Friday, November 25, 2011

We Are Watching the Tower of Babel Fall, Again 

The EU was about one thing from the beginning, and one thing only- the desire to overcome the curse of God and achieve peace for themselves, without submitting to the rule of Christ.

It is difficult for Americans to appreciate how deeply scarring the two world wars were for Europe.  Much of their land was bombed, their families and homes killed, monstrous atrocities committed on all sides, their economies wrecked.  They desired at all costs to avoid this fate ever again.  After the war, they set about the project of European Union.  This project was never workable, and was widely criticized on exactly the grounds that we now see it failing.  In this article by Danien Hannan, all the faults of the European Union are laid out well, as well as the fact that all of this was predicted by many from the beginning.

But I think Hannan gets something not quite right.  He says,
Why? What were they thinking? If you listen carefully to what Euro-integrationists were saying when the single currency was launched, you hear a subtext. It's not so much that they liked the euro, it's that they disliked the people who opposed it.
He says that the European Union is not truly an economic or political project, but a tribal one.  Here he starts to get close to the real issue.  But in his article, he quotes Angela Merkel saying something that shows us the real issue at heart.
Nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe, and that's why I say, if the euro fails, Europe fails. We have a historical obligation: to protect by all means Europe's unification process begun by our forefathers after centuries of hatred and bloodshed.
They are terrified of war.  Rightly so- war is terrifying.  And so they continue down this path despite the fact that reality has vetoed their dreams.  Or even more specifically, God has.  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh (Psalm 2) as they attempt to seize the benefits of the kingdom of God by force.

They want peace, but the reason they will not have peace is that they are at war with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.  As long as that war continues, they can never have peace.  They are like the false prophets of Isaiah's day crying out, "Peace, Peace" when there is no peace.

Without the Christian perspective this can never be understood.  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are the agents of God's will, destroying all those who rebel against the rule of King Jesus .  One of those horsemen is famine, which we are experiencing just a little bit of in the western world right now, as our foolish dreams are destroying our prosperity.  Another one of those horsemen is war, and that crimson rider will no doubt be making his appearance soon.  Angela Merkel knows it instinctively, and is terrified, which is why she still desperately pursues her dream.  This is why those pushing European Union will continue to do so even as it becomes more and more obvious that it is hopeless.  This is why the socialists in our own country will continue to push their dream here.  This is why those pushing the increase of the power of the state will never stop, no matter how badly they fail, no matter how thoroughly their lies are exposed.  They will never stop, because the only option is to face the judgment of God, and this they cannot do.

We cannot enjoy the benefits of the kingdom of God, one of which is peace, unless we submit to the ruler of that kingdom. God will destroy any attempt to avoid His judgment and reject the rightful rule of Jesus Christ, His Son, to whom He has given the kingdom.  Just as He did at the tower of Babel.

From Genesis 11:

 3 Then they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." 5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.
 6 And the LORD said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
They desired to make a name for themselves, to make themselves great.  I once heard a liberal atheist say that of all the crimes committed by God in the Bible, this one in Genesis 11 was the greatest. I now understand what he meant.  From his perspective, Genesis 11 shows God's intention of preventing man from ever avoiding the effects of His curse, no matter how hard they try.  Man can never unite, can never work together, can never cooperate in their schemes.  War and division will always plague them, because God decreed it.  They cry peace, peace, but there is no peace.

The thing that is destroying the European Union is division.  The Greeks are not the Germans and never will be.  Their different cultures, different histories, and ancient divisions cannot be overcome by acts of parliaments, by bureaucrats in Brussels.

Socialists point to the relatively successful welfare states in places like Japan and Sweden as the model.  Those welfare states work, to the degree that they do, because those populations have high work ethics and a high degree of cultural homogeneity. (America paying for their military defense is a big help too.)  But what both of those cultures are now discovering is that a welfare state, over time, destroys the very characteristics that make it work.  It destroys the work ethic and the cultural homogeneity.

Because again, God's rule cannot be vetoed.  Peace, prosperity, success and safety come only one way- by submission to the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It will come no other way.

But the children of the Beast, the unbelievers of this world, will continue their war, no matter what plagues God visits on them.  They worship the Beast, the power of the State, who is the servant of that old dragon, Satan, and are under the power of the false prophet, the lying philosophies and religions of the world, that convinces men that somehow this time it will be different.  It won't be different.  The Tower of Babel is falling again- as it did for the Soviets in 1990, and for the Nazis in 1945, and for the Kaiser and the shoguns and Napoleon and Genghis Khan and Caesar and Nebuchadnezzar and all that went before.  Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords and will smash the nations of the world with a rod of iron.

Psalm 2, again:

 10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
 11 Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling.
 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

Blessed are all those who trust in Him.  And for that, today, I am very thankful.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Arrogance and Greed Are Not Products of a Political Party 

I’m conservative, politically.  Anyone who knows me knows that.  I don’t exactly hide the fact.  And I don’t separate that from my Christianity- I think the conservative view of politics and society most closely aligns with the Biblical view.  But one view of prosperity and security that is often associated with conservatism is just as wrong and just as dangerous as the progressive or leftist political view.

I think the central problem with progressivism is that it tends to take a messianic view of collective action.  This is why progressives tend to be much more positive toward state solutions to problems.  They tend to frown on individual achievement, or at least to recognize it only within the context of the broader activity of the state.  This speech from Elizabeth Warren that went viral and was very popular in leftist circles is a great example of that kind of thinking.  The belief that collective action can solve our problems is something I firmly reject as Antichrist- it is the vain hope that man by his efforts can overcome the curse of God without reference to the rule of Jesus Christ the rightful king of all.  This will never happen, and the vain pursuit of this dream has caused untold misery.

But on the conservative side of things, I often hear an intense focus on personal responsibility and individual effort as the means of achieving the higher good.  If people would just work hard and take responsibility for their own actions, then things would be fine.  Liberals often criticize conservatives as being greedy and uncompassionate, that the strong focus on individual effort tends to be very cruel to those on the margins of society and people who meet with personal tragedies of different kinds.  Conservatives answer that the private sector is better suited to deal with compassion than the government; liberals reject that idea, saying that many will fall through the cracks and those that do get charity often will only get it under the restrictions of religious organizations.  Liberals believe that a more systematic solution to problems like poverty are needed.

On the extremes, most people reject both of these ideas.  People know that we have to work together in many instances.  Conservatives for example support the collective defense of the country and prosecution of crime.  Most liberals recognize that people should be held responsible for their crimes to a certain extent, and that some profit and reward for hard work is proper.  But people tend to be conservative or progressive to the degree that they fall to one side or the other, and most people then end up with a sort of inconsistent hybrid position.

But aren't both of these positions just different versions of the same thing, different ideas of how we as human beings can bless ourselves?  Don't both the individualistic perspective and the collectivist tendency deny that our blessings come from God by grace and not through our own effort?  "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.  Unless the Lord watches the city, the watchman watch in vain."

Liberals often accuse conservatives of greed and a lack of compassion, and I am afraid that they are often right.  Conservatism doesn't need to entail these things.  But I have heard a great many conservative people view the poor and unfortunate in society with contempt, viewing their greater wealth as proof of their superiority.   But what do we have that we are not given?  Even recognizing that in a land of opportunity (yes, even now) such as ours, where poverty is very often (but not always) the result of poor life choices, what do we have that we are not given?  If I have a good work ethic, is that not a gift from God for which I should give thanks and not take pride in?  I can identify the poor choices of others whose lifestyle or laziness has made them poor and speak the truth of what the Bible says about work and responsibility.  But if I view them with contempt and pride, then I am failing at least as badly as they are.

I have also heard many conservatives express the view that if only we had a society that encouraged hard work and personal responsibility, then we would achieve real prosperity and security. Conservatives also seem to think that a strong military presence will keep us safe from enemies.  But is this any more Biblical?  The Psalmist said, "Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we will remember the name of our God."  Our prosperity is not in gold and silver or in tanks and jets any more than it is in welfare programs and environmental regulations.  Our blessings are in God.

So the Bible tells us that we ought to work hard and take responsibilities for our actions, and that poverty is often the result of laziness and irresponsibility.  God often uses our labor as the means by which He blesses us.  But conservatives ought to remember that none of our blessings are the result of our own strength or goodness, but the grace of God.

Overall I still prefer conservatism by a wide margin.  Arrogance and greed on an individual level causes a great deal of personal destruction.  But progressivism seeks to pool that arrogance and greed for greater effect, and the deadly results there are far greater.  But pride is pride.  The Biblical answer is that this is a cursed and fallen world, without hope apart from Jesus Christ, and that hope is only fully realized in the world to come.  Any attempt to overcome that curse and seize prosperity and happiness for ourselves apart from Christ is greed and arrogance, and will come to ruin whether on an individual level or a collective level. A Christian view of conservatism recognizes this, and limits government not because we think a limited government will bring us more blessings, but because we don't look to our political structure to bless us at all, but rather to our sovereign and benevolent God.

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