky and confused and obscured as that day. Is unbelief strong and the hatred of God today like an adamant fortress of Hell? Not as implacable as that day.

For all time, the conversion of the thief upon the cross, serves as a beacon light illustrating without peer, the words of our Lord, “Everyone whom the Father has given me will come to me. And I will never cast out anyone who comes to me.” It is a sign of what will characterise the Kingdom of our Lord.

Even so, Lord. Come! Visit us with Thy salvation. Come quickly.

Monday, 25 February 2008

ChnMind 1.16 The Sabbath and the Heavenly City

The Sabbath Grows in Power and Glory

The institution of the sabbath has expanded and developed through redemptive history. As with all redemptive history, the greatest change and development occurred with the resurrection and ascension of Messiah Jesus to the right hand of the Father. He, as the head of the new creation and the new human race redeems and re-institutes the sabbath. The classic (but often frightfully misunderstood) text in this regard is Hebrew chapters 3&4.

Here are the key propositions:

  1. There has been through all human history one House of God, and Jesus Christ alone is the builder of the House.

  2. For many centuries, the Old Covenant manifestation of the House of God was the nation of Israel in the land of Canaan.

  3. To be in Israel was to have entered into the rest (sabbath) of God.

  4. Some who came out of Egypt did not enter into God's sabbath, because of unbelief.

  5. In order to enter into House of God now, and consequently into God's sabbath, we must believe in the Gospel preached to us.

  6. The sabbath rest instituted in the land of Israel was anticipatory only: it was not the real sabbath rest which was yet to come, when Jesus Christ completed building the House of God.

  7. That House is now established forever, and we are to enter into the rest of that House.

The great mistake many in Jerusalem today make is to take the reference of this text out of history cast its fulfilment up into the enternal realms to come. But the Sabbath rest that Hebrews speaks of is none other than the reconstituted sabbath as it was prior to the Fall, and would have become as the descendants of Adam and Eve carried out the command of God to subdue all the earth. Grace restores Nature to its glorious perfections; Grace does not obliterate Nature. Grace restores the terrestrial constitution of the Creation.

Hebrews makes it very clear that the realm of which the text speaks is the here and now—it is Jerusalem upon earth, now—the city that is being created by Christ out of heaven upon the earth in our time. This is what is meant by the heavenly city—not the city that is in heaven alone (that is, away from the earth), but the city that is both in heaven and upon the earth. That is the city which the patriarchs longed to see and participate in (although they died without seeing it, and saw it in faith only, from afar—Hebrews 11:8—16). If the city which the patriarchs were looking for, the city whose architect and builder is God, was outside of human history and in heaven alone, the text would have said that they entered the city when they died (that is, when they departed human history upon the earth and went to be with the Lord). But, it explicitly says that they died in faith without receiving the promises (Hebrews 11:13)—rather,their whole lives they had been strangers and exiles on the earth. They had not been able to participate in the city of God, the House of God, while upon earth—they had remained as strangers and exiles from it—because the House of God had not yet been established upon the earth.

This experience of being strangers and exiles, of not seeing and participating in the city of God, was common to all believers under the Old Covenant. Thus, at the end of Hebrews 11 which is the great roll of faith of the Old Covenant, we read the explicit statement: “All these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” He does not say, something “better for us and them in the future”, but something better which we now experience, which is the fulfillment of the promise—the city whose maker and builder is God. And what then is the “something better”: it is Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despised the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of the throne of God—thereby establishing the true city of God upon the earth. (Hebrews 12: 2)

This city is the heavenly Jerusalem and it is a city that spans both heaven and earth. When we enter into sabbath worship now, we come to “Mount Zion and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.. (Hebrews 12: 22—24) This city shakes everything upon the earth so that all which is not truly of God upon the earth and can be shaken, will be removed.

There is a real irony here. The pagan notion of the dichotomy between matter and spirit has so infected the Church that many Christians have come to believe their great hope lies in escaping from the earth, in death. In other words, many Christians believe that their great hope is metaphysical in nature and lies in an escape from the material realms. This of course is perverse. It is one of the many lies of Athens. The real hope for the Christian lies in Christ and the complete consummation of all His work—in the heavens and upon earth. Thus, our hope lies not in escaping from the created material realm, but in Christ's shaking of all of heaven and earth, and removing that which does not belong upon earth. That which is removed is that which is evil and not of God. Thus, our great hope is not in being removed from the earth, but in the removal of all evil, all which can be shaken, all which does not truly belong upon the earth. That is the true heavenly city. (Hebrews 12:25—29)

Thus within Jerusalem we are now able to enjoy the great sabbath rest as we engage in our six days of labour, then cease work to rest and come into the presence of God. This is what the patriarchs of old longed to participate in, but could not. The true House and City of God has now been established in Christ, the Head of the new human race, the One who is creating all things new.

If the sabbath was blessed under the Old Covenant, it is many times more blessed now, through the office of Christ Jesus the Lord, who is working to ensure that His will is being done more and more upon the earth as it is in heaven.

There are two cities in the world. One is of the earth, is earthy. It is from the dust, and to dust it shall return. It will be shaken out and removed. Athens is its name, and death is its spirit. The other is of heaven. It is from God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and its course in the world is life. It cannot be shaken. It is bringing, and will bring, cleansing, refreshing, and healing to all the nations. Upon its throne sits the Lamb, the King of all kings. All enemies are being placed under His feet. The creation, which groans under the dead weight of Athens and all it represents, it now being released from its slavery, and is being restored in Christ, to the freedom and glory that it had when God said, so long ago, “It is very good!”

ChnMind 1.15 The Rest Which Shakes the Foundations of the World

The Joy and Power of the Sabbath

In Genesis chapters 1―3 we have the divine revelation which frames, and is constitutive of, all human existence. Included in this terrestrial constitution we find the following important declaration:

"And God saw that all He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed all His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

There are three key aspects to this text:

  • The seventh day is to be sanctified and set apart―that is, different from the other six days of the week.

  • The point of difference centres around its sabbatical nature (“sabbath” day, from the Hebrew word, 'shabbat' which means to cease or desist); thus the seventh day is a day of rest from the work and responsibilities of the other six days.

  • The day is blessed by God. Thus, all who enter into it, partake in the divine blessing inscribed into the day.

Later, a fourth aspect was added: part of the rest on the seventh day with to be able to enter into public corporate worship. It is inevitable that for corporate worship to occur, the community must be at rest from other responsibilities. The sabbath institution enables that to occur.

In an earlier article (ChnMind 1.5: Creation: It's the Process, Stupid) we argued that the way God created the world sets out constitutional patterns which shape everything. God's own resting on the seventh day, after the completion of the work of creation, and setting the day apart is another example.

Now, within God Himself there is no passage or sequence of time. Time is a created dimension. It, too, has been created out of nothing. Time has not been an eternal pre-existent dimension. It rather a necessary constituent of creaturehood―part of the warp and woof of the finite universe. This is what Jesus alludes to when He states (precisely whilst engaged in controversy over the Sabbath): “My Father is working until now and I myself am working.” (John 5:17) The Sabbath is an institution that has been created for man: for his benefit, to enable him to function in the creation and towards God, as God intended.

The Fourth Commandment, which prescribes for mankind the blessing and duty of the sabbath rest, refers back to God's pattern in creating the world as the reason for resting on the seventh day. “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, . . . for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.” (Exodus 20: 8ff) In other words, according to the pattern laid down by God, so we are to be bound―and mankind is to imitate Him, as His representative in the world. Our lives are to be characterised by six days of labour in which we do all our work; the seventh is to be a day of blessed rest.

Sometimes amongst the citizens of Jerusalem there are suggestions that the Sabbath is unduly restrictive: the command “stops me from doing what I want to do”. But the Sabbath command cuts to the heart of our faith―as you would expect.

In the first place, it establishes the lordship and dominion of God over our time and days upon the earth. We are commanded to redeem the time, in Christ. One of the first manifestations of rebellion against God is resentment towards His prescriptive commands over my use of time. “Surely I can organize my life the way I want to!”, we secretly assert. But, no, we cannot, for God is the Lord of all our days and ways. If a believer will not acknowledge and submit to the Sabbath institution, he will struggle to order all his life unto God. His service will be broken and compromised from the very start.

If you want to organise your own time, as it seems good to you, God will soon be organised out of your life and be excluded from your counsels.

In the second place, the sabbath command sets out the fundamental responsibility of the six days. In those days of the week, we are to do all our work. Believers that struggle with resting on the seventh day are usually found to be unfaithful, lazy, or not busy enough during the six days of the week. Those, by contrast, whose lives are filled with hard work in carrying out their holy callings, in labour, business, enterprise, school, home, family, charitable work, and community come to the seventh day with grateful anticipation of the opportunity to rest.

Thirdly, the sabbath commandment sets a divine limit upon our duties and responsibilities. The Bible warns that overwork is a great danger. There are always needs; there is always more that could be done. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labours, for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” (Psalm 127: 2) But the Scriptures indicate that all of the labour which God truly has given us can be performed within the six days. God will not require us to maintain respsonsibilitities that cannot be fulfilled within six days of work. If we find that we cannot carry out all the responsibilities we have taken on in the six days―that is, “do all our work” as God did in the first six days―then it is a strong indication that we have taken on some duties beyond the leading of God. It is necessary that we re-evaluate and cut back.

Fourthly (and following on from the point above) the sabbath commandment prevents us from becoming enslaved to the creation. We all know people who are working themselves into an early grave. Their lives have become a form of self-imposed slavery. The sabbath institution prevents us from living solely for the world's duties and responsibilities. It enables us to lift our hearts and minds up to God, to commune with Him. No human institution—no government, no employer, no community group—has any rights to prevent us observing the sabbath rest. To claim such rights and attempt to interdict the sabbath rest is to rebel against the Almighty. (Note that within the Fourth Commandment itself there is an overt inclusion of servants and strangers in the blessing of sabbath rest.)

The aspects of redemption and liberation represented within the sabbath are revealed very clearly in the second recital of the Ten Commandments. After God had delivered our forefathers from slavery in Egypt, He reiterated the Ten Commandments, as part of the great renewal of the Covenant before they entered into the land promised to Abraham and his descendants: “Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy . . . . Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. . . . You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstreteched arm; therefore, the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:12ff) As a result of being delivered from slavery, the sabbath was restored to our fathers. To the extent that the sabbath rest is taken away from us we become enslaved again.

Fifthly, the sabbath is to be the highlight of the week. Everyone has experienced the blessedness that comes from stopping work for the day, laying down tools, and returning home to rest. The sabbath extends this blessing for a whole day. It gathers up all the effort and labour of the previous six days—as it were—and lays it before the Lord as a holy offering, as a spiritual service of worship (Romand 12: 1,2). On that day, we are to rest in God and with God, rejoicing with Him in our accomplishments, with great thankfulness and joy. It is a day of comfort, consolation, and celebration. Just as God completed all His work in creation, and reviewed it, and declared it to be “very good”, on the first sabbath day, all that goodness was celebrated, and man shared in the celebration with God. Thus the sabbath is a day of holy worship, of warm human fellowship, sharing in the richest food we have, entering into the peaceful rest of God and His blessings.

Naturally, the sabbath recreates us for the next six days of labour—which are, in turn, all the more meaningful and purposeful because of the sabbath fellowship with the Lord and with one another in the blessed community of the redeemed.

While the sabbath remains, Jerusalem will never be cast down. There is too much heavenly joy and power released into the hearts of God's people making them irrepressible. In 1935 Stalin is reported to have once cynically replied, when being asked to encourage Roman Catholicism within the Soviet Union to propitiate the Pope: “The Pope. How many divisions has he got?” The divisions of the Lord of Hosts are legion and even the very Gates of Hell shall not hold out against them. The sabbath and all that it represents is one of the secrets of their strength.

ChnMind 1.14 The Work-Rest Pattern

Work and Rest: An Institution of Blessing and Dominion

The structures that framed the creation before the Fall―or sin's entrance into the world―continue until today to shape everything. Just as one cannot escape the pervasive influence of gravity whilst upon earth, man cannot escape the creation structures in this life.

This is true for both Jerusalem and Athens. Despite the fact that Athens' whole raison d'etre is to get away from the Living God, it cannot. Even Athens, despite its most militant and hostile endeavours, finds itself being conformed incessantly to the divine structures that inevitably frame existence.

God breathed into man the breath of life. Try as it might, Athenians cannot live without breath. Before the Fall, God instituted marriage. Try as it might―and the actual historical Athens did try mightily―the City of Death cannot escape being bound by the concepts and structures intrinsic to marriage. To be sure, Athens seeks to rebel and escape; it tries to attack the insitution of marriage at every point. But it cannot help reverted back, albeit in its own enervated manner. Modern culture, for example, in an attempt to substitute the biblical institution of marriage has created an idolatry out of “romantic love”, seeking to make it the foundation of human fulfillment and happiness. Witness the almost totally pervasive preoccupation with romantic love in contemporary music lyrics. Yet the underlying principle to this worship of romantic love is that there is one special person what will complete the individual and make him/her whole.

The hunger to love and be loved in a profound and exclusive relationship is universal. It keeps bubbling again to the surface, wven when depraved and degenerate cultures seek to suppress it. “It is not good that man should be alone,” is a divine declaration that shapes humanity, everwhere, in every age, in every land. Athenians may hate the God Who decreed and declared it, bet they remain bound by it nonetheless. Pity the Athenian who prefers his misshapen, caricatured, parodied alternatives of marriage to the wholeness and peace of Jerusalem.

The bearing of children is another creation ordinance which binds all mankind, all cultures, all ages. A culture cannot shut this off without committing suicide of itself. Athens is bound into a fundamental conformity to God's commands, and hates Him all the more for it. Of course, individuals within cultures take rebellion to greater lengths. Criminals obviously exist. Libertines appear to flourish―for a time. Yet in the end, Athenian society turns its back upon criminal and degenerate elements. It has to, in order to survive.

I was recently both sardonically amused, and at the same time thankful, to read one self-proclaimed liberal defending, on the one hand, the rectitude of libertinistic promiscuity as a chosen lifestyle, while, on the other, insisting that lines be drawn when one was “in a relationship” or was married. Sardonic amusement because the confused irrationality of the position is as obvious as a suppurating boil. Thankful because God's goodness and restraining grace have prevented this individual from being as wicked as he could be. In this way, God preserves the world. Athens is not allowed to integrate into the void yet, so that Jerusalem might continue its work for, and serice to, the King.

The irony is that within the world-view of Athens, the criminal and the libertine, the murderer and the rapist, is being the more consistent, the more rational, and the more coherent with the basic assumptions and presuppositions of Unbelief. Since God does not exist, I am a god unto myself. This is the fundamental animus of Athens. If Athens were able to be consistently true to itself, it would celebrate and isolise the most nibilistic and destructive amongst us. Our liberal friend above, except perforce God reaches out His hand of mercy to save him, will eventually find that to be the case in Hell, which will regard his pale principles of fidelity to be treason against the very essence of eternal Athens, and will malignantly rape him, body and soul, for all eternity. May our Lord have mercy upon him, while there is yet time, before it is too late. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” declares the Lord and Saviour of mankind. “He who comes to me, I will not cast out.” (Matthew 11:15; John 6:37)

The Duty and Joy of Work

Another frame that constitutes and shapes life in a universal way is the duty and joy of work. God has commanded that men must labour and work for six days every week. Try as it might, Athens cannot escape this divine decree. But the culture that stops working is the culture that dies. People who are not gainfully employed tend to deep self-doubt and beliefs of uselessness and unworthiness.

However, Athens in its modern garb has tried manfully to escape the duty to labour. It has introduced all sorts of revolutionary concepts such as '”social welfare”, or “redistribution of wealth”, only to create successive generations of non-workers. These people are both lazy and self-indulgent. They are the modern manifestation of slavery―welfare slaves, deeply imbued with a prfound sense of victimhood, which is the only self-justification that can be conjoured up to lessen the sense of failure, self-doubt and uselessness that comes from not working. The chains of these slaves are ones of heart and mind.

Athens, of course, true to itself, has both tried to escape the divine command to labour in the creation found in Genesis 1 & 2, and then irrationally despises the non-working slaves it has created. The upshot of this attempt to escape the command of God to work and labour in the world is that others have to work all the harder to support the egregious redistribution of wealth. The cynical bumper sticker, “Work harder, millions on welfare depend upon you,” is right on the mark―but either way Athens cannot succeed with its attempted non-conformity to God's command to work diligently at subduing the creation in order to get food to live. Put bluntly, without food―man dies. The only way food comes is through hard work and labour.

The Seven Day Week

Another creation ordinance is the seven day week cycle. The seven day week cycle is characterised by six days of labour and one day of rest. This ordinance, being a creation ordinance, also binds both Athens as well as Jerusalem; Athens cannot long survive without observing the seven day week cycle.

It is a startling phenomenon that all nations, all cultures―even those deeply hostile to the Christian faith―observe a seven day week cycle. There is no astronomical reason for this. The twenty-four our day is set by the revolution of the earth; the measurement of time itself can be calibrated from the movement of the heavenly bodies. Months and years can be calculated or derived from the lunar cycle and the orbit of the earth around the sun. But there is no comparable terrestrial reason for a seven day week.

As one commentator put it:

“The amazing thing is that today the 7-day week, which is widely viewed as being Judeo-Christian, even Bible-based, holds sway for civil purposes over the entire world, including countries where Judaism and Christianity are anathema. Chines, Arabs, Indians, Africans, Japanese, and a hundred others sit down at the UN to the tune of a 7-day week, in perfect peace (at least calendrically!). So dear is this succession of 7 days that when the calendar changed from Julian to Gregorian the week was preserved, though not as the days of the month: in 1752, in England, September 14 followed September 2―but Thursday followed Wednesday, as always. Eleven days disappeared from the calendar―but not from the week!” (http://www.ac.www.edu/~stephan/Astronomy/7day.html)

There was at least one attempt in the Early Modern Period to abolish the seven day week. During the Reign of Terror in France, the Revolutionary Council abolished the seven day week in 1793, and substituted a ten-day-week cycle. This was done in part to efface the Christian faith from society. The attempt lasted thirteen years and was then abolished due to widespread antipathy amongst the people at large.

In the Modern Period, under the aegis of scientific materialism (aka Communism), another attempt was made to abolish the seven day week.

“The Soviet Union certainly did tinker with the calendar. On October 1, 1929, a calendar was adopted with 12 months of 30 days each, with five extra days (and the leap year) distributed at different times in the year as national holidays. The seven day week was abolished with the elimination of the 'bourgeois' rest days of Saturday and Sunday. This was supposed to help increase industrial production, though each worker was allowed a day off on one of the remaining five days of the week. The five or six extra days did not count in the week. This all was unpopular and didn't work very well, so on December 1, 1931, the traditional months were restored, but not the seven day week. Instead a six day week was adopted, with a rest day, but without a Christian Sunday. Days were still kept outside the week so that each day of the month was always on a particualr day of the week. The problem with this was that people still kept track of the traditional week and still took Sundays off. So the whole business was abandoned on 26 June 1940. (http://www.thepeoplescube.com/red/ See also Wikipedia, qv “Soviet Revolutionary Calendar”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_revolutionary_calendar See also Wikipedia, qv “Soviet Revolutionary Calendar”, ) See also Wickipedia, qv “Soviet Revolutionary Calendar”,

Man cannot avoid the seven day week. Man can establish conventions with respect to coinage and measurement, and can successfully change from cubits to yards to metres. But a change to the seven day week cannot be sustained, and all attempts to do so―attempts that were not half hearted but religiously motivated―have failed.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Father, Forgive Them

“Father, Forgive Them”: our Lord’s First Word from the Cross

Sinai is one of the most barren and inhospitable places upon the earth. Its desert-like wildness is fitting for the appearance of the Living God to Moses—its barrenness bespeaks its separation, its removal from the corruption wrought by man. The awe of the mountain seems to evoke the power and the grandeur of God. If the Psalmist lifted his eyes to the hills, for from them came his help, then at Sinai it was easy to believe that one was in the presence of the Living God. So our father, Moses was commanded at Sinai to take off the sandals from his feet, because there he was in the presence of God; the place where he was standing was holy ground.
But Golgotha is another story. A place not of separation from man and his evil deeds, but of execution, of blood, of curses, of noisome babble, of mockery and of hatred. A Christian cannot approach Golgotha without a sense of horror and loathing. We understand thereby that we are reflecting, albeit in pale shades, the agony of our Lord in Gethsemane.

Monday, 18 February 2008

ChnMind 1:13 Athens' Resentful Conformity to Scripture

Athens is Subject to God Despite Itself

The structures that framed the creation before the Fall—or sin's entrance into the world—continue until this day to shape everything. Just as one cannot escape the pervasive influence of gravity while upon earth, man cannot escape the creation structures in this life.

This is true for both Jerusalem and Athens. Despite the fact Athens whole raison d'etre is to get away from God, it cannot. Even Athens, despite its most militant and hostile endeavours, finds itself being conformed incessantly to the divine structures that frame existence.

God breathed into man the breath of life. Try as it might, Athens cannot live without breath. Before the Fall, God instituted marriage. Try as it might—and the actual historical Athens did try mightily—the City of Death cannot escape being bound by the concepts and structures intrinsic to marriage. To be sure, Athens seeks to rebel and escape; it tries to attack the institution of marriage at every point. But it cannot help creating its own enervated alternative. Modern culture, for example, has created an idolatry of “romantic love” seeking to make it the foundation of human fulfillment and happiness. Witness the almost total pervasive preoccupation with romantic love in contemporary music lyrics. Yet the underlying principle to this worship of romantic love is that there is one special person that will complete me and make me whole.

The hunger to love and be loved in a profound and exclusive relationship is universal, and keeps bubbling again to the surface, even when depraved and degenerate cultures seek to suppress it. “It is not good that man should be alone”, is a divine declaration that shapes humanity everywhere, in every age, in every land. Athenians hate the God who decreed and declared it, yet remain bound by it nonetheless. Pity the Athenian who prefers his misshapen, caricatured, parodied existence to the wholeness and peace of Jerusalem.

The bearing of children is another creation ordinance which binds all mankind, all cultures, all ages. A culture cannot shut this off without committing suicide upon itself. Athens is bound into a fundamental conformity with God's commands, and hates Him all the more for it. Of course, individuals within cultures take rebellion to greater lengths. Criminals obviously exist. Libertines appear to flourish—for a time. Yet, in the end, Athenian society turns its back upon criminal and degenerate elements. It has to, in order to survive.

I was both sardonically amused, and at the same time thankful, to read recently one typical self-proclaimed, boastful, liberal defend, on the one hand, the rectitude of libertine promiscuity as a chosen lifestyle, while on the other, draw the line that such behaviour should be allowed for one who was “in a relationship” already, or was married. Sardonic amusement because the confused irrationality of the position is as obvious as a suppurating boil on the nose. Thankful because God's goodness and restraining grace has prevented this individual from being as wicked as he could be, and thereby the world is being preserved, so that Jerusalem might continue its work and service to the King.

The irony is that within the world-view of Athens, the criminal and the libertine, the murderer and the rapist, is being the more consistent, the more rational, and the more coherent with the basic assumptions and presuppositions of Unbelief. If Athens were able to be true to itself, it would celebrate and idolise the most nihilistic and destructive amongst us. Our boastful liberal friend, except perforce God reaches out His hand of mercy to save him, will eventually find that to be the case in Hell, which will regard his pale principles of fidelity to be treason against the very essence of eternal Athens, and will malignantly rape him, body and soul, for all eternity. May our Lord have mercy upon him, while there is yet time, before it is too late. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”, declares our wonderful Savior of mankind. “He who comes to me, I will not cast out.” (Matthew 11:15, John 6:37)

A further inevitable frame of creation is the duty and joy of work in the creation. Try as it might, Athenians cannot escape this divine decree. It inevitably forces itself onto Athens and into Athens, despite itself. The culture that stops working is the culture that dies. The modern world has tried mightily to escape God's ordinance. It has introduced all sorts of revolutionary concepts, such as “social welfare,” or “redistribution of wealth,” only to create successive generations of lazy, self-indulgent welfare slaves, which Athenian society then (irrationally) despises.

The upshot of this attempt to escape the command of God to work and labour in the world is that others have to work all the harder. The cynical bumper sticker, “Work hard, millions on welfare depend upon you,” is right on the mark—but either way, Athens cannot succeed with non-conformity to God's command to man to work diligently at subduing the creation to feed himself in order to live.

Thus, in Genesis 1&2 we have creation ordinances which all human cultures must conform to, in order to survive—including all Unbelieving cultures. We grant that this creates within the heart of Athens an irreconcilable conflict—for, according to the fundamental beliefs of Athens, these things ought not to be. But they are. Athens cannot account for this. It ends up insisting that its citizens conform to these ordinances to one degree or other. It ends up despising and making outcasts those who deny these ordinances in a consistent manner. Yet it both applauds, and hates their endeavour at the same time. Athens is fundamentally irrational. It wants to be free of God, but cannot be. It encourages and militantly fosters rebellion against the Living God, and yet hates those whose rebellion dares to be consistent with its own principles. It is intellectually and spiritually bankrupt—and always will be.

Friday, 15 February 2008

ChnMind 1:12 The Imperial Power of The Christian Faith

Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

Some cultures are weak and insipid. They become subjugated. Some emerge initially as powerful, only to die away. Others are, and remain potent. Jerusalem's culture is the most powerful of all. It alone has the power, the resources, the inspiration, the hope, and the will to subdue all the earth.

The Christian Mind is one attuned to power and might. It seeks after power. But the power that it seeks is not that which comes from the sword. It is not that which comes from forced domination. It is not the power of politics or government. It does not come from lording it over others. It does not come from great wealth.

The power-complex of Jerusalem is diametrically opposed to the power-complex of Athens. Messiah Jesus charactertises the antithesis as follows: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be the first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20: 26, 27) The power complex of Jerusalem is distinct in its origin; it is distinct in its application.

The power of Jerusalem is spiritual power—which is to say that it comes from the Holy Spirit. This spiritual power is not anti-material—which is the old Athenian heresy—but it is influence over the entire creation which comes doing all things spiritually—that is, doing all things under the control and direction of God. Secondly, it is ministerial in its application, not lording it over others. Above all, Jerusalem seeks to minister to, or serve the Living God. This requires, in turn, that it is dedicated to the service of the creation. As Jerusalem serves all mankind and the entire creation, it subdues everything. Spirituality means doing all things in creation according to the will and command of the Creator. As Jerusalem ministers in this fashion, she becomes enormously powerful.

Which is more powerful (influential): the Formula One race car or the John Deere tractor? The correct answer depends on whether we are working on a farm or racing at Le Mans. When the tractor does the work for which it was designed and intended, it becomes extremely powerful, able to influence much in the creation order. Similarly with the racing car. When man starts to believe, think, live and act in the way intended and prescribed by the Lord, he becomes exponentially more potent and influential. The power of God to influence and fructify the creation flows through him.

Below are some of the keys to Jerusalem's power in the world—for Jerusalem is the city made up of people seeking to serve God, according to God's direction, in God's world. It is a city of people seeking to bring every thought and act into subjection to His Christ, Who is the head of the new human race.

The Holiness of Creation

The first building block of imperial Jerusalem is to regard all of life as holy and sanctified. Not only has every part of me (heart, soul, strength and mind) to be set aside for holy service to serve God, but all of creation is likewise holy—regarded as belonging to God, and created for His glory and honour. This includes every atom of the entire creation. It is universally valid. Whenever Jerusalem has been persuaded by Athenian whispers that parts of the creation are intrinsically evil and to be disregarded, she has lost spiritual power. God's covenant is with all that He has created, and he who refuses to accept this, loses spiritual traction and power. “Every square inch for Christ,” is the imperialist slogan of Jerusalem.

Mircea Eliade in his classic volume, The Sacred and the Profane argues that all religions have the motif of two realms: the sacred (special, holy, divine) and the profane (ordinary, common). The Christian faith has this motif as well: when we worship God, particularly gathering with His people to worship on the Lord's day, we are engaging in a holy activity,unlike any other. “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. . . . Therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20: 8,11) However, the Christian construct of the profane is very different from Athenian religions. For the Christian all of the creation is holy unto the Lord: Christian worship is declared to be particularly holy because it is a celebration of that fact before the Lord. Thus, the Christian sacred/profane distinction is one of focus, not a distinction of being.

Because Jerusalem self-consciously belongs to the all-creating-One, it knows that everything lives and moves and has its being in God. Therefore, everything in the creation belongs to God for His disposition and purpose—and, in that sense, everything is holy to the Lord. “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose; even the wicked for the day of evil,” declares the Proverb. (Proverbs 16:4) As Jerusalem carries out its duties and responsibilities under the Cultural Mandate—going forth to fill the earth, multiply in it, and subdue it—it sees these as acutely holy and spiritual activities.

God Milking the Cows

A second key building block of Jerusalem's power lies in the concept of vocation or calling. The Cultural Mandate represents a general divine calling by God to man to rule over the creation, subdue it, and cause its potentiality to become actuality. Within that call are manifold individual callings or tasks which come to every man—whether he will acknowledge it or not, obey or not. Jerusalem's distinctness is reflected insofar as Jerusalem is the city where the inhabitants acknowledge their callings and vocations and seek to carry them out with faithfulness and energy.

God calls some to be teachers, some to be artisans, some to be greenkeepers, some to be judges, and so forth—to represent Him and carry out His work in the creation. Within Jerusalem these tasks are radically and acutely spiritual duties, as spiritual as praying, meditating, giving, or worshiping. The classical text in this regard is found in Exodus 35:30—31, where God provided skilled craftsmen to build the ark and tabernacle: “then Moses said to the sons of Israel, 'See the Lord has called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship.'” Being Spirit filled meant that Bezalel became a wonderful craftsman.

As Jerusalem embraces the concept of vocation, its citizens prosecute their respective duties and callings with great energy, passion, excitement and skill—because they are spiritual services of worship to Christ the King. Herein lies the source of Jerusalem's power and influence over the world.

The Protestant Reformation has been viewed as a time of great progress in the Christian faith. However, in may ways, it was not progress, but a recovery (a re-formation) of vital life that had been lost, or had become deeply infected with the idolatry of Athens. Luther, reacting against the limp “other worldliness” of the church of his day, and reflecting instead upon what was taught in Scripture, declared that the plough boy, engaged in his furrows, was involved in just as spiritual and holy a task as the most eminent and effective preacher. The work of the plough boy was as spiritual as the great doctor, Luther. Still further, Luther declared that when the milk maid milked the cows, God was milking the cows! That is how spiritual the activity was and is.

In declaring this, Luther was saying nothing new, but was restating in idiomatic force and colour what God had revealed to the Church in the time of the building of the tabernacle. Paul reiterated this when he declared, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” (I Corinthians 10:31); and, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Ephesians 3:17); and, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” (Ephesians 3:23).

Athens, in denial of the Creator, has no mandate to rule over the earth. It is gnawed with uncertainty, doubt, and guilt over the place of man upon the earth. If you ask an Athenian whether the world would be a better place if mankind were not in it, most would affirm that it would be better if man were not here at all. Nature would be far better off, left alone, without man, the great destroyer. For the Athenian who asserts that man has a right to rule and subdue Nature, if you ask where that right comes from and in what it resides, the only answer Athens can provide is that man's right to rule the world arises from his ability to do so. If you can, you have a right to. Might makes right. In either case, Athenians at root, are gnawed with the suspicion that mankind's presence and activity in the world is immoral and evil.

Cultural Power Explodes Under the Reformation

Medieval Christianity was deeply infected with Athenian platonic thought. It was virtually universally believed that the material world was unspiritual and warred against the “true” concerns of God's kingdom. True spirituality could be achieved only by escaping from the cares, distractions, and concerns to do with the material aspects of life. In other words, medieval Christianity had adopted the pagan view of the sacred and the profane. The Reformation—a widespread return to the Word of God as infallible and final authority over all of life—reversed a great deal of Athenian unbelief in this area. Consequently, as significant parts of Europe returned to a more biblical view, the believing community became empowered, and much more influential over all areas of life. Economic growth exploded, wealth increased, and the creation was more powerfully subdued, leading to a greater unfolding of latent potentialities than ever before.

The impotence of medieval culture and its inability to exercise dominion and power over the earth began to be replaced as Jerusalem started throwing down some of the more pervasively worshiped idols in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As a result prosperity began to increase. (A perusal of Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [trans. by Talcott Parsons, (London and New York: Routledge, 1992, first published by HarperCollins in 1930], gives the case for demand side economic growth under the influence of the Reformation. The supply side case is found in Robert B Ekelund, Robert F Hebert, and Robert D Tollison, “Protestantism and Capitalism: A Supply-Side View,” [www.terry.uga.edu/~selgin/files/Tollison2.pdf. ])

Under the influence of biblical faith, all of life came to be seen as a holy calling, and all work spiritual. Feast days were abolished—which had accounted for about one third of all annual work days. Instead of six days of labour, the medieval man and his wife had their work week reduced to four days (the 30 hour week!)—as they wasted time attending endless and increasing feast days. Scarce capital and labour was re-allocated from monumental cathedral construction projects which consumed the resources of generations, pilgrimages, paying for religious festivals, and the construction and sale of pilgrim souvenirs (all designed to help people escape the mundane material world) to far more productive uses related to subduing the creation and causing its potentiality to unfold. As Ekelund, et al. state, “The important thing here is that there was a supply side effect of Protestantism on the labour supply. Festivals, pilgrimages, holy days, and widespread feasting . . . meant a large withdrawal of work effort.” (Ibid., p. 25.)

In addition the number of people materially supported in various capacities within the church was sharply reduced under the Reformation. The medieval church had, not only a profusion of monastic orders, but a wide variety of classes of officers and functionaries within them. Outside the monastic orders, the ecclesiastical establishment (the clergy) was represented in a vast array of offices, positions, and livings. All these offices were regarded as more holy spiritual than the the “office” of plough boy. The Reformation did away with all this leech-like waste.

Incidentally, the medieval church's adoption of the Athenian sacred versus secular distinction, did not arise out of nothing. It had its roots in pagan Rome. The medieval church did significant damage to Jerusalem by welcoming and abetting the insinuation of Greek idolatry into the holy city—and it was comprehensively done, so much so that it became largely an unconscious development. The development of a feast-day-economy came from Imperial Rome. At the end of the Roman Empire the number of pagan feast days had reached to between 175 and 200 per year. (Webster Hutton, Rest Days: The Christian Sunday, the Jewish Sabbath and Their Historical and Anthropological Prototypes [New York: The MacMillan Company, 1916], pp. 305,6) Many of the “Christian” festivals were borrowed from this pagan calendar—both as to frequency and spirit. The polity and culture of Imperial Rome in the end crumbled under this dead weight. Rome—which had earlier prided itself on its engineering brilliance—drowned itself in mysticism and superstition. Without a Believing Mind, Imperial Rome could not continue to subdue the earth. Its original vigorous practical pragmatism became an attenuated shadow of impotent superstition and ignorance.

Under the Protestant Reformation, there was a significant increase in the demand and supply equations of both capital and labour. This, coupled with what Weber called the Protestant Ethic, meant that post-medieval man was powerfully effective, far more so than centuries of predecessors, in subduing the creation. It serves as a signal demonstration of the imperial power of Jerusalem—power that comes from faithful service to God—over the creation.

When a people or culture work in the way that God has commanded and intends, that culture will become enormously powerful. Ultimately, that power and influence flows to Jerusalem, for she is the City of God. Athens has a name for being alive and potent, but it is dead. The Unbelieving Mind, ever gnawed by the uncertainty of that about which it does not know and cannot speak, by the uncertainty of the random other, is weak, and like Rome of old, will fall before the dead weight of its superstitions. The Believing Mind ever seeks to achieve and wield true, spiritual ministerial power, ultimately exercising enormous influence over mankind and the creation. It is overtly and nakedly ambitious for the glory of God in Christ to be revealed in an ever-increasing panorama.

The Christian Mind seeks the power over the world that arises from being a faithful servant of God.

Monday, 11 February 2008

The Christian Faith Versus the Removal of Section 59

The Removal of Section 59 Shows State Religious Intolerance Alive and Well in New Zealand

This is my religion. Centuries ago, God appeared to Abraham, my father when he was in Mesopotamia. He commanded Abraham to leave his father’s land and move to a land which God would show to him. The Lord entered into a solemn covenant with Abraham and required that Abraham command his children and his household to keep the ways of the Lord so as to do righteousness and justice all their days. (Genesis 18:19)

Subsequently, my/our fathers went down to Egypt and were enslaved there for 400 years. But God did not forget His promises and His covenant. He sent Moses to Pharaoh, and through the power of God, Moses delivered Israel, the descendants of Abraham, out of Egyptian slavery. The Lord met with all Israel at Mt Sinai, and renewed His covenant with them there.

He gave them His holy law, the Ten Commandments. In particular, He commanded that fathers and mothers should be honoured. So important was this command, that it was the first command to be given with a promise—that His people would enjoy a long a prosperous life if they respected and honoured their parents. So, my family believes that our Lord set forth the family as a most precious institution, and He granted authority to parents, by commanding that parents should be respected. Our family law systems reflects this most important principle.

He further commanded that all parents must teach God’s laws and covenant to their children daily, in every aspect of their lives. (Deuteronomy 6: 4--9) But our fathers would not listen. They despised God and broke His covenant. Our Lord, however, did not forget. He loved Israel and promised that He would send an Anointed One, a Messiah to deliver us and our fathers. He also continued to strive with Israel. Often He reminded them of their duty to raise their children in a way which pleased Him: to train them, instruct them, discipline them diligently, to teach them to keep covenant, obey, and follow the Lord.

He commanded that as part of their duty, parents should not neglect the rod of physical correction. He promised that if the rod of discipline were used properly, it would drive foolishness far away from the hearts of children and they would grow up fearing God and loving men. (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:13,14) But our fathers would not listen and they rejected God’s commands, substituting instead the child-rearing practices of the nations around them. This led them to perpetrate acts of great cruelty and injustice upon their children, including killing them.

Many times our Lord disciplined and punished Israel, as an example of how a loving father should treat his children. But Israel would not listen. They forgot and despised the Lord. But the Lord did not forget them. In time He sent His Messiah, His only begotten Son, who would restore all things. He offered up His life as the atonement for all the sins of His covenant people. God accepted His sacrifice on behalf of His people, furnishing proof by raising Him from the dead, and seating the Christ at His right hand, as the King of all kings, and Lord of all lords. He commanded all men everywhere to repent and to believe in His Son, and to follow Him that all might know and experience the salvation of God.

So I have come to believe. And my Lord commands me, even as He instructed my father Abraham so long ago, to raise my children diligently and faithfully. I am bound in a holy covenant with the Lord and His Messiah, Jesus to train and instruct my children. Part of my duty to Him is to apply the rod of discipline where and when needed. I cannot neglect to do this, lest I break covenant, even as my fathers did. By the grace of God, I am determined not to do this.

This is my faith. This is my religion. I do not ask that others be required to believe and act as I do. I ask, however, that the Government leave me alone so that I and my family may keep covenant with God, and practice my faith. I ask you not to pass laws that would mean that it would be illegal to practice my beliefs.

For my part, I promise that my children will be raised to fear God and love all men. I promise to you that my children will not murder, they will not steal, nor fight, nor disturb the peace, nor do drugs, nor join gangs. I promise that my children will respect the property and possessions of others; that they will honour and pray for our government and judges and courts. I promise that our children will be raised to love and do good to all men. I promise that our children will lead quiet lives, they will work hard, and they will support themselves, and they will take care of the poor and the sick and the needy and the stranger and the immigrant.

I can promise this, because my Lord has made promises to me—that if I keep covenant with Him, and diligently instruct and discipline my children in His ways, He will keep covenant with me and my children will, in their turn, walk in His ways. This is my religion, my faith.

Religious freedom is a very fragile thing. In the public debate over this Bill to repeal Section 59, one of the promoters of this Bill has publicly ridiculed my faith and religion. Ms Sue Bradford, in reacting against my faith, and others who have spoken up, has said that my religion reminds her of “sexual bondage and discipline”. . . that it is based “in the Old Testament” and that “It’s a really terrible approach to take theologically, politically and socially.” (New Zealand Herald, August 25, 2005)

When the makers of law hold such views and publicly state that aspects of my faith are a “disgrace” and seek to inscribe those views in law, and thereby proscribe the practice of my faith, we are just one small step away from official, public religious persecution.

In the long run, that will be a far greater evil--regrettably not a new evil--but one that many carelessly assumed had long since been banished to a remote and primitive past. Athens is starting to take off its masks .

John Tertullian

The Duty of the Family to Impose Appropriate "Violence" upon Children

The State Has a Duty to Encourage Families to Impose Lawful Violence Upon Children

Below is an excerpt from a submission made to the Justice and Electoral Select Committee considering the removal of Section 59. As all New Zealand readers will know, Section 59 of the Crimes Act permitted parents to use reasonable force in disciplining and correcting their children.

The Parliament was deeply divided on the issue, with over 80 percent of the electorate polled indicating their opposition to the proposed change. At the last hour, a compromise was reached, which in effect meant there was a presumption of guilt if any parent exercised (light) physical discipline upon a child. Whether to prosecute or not was left to the discretion of the police.

We believe this piece of iniquitous legislation will do more to undermine the institution of the family in the community than any other in living memory, apart from the introduction of no-fault divorce, and the Domestic Purposes Benefit where the state pays for single mothers to bear and raise children.

In any event, the repeal shows the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of Athens at its best. It demonstrates that Athens has no doctrine of the family. It does not know what a family is. As one cynic observed, Athens believes a family is two lesbians and a budgerigar. But there is a more sinister dynamic at work. Underneath it all, Athens does not care if it does not have a doctrine of a family--whether in law or anything else. The bottom line for Athens is that the State is the real parent and the people are its children.

Cindy Kiro, the current Commissioner for Children in New Zealand vacuously and stupidly talks of "our children" reflecting her view that children belong to society and its institutionalised reflection--the state--not to parents. She probably has no idea of the implications of the phrase. Nevertheless her view is the standard Athenian line of propaganda.

The excerpt below reflects a more Christian view on the responsibilities and duties of parents towards children, and the duties and responsibilities of the state toward parents.

Children, Like All Citizens, Must be Subject to the Sanctions of Lawful Force

"The abuse of children is utterly detestable and those who abuse children should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

"However, like all citizens children are born and raised within a framework of law and order. Law and order is the fundamental bedrock of civilization—and children are fully entitled to enjoy its privileges and protections. Like all citizens, when children act contrary to the establishment of order, they must be subject to the sanctions of lawful force.

"Those who oppose the use of force upon children are either naïve or disingenuous in their view. We all live subject to force and the sanctions of the law--and children are no exception. We cannot, on the one hand, extol the vital necessity of law and order, without necessarily extolling the virtues of the force which provides sanctions for the law and which maintains, protects and defends order. The imposition of force, therefore, is essential to the well-being of the community and all who are in it.

"Moreover, the imposition of force is necessarily and inescapably violent, insofar as violence inevitably involves the imposition of force upon another. Granted there are two kinds of violence. One kind is unrestrained, vicious, uncontrolled. The other is ordered, structured, controlled, measured--but violence nonetheless.

"Society cannot exist without violence. It is inescapable. The only issue is what kind of violence we are going to have. Either society will practice controlled and structured violence through the administration of law and order, or it will have lawless violence with the attendant destruction of the fabric of society itself.

"Children are entitled to enjoy the privileges and protections of law and order. They must be subject to order, and to lawful force which is a vital constituent of the rule of law and the maintenance of order.

"Parents are responsible to promulgate family law and order. They also must be granted sanction by the criminal law to impose the necessary force to ensure that their family law is respected and their family order is maintained. Parents are the first “state”, school, and community that children experience. It is in the home that children must be taught respect for law and order in general, that to break family law will bring sanctions upon them, and that they have a responsibility to maintain family order.

"The range of sanctions within a particular family’s law system are naturally wide and varied between families. They will draw upon family history and culture, family religion, and traditional wisdom.

"The role of the state is self-evident. Firstly, the state must fulfill its responsibility to maintain law and order in the community and it must therefore sanction and apply lawful force to maintain law and order. Secondly, the state must respect the maintenance of law and order in families. It must, in this regard, respect the multi-cultural diversity within family law systems. And it must support parents in the establishment of their respective law and order systems within their families, and support parents in the imposition of lawful force to maintain family law and order systems.

"Thirdly, the responsibility of the state is to set boundaries upon all family law and order systems to ensure that parents do not engage in any criminal activity as they carry out their responsibilities to raise their children within the framework of law and order which is meaningful to that family.

"The proposal to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act represents a revolutionary change in the previously established law and order structures. It makes the imposition of force upon children subject to criminal charges of assault. Therefore, the Bill represents a fundamental change in the role of the state towards the community. Rather than the state fulfilling its duty to support family law and order systems and the sanctions of force which go with those systems, the Bill removes the state’s protection and support for reasonable family force by making it illegal.

"We note here that the promoters of the Bill claim that they are not intending to outlaw occasional smacking. However, in this they are either being deliberately disingenuous or extremely naïve. By removing the state’s support and protection for the imposition of reasonable force to sanction diverse family law systems, all force exercised within families will in principle be a form of assault. The intentions of the promoters of the Bill--if passed--will by then be totally irrelevant.

"The end result of the State abdicating its duty and responsibility to support and encourage lawful violence in the maintenance of law and order will be that lawless and unrestrained violence will increase--and increase markedly. This fruit will be fifteen to twenty years in the ripening: the reality that it will not happen tomorrow will be used by the facile as a justification for the change. But it will happen nonetheless--inevitably and remorselessly."

No fault divorce and the DPB took thirty years to produce New Zealand's underclass of welfare slaves. That problem is now intractable. There is no hope of change or transformation from within Athens itself. We expect that in time the repeal of Section 59 will exacerbate the rise of violent crime and expressions of random violence exponentially. The only real and realistic hope is to repudiate Athens and turn to Christ, the Saviour of the world.

"What harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? . . . . Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord and do not touch what is unclean. And I will welcome you and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:15--18)

John Tertullian

Friday, 8 February 2008

ChnMind 1:11 Will Man Succeed in Subduing the Earth?

The Cultural Mandate After the Fall

The tectonic plates of human history shifted at the Fall—when all mankind in Adam disbelieved God and rebelled against Him. Yet between pre-Fall history and post-Fall history there are continuities, as well as discontinuities.

Clearly, the Lord-Who-does-not-change is one continuity; the creation another; man being in the image of God is a third. The Cultural Mandate—the command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it—is yet another. But there are also changes within the Cultural Mandate—changes which reflect the reality and existence of sin.

The first, and most obvious, is that the duties and tasks given to mankind become much harder to perform. While the command to be fruitful and multiply remains, now the bearing of children would be extremely painful. Moreover, the creation itself would now work against man, rebelling against his rule—so that man, being in God's likeness, would experience being rebelled against. It would grow thorns and thistles—throwing up constant obstacles to man's rule over nature. Secondly, the very ground was cursed as a result of man's sin. This meant that it was to be not nearly as productive and fecund as it once was. Man would continue to cultivate it, but would do so in toil and sorrow. It would require hard labour rather than delightfully easy labour.

A good analogy of the contrast between the experience of carrying out the Cultural Mandate before the Fall, and the struggle, strife and effort after the Fall, is the difference between when a sportsperson is “zoned” and when he is not. When a sportsperson is “in the zone” the activities required are found to be effortless and amazingly skillful, precise and accurate. So man before the Fall. When a sportsperson is not zoned, however, every aspect of the game can be a struggle, requiring hard physical effort. Play is unskilled, copious mistakes are made. Everything is hard; every stroke or every shot clumsy. So man after the Fall.

Thus, God speaks to Adam after his sin: “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat of the plants of the field—by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground.” (Genesis 3:17—19)

The citizens of Jerusalem by faith accept this duty-by-struggle in humility, recognising that it provides a constant reminder that sin has consequences which cannot easily be escaped. But, thanks be to God, this does not consign mankind to a never ending life sentence of hard labour. In Psalm 8, man's position as being a little lower than God is to result in him being crowned with glory and majesty—these are not terms of humiliation and despair. He is made to rule over the works of God's hands. And this is provides the ground for declaring the glory and majesty of the Name of God through the whole earth.

As God's plan of redemption unfolds and comes to pass, it takes a most spectacular and amazing turn. Herein lies the greatest discontinuity between the time prior to the Fall and afterward. Another Adam is born into the human race—a second Adam—Who wins the right to reverse all the consequences of Adam's sin. As such, He is the first to be crowned fully with the glory and honour which God originally intended for mankind. The glorious picture given in Psalm 8 for mankind in general is declared to be realised and accomplished first in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Compare Psalm 8 with Hebrews 2: 5-8) He is raised to the right hand of God—the highest place of dignity for any creature. All authority in heaven and earth is granted to Him, and gradually, all things and all enemies are being placed under His feet. He will remain at God's right hand until it is finished and done. (Psalm 110:1)

His people, the citizens of Jerusalem, share in this gradual restitution because they inherit the fruit and blessing of what He earned on their behalf. We are part of the new creation which is being worked by Christ as He impeccably and irrevocably brings the fruit of His redemption to pass on the earth. The creation will gradually cease to groan under the weight of man's sin as the citizens of Jerusalem grow in number and a great multitude which no man can number depart Athens, the city of death and come through the gates of Jerusalem, the city of life in Christ. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. Eye has not seen nor ear heard what glory awaits to come forth upon the earth as the Kingdom of God expands to fill the whole, as Athens is depopulated and withers away into an ossified relic of a bygone blighted age.

So the call continues to go out to the citizens of Athens, who in our day foolishly believe that it is Jerusalem which is an empty relic of a primitive past and that Athens has triumphed. But He who sits at God's right hand is laughing at them (Psalm 2: 4). Indeed it is Athens which is doomed, not Jerusalem. God has decreed that Athens shall be shattered and broken by His Christ. Therefore, Athenians, while it is still today, while it is still possible, leave the city of death. Come to Jerusalem and worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. There is no future for you in Athens—only death. Leave now, for tomorrow the gates of Jerusalem may be shut forever to you.

I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, “Thou art My Son,
Today I have begotten Thee.
Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thy inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron,
Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware.”

Now, therefore, O kings, show discernment
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the Lord with reverence,
And rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry
And you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.

How blessed are those who take refuge in Him.
(Psalm 2:7—12)

It is well to recall that these are the words of the Living God, Who called all things into being of nothing by His command. His declaration over Athens makes its history and prospect, doom and dissolution utterly certain--as certain as existence itself. To parody Descartes: I am (and the creation is), therefore Athens is doomed.

To the vast majority within Athens, the god of current favour and choice is the Government. It is to their kings, rulers and judges they look for provision and life, health and happiness, salvation and safety. But, citizens of Athens, the doom of your judges and rulers is declared and certain—and if you continue in them and with them, you will likewise perish with them. Come out from among them while it is still today.

The certain prospect that the Jerusalem will triumph upon the earth fills its citizens with hope that will not disappoint. Therefore, the Christian mind is fundamentally an optimistic mind, experiencing all the well-being that such well-founded godly optimism brings. The optimistic outlook of the Believing Mind is not pollyanna like—refusing to see any evil or danger, suffering or harm—but rather sees the inevitable and ultimate triumph of Christ and His people upon the earth, despite such things. Any reversals are viewed as mere short-term setbacks. Any suffering is for the ultimate increase in His glory. Any struggle with sin is seen as for the greater manifestation of Christ's grace. No labour for Christ is in vain. No work of faith without significance. No effort without fruit.

For the Believing Mind these things are as certain as God Himself, utterly locked in by the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and His ascension and enthronement on high.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

ChnMind 1.10 The Real Risks of Overpopulation

The “Perils” of Overpopulation

In Athens two abiding motivational forces are fear and greed. Both arise as a direct consequence of rejecting the Creator. The Bible confirms what we would expect to be the case—that every citizen of Athens both knows the true God, and yet at the same time suppresses that knowledge and insists that He does not exist. (Romans 1:18ff).

This leads to an underlying, deep seated fear of ultimate retribution and judgement in the heart of every citizen of Athens. Consequently, fear is easily aroused, and it quite naturally can grip the hearts and minds of Athens in a powerful way.

Politicians and governors, media and educators, bureaucrats and social “scientists” intuitively know this to be true. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to get traction with the masses is to make them afraid. When they are afraid, then they will listen and will be far more likely to accept the ever-greater-price which Athenian governments are wanting to exact from their citizens: higher taxes, emergency powers, and greater controls.

In wartime, citizens are quite ready to relinquish civil rights and liberties. Modern governments seek to keep their citizenry in a perpetual war where mankind or the nation is deemed to be under threat. Remember the importance of perpetual war to Big Brother's control in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four. It has often been said that tin pot despots love to warmonger so they can keep their populations under control. But the despots and ruling classes of “modern” western democracies effectively do the same, creating a climate of fear through propagandizing pseudo-threats that are said to have the potential to destroy us all.

The modern fear driven fixation with global warming is just the latest manifestation of the malady. It works amongst Athenians because deep down they truly are afraid and they are expecting calamity to fall. Therefore, when their helpful governments present an apparent threat to justify an increase, once again, in state power and control, the citizens are ever credulous, ready to believe it simply because it has the hallmarks of genuineness—that is, it is a threat. In a climate of fear, all threats are presumed genuine. “The wicked flee” says the Scripture, “when no-one pursues.” (Proverbs 28:1)

Historically, the philosophers and intelligensia in Athens have laughed off this cancerous attack upon the body politic, arguing that a free press and objective rational science would prove effective chemotherapy against such scaremongering. How fatuous this has proven to be! Firstly, the free media—that much vaunted fourth estate of government—has rapidly gone over to the “dark side.” Just like the other “estates” of government, the media has found that fear gets attention. Fear sells papers and subscriptions. There are headlines in fear. There is money in fear. As for science—it has turned out exactly as Jerusalem always said it would turn out—to be anything but objective. Scientists, too, need tenure. They need money and research grants. They need the plush government jobs. They need respectability. Science, too, has gone rapidly over to the dark side and has become just another organ of state propaganda—a radically madeover, sequined cheerleader for Athenian powerbrokers.

There were plenty of fears in the sixties and seventies being propounded. The Cold War was a beauty. Then there was the imminent and terrible threat of mankind entering a new Ice Age. We would all freeze to death, we were told, UNLESS . . . Ah, yes, Athens always has its statist “unless.” Another imminent threat and catastrophe facing mankind was declared to be over-population. This was a direct assault upon the God's authority, insofar as the Creator commanded mankind to be fruitful and multiply, yet man was attempting to counter-command the Creator.

In the sixties and seventies, Western experts, loudly supported by the chattering classes, cheered on and funded by governments, proclaimed the doom of planet earth. The earth, and the human race, was facing extinction due to the imminent threat over overpopulation. The world was running out of food. Famine would stalk the land(s). Newsweek, that great trumpeter of the “apocalypse du jour”, warned:

“The current rate of [population] growth, continued in 600 years, would leave every inhabitant of the world with only one square yard to live on. By the year 3500 the weight of human bodies on the earth's surface would equal the weight of the world itself. By the year 6000, the solid mass of humanity would be expanding outward into space at the speed of light. 'The world has a cancer,' a top Rockerfeller Foundation official has said, 'and that cancer cell is man.'” (“How Many Babies is Too Many,” Newsweek, [vol LX, no 4, July 23, 1962] p. 27)

(Notice, incidentally, how the “top Rockerfeller Foundation official” proves to be a true son of Athens. Man is a cancer cell destroying the world—therefore, by implication, to defend the world we must attack and destroy man.)

Doomsday was just around the corner.

“Dr Robert White-Stevens, and American expert on fertilizers and insecticides, predicted here yesterday that, at present growth rates, the world by Nov. 2026 will no longer be able to feed its population and will be stumbling all over itself.

“On that date, he said, the world's population will have reached 50 billion—a point where there are more mouths to feed than food available, and more bodies to house than land. He said there would be 10,000 persons in every square mile of land, including Antarctica and the Sahara Desert” (Oakland Tribune, cited by Rousas J Rushdoony, The Myth of Overpopulation, [Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1971], p.12.)

The classic piece on the threat of overpopulation, arising out of the primordial slime of the environmentalist movement, was Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb. (New York, Ballantine Books, 1968). Ehrlich predicted that there would be world-wide famines in the 70's and 80's as a result of over population. When these things failed to materialise, Ehrlich equivocated, and argued that many of the things predictions in Population Bomb were not predictions at all—they were just scenarios! However, statements he made in 1968 such as “The battle to feed all of humanity is over [that is, lost],” and “. . . The world will experience starvation of tragic proportions — hundreds of millions of people will starve to death,” sound like predictions to me.

(Don't you get a sense of deja-vu as we are daily confronted by the current apocalypse du jour—anthropogenic global warming. When that too will fail to produce its doomsday, I predict that the “experts” will wriggle away, evincing the syndrome of selective memory, claiming that they were not making predictions back in 2002—8, they were only presenting scenarios. Precisely. Flights of fanciful imagination. An Inconvenient Truth, indeed. But it will not stop the chattering classes, the powerbrokers, the media, and the scientific communities of Athens continuing to lionise them. The unbelieving world is ever the city of the Great Lie)

In the conflict between Jerusalem and Athens the myth of a world threat due to overpopulation was important insofar as Athens was implying that Jerusalem, which holds to the responsibility to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth exceedingly, is itself a malediction to the human race. It turns out of course that the glory and complexity of creation is far greater than simplistic naïve statistical models being used to prescribe the future and proscribe the present. The explosion of technology has meant that food production has increased hugely. Also, it has become abundantly clear to all except the willfully ignorant that social and legal structures control the production rates of food more than anything else. So the Soviet Union could not feed its own population for over seventy years under communal property ownership structures, despite the fact that prior to the communist revolution in 1917, the Ukraine was the breadbasket of Europe. It was the Soviets that experienced widespread starvation under Lenin and Stalin.

Zimbabwe is a further illustration. Food used to be plentiful. Zimbabwe exported food throughout Africa. But under Mugabe's expropriation of land and nationalisation to distribute to political allies, it now depends upon grain imports to survive. It has been successfully argued that the single most important factor in food production is property rights. China, India, South Korea and Botswana were able to eliminate famine and hunger by establishing and protecting private property rights. Ethiopia, North Korea, the Soviet Union, and Zimbabwe caused famines when property rights were abolished. North Korea is a telling case study, insofar as South Korea is able to feed its own population abundantly, while in the North the people starve. The key difference between the two is that north of the 38 Parallel the state owns all land and private property rights do not exist. In the South, where private property rights to exist, the land flowers with plentiful crops and a rich abundance.

The command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth abundantly is as beneficent today as it was in the beginning—provided the laws and commands of Jerusalem's God are respected and followed. But, in those places, societies and countries where Athens has gained sway for a time it is likely to be that while two may be company, three is definitely overcrowding.

One of the reasons why citizens of Athens get hopelessly wound up about this is the trap of thinking of the world's resources as finite. To be sure, all created reality is finite, and the natural resources of the world are no exception. There are only so many carbon atoms in existence. The number is finite. But the utility arising from the application of finite resources is virtually limitless. That is why Julian Simon postulated that “operationally”—to all intents and purposes, there is no such thing as scarcity of resources. Two examples illustrate the point. Copper is a limited, scarce, finite resource. Since electricity is conducted via copper wire, it had been argued that soon all the copper stocks in the world would be exhausted, leaving the majority of people without access to electricity. Once all the copper had been used up there was no more. Then technological advancement “discovered” that electricity could be conducted even more effectively via silicon fibres—and sand, the core ingredient of which is silica—is abundant and replenishing.

Secondly, and again with reference to copper wire, as long as telephony depended upon copper wire for transmission, the limitations of global copper inventory meant that third world countries would never be able to be wired for telephony. Now they will never need so, as wireless, mobile, and microwave technologies replace the outdated and outmoded copper wire networks.

These two examples also illustrate the vital importance of the human contribution in the equation. They are apt illustrations of mankind subduing the earth, and making it bring forth more and more abundance, riches, and utility. Economic history is replete with similar examples. As man subdues the earth, he escapes the limitation of scarce resources, as new skills are earned, intellectual capital generated, and technologies discovered. In principle, nothing is impossible. Only that which is evil and immoral must be proscribed and prevented—but, apart from that, as they say, “The sky's the limit.”

Athens, however, remains fundamentally ambivalent towards human progress. It is gnawed with doubt. Firstly, it has no clear doctrine of humanity. It cannot say with any certainty what a human being is, and how man is distinct from the rest of the world. Secondly, it has no clear doctrine of dominion over the earth; it wonders whether men should exercise dominion in the first place. Its doubts and confusion on this point lead Athens repeatedly to subject and enslave man to the rest of the creation (always transmitted through the involuntary exactitudes of the State). In Athens, nature always tends to rule man, not the reverse. Thirdly, Athens is a city racked with fear. It constantly sees apocalyptic calamities threatening on the horizon as a result of human progress, technological advance, and man's exercise of dominion over the world. It believes that progress will only generate envy amongst the gods and hasten the vengeance of the gods, or blind fate, or capricious chance. Athens, in the end, is a city of death, fit only for the dead in heart.