Canadian Bill Serves as a ‘Bludgeon to Kill the Christian in the Child’ | LifeSite News

June 8, 2017 (Patheos) — Six months ago, I suggested that the Ontario government’s omnibus Bill 28 had defined the natural family unit out of legal existence. It was an unprecedented assault on human identity. Like Aldous Huxley’s dystopian society Brave New World, the words “mother” and “father” no longer had any legal standing in Ontario.

If a historic precedent were to be sought, the one that occurred to me as a Mohawk was the atrocious treatment of native Canadians in the residential schools. Some have described their treatment as “cultural genocide” and a “bludgeon to kill the Indian in the child.” The height of the atrocity wasn’t the physical and sexual abuse by authority figures, as awful as that was, but the official policy of “forcible enfranchisement.”

“Forcible enfranchisement” was the disgraceful euphemism used to justify violating native families. Children were simply taken from their parents. The government believed its violation justified because it was saving the children’s souls. “Enfranchisement” dehumanized the parents by likening them to slave owners.

I suggested that Bill 28 would have a similar effect.

To this day, I suspect that most Ontarians are oblivious to the fact that the spine of the body politic in the province, i.e. the families that constitute it, has been forcibly extracted in family law.

Who would suspect it? Politicians weren’t elected to enact theological experiments, or were their legislative intentions even considered by the unsuspecting electorate. The official line is that these changes are little tweaks, inclusive accommodations to bring legislation up to date.

Only radicals would ever consider using the tools of government to enact Frankenstein legislation on the basic social unit of the body politic. And, make no mistake, the Liberals have used their legislative power to do nothing less than to redefine human nature before the law.

They have had absolutely no scruple about ‘imposing their values’ on the unsuspecting populace.

Families too preoccupied with paying their bills and keeping their heads above water won’t notice the effect of the back surgery on the body politic and every family within it until they try to stand up in opposition, and find themselves impeded by a justice system that has disabled them.

What I warned about has now been swiftly enacted in Bill 89.

Bill 89 – the teeth set against the family, and Christians

Bill 89, the “Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act,” is yet another omnibus bill which, this time, has repealed and replaced the central tenets of the Child and Family Services Act, those that govern child protection, foster care, and adoption services.

Rejecting what every society throughout human history has acknowledged, i.e. the pre-political natural legitimacy of families, and the natural relationship of individual persons within the family unit, Bill 89 avoids the language of family and personhood, and substitutes identity group terms in its stead.

Henceforth, the agencies that care for families and the courts in Ontario are to operate according to a child’s “race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, disability, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”

Not just the novel and objectively unverifiable notions of gender identity and expression, but the entire laundry list of identity group characteristics is without legal precedent.

And the reason why isn’t because of systemic bigotry. It is because of the high value placed on the individual; whereas regarding identity groupings as determining factors of a person’s basic humanity repudiates the core convictions of Western civilization: that every single human being without exception is a person who bears the image of God, and ought to be nurtured by a natural family, either directly or through adoption.

The family is what God intended as a person’s birthright.

Lest people conclude that this is a partisan political complaint, it should be noted that the Bill repudiates liberal convictions as much as it does conservative ones. There can be no freedom for the individual in a country where the sanctity of the person has no legal status. And people are not creatures of the state, they are begotten of their parents.  It is part of their individual identity.

By changing this core assumption about human identity, this presumptuous legislation rejects the (Christian) assumption of a common humanity in favor of the sorts of tribalistic divisions which, as we are daily seeing, animate campus radicals to violate others basic freedoms.

Practical effects of making group rights prevail in family law

Practically speaking, by rejecting the equality of individuals under a common law, the state has now enabled itself to intervene without legal impediment on behalf of these ‘marginalized’ groups. And it will doubtless justify its forcible enfranchisement of children by claiming it is ‘protecting’ them from the natural families and religious objectors who have been dehumanized by the loss of their privileged legal standing as parents.

In the past, as ARPA’s summary has noted, Child and Family Services were governed by the principles of “respecting a child’s need for continuity of care and stable family relationships, involving the child and his or her relatives and community members, and respecting cultural, religious, and regional differences. These principles supplement the central purpose of the Act, which is “to promote the best interests, protection, and well-being of children.”

Bill 89, however, redefines these principles to make them amenable to group rights, and to exclude the natural family. Furthermore, and most tellingly, unlike all the identity group characteristics that will be protected, the “religious faith, if any, in which the child is being raised” has been removed. If any doubt about how stark the change is, the religious identity of the child had been a vital consideration in the previous legislation.

Accordingly, Bill 89 also removes the requirement that a court determine, as soon as possible, the child’s religious identity in the course of a child protection hearing.

This pattern continues in determining who can foster or adopt children. Prospective parents who reject gender ideology on principle will no longer be deemed suitable. Since the adoption of children is a practice with particular theological significance to Christians, the application of the Bill could not be clearer. Needy children will be the greatest losers of the Bill.

Moreover, the natural children of parents who refuse to affirm their gender identity may also be considered “in need of protection.” Even a child “at risk of suffering” mental or emotional harm or whose parents do not provide “treatment or access to treatment” may receive the enfranchisement of the law.

Finally, the Children’s Aid Society must investigate evidence that children may be in need of protection. And a court can make orders governing the care of children deemed to be in need of protection.


For me, Bill 89 is a prescription for “religious genocide,” and a “bludgeon to kill the Christian in the child.” It is the equivalent of an official policy of “forcible enfranchisement” for our time. Its consequences for religious liberty are obvious, as are its threat to families at odds with the government’s theological position on human nature, i.e. Christians.

It must be repealed, for families, and for the sake of the children that ought to be protected within their confines, as God intended.

You can support a petition to repeal this Bill here.

Dr. Scott Masson is an Associate Professor at Tyndale University College in Toronto. He teaches and is committed to a recovery of a Classical Liberal arts education, and to establishing Classical Christian schools. He blogs and has recently begun a curated news site at

Reprinted with permission from Patheos.

Residential schools experience a warning for fallout of Bill 28 | Hamilton Spectator

Canada is a wonderful land of freedom from sea to shining sea. It was established on the principles of peace, order and good government. Sadly, good government has often been used as a pretext for overreaching into family affairs.

Of all the episodes in our history, the residential schools program might be the starkest illustration of why families need protection from the government. The aim of the residential schools was allegedly to propagate the Christian faith and integrate aboriginal people into Canadian society.

In practice, it was a politically correct pretense for violating aboriginal families. And it went directly after the children.

Today, residential schools have been justly described as instruments of "cultural genocide," and a bludgeon to "kill the Indian in the child." Children were forcibly removed from their families, deprived of their language and culture, and often subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

Worst of all, they were forcibly enfranchised.

"Forcible enfranchisement" is a disgraceful euphemism for declaring children to be "free" from their parents' care. The term cast aboriginal parents in a role akin to slave owners, and the government as their children's liberator.

Of course, they weren't entirely free. The government, freeing children from the natural bond to their mothers and fathers, took on a contractual responsibility of being the children's wards.

The state became their de facto parents.

What happened in residential schools in the name of Christianity and civilization was neither Christian nor civilized. It was an atrocity.

I thought we Canadians had learned that lesson. Yet as a Christian and as a member of the Mohawk nation, I cannot ignore how the government is repeating its pattern of overreach into the family.

Most people in Ontario still haven't heard of Bill 28. It is an omnibus bill redefining the family. It is currently being rushed through the Ontario Parliament without any real consultation, and with virtually no media attention. It apparently enjoys all-party support, and has already passed its second reading.

There has been absolutely no consultation of the public about the redefinition of the basic social institution of every person throughout human history.

The structural racism of the bill against the many immigrant communities of this province is also apparent. For most people, and particularly for our province's growing immigrant population, it is safe to say that their families are the most important thing. They don't even realize what is about to happen to them.

The democratic deficit is plain.

So is the damage this bill will cause. It is an assault on everyOntarian. It gets rid of "mother" and "father" in family law — mum entirely — to allow for a purely contractual relationship between up to four adult parents, and the children that are legally identified as theirs.

The legislation is there to appease the LGBT lobby and help them procure children.

However, it doesn't just affect them.

In fact, it treats the family as a zero sum game.

According to this Bill 28, this new legal "family" can only exist if the traditional, natural family unit is destroyed. In the process, it also makes it far easier for the government to seize ourchildren because henceforth we too will only have a contractual — not a natural — bond to our children. As we know, contractual relationships are easy to change.

In other words, under Bill 28 all children in Ontario will become commodities.

Whereas "Christianity" was once falsely invoked to justify actions against families, it now transpires under the deceptive name of "human rights."

Aboriginal Canadians know all about this terrible experience.

I call on my fellow Ontarians to demand immediate government consultations on Bill 28, and ward off another residential schools-type disaster in our history.

Scott Masson is an associate professor of English literature at Tyndale University College in Toronto.

Should Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum be changed? | Toronto Star

Why should the Ontario sex-ed curriculum be scrapped? It shouldn’t.

It should be repealed and replaced with an effective one. All manner of objections have been raised to it — from its age-inappropriateness, and its surprising inclusions (gender) and omissions (internet pornography), to its use of private partnering agencies unaccountable to the public, and its dismissal of cultural sensitivities in a multicultural society.

Some seem surprised this is an election issue. But parents see serious harm in teaching their children the idea that sex, the most intimate of human relations, is morally neutral,” writes Scott Masson. 

The larger point is that sex education cannot be effective without the consent of parents, because sex that will bring people to flourish is intimately related to marriage and the family. It seems to be a point that sex-education professionals throughout the West are hell-bent on ignoring.

Continue reading here:

The Justice Exchange: Part 2 | Jubilee Magazine

‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity’ – W.B. Yeats IN MY LAST ARTICLE, I sought to explain the growing tendency to show brazen contempt for individual conscience in the public square. Even whilst pursuing what they deem social justice, many of those acting in its name are progressively turning Western democracies into libertine police states. While some might cavil at that charge, we need to remember totalitarian states characteristically enlist the populace itself to intrude upon their fellow citizens’ inner lives to enforce conformity of opinion around the official view. They do so precisely because they wish to deny that man is fundamentally a moral being whose conscience lies beyond their power and control. George Orwell, in his dystopian novel 1984, memorably describes the extent of that tyranny to include prosecuting their opponents on the pretext of ‘thoughtcrime.’ We are regularly seeing evidence of this now in the prosecution of Christians for refraining from doing things against their conscience. As witness, consider any of the recent cases of Christian florists, bakers or photographers who have faced legal penalties for not providing services to same-sex wedding ceremonies. The stakes could hardly be higher. If the expression of personal conscience in the public square is verboten, it must inevitably result not only in the extinction of the Christian faith, but of every hedge against tyranny in the West. What C.S. Lewis once observed as the ultimate outcome of privatizing the Christian faith seems to be reaching what he foresaw as its inevitable conclusion: “To make Christianity a private affair while banishing all privacy is to relegate it to the rainbow’s end or the Greek Calends.”1 To be clear: it is not simply Christianity that is being banished, but our private lives, and all sense of personal integrity with it. Firstly, I noted that a highly illiberal and intolerant brand of liberalism was being adopted by the establishment as a banner of progress in Western political life; secondly, that official policies of inclusion were quite shamelessly restricting the freedom of speech and religion in the public square, even though such freedoms had long been entrenched as fundamental rights in Western law and custom.2 The alarm that any right-thinking person might feel at these two developments has only been heightened by the virtual absence of public outcry by the guardians of the public good: our politicians; our media; our courts; and above all, our clergy. Yet the sense that we have entered something like a twenty-first century Twilight Zone truly sinks in when we see that private corporations promote this trammeling of private conscience as a corporate policy. The Bank of Montreal, one of Canada’s five major banks, and a coalition of seventy-two of the country’s largest corporations, have announced that they are joining forces to do business only with others who share their exclusive views on “diversity.”3 As a recent article expresses it, “gay rights have allowed oligarchy to put on a progressive drag.”4 The reason they have suddenly developed such business principles, dictating public morality, seems to be that universities now produce a shocking degree of conformism among what Brendan O’Neill calls their Stepford students. He observes that “these students are far more interested in shutting down debate than opening it up.”5 They are thus the perfect consumer for these corporations: standardized in their tastes, and unwilling to consider alternatives.6 I confess I would never have recognized the inhumanity of Christian convictions without the cheerleading of these corporate metaphysicians to show me the refracted rainbow light. Mockery aside, these are not trivial developments. They are signs that we now live in the age of a new fundamentalism. It is symptomatic of our plight that it is still largely unrecognized as fundamentalism. That is the proof of its effect. The consequence of multicultural propaganda which emphasizes our openness and inclusion and defines its diversity to include sexual proclivities and practices that openly reject biblical standards is, unsurprisingly, a people incapable of identifying contradictions to their confirmation bias. Their unwillingness to listen to their critics also shows them to be deaf to their blindness. But the evidence is incontrovertible. We are confronting an entirely different worldview, with an entirely new sense of tolerance, hostile to the one established by John Locke in his Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) around a basic Christian consensus. It is not a matter of society’s willingness to stretch out the tent pegs of hospitality a bit further. That explanation does not account for the sudden displacement of fundamental rights like freedom of conscience and religion in a culture’s law and political practice. Only a new (and contradictory) fundamentalism rooted in a contradictory sense of tolerance can. I will demonstrate in this article that today’s notion of tolerance was constructed fifty years ago by Herbert Marcuse, a man committed to an ideology implacably hostile to Christianity. He did so explicitly to oppose Locke’s understanding of tolerance and the freedoms which had operated for the previous 300 years in the West. Its consequences need to be understood very clearly. It is not enough to say, as so many conservatives and Christians have, that in our current culture of pluralism the only thing that cannot be tolerated is a claim to exclusivity like that of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. That disguises the true nature of the problem. It is more accurate to observe that we are increasingly leaving an age tolerant of diversity within Christianity in favour of an exclusive age of tolerance. It is steadily eradicating Christianity in this commitment to exclusive tolerance. The fact that the exclusive tolerance that marks the new anti-Christian fundamentalism is itself religious in character is betrayed by a third point of scandal and contradiction: that an established Christian rite such as marriage, basic to Western civilization, is being redefined with religious zeal in countries where not only the customs but the majority of their inhabitants would still be identified with Christianity, but by some political charlatans in the name of extending Christianity to include unbiblical practices. And dissenting Christians who reject the spiritual authority of the political and legal establishment to redefine marriage are being targeted – and they almost solely – for conspicuous punishment in the public square as violators of the ever-evolving human rights industry. It seems to me that the greatest problem in confronting the new anti-Christian fundamentalism is the inability of Christian leaders to identify the nature of the problem. It lies in part because they have too long sought to operate within the Lockean paradigm of tolerance that tacitly assumes Christian commitments but speaks the language of neutrality in public discourse, forgetting that basic Christian commitments have always been the very basis of a civil society of freedoms and rights for all persons. As the poet and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge once put it: Truths of all others the most awful and mysterious, yet being at the same time of universal interest, are often considered as so true, that they lose the life and efficiency of truth, and lie bed-ridden in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with the most despised and exploded errors.7 The fundamental freedom of religion is a legacy of Locke. It is not the effect of a commitment to polytheism or moral relativism, let alone a principled freedom from religion. Furthermore, while the illiberalism of our day and attacks on historic freedoms have received a great deal of commentary from conservative pundits and Christians alike,8 all too rarely have they been traced back to their intellectual source: the project of the Cultural Marxists and their role in redefining tolerance in accordance with an explicitly anti-Christian ethics. This redefinition of tolerance marks the final stage of a process which, as I described in my previous article, sought to further Marx’s utopian political aims of levelling society. STRUCTURAL OPPRESSION Most importantly, these Cultural Marxists also began to cater to a different clientele: not simply the meat-and-potatoes worker of old but also a new ‘proletariat’ which included women, racial minorities, and criminals, and it united them all by appealing to a vague sense of common ‘structural oppression.’ The alliance of such wildly divergent groups, and in particular the criminal, is noteworthy precisely because it is in the area of Western law related to ‘women’s health’ where the Cultural Marxists would eventually make their greatest inroads by legalizing the murder of the unborn and encouraging men to reject Christian ethics in their sexual conduct. The measure of their success is how self-evident most people now associate the common cause of these ‘minority’ groups.9 What is that common cause? Whereas Marx had understood class warfare in political and economic terms, his successors realized that their greatest obstacle was what supported the political and economic establishment: the family and the religious presuppositions of their entire culture, with Jesus Christ as its cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). Christ was their stumbling-block. To vilify such basic cultural assumptions as an oppressive force, it was necessary for them to employ their propaganda to misrepresent the foundation upon which they stood and the very culture in which they operated, the series of covenantal relationships to a God in whom “they lived, and moved, and had their being,” (Acts 17: 28) as a coercive force above them. This fraudulent tactic of presenting the very forms of life, their common human nature, as a superstructure of oppression, from which the downtrodden people need ‘liberation’ is to this day the most commonly-used trope and successful tactic of cultural reversal for the Cultural Marxist. Even among Christians, God’s moral law, the law of our servant king, is no longer understood as the very means by which we can operate as a civil society in obedience to him, and as an expression of the love of our neighbour.10 It is framed in Cultural Marxist terms as a Christian cultural ‘imposition,’ and in particular a coercive force of oppression that Christians should act as Christians in rejecting. Hence the absurd dichotomy between law and gospel which besets so many that ascribe to a Two Kingdoms theology. It is the most important beachhead established by the Cultural Marxist, and all its incursions continue to land upon it.11 In this, they are often encouraged by the guardians of orthodoxy with their gospel of personal salvation in Christ the King, a King seemingly without a kingdom in their theology. The new revolutionary front was thus to be fought not through violence but through a programme of cultural warfare that targeted the family, the law, and the Christian social good (charity), with the aim to uproot Christ and biblical law from culture. And in this sense they were highly astute. The Cultural Marxists recognized that the workers and families of the West were as deeply invested in the biblical assumptions about the nature of the family, the social good, and what constituted justice, as were the factory owners and the political and legal establishment. Many of the Ten Commandments relate to offences against the family. For all their flagrant contradictions, they openly identified themselves as Christians. To overturn what stood above them, they had to uproot the foundation upon which they all stood. That is because even where there was no established church, as there was, say with the Anglican Church in England, the Christian faith was still undeniably established throughout the Western world. The United States’ separation of church and state was a separation of powers, not core religious and cultural commitments. The shared commitments, whether they are manifest politically in an established church or through a separation of church and state, entail what we call Christendom. On this, there was nothing dividing Catholic and Protestant. Although the Christian faith requires that Christ’s subjects be born again in each generation through a call of individual discipleship – it is rightly said that God only has children, not grandchildren – Christ nonetheless has had a kingdom on earth for two millennia. It was the earthly inheritance of the incursion of shalom, his justice and liberty for all that would one day at Christ’s return be acknowledged by all, without dissent or present contradiction. In fact, the working class might even be said to have had deeper ties to core social convictions than their leaders, who for at least two centuries had been falling under the deceptive sway of the Enlightenment and the methodological naturalism of the ‘Higher Criticism’ of the Bible. And thus, rather than appeal to the workers, after WWI, the Cultural Marxists insinuated themselves into the midst of the society of the cultural elite, a far broader and influential base than the political elite and captains of industry. The common man was too sensible and grounded in the conditions of life to accept the absurd presuppositions of the Marxist about the evil of the family and the Christian faith; but the bourgeoisie, Marx’s bugbear, possessed the requisite intellectual pride and the wealth to insulate themselves from life’s conditions to swallow the outrageous lie that they, and not Christ, were the architects and prime instruments of social justice. Members of the cultural establishment were connoisseurs whose tastes had already been cultivated to find Christianity distasteful by two centuries of the Enlightenment. They had the sufficient detachment from reality to pride themselves on their ability to direct a more just society than had their forebears, led (and tempered) by Christian convictions. They could enact a utopia on earth through an act of creative imagination emancipating themselves from the past. And best of all, the working class had, because of their implicit assent to the Christian faith, accepted a hierarchy in the matters of religion, law, welfare and education, and could be led into error through their acknowledged superiors in these areas. It was a cultural symphony of assent that the Cultural Marxist played with virtuosity. DEVELOPMENTS IN NORTH AMERICA The sheer scope of the project of Cultural Marxism begun by men such as Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs in subverting Christendom, the foundation of civil society, means that it is complicated to trace. I’ll simplify the path of their followers in the Frankfurt school under five main headings: 1) MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRIES Under Theodor Adorno’s intellectual leadership the Frankfurt School initially opposed the cultural industry because it regarded culture rather narrowly as the repository of bourgeois values, a capitalist commodity. They were still under the influence of Marxist-Leninist ideas. But eventually, the influence of Walter Benjamin, a close friend of Adorno, and Max Horkheimer, the director of the school, prevailed, and his argument that radio, film and (later on) television could be used to condition the public to accept the religious tenets of Cultural Marxism, in particular its views on the family, authority, law, race, etc... Horkheimer and Adorno both spent the Second World War in Hollywood, which to this very day functions as Cultural Marxism’s most powerful weapon. I direct the reader to two studies of popular culture on this front.12 2) STUDIES IN PREJUDICE The Frankfurt School also sought to stigmatize Christian culture by defining its expressions on sexual morality, on views of the family, and on paternal authority, as nefarious ‘prejudices’ in a wide-ranging series of academic studies under the umbrella ‘Studies in Prejudice.’ The most important contribution to this movement was Adorno’s book The Authoritarian Personality (1950), which created what he called an “F-scale” that connected traditional Christian views on the family and sexuality to varying degrees of fascism.13 To this day, a person under the sway of political correctness will anathematize those who appeal to the normativity of Christian notions of the family or sexual ethics by accusing them of being ‘fascists.’ Most of them will never even have heard of Adorno, but they have adopted his terminology and accepted the slanderous connection of Christianity to fascism 3) CRITICAL THEORY Equally well known to all of us, though not in connection to Cultural Marxism, is what they called critical theory. This tends to be the term designating the work of the Frankfurt School in the field of philosophy. The purpose of critical theory is not the positive task of developing moral and aesthetic discernment in the student’s critical faculties, the traditional path of the logocentric tradition of the West. It is simply to criticize (and thus to denigrate) Western culture. Critical theory is very careful never to define what it proposes; it simply defines what it is against. In that sense, it acts like a parasite of the host it feeds upon. Critical theory has managed to infiltrate virtually every discipline in universities throughout the Western world, some with greater effectiveness than others. It subjects every legally-recognized entity of the Western tradition of Christendom to unremitting criticism and assault in order to bring them down, beginning with the person, a theological postulate (stemming from the Trinitarian discussions of the Church Fathers),14 to the family and the church. It disputes every sphere of sovereignty that would limit its own, which is precisely why it is both totalitarian and tyrannical in character. You will recognize critical theory in terms of the areas of “studies” that it has identifiably spawned: Cultural Studies; Women’s Studies; Aboriginal Studies; African-American Studies; LGBT Studies; Postcolonial Studies; etc... Political correctness is particularly strong in these areas of identity group study.15 Less acknowledged but much more influential is the development of a school of jurisprudence known as the Critical Legal Studies movement, which has grown from its emergence in the 1970s to become a dominant school of thought.16 Following scholars like John Rawls, it regards the purpose of the law to be to create ‘fairness’ in accordance with a progressive view of society and political practice.17 These studies tellingly not only oppose the idea of individual responsibility, they don’t even study their subject through the historical and theological lens of the humanities (which are predicated on the Christian conviction of a common human nature and world, both of which are foundational to the definition of a university). In fact, they actively seek to deconstruct the idea of a common human identity under God. The products of the students who are indoctrinated in these areas of study are almost invariably marked by implacable anger and hostility towards the common sense of the West in general, and Christendom in particular. Sadly, this includes many of the besteducated Christians, even those whose tradition does not predispose them to hostility towards Christendom like the Anabaptists. 4) DOMINATION Marx had argued that history is economicallydetermined. Those who own the means of production have the power, and they determine the course of society. But the Frankfurt School, in accordance with its re-imagining of the proletariat, shifting it from the antagonistic narrative of laborers (proletariat) vs. owners (bourgeoisie), argued that history was in every respect determined by identity group dynamics. Whichever group, whether male or female, black or white, religious or irreligious, gay or straight, etc..., was in a position of social approval had by virtue of that fact ‘dominance’ over other groups. All forms of traditional authority were in their sight thus illegitimate. Their position was wholly rooted in power, at odds with both morality and history. Criminals such as abortionist Henry Morgentaler were by virtue of their condemnation good, indeed to be lauded and honoured; their judges bad; simply by virtue of the position of their identity group in society, and its relation to their inferiors. They were structural oppressors. This is being evidenced in university campuses of our day by the call for students to ‘check their privilege.’18 At present it is being applied in racial terms, where it has the broadest range of public sympathy, but it will soon be applied to areas of moral ‘oppression,’ such as in the areas of sexual ethics. And a complete reversal took place as a corrective to this social injustice in the education system. The Frankfurt School was particularly influential in passing this form of teaching on into the public school system because it dovetailed so effectively with the influence of the progressivist educator John Dewey (1859-1952). I have written about Dewey’s influence on public education in an earlier installment of Jubilee.20 Dewey, the author credited by some to have largely written the Humanist Manifesto I (1933), took little interest in the traditional aim of developing a well-formed conscience in children;21 to be welleducated for the future, they needed to be ‘welladjusted’ (his characteristic phrase) and open to a future social consciousness: …education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction.22 Rather than adhere to God’s unchanging character, students who had been ‘socially reconstructed’ were taught to be ‘open-minded’ towards future possibilities. Dewey’s pedagogical goal has been delivered so effectively by the public schools that by the 1980s Allan Bloom lamented that openness was his students’ sole virtue. He ominously noted how much it made them resemble the citizens of the Weimar Republic.23 The growing influence of progressivist ideology and pedagogy made the public school system absolutely ripe for the Cultural Marxists, who used the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as an offence against ‘openness.’ It remains to be seen whether Nietzsche’s ‘transvaluation of all value’ will be used as effectively by the Cultural Marxists as it had been by the National Socialists. THE 1960S – HERBERT MARCUSE As I wrote in the last issue of Jubilee, many of the Frankfurt School returned to Frankfurt after the war. But the one member who stayed behind, Herbert Marcuse, arguably became the most important figure in the American New Left. Marcuse’s genius lay in popularizing the more difficult writings of his colleagues in a time of social unrest. So popular was Marcuse among the youth that during the 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Berlin the students marched under the banner “Marx, Mao, and Marcuse,” the same slogan that was plastered in many dormitories. Marcuse’s chief work was entitled Eros and Civilization (1965), a hybrid of Marxist and Freudian teaching, which reiterated a case made previously by Wilhelm Reich in the Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933) and The Sexual Revolution (1936): that a new paradise where there was only play and no work would be impossible to achieve unless society first “liberated non-procreative Eros” from its moral repression. Only then could it return to what Freud described as the infantile stage of “pure sexuality,” the child’s “polymorphous perversity.” In other words, Marcuse brought the assault on Christendom openly into the realm of the family and sexual ethics. As usual, the antagonistic rhetoric of the sexual revolutionaries was worthy of an Orwellian novel: it was ‘making love, not war.’ Marcuse de-stigmatized every sexual expression except that of heterosexual marital relations, which he stigmatized as a form of “sexual repression.” He also created a whole new class of victim group – the sexual deviant – and allied them to the blacks and the feminists to compose a potent coalition which was identified as the ‘New Left.’ The sexual revolution broke the historic antipathy that the Left – still primarily the working class – had held towards them.24 He also adopted Lukacs’ radical sexual education and cultural terrorism tactics to promote them. It was Marcuse and the Frankfurt School, employing Freudian psychology, which would also pathologize Christian morality, deeming it not only fascist, but the cause of “phobias,” though it may well have been his contemporary George Weinberg who first coined the word “homophobia” in 1967. The common complaint on university campuses today that Christian sexual ethics are ‘heteronormative’ is rooted in a Cultural Marxist animus against the family brought to a particular point by Marcuse.25 5) REPRESSIVE TOLERANCE The Cultural Marxists’ difficulty in transforming the United States, however, was that most Americans far preferred freedom with personal responsibility and Christian virtue within the context of the family to the tyrannical state of equality that Marxism demanded. Marcuse’s answer to this problem was to launch the most successful venture in critical theory of all, an attack upon the concept of tolerance which had shaped a culture of liberal democracy in the West. Locke’s notion of tolerance had exercised a potent sway in the Anglosphere for almost three centuries, so potent that it now exercised a confirmation bias which allowed for the emergence of its mortal enemy. It was a culture of tolerance that allowed for the freedom of speech and religion, including that of principled dissent within the bounds of a civil society, so long as it lay within the rule of law. But with a society no longer articulating its Christian commitments in terms of a cultural commitment to biblical law (the heart of the common law tradition),26 Marcuse’s efforts were simply interpreted as principled dissent. What had been forgotten is that dissent could only go so far down. It could not undermine Christian moral assumptions without destroying the very basis of a tolerant society – the love of God, whose nature must be known to lead one to the love of one’s neighbour.27 However scandalous they appeared, the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the cultural unrest surrounding it were naively interpreted as a sign of the strength and health of Western democracy, not an existential assault on its very foundations. It was left to a few voices, such as Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, to observe the peril brought upon the West by what he termed cultural cowardice and the delusion of neutrality in the area of moral conviction.28 But Solzhenitsyn’s prophetic voice was drowned out by the white noise of those who, since the time of David Hume’s fact/ value distinction, had steadily been moving to understand tolerance to be an empirical judgment, divorced from Christian convictions.29 This is not to say that being fair-minded, impartial, or neutral ceased with Marcuse. Those political virtues, the virtues of freedom most prized and most singular in Christendom, allowed the breathing space for the politics of cultural terrorism to incubate. What they did not account for is that Marcuse and the Cultural Marxists’ aim was to subvert Western democracy, not simply to protest against it, let alone to reform it. This aim is presented most clearly in a littleacknowledged 1965 essay by Marcuse entitled “Repressive Tolerance.” Marcuse’s essay effectively marked the concluding phase of what philosopher Charles Taylor has termed the ‘age of neutrality’ (stemming from the time of Locke), transporting us into the ‘age of contested values’ which we normally associate with the less than helpful term ‘postmodernism.’30 Referring to Locke, Marcuse openly attacked the Anglophone world’s notion of ‘tolerance’ by deriding the ‘common sense’ understanding it bequeathed as the ‘repressive tolerance’ of a ‘totalitarian democracy.’31 Marcuse represented even the attempt to be fair-minded, impartial or neutral, the virtues of the liberalminded academic, the impartial judge, and the free press, the acknowledged bases of a civil society, as the very basis for an attack. For in Marcuse’s estimation, “the tolerance expressed in such impartiality serves to minimize or even absolve prevailing intolerance or suppression.”32 The liberal society that had arisen from them was based on a subtle form of structural domination, i.e. Christianity, which civil society had come to accept, even if it meant endemic structural injustice. He argued that tolerance could only become good if nondominating (heterodox) ideas were allowed to flourish, and that was only possible if dominating (orthodox) ideas were in future to be suppressed: The realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed.33 Or to put it another way that makes its attack on the Christian categories of common sense clear: …it is necessary to break the established universe of meaning (and the practice enclosed in this universe) in order to enable man to find out what is true and become truly autonomous, to find by themselves what is true and what is false for man in the existing society, they (will) have to be freed from the prevailing indoctrination (which is no longer recognized as indoctrination).34 The political virtue of tolerating those with whom we disagree, the quintessence of liberalism (which is only possible in the context of Christianity and its doctrine of the limited though real authority of the state, the church, and the family), gave way to what Marcuse euphemistically called “liberating tolerance.” It explicitly called for the outlawing and suppression of the morality that had reigned until the 1960s. 35 “Liberating tolerance” thus entailed a sort of Orwellian doublespeak. It meant agreement with (and tolerance for) all the ideas and movements coming from the Cultural Marxists; but also the disagreement with (and intolerance for) all ideas and movements coming from their ‘regressive’ opponents. As Marcuse clarified in response to charges that he demonized his opponents in the 1968 Postscript to the original essay: As against the virulent denunciations that such a policy would do away with the sacred liberalistic principle of equality for “the other side,” I maintain that there are issues where either there is no “other side” in any more than a formalistic sense, or where “the other side” is demonstrably “regressive” and impedes possible improvement of the human condition. To tolerate propaganda for inhumanity vitiates the goals not only of liberalism but of every progressive political philosophy. The fallacious progressive-regressive dichotomy, which is employed to deny any moral standing to ‘the other side’ before the law (because of the fundamental violation of what would later be called ‘human rights’ in its theology), is an essential pretext to persecuting it in the name of tolerance. Anathematizing their opponents as unreasonable and invidious, akin to the fascists of Nazi Germany, is a dehumanizing form of propaganda that insinuates an alliance between the Christian defense of personal freedom and the Nazis’ project of racial purification. The illustrations of this Cultural Marxism (social justice) and its ‘liberating tolerance’ in action are now so ubiquitous that describing this “mass movement aimed at stifling the autonomy of natural relationships – friendships, familial love, romantic love, human reverence for the divine – and subverting such relationships to the punitive power of an intrusive state” is almost redundant. I recommend the article on the website of the American Thinker for a catalogue of hundreds of examples.36 It rightly describes it as ‘homofascism.’37 It now seems abundantly clear that Marcuse and his acolytes provided the logic of moral inversion in family law in the West in the 1960s and 1970s. The germination of those tolerant ideas have made even yesterday’s progressives seem awfully regressive. And that posture of contempt is set to continue. No one is exempt from the charge of thoughtcrime. It is now apparently entirely reasonable for a progressive politician to deny freedom of conscience even to those within his own party. After all, the clear religious purpose is to disestablish the Christian foundations of a civil society, including the rights of other individuals, to achieve a ‘humane society.’ This humane social justice is not even for the sake of the poor. For as Marcuse notes: Tolerance is an end in itself. The elimination of violence, and the reduction of suppression to the extent required for protecting man and animals from cruelty and aggression are preconditions for the creation of a humane society.38 No social, familial, political, or other religious fidelity can stand in its way. The absolute loyalty demanded by an all-exclusive tolerance is the true character of the new fundamentalism. Its endgame is the total destruction of man, who bears God’s image.

The Justice Exchange: Part 1 | Jubilee Magazine

“You know, at some point you are killing life in the foetus in self-defence – of what? Of the mother’s health or her happiness or of her social rights or her privilege as a human being? I think she should have to answer for it and explain. Now, whether it should be to three doctors or one doctor or to a priest or a bishop or to her mother-in-law is a question you might want to argue…. You do have a right over your own body – it is your body. But the foetus is not your body; it’s someone else’s body. And if you kill it, you’ll have to explain.”1 This quotation is taken from the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, a certain Mr. Trudeau. Here is another quote from Mr. Trudeau: “The policy going forward is that every single Liberal MP will be expected to stand up for women’s rights to choose.”2 The reader might be forgiven for his confusion at this point. Apparently a mother does not need to answer or explain to anyone after all. Abortion is not ‘killing life in the foetus,’ a matter of public accountability. Mr. Trudeau declared that it was an absolute right, a fundamental Charter right. Furthermore, in this absolute assertion of group rights (women), individual rights, freedoms and responsibilities have been abrogated: to be an elected Liberal MP now means to be denied individual freedom of conscience and moral responsibility.3 The confusion of course stems from the fact that the second quote comes forty-two years after the first. The speaker is still the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and it is still Mr. Trudeau, but the speaker in the latter instance is Trudeau Jr. The purpose of juxtaposing statements from the two Trudeaus, father and son, at the outset of this article is to demonstrate four significant things about the social justice movement of our day that we shall seek to understand. Firstly, within the short space of a generation, liberal thinking (and the politics of the left) have so dispensed with personal and political freedom of their Western heritage that the current position can only rightly be called illiberal,4 and its version of tolerance manifestly intolerant of Christianity in the public square.5 So pronounced is that change that Trudeau Sr. would not even be able to stand as an MP in his son’s Liberal party; indeed he would probably be denounced as an intolerant extremist, even though his policies actually constitute the ideological foundations of the son’s position. Secondly, because of the refusal of Christian leaders to oppose this in the public square and throughout all the organs of civil society, men such as Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron can mouth tenuous appeals of allegiance to the Christian faith (and many Christians will vote for them without sensing the moral conflict). “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). Thirdly, having abandoned the guidance of Scripture on life and public affairs in the West, the sense of God’s predestination of history has been buried. This has incited politicians and the bureaucracy at their command to seize the predestining role, while simultaneously disclaiming responsibility to historical inevitability. Appeals to the urgent need to rectify alleged causes of social injustice which the “judgment of history” will later confirm are not appeals to future generations (let alone the Judge of all history), but rather the approval of an abstract future idea (history). It invariably ignores the actual events of history and even contemporary public opinion precisely because for the progressive, an eternal verity nullifies the actual events of history.6 Thus the Western political establishment is increasingly Gnostic in character, and immune to rational contradiction. Fourthly, as has been particularly evident in the overwhelming espousal across the political classes of fringe causes such as same-sex marriage,7 even in the face of strong opposition, antiChristian propaganda has so transformed the idea of the public good among those in public service that ‘social justice’ even opposes the natural (biological) order. It is no more unjust for sodomous relationships to be excluded from marriage than for men to be excluded from motherhood. However, the public belief that it is unjust demonstrates that the contemporary feeling of ‘justice’ is now directly related to policies that willfully flout a Christian civil order. Their sense of justice, as Romans 1:32 declares, “gives approval” to that. Dr. Peter Jones has noted in Romans 1 the articulation of a general pattern of degeneration of mankind from God in terms of a truth exchange, a worship exchange, and a sexual exchange.8 Here we see its final development: a justice exchange. A “righteousness from God is revealed” (Rom. 1:17) and yet in unrighteousness our culture approves its opposite. What is most striking though, and doubtless surprising to some, is that this departure from the political philosophy of liberalism is a direct result of the departure from the Christian understanding of personal and civic life under Christ’s Lordship, and the categories of thought bequeathed by Christian revelation on matters such as the relations of church and state, the importance of freedom of conscience, personal responsibility, etc... And yet it is precisely the departure from these Christian presuppositions, a departure which Trudeau Jr. inherited from his father’s generation and now shares in common with many of the people’s elected representatives throughout the Western world, which is garnering him a free pass from the media and the approval of the political, legal, educational, and dare I say it, religious establishment.9 Historical and biological fact, statements of personal conviction and even legal precedent are no longer obstacles to constrain the change which the progressives envision for us. We find ourselves in a position where radical contradiction and absurdity on the most basic notions such as life, liberty and law have become publicly acceptable because the status quo wrought since the 1960s is by all logic fundamentally absurd. With it, as the rule of power increasingly dictates the rule of law, a growing authoritarianism has come to mark public policy and civil discourse in Western democracies. It is a Humpty Dumpty world so trivial as to be considered literary nonsense within the genre of fiction, yet it expresses what Friedrich Nietzsche once famously described as the ‘will to power:’ “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.” This was brought about in an astonishingly short space of time, and it seems to have accelerated in the past decade. In Mark Noll’s 2005 book What Happened to Christian Canada? …under the new Charter, Canadian legislation and jurisprudence have increasingly privileged principles of privacy, multiculturalism, enforced toleration, and public religious neutrality, even when such moves dechristianize public spaces in which religious language was once commonplace.10 Noll notes that this dechristianization has marked changes in the field of public education as well, where under the guise of social justice an unsuspecting generation is schooled against Biblical justice.How did it come to this state of Humpty Dumpty rule? Of public nonsense presented as social justice? ANALYSIS I’m old enough to remember the Cold War, and the strong tension I felt in Canada growing up between the Communists and what was called the free world. And I say ‘between’ quite deliberately because Canada of the 1970s and ‘80s had, because of the influence of Trudeau Sr. and the ‘New Left’ in Canada, positioned itself somewhere in the middle, a fact I’ll speak to later on. I remember watching the sudden and spectacular fall of the Berlin Wall on TV in 1989 as an undergraduate and studied in Germany shortly thereafter for three years. The fellow I shared student accommodation with for two years was a trainee surgeon from Leipzig, East Germany, who grew up on the other side of the Iron Curtain. His comments on the striking similarities in the mindset between East and West, and my experience of university life in Düsseldorf form a part of this narrative. The spectacular and sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc meant that Communism had almost overnight ceased to be a political threat. And there was also a sense that the New Left of the 1960s and ‘70s might also be on a path of terminal decline. Communism had clearly failed as a philosophy. Even in academia it became increasingly rare to meet an avowed Marxist (though while in Düsseldorf another one of my German friends, a Russian historian, told me of an old Marxist in his Russian class who was learning Russian “to read Marx in the original”). Indeed, one academic by the name of Frances Fukuyama wrote an influential essay a few months after the Berlin Wall fell entitled The End of History, rather triumphantly prophesying: What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.11 Around the same time, syndicated columnist George Will pronounced in Newsweek that “the Sixties are dead.”12 It seemed entirely plausible. And it is absolutely true that the New Left of the 1960s collapsed as a unified political movement with the fall of the Communist Eastern Bloc. But it remained active, particularly in the universities, and it radicalized (and even metastasized) in the form of “special interest groups.” Some of its influence, like political correctness, was already strongly in evidence even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and it expanded its influence thereafter. If I used phrases like “inclusive language,” “multiculturalism,” “tolerance,” “reproductive rights,” “safe sex,” “safe schools,” “inclusive schools,” “diversity,” “sensitivity training,” and even today’s topic “social justice,” although we would find even those identifying themselves as politically ‘conservative’ rarely in opposition, we would all recognize their vague connection with the politics of the left. Yet I suspect we would be unable to point to a single source or thinker that promoted them. What I want to submit to you is that the cultural values embedded in these mantras are really simply expressions of a complex and broad-ranging ideology called Cultural Marxism. In fact, they are the expressions of a religious position that for lack of space I will not take the time to trace out here. Cultural Marxism, unlike its better-known political and economic counterpart, perdured well beyond the collapse of Communism, and to some extent made rapid advances when it did because it was generally accepted, as Fukuyama and many loudly asserted, that Communism and what it represented had ceased to be a threat to the West. And it has made continued advances in undermining Western society to this very day precisely because those who call themselves ‘conservatives’ and even ‘political liberals’ – and I’ll include many Christians among them – have continued to act as if Communism had only ever taken a political and economic form. It is as if what distinguished East and West had nothing to do with the fundamental cultural structures and civic institutions that presupposed and encouraged the good of the Christian faith and the family in promoting a just society, including the separation of powers and authorities, though the supremacy of God and the centrality of the family is plainly declared in Scripture and presupposed in the foundational documents of every country.13 Misdirected by the entirely specious terminology of political correctness, to avoid the potent charge of being intolerant the ‘mainstream’ of conservative politics has mistakenly pursued ‘fiscal conservatism’ as its raison d’être, abandoning the ‘divisive’ cultural and ethical issues of ‘social conservativism,’ and ceding social policy wholly to the progressives and the New Left’s notion of ‘social justice’. And the reason that it is particularly relevant to our discussion here is that since its inception the principal stated aim of Cultural Marxism, from which political correctness stems, has been the destruction of Western culture and in particular all vestiges of the Christian religion. It has simply accelerated since the fall of the Berlin Wall from being a “long slow march” to a charge and a rout of its opponents. And having first made its advances in the realm of culture, we are now also witnessing the signs of political and economic collapse in the West, the levelling of all peoples which were from the beginning its intended outcome. To my mind, any discussion of social justice thus needs to deal with the influence of Cultural Marxism. Yet because it is largely an unknown field to most Christians, I will give a cursory summary of the movement.14 BACKGROUND: EARLY MARXIST THEORY As most people know, Marx and his followers predicted that the proletariat (the working classes) would inevitably revolt and seize the means of production through a violent political revolution against the “reactionary” bourgeoisie as a prelude to a more equal and just society. It was social justice. Marx predicted that it would happen at the time of the next pan-European war in the most advanced societies, and the call to the working men to sacrifice their lives for their countries. Much to the chagrin of the Marxists, though the war happened in 1914, the revolution did not. When the First World War broke out, working men lined up in their millions to fight against their country’s enemies. The exception was in politically-backward Russia in 1917, at the end of the war. But the Russian revolution did not spread to the more economically advanced nations simply because the workers did not want it. Communism did eventually spread to the rest of Eastern Europe, but only by virtue of the occupation of Eastern Europe by the Soviets at the conclusion of the Second World War. CULTURAL MARXISM – ORIGINS The workers’ refusal to embrace revolution willingly led to a great deal of soul-searching on the part of the Marxists. Some continued to seek to advance political and economic revolution explicitly under the guise of Marxism-Leninism. But the indirect threat was far greater and more pernicious. Two theorists in particular, Antonio Gramsci of Italy (1891-1937) and Georg Lukacs of Hungary (1895-1971), concluded that though their aims were laudable, Marx and Lenin were in error. Lenin had mistakenly thought that culture was ‘ancillary’ to political objectives. Yet the failure of Marxism-Leninism to appeal to the workers of the West proved that “cultural hegemony” needed to precede the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. It was not so much political society (the police, the army, the legal system) – the enemies of the MarxistLeninists – as civil society (e.g. the family, the education system, manners), i.e. the whole edifice of Christendom, that stood in the way of world-wide communism and the social justice it represented. Christianity had, after all, been dominant in the West for two millennia. The working class had been implicated in a system of structural oppression by assenting to civil society and its inherited notion of ‘common sense.’ It was the common sense of Christendom that would need to be subverted and deconstructed such that they were brought to dissent. Gramsci concluded that the West would have to be de-Christianized not by violent revolution but by means of what he called a “long march through the institutions” so as to fundamentally rework the culture and turn it against the Christian faith. According to the Cultural Marxists, every ‘hegemonic’ cultural institution of civic society, starting with the traditional family, but including schools, the media, the arts, civic organizations, academia, and even the churches themselves should be brought on board. It was through their ‘cultural hegemony’ that the means of consent for the capitalist state was maintained, and until that consent was disrupted it could not be overthrown. In order for Communism to be realized, the Christian foundations of the West would have to be systematically uprooted and its institutions transformed so that they might realize what Friedrich Nietzsche had called ‘the transvaluation of all value.’ What Christianity exalted as common sense in civic society must thus become deplorable; what Christianity deplored must be exalted in order for revolutionary change to occur. Furthermore, Marx’s proletariat would also have to be reimagined. Rather than Marx’s hero, the working man, who was so much tied to the family, a Christian institution, and the ‘common sense’ of the West, Gramsci argued that a new proletariat would have to be created that included criminals, women, and racial minorities. Their structural oppression under the status quo would need to be emphasized. The even more influential Hungarian writer Georg Lukacs agreed with him, and through a programme of what he called “cultural terrorism” introduced radical sex education into Hungarian schools. Lukacs recognized that by attacking Christian sexual ethics he would undermine the family, and with it the Christian faith. He organized sex lectures with graphic illustrations instructing the youth in “free love,” as well as teaching them to mock Christian sexual morality and monogamy, and to rebel against both parental and church authority. He simultaneously ridiculed parents and his country’s priests through a propaganda blitz.15 THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL After Lukacs and his party were overthrown in Hungary by the invasion of the Romanian army, he turned up in Germany in 1923 as one of the keynote speakers of a “Marxist Study Week.” One of the organizers, a man of fabulous wealth, was so impressed that he used some of his millions to set up a think tank at Frankfurt University to promote his teaching. It launched as the “Institute for Marxism,” but, as was characteristic of the Cultural Marxists, soon changed its name to the more innocuous “Institute for Social Research.” Eventually it was simply called the Frankfurt School. The Frankfurt School is the originator of what we now call political correctness, and the idea of multiculturalism. It might surprise Canadians that multiculturalism was not the brainchild of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, nor even distinctly Canadian. The Frankfurt School drew together such writers as Theodor Adorno (the most important), the psychologists Erich Fromm and Wilhelm Reich, promoters of feminism and matriarchy, and a young man by the name of Herbert Marcuse. But the influence of Cultural Marxism did not remain in Germany, thanks once again to a political event. Just as in Italy, where Mussolini had ousted Gramsci, and in Hungary, where the Romanians had ousted Lukacs, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party ensured the ouster of the Frankfurt School, the majority of whose members were Jewish, in 1933. I personally see the displacement of the Cultural Marxists by force into the West as an act of the Lord’s judgment – not upon the Cultural Marxists themselves – but upon a people who had become increasingly superficial in their adherence to the Christian faith, if not increasingly hostile to the authority of the word of God in every area of life. At any rate, with the help of sympathetic individuals at Columbia University, the Frankfurt School relocated to New York City. The consequence of this was to transfer the target of destroying Christian culture and Western civilization from Germany, where the Nazis were perfectly adequate to the task without help from the Cultural Marxists, to the United States. Most of the school would return to Germany to complete its work after the war, where Cultural Marxism was to become the unofficial ideology of the Federal Republic. When I lived in Germany in the early 1990s, the writings of the Cultural Marxists were everywhere to be found in the university bookstores. But before that happened, they made their impact known in the United States, and with the migration of Vietnam draft dodgers, even more strongly still in Canada, where it made alliance with the antiAmericanism that had always had some measure of cultural currency. In the concluding section of this article, I shall discuss how Cultural Marxism gained extraordinary influence in North America in particular, and sketch out some practical Gospel strategies for confronting it.

Moloch Worship: The Abortion of Faith, Family & Country | Jubilee Magazine

JEREMIAH 32 RANKS AMONG the most affecting passages in all of Scripture. The gravity of the circumstances contributes to it. The curse of Deuteronomy 28:63 is about to be invoked, leading to Israel’s exile in Babylon. Yet in response to Jeremiah’s prayer, confessing Israel’s guilt, the Lord asks a rhetorical question that offers a glimpse of hope against the backdrop of present darkness, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”(Jer. 32:27). A catalogue of His people’s acts of depravity follows, suggesting why it might be. The offence against His holiness is rank (Lev. 18:21; 20:2–5). He concludes the litany of reproach with these startling words: They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction. They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Moloch, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jer. 32: 33–35) The pattern of a degenerating culture that the Apostle Paul describes, which begins when it exchanges the truth about God for a lie, then substitutes idolatry for faithful worship, and culminates in replacing marital fidelity with all manner of sexual licentiousness (Rom. 1:21–27), has reached its horrible conclusion in Jeremiah’s prophesy. The standard reading of Romans 1:21–17 is that unrestrained sexual transgression marks the depth of cultural depravity. It is undeniably one aspect of it. The ‘high places’ of Jeremiah 32 were directly related to the worship of Baal and his wife Asherah through the cultic prostitution of men and women. Yet Asherah was also the female consort of Moloch. And it is in her alliance with him that we see the final element of the cultural decline that illuminates Paul’s text. Sexual licentiousness coalesces with something the Lord describes as so shocking that it had not “entered His mind…to cause Judah to sin” – the practice of sacrificing their own children. They become “inventors of evil.” Turning one’s back on the Lord of life ultimately entails embracing the culture of death, and the fire of Hell.1 Moloch worship was deemed unimaginable for a reason. A dreadful sight, the brass statue of the god was cast in human shape with a bull’s head, and outstretched hands. A fire was kindled within his belly, and stoked to a terrific heat. To appease him, parents were required to offer up their babies to the scalding embrace, and gaze upon the horror that ensued without tears or sign of protest. Parental approval was required for a sacrifice to be acceptable. It alone would convince the angry demon god that sacrificing their baby was of their own volition. Ever accommodating, Moloch’s votaries would play their drums and flutes loudly to drown out the tortured cries. 2 What transpired in the valley of Hinnom was not simply a moment of utmost darkness in Israel’s ancient history. It was an earthly type of an eternal danger. Jesus regularly warned that mankind tended towards Moloch worship when it did not worship Him. He used the word Gehenna (Hell)3 eleven times in the synoptic Gospels to describe the pattern of life opposite to that of His Kingdom. He clarified what was implicit in the judgment of Israel in Jeremiah 32: the acts associated with that place had an eternal spiritual significance. The “valley of Hinnom,” in Jesus’ teaching, was a place where body and soul can be destroyed (Matt. 10:28) in “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43). The connection of Hell with the practice of rampant sexual license and willful sacrifice of infants cannot be ignored. It represents a spiritual depravity of the first order. Russell Moore puts it bluntly when he states that “A culture of death that denies personhood to the unborn is a culture that is assaulting the very image of Christ himself.”4 Moloch worship is of course only the most lurid of the atrocities of the ancient world towards the very young. Its only comparison may be the two instances in Scripture where a god-king sought to enact a wholescale massacre of the innocents, in the first instance for the purposes of ‘population control,’ in the latter, to prevent the emergence of a rival king. In both instances, the Lord appeared as Saviour. Yet aside from the gruesome rites, the Moloch cult’s practice of infanticide was common. Throughout the ancient world, where fertility rites and cultic prostitution were rampant, unwanted children were also regularly left exposed to the elements. In ancient Rome, for example, a father had absolute and despotic power over his family, including the power of life and death over his wife, concubines, children and slaves. They were from a legal perspective his property.5 What happened to them was the father’s ‘choice’ alone, and the state supported him in that. MOLOCH WORSHIP REMIXED Yet for all its savagery, while the ancient world might have permitted fathers to dispose of their unwanted children, even it would never have classified abortion as a ‘human right’, i.e. as in some sense the fulfillment of the law, or a human good. By identifying abortion as a human right, and thus an absolute, one of the more pernicious aspects of the contemporary practice of abortion in the West has developed: abortion has been identified as a matter of women’s health and personal well-being. In the United States, the publications of the National Organization for Women (NOW) repeatedly refer to abortion as “the most fundamental right of women”, ahead of the right to vote and the right to free speech. The protection of abortion rights is its top priority.6 First, let me speak to the two issues related to women. ABORTION AS A DEFENSE OF WOMEN’S HEALTH The common appeal to abortion as fundamentally a matter of ‘women’s health’ is strange, if not altogether perverse. It does not matter whether health is understood physically, mentally or spiritually. While pregnancy does affect a women’s physical health, it cannot reasonably be categorized as if it were a form of illness to be cured by excision. The obvious ‘cure’ for pregnancy is a nine-month period of gestation that concludes in the birth of a child. It is a means of propagating the human race, and more specifically, the woman’s kind. It thus obeys the first command given in Scripture: “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28; 9:1). Associating abortion with ‘women’s health’ cannot possibly refer to her physical health. It must refer to some sense of mental or spiritual well-being then. The facts speak incontrovertibly against its contribution to women’s mental health. Dr. Priscilla Coleman recently published an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry surveying decades of studies, concluding that “Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81% increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10% of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be attributable to abortion. The strongest subgroup estimates of increased risk occurred when abortion was compared with term pregnancy and when the outcomes pertained to substance use and suicidal behaviour.”7 This leaves us with ‘spiritual health’. If that is what is meant, it can only be a euphemism for child-slaying as a means of women’s salvation, something akin to Moloch worship.8 It represents a direct antithesis to the Biblical text which speaks of a woman’s salvation through child-bearing (1 Tim. 2:15).9 Since the entire purpose of health care is the preservation and furtherance of life in all its respects, the medical establishment ought to be seeking to abolish abortion rather than making an industry out of it. 10 At present, it breaks the sixth commandment in the name of fulfilling it, by appealing to ‘choice.’ ABORTION AS A DEFENSE OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS The appeal to the act of abortion as a centerpiece of ‘women’s rights’ is similarly non-sensical. Abortion cannot possibly be considered intrinsic to human nature or human flourishing. On the contrary, it strikes at the right to life, the basic human right. 11 Killing abrogates all subsequent notions of justice and human rights. This ‘woman’s right’ is by its nature opposed to human rights. It is not even intrinsic to being a woman, for it only appears at the moment when a child has been deprived of its life and rights. And many women would refuse to do so precisely for that reason. What sort of claim is it then? The true nature of the claim that some people make can be seen in the argument typically used to attack a prolife position: denying abortion forces women to have ‘unwanted children.’ ‘Every child a wanted child’ is a slogan for the pro-choice movement. Making a mother’s desire the measure of a child’s worth renders it a commodity. The woman’s right to choose appears after the unborn child has been depersonalized and reconfigured as an item of property. It bears an uncanny similarity to the view of the ‘rights’ of the father in pagan Rome to dispense with his property as he saw fit. In both instances, the personhood of the child is denied, and the ‘right’ is exercised in the taking of another’s life, which is in clear contravention of the understandings of human rights established by Christians in the West, largely to the advantage of women and children. But the comparison between the choice of the Roman father and mothers today only goes so far, precisely because of the advent of Christendom. Whereas the ancient world possessed no such notion as ‘human rights,’ it is the backdrop for the contemporary practice of abortion. There are only two ways in which the ‘right to choose’ to abort a child can be considered a matter of women’s rights: i) Women’s rights can be asserted if human rights are altogether suspended; or ii) they can be asserted if they lie outside the established understanding of human rights. Both, I submit, have effectively happened. To allow for life, the most basic human right, to be taken by virtue of an appeal to a different set of rights is to assert the absolute priority of the latter over human rights. We are currently experiencing the consequence of allowing the state to define life in countless areas as a result. The process will not stop until all human rights have been abrogated. And this has not even resulted in the empowerment of women. Women have attained this absolute exemption to dispose of their ‘property,’ yet only under the condition that they too be similarly depersonalized, and (legally speaking) excluded from the human race.12 It is striking that the language defending a ‘woman‘s choice‘ has nothing to do with her rights as a person. Proponents of women’s rights defend ‘what she can do with her body,’ which is not the same as her person. Human personhood is a predicate of divine personhood. Detaching a woman’s body from her person has rendered it into a natural commodity that she possesses. Hence under Roe v. Wade, the ground for the legal change was construed to be the right to ‘privacy’ against any societal claims of jurisdiction.13 The full significance of this perverse understanding of women’s rights, which has been established by making them property owners of themselves and their unborn children, will become clearer when I discuss the terrible dehumanizing effect that the ‘pro-choice’ position has had on women, children and fathers. 14 It is in large part a function of the sexual revolution. The sexual revolution has led the Western world to regard women essentially as natural sex-objects rather than as persons whose sexual being is fulfilled in a monogamous, complementary relationship to their gender-opposite, in a covenant relationship of duties and responsibilities, which include those towards the unborn child.15 EVANGELICAL APATHY TO THE RETURN OF MOLOCH WORSHIP Despite the horror of abortion, its cost of millions of lives, and the anguish within those of countless others, it is still common to read among some of the most respected evangelicals of our day that culture is a matter of secondary concern to Christians, if not a matter of indifference. The Christian faith is solely a matter of ‘winning souls.’ The more extreme of the views parrot the moral relativism of their secular contemporaries in agreeing that Christians should not seek to ‘impose their values on others’ by a public outworking of their faith, even though the Great Commission demands precisely a form of that – through discipling the nations, which always has moral, legal and political dimensions.16 The earliest Christian confession was not that Jesus is Saviour. It was that Jesus is Lord. Christ cannot be king without a kingdom. Nowhere is the moral bankruptcy of the Christian retreat from cultural engagement more evident than in the refusal of many Christians to actively oppose the slaughter of the innocents of our day, or to seek to overturn what Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI rightly called our present age’s ‘culture of death.’ The complicity of Christians in the sexual revolution against its Biblical understanding is doubtless one of the main reasons. Having salved their consciences that compromises can be made in the area of sexual morality, it is easier to lose sight of the gravity of moral stipulations regarding life itself. Post-Christendom in fact most closely resembles the return to a civilization that is alien, indeed absolutely antithetical, to that of the Lord of life. The abortion of the unborn is the flip-side to the sexual revolution. It is, as Douglas Wilson puts it, “Moloch worship redevivus.” Abortion is part of an ongoing redefinition of what it means to be human, which is also marked by the orientation of sex towards gender, i.e. to nothing but a figment of our imaginations. Wilson wryly notes of the change, “Mothers cultivate childlessness, wives are male, and husbands are female. Other than that, everything is the same as it was.”17 In the Christian community, to whom this article is directed, many would doubtless dispute the analogy between the practice of therapeutic abortion on demand and the return to a species of Moloch worship. They might observe that there is no sense of the worship of Moloch (or any other god) in the contemporary practice of abortion. There is no cult, no ritual prostitution, no religion. All this is true. But the justification of murder of one’s progeny on the sole basis that it sanctions ‘choice’ is the essence of Moloch worship. The only difference is that rather than a ‘god’ being propitiated by an expression of free will, we are. But both practices plainly share something. They are captive to an idol, and in both cases, they exemplify the truth of Scripture, which declares that “all those who hate me love death.” (Prov. 8:36) Perhaps a look at the specifics of the case at hand might be in order. THE REVEALING REFERENCE TO ABORTION AS ‘CHOICE’ The uncompromising devotion to the abortionist cause marks out those that support it as a sort of cult. But what sort might that be? G.K. Beale, in his book We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry, suggests, based on Isaiah 6, that whatever people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or for restoration.18 In the case of Moloch worship, the civilizations that worshipped that fearsome idol were horrifically savage, and they gave their progeny over to death. It is entirely correct to say that there is nothing resembling brass idols in our midst. But there is more to it than that. What people revere is whatever they hold to be ultimate reality, whether it is the triune personal God of Scripture, or something else. What is the ultimate reality in Canada? I would say that it is the triune God, but that is not the dominant perspective. The dominant perspective in Canada and throughout the Western world is that which is afforded by modern science, which methodologically excludes revelation, however much explanatory power it has. It offers a cosmological explanation of a materialist nature. The prevailing cosmological view of our day, the explanation for the very existence of life and the universe is called the ‘big bang theory,’ whereby everything spontaneously emerged from a hydrogen explosion. It further resulted in the enormous complexity and diversity, and the interrelatedness of everything that exists. Now if we were to describe the assumptions that had been made in this theory, we would be compelled to admit that it presumes that something can spontaneously come from nothing, and that anything can basically become anything else. It doesn’t matter if we want to add the biological theory of evolution to it, because the idea is basically the same, which is why the theories happily co-exist. THE WILL OF THE GOD; THE GOD OF THE WILL What we are really providing an intellectual template for is the absolute freedom of the will to declare that anything can become anything else. The consequence of this in the sexual realm is what we might call ‘pomosexuality’ – postmodern sexuality. It’s like magic. The mirage of ‘gay marriage’ is a cardinal illustration of worshipping ‘choice.’ The autonomy of the choice is revealed in declaring that something that hadn’t existed now does; the ‘worship’ is clear in the demand that it be publicly celebrated and legally recognized. On the other hand, reducing the institution of marriage to a verbal definition, and then excluding the procreation of children from that definition, is a reduction of a something to a nothing. Passing legislation thereafter to include variations on the ‘definition’ to make it more inclusive (as with same-sex marriage) can make them ‘official,’ but no more real or socially effective. Without children, they cannot perpetuate themselves. We can similarly talk as if ‘gender’ exists in contradistinction to biological sex, and can manufacture new genders to identify new trains of thought, but they are no more than willful expressions, which officialdom can only will that the general populace will, because they will it to be so. And the legal and educational system will duly oblige, because the one thing that both have demonstrated in recent years they believe in common is the absolute freedom of the will.19 Arbitrarily determining human life to begin at some point other than conception does precisely the same. In short, the ultimate reality of our day is a very comfortable and infinitely plastic form of nihilism, the reduction of everything, however well-established, to be a matter of simple redefinition, even if it thereby refers to nothing but our will. Our society worships death because it reveals its choice to be its own god. David B. Hart explained our society’s chief moral value as the absolute freedom of choice, with this analysis: …a society that believes this must, at least implicitly, embrace and subtly advocate a very particular moral metaphysics: the unreality of any “value” higher than choice, or of any transcendent Good ordering desire towards a higher end. Desire is free to propose, seize, accept or reject, want or not want — but not to obey. Society must thus be secured against the intrusions of the Good, or of God, so that its citizens may determine their own lives by the choices they make from a universe of morally indifferent but variably desirable ends, unencumbered by any prior grammar of obligation or value.… Hence the liberties that permit one to…destroy one’s unborn child are all equally intrinsically “good” because all are expressions of an inalienable freedom of choice. But, of course, if the will determines itself only in and through such choices, free from any prevenient natural order, then it too is in itself nothing.20 It is in the very terms of the woman’s ‘right to choose’ that we find the appeal to a God-concept. As with Moloch worship, the voluntary nature of the sacrifice is all-important. The hospitals and abortion clinics and the limitations upon public protest provide a cost-free and civilized variation on the drum beats to shield mothers from comprehending the consequences of their actions. HOSTILE WITNESSES IN THE CULTURE WARS This has thusfar been a pro-life portrait of the issue. Let us also consider the cultural analysis of someone who would support the pro-choice position. Michael Valpy, former Religious Affairs columnist for the Toronto Globe & Mail newspaper, is a respected analyst of the religious and ethical issues of our day. I will take his commentary on the legacy of Henry Morgentaler, Canada’s most famous abortionist, to illustrate the broad cultural significance he sees in the prochoice movement in Canada. Let me begin with a bit of context. On Dominion Day, July 1, 2008, Morgentaler was vested as a Member in the Order of Canada. The insignia pinned to his chest by former Governor General Michaelle Jean bore the Latin motto desiderantes meliorem patriam, “they desire a better country.” It is from Hebrews 11:16, the motto of those who live by faith in Jesus Christ. For Morgentaler, receiving the award marked an extraordinary reversal of fortunes. When the Order was established by Queen Elizabeth II back in 1967, abortion was strictly illegal, and the Christian motto doubtless seemed appropriate to Canadians, if for some only as a gesture towards ‘tradition.’ Yet revolutionary change was coming. That same year, Pierre Trudeau was responsible as Justice Minister for introducing the landmark Criminal Law Amendment Act, an omnibus bill whose provisions included, among other things, the decriminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults, movement towards the legalization of abortion, contraception, and lotteries, and the loosening of divorce laws. It became law of the land in 1968-69. Another country came with it. Reflecting on Morgentaler’s elevation five years afterwards, at the time of his death, Valpy opined on the CBC’s website that it had signified that “the door was firmly shut on institutional religion’s engagement in the public life of the nation.” It was part of the trajectory of what progressives call being on the wrong side of history: Between Pierre Trudeau’s partial decriminalization of abortion in 1969 (in the same piece of legislation that completely de-criminalized homosexuality and contraception) and the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1988 declaring any criminalization of abortion to be unconstitutional, it became clear that absolutist teachings from the realm of the sacred would no longer be the determining factor in public morality and the nation’s public life.21 The fundamental issue though is the religious implication of the honour: “What could have been a more definitive rejection of the church’s teaching than the Governor General presenting Morgentaler with the state’s highest honour?” 22 Valpy means more than the bare symbolism of the act. Honouring Morgentaler represented far more than honouring the man who brought about the legalization of abortion in opposition to the church. At issue in the abortion debate was the still larger issue of who defines what life is. It had been God. Who was it now? For Valpy, the answer was clear. Morgentaler was the conduit for the appropriation of the church’s and the family’s historical mandate by the state. The state had now honoured a man who had conspicuously – even defiantly – honoured the state above God, indeed who had honoured it as a god. In ‘rejecting the church’s teaching’ on life, it celebrated the state’s teaching on life. It was therefore a moment of vast cultural and religious significance. According to the Whig narrative of history as an inevitable progression towards greater liberty and enlightenment, Valpy identifies Morgentaler’s elevation as a beacon of Canadian values to be the defining moment between two lords, two laws, and two worldviews in Canada. There is something undeniably correct in his summary. For him, Canada has effectively ceased to be a Christian country because in its most basic understanding of human life, i.e. in its definition of life, it is no longer defined by Christian law. He understands, as all progressivists (and too few Christians) do, that by exercising the prerogative of defining life (as also in redefining marriage) the state has usurped the Lordship of Christ, His sovereign authority over life as its Creator in every area, which is symbolized by His definition of all human life and legal protection over it. And if God’s predetermination of life and history has been rejected in Canada, as it once was in Israel before the exile, man’s predetermination of life and history invariably ensues. 23 It is not just a piece of legislation. It strikes at the very heart of all law. As in Europe, he exults, Christian culture has now been utterly privatized. Christian worship is still permissible, Christian culture (as expressed through the public outworking of the faith) is not. In my experience, Christians are in absolute denial about both the substance of the legalization of abortion and its widespread consequences, and even though they are uncomfortable with the status quo, are quite willing to leave the issue on the backburner. Yet allowing for the denial of God’s predestination of human life to become Canadian law is necessarily to replace it with human predestination, and more specifically the government’s total determination of all life in Canada. That is because what is at issue is the same as was involved in original sin. Original sin is not, as one so often hears, a matter of eating from fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and thus ‘becoming as gods.’ That is a Gnostic distortion of the text. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The detail of the text is crucial. ‘Becoming as gods,’ thus meant that Adam and Eve took upon themselves the power of moral determination. They not only exercised dominion over the created order, but acted as if they could exercise dominion over the King of Creation Himself. And the immediate moral consequences of their action was not only the sentence of death they received, but that the first of their progeny, Cain, exercises moral determination by killing the second, Abel. They had achieved the quasi-divine power of moral determination. Yet it characteristically expressed itself in the choice to take human life. As the ancient Roman proverb would have it: homo homini lupus. ‘Man is man’s wolf.’ Man might be as a god. But the devil calls the shots. This is the current state of affairs. The sense of purpose that the Christian faith has inculcated into the Western understanding of history does not permit the progressivist to assign history a direction without a director. What has replaced Jesus Christ is the lordship of man, his sovereign authority over life and death, expressed in the State, which as Hegel once wrote is the ‘voice of God on earth.’ Politics has returned to what it had been in the Western world before Christendom, a theological-political enterprise in which there is no separation of church and state precisely because the state once again exercises the prerogatives of the church, as it did before the advent of Christendom. This sounds surprising because every time the Christian faith is suppressed in the public square in our day, it is done in the name of the ‘separation of church and state.’ 24 THE ABORTION OF FATHERHOOD - HER CHOICE, HER PROBLEM One of the preeminent social legacies of Christendom was the eradication, through legal and political means, of the idea that women were the property of their husbands. The Bible insisted on the covenant obligations of man to wife, and both to child as the basis of the social good. The Enlightenment’s postulates of human autonomy and freedom (rather than personhood and the family) as the fundamental human categories seriously eroded that, and brought about a backlash in the twentieth century. The feminist movement largely encouraged women to understand themselves in similarly mistaken autonomous terms, understandably demanding equal rights in a variety of areas where men’s obligations had been previously understood. But the right to choose to abort a child – and the perceived need for it – validate the patriarchal worldview which holds that women, encumbered as they are by their reproductive capacity, are inferior to men because pregnancy requires them to depend on men. The sexual revolution simply made this a crisis. Having explored the connections of the sexual revolution with abortion and observed it as a social symptom of extreme theological peril, I conclude by observing its devastating effect on the entire family, but particularly on the women it allegedly liberates and heals. The irony of the situation could hardly be more acute. Throughout the Western world, abortion is held to be the most fundamental women’s right. Canada sees itself in the forefront of women’s rights precisely because it provides unlimited, fully-funded access to abortion. But nowhere is it more obvious that supporting abortion is different than standing for women’s rights than in the widespread practice of gendercide, the choice to abort the unborn simply because they are girls.25 The hypocrisy of those who have called themselves defenders of women’s rights has been well and truly exposed on this issue. They might sound the dog whistle of ‘oppression’ and ‘imposing patriarchy,’ and a Pavlovian pack of ‘activists’ might still bay and gnash their teeth.26 But they now stand shoulderto-shoulder with patriarchal societies. The point of principle is clearly about defending the ‘prochoice’ position against any limitation. Unfettered access to death as a ‘choice’ is sacrosanct. Yet even if we disregard the practice of gendercide, we still find that, forty years on, abortion on demand has failed to liberate the overwhelming majority of women or promote their good. Instead, it has promoted the terms of the sexual revolution – uncommitted, anonymous sex without consequences – to the detriment of women. Giving pregnant women the sole prerogative of ‘choice’ is the final insult. For it has exempted men from any responsibility. Covenant fidelity has been done away with. The sperm donor and the drunken sailor have the same status, the same effective rights and obligations, as a dutiful husband who loves his wife and would seek to be a good father to his children. In short, women’s power to ‘choose’ not only results in the slaughter of millions, it has made for the unprecedented cultural phenomenon of single mothers and fatherless children, a statistic that seems to rise by the year. Not only has it given men a free pass, it has increased the stigma on women for carrying or aborting the child, precisely because ‘her choice’ means it’s now all on her shoulders. Once women leave the silencing cordon of ‘confidentiality’ of Moloch’s functionaries in the clinic, they alone will have to hear either the baby’s cries on their own or their peers’ attacks on their ‘irresponsibility.’ It is not only men who will anathematize the pregnant woman. Pressure from families and friends, who know that they too will have to bear the consequences of the mother’s allegedly autonomous decision, is often unbearable. Society too will add to this by the cost it will have to bear. CONCLUSION As the insignia on the breasts of the Order of Canada’s members declares, there remains a better country for those who live by faith. Without faith, and covenant obedience to the One who is faithful and true, there can be no life. The fifth commandment declares that it is those who honour their father and mother that shall inherit the land. Jesus makes it plain that that land is the whole earth. That includes Canada. The promotion of abortion as the pre-eminent human good declares nothing other than the depth of depravity in the world today. Those who hate the Lord love death. It is the calling of the church to speak against this, to call the lost, and to affirm life as God’s gift. Above all, we should be mindful once more of the text in Jeremiah with which this essay began. The Lord had asked Jeremiah a rhetorical question in response to the weight of sin and depravity, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”(Jer. 32:27). The price that the faithless paid for their worship of death rather than of Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life was clear, and it is clear in our time. Yet the promise of God to the faithful remains in the midst of that: …they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32: 38-41). It is the meek, those obedient to the Lord of life, that shall inherit the earth. And those who hate life are seeing to it quickly.

Shutting Our Minds to the Truth | National Post

First Published in National Post / May 2014

Since the time of the Enlightenment, self-proclaimed philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the father of modern education, have been seeking to return humanity back to “nature.” Rousseau and his successors applied the scientific method experimentally on human nature in the same way it was being applied to the physical world by the Christian natural scientists of their day, men like Isaac Newton, etc.

The basic methodological problem with their approach is that humanity is the subject and object of the experiment at one and the same time. It is the insuperable limitation, prejudicial to all judgments, caused by being a human and not a god. Experiments upon humanity by humanity can never be verified as true, however loudly they are trumpeted as progressive by the open theologians of our humanity.

The chief project of these atheistic humanists, and the mark they set for progress, was the eradication of what they termed “prejudice,”, i.e. beliefs that did not pass the bar of reason unaided. Immanuel Kant, the great German philosopher, defined the Enlightenment in a little pamphlet by its intellectual autonomy, its liberation from the “self-incurred tutelage of the past.”

That past was, of course, Christian, and rooted in revelation. Enlightened people categorically rejected it.

In 1987, Alan Bloom remarked in The Closing of the American Mind that this experimental project had advanced so far in American universities that the sole virtue remaining in the minds of his students was openness. This tolerance about which they boasted, he lamented, left them incapable of embracing any other virtues, because they would openly contradict it.

The sole recourse for people like Bloom was to hold to private beliefs. His virtuous students insisted upon the repression of his convictions in the public square.

Bloom publicly demonstrated that the cavity of their virtue was remarkably like that of the citizens of the German Weimar Republic.

It had not made for a beautiful smile.

Even the most superficial survey of culture since the Romantic era hints how our culture came to the sorry state it is in, where the conscience of others has been euthanized in the name of tolerance. The heroes of popular fiction, particularly children’s fiction, are invariably orphans, characters who are forced to define their own heroic path and identity without tutelage from their parents. They have been our cultural role models from Dickens to Disney.

Nonetheless, the Enlightenment disease that Bloom analyzed had not yet metastasized till now.

Concurrent with Bloom’s jeremiad, the political correctness movement was sweeping the campuses of the entire Western world, and reshaping our understanding of human nature in the realm of law and politics. This movement, marked by what it termed “positive discrimination,” was an expression of cultural Marxism.

Herbert Marcuse, whose name was a slogan in the mouths of the 1968 sexual revolutionaries, “Marx, Mao, and Marcuse,” brought about the metastasis by sexualizing the agenda of the Enlightenment against the Christian norms of the family.

He made it go viral.

Marcuse’s intentions were plain in his 1965 treatise Repressive Tolerance. Marcuse’s sexualized, and highly intolerant version of tolerance, openly opposed not only Christian sexual ethics, but John Locke’s 300-year-old legacy of tolerance which permitted their expression. In the name of what he euphemistically called “liberating tolerance,” the norms of monogamous marriage and the family, which were the common sense of Western law and society, ought no longer to be tolerated.

The health curricula and inclusivity policies that are being enacted throughout the Western world are the mark of their latest progress, the shift from ignoring one’s parents to operating explicitly against them.

After Marcuse, the battle of sexual freedom against religious freedom became an open war.

It is not merely an assault on religious freedom. It is an undeniable assault on the possibility of knowledge itself.

For the truth decay of the Enlightenment on human nature has also metastasized. There are no longer simply cavities upon the truth. The cavities are represented as the truth.

This is abundantly clear in the third grade of the Ontario sex-ed curriculum, where children are introduced to the thought-experiment that their gender identity may be at odds with their biological sex. They can be a male trapped in a female body, and vice versa.

The moral and psychological and health implications of this experimental teaching alone would be worthy of a parental revolt. The suicide rates for trans people rises above 40 per cent.

Yet even purely intellectually speaking, the public education establishment is involved in disseminating what can only be termed propaganda. Since Aristotle, the law of non-contradiction has been universally accepted as one of the fundamental laws of logic, without which knowledge is impossible. “The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.”

For educators to subject children to this thought experiment is to reject all scientific verifiability, and to teach that truth and falsehood are indistinguishable.

G.K. Chesterton once remarked, “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

The cavity in this truth must be filled. The curriculum must be reconsidered.

Why the Critics of the Ontario Sex-Ed Curriculum Are Right | National Post

First Published in National Post / March 2015

At least since Plato, philosophers have argued that parents are naturally unfit to educate their children. In an ideal state, philosopher-kings such as he ought to usurp their role. Plato had no children. But the enlightened Rousseau, whose ideas ground modern educational theory, was so enamoured with the idea of the state’s responsibility in administering social justice, and in absolving himself of parental responsibility, that he placed the five children he conceived out of wedlock in state orphanages.

In his 1935 BBC radio debate with another statist educator, philosopher Bertrand Russell, G.K. Chesterton wryly retorted what every reasonable person recognizes. The immoral example of exceptional men like Rousseau proves the rule: Parents are by nature best positioned to bring up their children. They don’t raise themselves.

The intervention of the Second World War and the rise of Communism briefly settled the matter. Yet the brief success of the ideologues that shared Russell’s conviction in the interim led a nascent UN to push back. In its 1959 Rights of the Child, parents were declared to have primary responsibility in educating their children. The declaration was meant to set a hedge of protection for families against the totalitarian impulse of philosopher-kings.

Chesterton might well have called the findings of Cambridge anthropologist J.D. Unwin to his aid. Unwin’s monumental 1934 work Sex and Culturestudied 80 primitive tribes and six known civilizations over 5,000 years of history. It strongly correlated the success of a civilization to the degree of sexual restraint it observed: ”Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation.”

The life or death of a civilization, which is at stake in the Christian teaching of natural sexual monogamy — a moral conviction and social institution that Unwin observed was common to all flourishing cultures — would have been a powerful argument in favour of teaching that monogamy was essential to the health of the individual and to creating a more just society.

Of course, Chesterton did not make that appeal, largely because he and Russell did not debate the sexual education of children. Theirs was the age-old question of which adults, which individuals capable of moral responsibility, were fit to do the task of creating a just society. Was it parents in the natural family unit, or the experts, the philosopher-kings?

This brings us to the Ontario sexual education curriculum, whose convictions on human sexual health are not liberating but deleterious. Once again, the debate lies between parental and state jurisdiction in creating a just society. But at the heart of the Ontario sex-ed curriculum is buried the perverse claim that children raise themselves.

This is explicit from the very outset of the curriculum, which commences with the teaching of consent to six-year-olds. To teach children what consent means, even in the rudimentary terms the premier gives of “reading facial expressions and emotions,” is to assume that they have the capacity for moral responsibility to exercise it. This is why the legal age of consent is connected to the moral responsibility of adults. Indeed it must be if a just society is the outcome of education.

By six, the human eye has not even fully developed.

The intent of the word, consent, is expressive, to be understood in the cultural Marxist terms of autonomous sexual freedom, and even sexual identity. They are the terms of men from Herbert Marcuse to Michel Foucault, the favourites of the philosopher-kings of our day, whose autonomy is declared precisely against the natural family.

The critics of this curriculum are right because it is nothing other than an experiment on their children by the children of the sexual revolution. Without any consideration for love or marriage — there is nary a mention of either in this infamous 244 page document — it speaks of sex in the anodyne consumerist terms of choice, of sex without moral, religious or societal consequences.

It is the teaching not of a just society, but of a perverted individualism that separates children not only from the values of the parents that bore, love and nurture them, but the idea that they too will one day be responsible for children when this government and its philosopher-kings lie on the ash heap of history.

It must not be imposed on the only people whose consent is required, the parents of children in Ontario.

Supernatural Naturalism | Jubilee Magazine

First Published in Jubilee / Fall 2013

AT THE OUTSET OF Jesus’ earthly ministry, the synoptic Gospel accounts relate that the Spirit which descended upon the Son of God at His baptism immediately drove Him into the wilderness (Matt. 4.1-11; Ma. 1.12-13; Lu. 4.1-13).1 There He was tempted by the devil for forty days. So pivotal are the two events to Mark’s Gospel that he places them at the beginning of his account, dispensing altogether with the birth narratives. The church universally recognizes the theological significance of baptism, but it consigns the event that immediately follows to comparative neglect. It begs the question. Why has God so strongly emphasized the temptation in the wilderness at the outset of Jesus’ ministry? The great Puritan poet John Milton regarded it to be so significant that he actually made Christ’s obedience to the Father in the face of Satan’s temptation the framework for the entire narrative of his Christian epic Paradise Regained, and thus a rejoinder to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the ninth book of his more famous Paradise Lost. For Milton, Christ’s triumphal obedience clearly anticipated the totality of His victory over Satan, Sin and Death at the cross.2 It marked the onset of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The careful reader will note how acute Milton’s perception was. Jesus’ encounter with Satan clearly relives the archetypal scene of Genesis 3, and the narrative wherein Satan successfully tempted Adam and Eve. The first encounter was not a happy one for man, and God drove our first parents from paradise into the wilderness. Yet in God’s speech to Satan there is an early hint at an epic loss Satan would himself experience one day at the hands of another man, one with God, ordained by God to be at enmity with him: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her SUPERNATURAL Naturalism offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Gen. 3:15). Indeed, the Apostle John wrote that Jesus Christ came “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3.8). The temptation scene is the second Adam’s first triumph in His personal battle with Satan, sin and death. Yet Genesis 3 is not the only Old Testament text that the Gospel accounts draw upon. This great battle and the paradise that would be regained is foreshadowed in the account of the temptation of God’s people on the verge of entering the promised land (1 John 3.8). It contains a host of details which are picked up in the Gospel narrative. Having delivered His people from the bondage of slavery, God has led them to the border of the Promised Land.3 A leader from each of the twelve tribes is chosen, and they are sent out into the land as spies for forty days. The twelve see that the land of Canaan is good, flowing with milk and honey. Yet it is also filled with strong and wicked men, and ten of the twelve quail at the sight, returning to the people with craven counsel. Joshua and Caleb alone urge courage, boasting of the Lord’s strength, and interestingly speak of their opponents as “bread for us.” The majority opinion among the spies prevails however. The unbelieving people are quickened by fear, and they seek to “stone (Joshua and Caleb) with stones” (Nu. 14.9-10). At that point the silent witness of the proceedings intervenes: “the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel” (Nu. 14.10). Judgment follows. God strikes the ten faithless leaders with a plague, a judgment reminiscent of the land of Egypt (Nu. 14.37); and all those over the age of twenty who had heeded their counsel are condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty years and die, one year for each day their leaders had looked upon blessing and seen curses (Nu. 14.34).4 Joshua and Caleb shall lead a new generation into the land promised to the faithful. The three passages relate typologically.5 Just as Joshua and Caleb succeeded where Adam and Eve had failed, faithfully seeking to occupy the land and receive God’s promised blessing, so also the new Joshua, Jesus, trusted in God’s word as He looked to establish God’s kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. As per type, He was assailed with temptation for forty days. Yet for the sins of God’s people with whom He has identified Himself (just as He had in baptism), He suffered His temptation in the wilderness. Jesus’ success exceeds that of Joshua in power, scope and significance. There are echoes of both Old Testament passages in Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Satan tempts the God-man as he once did unfallen Adam in the garden. He urges Jesus to “be as a god,” by which he means to act lawlessly, as Adam once had in breaking God’s sole commandment. In original sin, Adam “Brought death into our world, and all our woe,/ With loss of Eden, Till one greater Man/ Restore us.”6 In Jesus’ case, it would mean defying the Father’s express will in sending His Son and abandoning His people to sin and death (Ge. 3.5).7 The battle between man and devil takes the form of three temptations. Jesus is enticed by Satan to turn stones into bread to sate His hunger; He is urged to throw himself down from a great height (a form of stoning) to fulfill his perverse and Spirit-less interpretation of Scripture. Finally, He is promised rule over all the kingdoms of the earth if He will only worship His tempter. All of these temptations would seem to be in Jesus’ best interests as a man. All three make strong appeals to pragmatism, while tacitly rejecting divine providence. As in the original temptation, Satan styles himself man’s great humanitarian benefactor.8 As in the Garden, Satan’s words have the appearance of counseling godliness (“did God say?”) while actually provoking man to set himself above God. He should take a form of godliness without the power of the cross. The devil cites Scripture and, as is characteristic, masks himself as an angel of light. The first temptation urges Jesus to be wholly carnal. He is encouraged to produce bread miraculously to fulfill the great hunger He felt after going forty days without food, preserving His life and thus His mission. The second temptation counsels its polar opposite, to be superspiritual. It urges Him to act as if doing something clearly at odds with His bodily preservation – needlessly giving up His life – would be tantamount to fulfilling God’s will. In both of these temptations, Jesus is called to regard His life apart from any relationship to the Father or His express will; the God-man is enticed first to live selfishly, then to die selfishly. The third temptation is the deadliest of all, to achieve the Father’s will that He should reign, but to do so by circumventing the Father’s plan of the cross. He would reign on earth, but not as in Heaven. If we were to characterize the three temptations of Satan, we would speak of them as the embrace of a Messianic kingdom of lawlessness and the rejection of providence in favour of pragmatism.9 We could also note that worshipping Satan, and embracing lawlessness, is the precise contradiction to exercising good stewardship over the earth as per the dominion mandate given to Adam and Eve (Ge. 1.29); in fact, it is to embrace the curse of exile in the wilderness as if it were a form of godliness, the human good.


What I will describe in the following, in broad brushstrokes, is the departure from Biblical faithfulness in Western culture since the Enlightenment. It has an analogy to these Biblical scenes not only insofar as it directly rejects the abiding relevance of the law of God and His kingdom here on earth. It also embraces the “wilderness” as the lodestar of human life and civilization. The wilderness is known by the benign word “nature.” In post-Romantic thought carnal desires (including sinful ones) are considered “natural” promptings; nature is spiritualized as an absolute; and the state of nature it held up as a democratic ideal to oppose God’s kingdom reign, in particular the moral specificity of Christian culture. According to type, in all three manifestations we hear the call to get “back to nature.” To see this more clearly, we must first note one of the most potent false dichotomies of modernity, the diametrical opposition of nature to culture, and vice versa. Since the Enlightenment, nature has been seen as purposive and universal; culture as arbitrary and relative. The terms of contrast are absurd. Nature is not a value-neutral or absolute term. In fact, it carries increasingly heavy cultural baggage.10 Far from being inclusive and universal, many have held it indirectly responsible for encouraging the aggressive tribalism of the Colonialist period that eventually engulfed the whole world in war. I regard it as central to the re-emergence of slavery in the Christian West. And like every other concept, the meaning of nature has changed in accordance with the (religious) presuppositions of the age. Since the time of the Romantic period in the West, it has become increasingly panentheistic.11 It contains a religious as well as a scientific claim. This is even revealed in the misleading narrative Western academia currently likes to tell about itself, that postmodernism is defined by its hostility towards all metanarratives.12 While it certainly shows this towards a Christian metanarrative, it enacts a wholly uncritical replacement metanarrative of its own, that God is “in” nature. “Nature” regularly refers both to things, i.e. observable phenomena, and the causes or laws that govern and explain them. For example, we will hear that an apple is natural, and also that it falls from the tree because “that’s how nature works.” This view of nature is even said to be scientific.13 Yet as Hume observed, laws and causes cannot be observed empirically. Furthermore, to say that something is “natural” is not simply a factual observation. It contains a (cultural) value judgment, usually that something is good and just and right. So when we hear that postmodernism is defined by its profound doubt, we need to take it with a grain of salt. This is its confirmation bias speaking.14 It appeals to nature to bolster its own cultivated sense of neutrality and innocence towards culture, to deflect criticism that it actually represents a uniquely contemporary cultural-religious perspective, and to conceal that its hostility to Christianity resides in little more than moral opposition to God and His law. The reason it is effective lies in the fact that unlike religion, nature is still popularly believed to be an absolute. If something is deemed natural, it cannot be questioned. At the same time, because what is meant by nature is so incoherent, postmodern cultural theorists like Michel Foucault have been able to overturn what was traditionally condemned as unnatural by appealing to nature! The uncritical reverence for nature has thus had enormous cultural significance. It has meant that any objections to their view of nature have been rejected as “cultural,” sectarian and arbitrary, and can be dismissed in much the same way superstitions would once have been by those who appealed to logic and evidence. There can be little doubt how powerful the concept of nature now is. Nature is the opiate of the masses. Almost every culturally approved activity is justified by appealing to it. The most wholesome food is said to be “organic” a nebulous designation that carries overtones more salvific than scientific. Therapists encourage people to “do what is natural” to rid themselves of their inner conflict and guilt. Personal and artistic expression aims at authenticity – “being natural” – as opposed to conforming to external standards. In the “environmental movement,” whose dictates are swift becoming core doctrine across the political ideological spectrum, the hippy fringe dreams of a “return to nature” while the more “mainstream” technologically savvy urbane sophisticates seek to appease the pristine green goddess by reducing the human population and in general stigmatizing “carbon,” man and his artifice itself being the chief carbon stain.15 Finally, the contemporary promotion of homosexuality (and increasingly paedophilia) is often predicated on the fact that certain people are “born this way.”16 The realm of law has simply followed this utopian organic hermeneutic in turning against traditional institutions such as marriage, the family and the church, which represent and uphold a differentiated view of the relation of man to nature.17 In swallowing up these institutions, a nature-state is being asserted. And the nation-states of the world are depopulating, moving towards a universal, utopian state of nature.18 While it has taken a few centuries to gestate, the contemporary embrace of “nature” as a religious presupposition originates in the writers of the Romantic period. In contrast to the Classical or Christian art that preceded it, which invariably understood culture as a means for perfecting the created order (nature), Romantic artists almost invariably viewed culture as a denigration of nature, an “imposition” upon it. Shakespeare was held to be the great example of a more “universal” nature. He was the natural genius who ignored the rules that bound lesser artists, a law unto himself. Particularly in its more spectacular forms, what we now call nature also formed the setting of much Romantic art. But it did not function as it would have in pastoral literature. Nature was a presence with a transformative power on the invariably solitary artist in its midst. It was the Romantics who first undertook the project of idealizing and even absolutizing nature.19 William Wordsworth, the greatest of the English Romantic poets, led the way in attributing regenerative and even redemptive powers to it. Echoing the account of Eve’s creation in Gen. 2, he reminisces how nature’s power came to form his ideal self. He uses what we today might call psychological terms to describe putting to death the old man, and putting on the new: …serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on,-- Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things.20 Accordingly, Wordsworth and his contemporaries almost invariably exalted nature over culture, believing that “the Child is the Father of the man”21; they exalted nature over society (including attacks on marriage as its basic institution);22 nature over politics, including treatises on anarchy;23 nature (feeling) over reason; nature over civilization, particularly the city; and in all things seeing nature as a triumph over institutional decadence. It was the Romantics who first associated the presence of nature to the moral and spiritual health of a nation, and to them we owe our national parks. There is a seeming paradox in this, though it is an illuminating one for the purposes of this essay. Their exaltation of nature simultaneously cast the poet, who represented mankind as a whole, as a tragic figure, typically in isolation. As a pastor and educator, I worry when someone isolates himself from others. But in Romantic thinking, solitude reflects a heroic rejection of inherited culture and its wisdom.24 The figure of the “orphan” gives poignancy to the portrait of the child by adding the overarching sense of abandonment and alienation. Roger Lundin sees it as the legacy of Cartesian philosophy, whose original hope and optimism about the “self” has given way to alienation and despair.25 Yet orphans remain not just the main heroes but the educational ideals of our cultural elite as they seek to bring about a naturestate in opposition to the Christian institutions of the family, the church, and the body politic.


One final aspect of Romanticism’s exaltation of nature needs to be identified: its attack on the cultural construct of human identity. The poet Percy Shelley was only the most consistent and thoroughgoing in his attack on Christian civilization in his work. Specifically in his two short essays “On Life” and “On Love” we see the beginning of a whole scale revision of the differentiation of personhood as the very basis for a more inclusive, holistic, natural sense of love. Shelley begins with the characteristic Romantic appeal to origins, not as a member of the human race or as a person made in the image of the triune God, but as a feeling organism, with the solitary sense that he is indistinguishable from the world around him. This sense of childhood fades as he enters adulthood: What is life? Thoughts and feelings arise, with or without our will, and we employ words to express them. We are born, and our birth is unremembered, and our infancy remembered but in fragments; we live on, and in living we lose the apprehension of life.26 Shelley proposed to fight against the curse of becoming an adult and conforming to the cultural world of others, particularly the world of Christendom, by appealing to a radical course of skepticism he termed “the intellectual philosophy.” He attacked all forms of differentiation and discrimination, including the most basic one of personhood. He did so by appealing to life (nature) as a totalizing force that annihilated all distinctions, including his personal distinction from everyone else: The words I, you, they, are not signs of any actual difference subsisting between the assemblage of thoughts thus indicated, but are merely marks employed to denote the different modifications of the one mind… I am but a portion of it. The words I, and you, and they are grammatical devices invented simply for arrangement, and totally devoid of the intense and exclusive sense usually attached to them. 27 Shelley’s musings on this subject were little read in his time. Yet they clearly anticipate the developments in literary theory that have utilized language to reimagine human nature since the 1960s, when the new Romantics, the cultural Marxists, took over academia. ii To give us some sense of why this excursion into Romantic thinking matters, we need to take a brief detour to look to the problem caused by the current concept of nature as a functional god, a blissful state wherein we escape culture and the consequences of the fall. Douglas Wilson has observed that atheists in our time have two convictions about God. He does not exist and they hate Him. When debating the late Christopher Hitchens, one of the better known atheists of our time, he noted his animosity was particularly pronounced in response to the substitutionary atonement of Christ and the notion that God is an ever-present Father.28 An astute cultural critic, Wilson observed Hitchens’ simplistic adherence to the Whig metanarrative of human emancipation from the past, an evolution away from God, human institutions, and all forms of prejudice towards ever greater freedom: …he hates (God) for deserting us, for leaving us. At the same time, there is acknowledgment of the fact that we rejected God first. We demanded that He leave. We hate it when he leaves, and we hate it worse when He stays. This is all admittedly conflicted and contradictory, but one of the things we have to understand is that sin doesn’t make sense.29 Hitchens’ hostility on these two points of Christian doctrine was striking, and it should be noted would also have astonished those who had lived before Christianity’s public acceptance in the West. What Scripture reveals about the Son`s substitutionary atonement for His enemies at the cross is precisely what put an end to the religious scapegoating of the enemies of the state in the brutality of the arena,30 and the revelation of God’s fatherly love for His people is clearly a source of the greatest joy and comfort. There is simply no intellectual or moral basis for a hostile response. Nonetheless, Hitchens’ response is common, and with good warrant Wilson speculates that it is because he and the increasingly vocal ”New Atheists” do not consider God in terms of the persons of the Trinity, even though it is foundational to Christian theology. He thinks of God as an impersonal “organizing principle” in the sky. That reduces Christianity to a form of Unitarianism. It has a devastating effect on how Hitchens interprets the self-giving love evident in the atonement and in the Father’s providential care for His people. For one thing, it means that he denatures God from a personal being into an idea. And he finds the expressions of “love” related to that idea arbitrary, manipulative and socially oppressive. Yet the Bible does not speak of God as a radical skeptic like Shelley might, expressing the “idea” of love. 1 John 4.16 identifies God personally with love. He is not a big idea in cosmic solitude. Wilson articulates the Christian understanding of the intimate relation between the Trinity and love: If it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2.18), it is unthinkable that God in His eternity would be alone. For orthodox Christians, the eternal reality of the Godhead has included, in its very nature, divine fellowship. The Father has always loved the Son, and the Son has loved the Father in return. Their Spirit is the eternal Spirit of that love, Himself an infinite third. Rejecting God as Trinity invariably leads to the sense that He is an intellectual abstraction. Thereafter, if we relate to Him at all, it is as exiles or orphans, in intellectual abstraction from Him. God is someone we can never personally encounter. Wilson lays out a series of intellectual developments since the Enlightenment, rooted in precisely the assumption that has led to Hitchens’ vitriolic response to the idea of God’s love: With Unitarianism, at least initially, God was still interested in us, but it turns out there is no real grounded reason why He should have been. So one day He took off, and there we were, the foundling race… So first there was the Father of Jesus Christ, Giver of the Holy Spirit. Then there was the Unitarian clockmaker God, who still watches His clock, and who was willing to do repairs from time to time. Then there was the God of the Deists, one who initially made the clock, wound it up, and then left, leaving no forwarding address. After He had been gone awhile, it was decided by general (very scientific) consensus that clocks can assemble themselves, and who needs a clockmaker anyway? This was the advent of modern atheism, a “scientific” and “rational” atheism. But after a few generations of that, we are now teetering on the edge of a postmodern atheism – one that denies any ultimate clockmaker the right to manufacture any metanarrative whatsoever.31 The Biblical metanarrative of God’s covenant love for humanity is of course simply one of the casualties, though it is a central one. Wilson’s explanation illustrates two things quite vividly. It attributes the hostile response of today’s atheists to a distortion of the core teachings of the Christian faith, in particular the love of God. For evangelicals, it suggests that appealing to God’s love when witnessing to Biblically illiterate unbelievers ignores the main problem. Not only do they not know who God is, by extension they no longer understand what love is. It also explains that the hostility is rooted in a fundamental misapprehension of Christian theology, specifically of the significance of the personhood of God. Finally, they have thereby detached the distinctiveness of the human person revealed in Scripture from their understanding of human love. This necessarily has consequences in how they regard the kingdom of God and how Christian believers seek to live as God’s regenerate Kingdom people. To understand how this theological error ties together with a problematic conception of nature and of love, we need to make one last excursion into Christian theology, though in this case in its teaching on human nature. iii As we just saw, the doctrine of the Trinity is essential to understanding God’s personal nature. Ditto love. When we speak of the love of God, it is not in the first order to reflect on how He relates to humanity, it is to declare who He is in His being.32 The declaration that God is one yet also three persons is embedded in Scripture, and for good reason was among the two primary grounds of theological debate in the early church.33 The doctrine of the Trinity explains how Jesus’ mission of salvation is not just an arbitrary fact. It is an expression of who God is in His true nature. God’s love is eternal (Ps. 136) precisely because “God does not change” (Mal. 3.6; Heb. 13.8). God’s revelation to man allows him to exercise dominion in the realm of knowledge. Scientific advance is rooted in the Trinitarian belief that the universe can be comprehended, as it solves the ancient philosophical problem of the one and the many. There is unity in diversity. Neither unity or diversity is ultimate. For God is one, but also three. 34 The Trinity is also essential to understanding man’s personal nature in contradistinction to the rest of the created order. Let us take a moment to look at that in more detail. In Genesis 1.26- 27, the creation of Adam and Eve is described in terms of God’s personal image: 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. We must be careful not to let the event’s unique significance be disguised by the established pattern of repetition. The chronological pattern is less important than the significance of the event.35 The fact that the creation of man falls on the sixth day, the day on which the animals were also created, has led many to assume that in the creation of man there is a climax in the order of the animals analogous to that in the order of the days. Accordingly, man is not so much

a) the crown of the six-day creation, as b) the crown of the sixth day of creation, i.e. the top dog in the animal kingdom. These are very different assertions, and must not be conflated. That the text declares man to be the crown of God’s creation seems indisputable, but his inclusion as an animal is doubtful.36 After all, as is rendered even more obvious in the elaboration of Gen. 2.7, the specific means of man’s creation from the dust is unique.37 Furthermore, the language of “kinds” used to distinguish the animals from one another is not extended to include man (Gen. 1.24-25). All of this is not to deny a connection between the animals and man, but it is to say that Adam and Eve do not bear the imago Dei on account of the fact that they are a special kind of animal.38 In what sense and on what account do they bear God’s personal image then? It seems related to the fact that God addresses Adam and Eve personally. In both respects, in the fact that they are addressed, and in fact that it happens personally, man is distinguished from the animals. God loves the animals, but He does not speak to them. The divine Word therefore not only creates but also constitutes the imago Dei in man, which becomes clearer yet when God commands them to exercise dominion care over the rest of creation, which Adam then does when he names the beasts. Man is not first among equals in nature because the imago Dei is not a natural attribute. One further thing can be said on the topic of God’s address which pertains to God’s image. It is in relation to what man is to do and not to do. This is not just the “is” language of creation but the “ought” language of law. The act of command and prohibition reflects a moral nature essential both to God and man. So while it is God’s address that renders man distinctively human, the commands and the prohibition he is given entails a moral imperative to obey to stay in personal communion with God. Obedience is an essential aspect of love. While God’s address renders man human, it is man’s obedience that keeps him upright.39 Disobeying God’s commands (as we witness in Gen. 3) does not render us non-human or nonpersons, but it does make us something the animals can never be, namely sinners. Furthermore, man’s categorical distinction from the animals is also accompanied by marks of personal differentiation within humanity itself. The personal pronouns our image and our likeness in Gen. 1.26 are plural, reflecting the plurality of persons in the Godhead. Adam and Eve together are spoken of as man, a collective singular, and yet the male-female distinction between the two is also essential to their identity. This apparent logical contradiction is resolved by reminding ourselves of God’s own nature. As in the Trinity, the formulation of man’s identity reflects a unity in diversity. The distinction from the animals on this note is unambiguous in the account in Gen. 2, where we learn that Eve is taken from Adam’s own side (differentiation) and, again in the language of poetry, we hear that Eve completes Adam in a way the other animals could not (unity). The statement of that unity is the declaration concluding Gen. 2 that in marriage the two persons become “one flesh.”


This is precisely why contemporary redefinitions of human sexual and gender identity and homosexual marriage are so troubling. It is not just that redefining sex or marriage ipso facto departs from God’s defined moral character. It is not just that in same-sex marriage, the union of marriage has been redefined in such a way that it rejects the significance of diversity in unity. It is also that the distinctiveness of person has been lost. By ignoring the fundamental polarity of being revealed in male-female sexual differentiation, our society has sanctioned something like a personal Unitarianism as the basis for all social and political relations. It is true that enforcing radical desexualized individualism has long been a tendency in Western culture and law. But attaching it directly to marriage is far more significant, because marriage is interwoven into the social, legal and political fabric. Redefining it must in turn affect all subsequent understanding of human rights. It marks the absolute embrace of the curse of alienation and exile from God’s image as the utopian solution to human ills. It is as if “all we need is love.” And love no longer entails a person (let alone the Person), it refers to an abstraction of person, whose only legal stipulation lies in “consent.” In seeking to avoid the gendered implications of human individuals, we also eliminate individual personhood. It is the personal differentiation of being male or female that designates an encounter with another person. Personhood, and everything that is implicated with it in Western law and culture, from equality before the law, the requirement of separate witnesses in a criminal trial, to personal freedoms, cannot survive the assault on sexual differentiation because the two are inextricably linked. The ultimate minority, the individual person, has been crushed in the name of “minority group rights.” Abolishing sexual differentiation as an aspect of personhood has the inevitable consequence that man becomes a species no different than an animal, with the capacity for moral guilt but without a refuge of moral purity, to the frustration and impoverishment of humanity, and the depersonalization of all human interactions. Human rights legislation has only further tracked Shelley’s thought and the tendency of Cartesian self-fathering by attributing “minority” status to those who self-identify as minorities even without a mark of personal sexual differentiation, the transgendered community.


This essay began with a look at the temptation in the wilderness, and the onset of the kingdom of God in Christ’s obedience to the Father’s holy word. It then described how Western civilization had rebelliously embraced the wilderness – nature in the form of lawlessness – as if it were a more universal kingdom. Having ignored the personhood of God and rebelled against Christian teaching, it has now gone on to attack human personhood in the most radical fashion.


In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus teaches Christians to pray in the name of our Heavenly Father for the coming of His kingdom on earth. Jesus’ three temptations are a pattern for us. Our first danger is in taking a pragmatic stance. We cannot act as if there were a different standard for Christians than for other people. Every human being is a person, made in the image of God. It is in Christ’s image that every person finds his or her true humanity. Their sexual differentiation is a necessary sign of that personhood, and marriage of male and female is a picture of God’s plan for the flourishing of human life. It is also His analogy for the relationship of Christ to His church. To sanction changes in marriage or gender is to deny them their humanity, to show them a lack of love. Marriage as God defines it is a human good, and refusing to uphold it is to commit a human rights violation against others. Finally, we can adopt a different kingdom ethics under Christ’s banner. We might euphemistically call it social justice, but it is at odds with God’s view of society which from the beginning entails diversity in unity: in marriage and the family. Praying for God’s kingdom to come happens as we also hallow the Father’s name on earth as it is in Heaven. Hallowing entails calling holy what God calls holy. In other words, praying the Lord’s prayer with integrity necessitates “seek(ing) first His Kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6.33). It is not simply sanctifying our blessed thoughts. It means obeying the Great Commission, going out into the world and disciplining the nations, teaching them all that the Lord has commanded. Jesus Christ, speaking of the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised His people, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14.18) Let us trust God at His word rather than be deceived by false ideals.

Plastic People | Jubilee Magazine

First Published in Jubilee / Spring 2013

THE BIBLE DEFINES IDOLATRY AS the ‘exchange of the truth about God for a lie’ and the ‘worship and service of the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever’.1 Although it is embarrassing, the idolatrous worship of inanimate objects we read about in the Old Testament is not surprising. We quickly distance ourselves from it because we sense the shame of the Bible’s mockery of something so patently irrational. Yet people in a materialist age such as ours have little trouble identifying with the same impulse so long as it transpires under another name. We readily equate the possession of money and finely-crafted goods with power, and the world seems united in its agreement that power is a prime motivation for human activity, and an acceptable one at that. This is true in the field of economics as well. For all their differences both Marxism and capitalism place central importance on material goods. The only difference between us and the peoples of old then seems to be that we possess too great a sense of pride literally to bow down to the things we worship. We dignify ourselves by standing up. Of course, this only conceals the prostration. What remains a bit more distasteful about the idolatry the Bible depicts for a culture like ours that is steeped in the evolutionary myth of human progress, with its historical narrative of an ascent from the material to the rational and the bodily to the spiritual, is the connection of its idolatry with ancient fertility gods – with sex. It is there in the Biblical narrative, and throughout the ancient peoples of the world. This is surely evidence of their primitivism, we scoff, an instance of our superiority and their superstition. HOMO ADORANS When the Christian does so however he encounters an uncomfortable fact. The chief metaphor that the Bible uses for true, godly worship has sexual overtones: the covenant bond of marriage between God and his people. This covenant metaphor as an illustration of true faith appears throughout the Bible,2 perhaps most famously in Paul’s analogy of the husband-wife relationship in Ephesians 5.22-33, but no less significantly in Revelation 21.2, when the people of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, descends ‘as a bride adorned for her husband’. The Bible thus reveals an important fact that the secular academy overlooks. The best definition of human nature is not the homo sapiens of the Enlightenment scientist, but homo adorans. Our distinctive characteristic is not to know, but to worship. With that in mind, the Westminster Shorter Catechism acknowledges the centrality of the first commandment3 in its first line: ‘the chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.’ That this is not to be understood in an abstract ‘spiritual’ sense,4 and that it applies directly back to the marital relationship between husband and wife is evident in the words of the marriage ceremony in the old Book of Common Prayer (1662): ‘with my body I thee worship.’5 The Puritans’ sense of the moral rectitude of loving one’s spouse shines forth. G.K. Beale, in summarizing the importance of true worship, explains that it also has a practical consequence. What we worship transforms us into its image: All humans have been created to be reflecting beings, and they will reflect whatever they are ultimately committed to, whether the true God or some other object in the created order. Thus… we resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration.6 Thus the ‘worshipers of the true God reflect his image in blessing’, whereas idolaters receive ‘a curse by becoming as spiritually inanimate, empty, rebellious or shameful as the idol is depicted to be.’7 IN IMAGO DEI As we know, the image that Christians reflect is that of Jesus Christ. ‘He is the image of the invisible God.’8 We are also told that God is love.9 In the Trinity, we understand the mutual ‘cleaving together’ and indwelling of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit through all eternity. There was unity in diversity. God experienced perfect love before the creation of the universe. But we can observe something more specific about this in the creation account of Genesis 1. In the first twenty five verses, we observe that by his Word, God exercises his dominion over his creation. He does so through the process of differentiation and order. He subdues the waters and the darkness, separating them to create land and sky, day and night. He then fills the day and night (sun, moon, and stars) and the sky, land and sea (different kinds of birds, animals, plants, and fish). He does so by naming them. In the account of the creation of man, we’re given an array of important and very similar details. We learn that God creates man in his image.10 We learn that that image is also differentiated: male and female together comprise the image. Finally, we learn that we are to be fruitful and multiply, and to exercise dominion over the earth, and all the creatures therein. In the account of man’s creation, we thus see a mirror image of the previous twenty five verses. It is presented as a chiasmus. In verses 1-25, God subdues and fills; in v. 28 the order is reversed: ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’11 In the account of the flood in Genesis 6-9, which is brought about because of God’s wrath at human sin, we read not only of a forty day deluge, but of God’s curse upon the earth that he had blessed. The curse takes the form of undoing the differentiation and filling of the earth of Genesis 1. God collapses what he had separated and pronounced good. Genesis 7.11 states that ‘all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.’ The water rises from below and descends from above. As a consequence, we see a process of homogenization. In Genesis 7.21, we are told that ‘all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth, and all mankind’. We hear echoes of both Genesis 1 and Genesis 7 in Paul’s words in Romans 1.18-28. Paul speaks of the ‘wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.’ The deep irony in their claim of wisdom reveals itself in the manifest folly of idolizing material goods (v.22- 23). Therefore, they receive the curse of futility in their bodies by worshiping themselves rather than God, ignoring the differentiation of the sexes (vv. 26-27) in their sexual acts. By acting against God-ordained differentiation, there is no blessing, no procreation and, consequently, no dominion. Life becomes utterly futile. IDOLATRY IN ‘GENDER IDENTITY’ AND ‘SEXUAL ORIENTATION’ With the deep compatibility established between 1) the identity of men and women ‘in imago Dei’; 2) the blessing of lifelong fidelity between a husband and wife in the covenant of marriage and 3) the true worship of God, we need to consider the development of two neologisms, which themselves embrace a whole subset of others, that have become current in the past few decades: gender identity and sexual orientation. Many uncritically accept them. However, since both biological sex and marriage are a human reflection of God’s own person and activity, any alteration to the specifics of either sex or marriage is necessarily a form of assault on the faithful worship of God. In this instance, the theological transgression takes the form of an assault on the very notion of a God-defined human nature. This should not surprise us. If the chief end of man, represented in Christian marriage, has been thwarted through earthly means, then we should expect that human nature should be similarly defrauded. And if so, it is a human rights violation of the first order. With that in mind, we should consider what Francis Schaeffer observed in 1968, at the onset of the sexual revolution, about the tenor of what was then called homosexual politics: in the name of equality, it tends to obliterate male-female distinctions. This does not entail that we should have no compassion for those who struggle with these desires. But much modern homosexuality is an expression of the current denial of antithesis. It has led in this case to an obliteration of the distinction between man and woman. So the male and the female as complementary partners are finished. This is a form of homosexuality which is a part of the movement below the line of despair. In much of modern thinking, all antithesis and all the order of God’s creation is to be fought against – including the male-female distinctions.’12 This of course renders not only human communion impossible, but also true communion with God. INCLUSIVENESS: THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST DIFFERENTIATION Not long ago, people thought of themselves in biblical categories, either as male or female, single or married. The latter two designations seem like opposites, and in one sense they are, but a closer look reveals that they are not equal opposites. Unlike marriage, the category of singleness could refer to more than one situation indiscriminately without moral judgment. One could be unmarried or a widow, for instance, and be accounted ‘single’. In these designations, there was no acrimony or hint of oppression. Even among gay activists, even twenty years ago there was not a hint of the injustice of the exclusivity of the institution of marriage, let alone a cry of oppression. It was something reserved for ‘breeders’. One’s sexual activity was never considered to be a function of one’s ontological identity either. Human self-definition was as impossible as self-begetting. Nary a thought was given to enshrine the right to self-definition as a ‘human right.’ Now it is difficult not to be conscious of ‘gender identity’ or what has been called ‘sexual orientation’:13 many people immediately think of themselves in terms of being gay, straight, or bi-sexual. People speak of being in ‘partnerships’ rather than marriages, and the formal designations of singleness and marriage are fast disappearing.14 The boundaries around human sexual identity and sexual activity have become blurred as the departure from the biblical view of marriage continues both inside and outside the church. The change has culminated in gay ‘marriage’. Gay marriage is no longer an oxymoron or category mistake: it symbolizes not only how plastic the terms of human identity have become in the past two decades, but how rapidly a political and societal blessing has been demanded for something that neither God nor our biological nature can bless. Rarely has the hubris of man been more in evidence than in this: Since marriage is defined by God alone, any alternative is metaphysically impossible. Since sex is defined by God alone, the blessing (of children) is physically impossible. The new plasticity in the Western world has created something like a cyborg people, still rooted in a natural identity of male and female but often understanding themselves in terms at odds with it. The very term ‘gender identity’ was first used in 1966 by doctors at Johns Hopkins to help explain to the public the novel gender reassignment surgery that first transformed someone into what we would now call a transsexual.15 Now, allegedly to avoid ‘discrimination,’ it is the term which is being used to define everyone. These are the borderlands between a Christian worldview and a thoroughly anti-Christian worldview. A new civilization, with a new language and a new law and a new Lord, is being asserted. Even among Christians, a new generation has grown up whose thinking and sense of personal identity has been ‘queered’. In short, as one writer has put it, we have become ‘Plastic People’.16 The fact that laws have now been brought in to inculcate and enforce the new terms; that mandatory educational policies have been crafted to transmit them;17 and that academic and governmental policies have been brought in to professionalize them, should not confuse us about their stability or rootedness in reality. They are just attempts to cool the plastic and offer the veneer of continuity inherent in institutions. QUEER THEORY To sketch out the intellectual and social transformations that have taken place in such a brief span of time, we would really need to venture into fields little known in Christian scholarship, let alone the wider church community. Queer theory is often a compilation of Continental philosophy,18 a Marxist suspicion of power, Freudian psychology, Nietzschean moral teaching and post-structuralist views of language. There is no time to get into them in anything other than a cursory manner here, so a focus on one figure will need to suffice.

Michel Foucault, perhaps the most cited scholar in the humanities today, is undoubtedly the key figure in the transformation. Foucault engaged in cultural studies in a way that rejected traditional historiography and sociological analysis. Above all, rather than engaging in the fundamentally conservative activity of understanding and recovering the meaning of what had happened in the past (including in its texts), which assumes that it can be and was understood at the time, Foucault’s scholarship assumed the malignance of past forms of understanding and sought to disrupt them. In other words, Foucault made social activism the primary purpose of the scholarly endeavor. By questioning the basic comprehensibility of the past even to those who lived at that time, and by charging them with simply preserving the power structure of an arbitrary worldview as if it were foundational (i.e. as if it were true) he broke ranks with the idea that the past should in any way shape the present – the view of time immemorial. His logic was this: if all reality is simply a social construct, then why should the social constructs of the past prevail upon the present? OUR CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW AS THE COLONIALIST OF THE MIND For Foucault, the mindset of the past was the pre-eminent source of injustice. His project sought to emancipate the present from the past in the most radical way, by deracinating all the accumulated cultural and religious understandings that had come to form Western consciousness from our language, by separating our words from the Word. The foundational understandings of human identity were his foremost concern, because rooted in our understanding of human nature were attenuated all our notions of subjects such as truth, beauty, goodness, justice, and morality. That is because human identity had been predicated in the West upon its rootedness in the personal nature of the triune God, in whose image men and women are made. For that reason, the policies of political correctness which began in the 1980s (and the Human Rights tribunals which soon transformed to operate according to their dictates) are inseparable from Foucault’s project. Political correctness should in no way be confused with an odd form of politeness; it should be understood as a root-and-branch reconstruction of the developed cultural assumptions of the polis, and in particular the reversal of what Christianity had done to reforge human identity in accordance with the terms of Christ’s kingdom. In other words, it presented an antithetical agenda to the Great Commission, which entailed obedience to everything God had taught. FREEDOM While it is becoming increasingly clear in our day that obedience to the legislation of a different kingdom, complete with new laws and a new language was the invariable consequence of Foucault’s seemingly esoteric scholarly endeavors, the new legalism was not presented in such terms. It announced itself in terms of a ‘creative endeavor’ characterized above all by freedom. In a 1983 interview, Foucault made it clear that he endorsed Nietzsche’s radical views on selfcreation. Sartre and California’s New Agers had gone awry, he suggested, because they had introduced the notion of ‘authenticity,’ implying that one had to be faithful to one’s true self. In fact, there was nothing within or without to which one had to be true – self-creation had no such limits. It was about aesthetics, not morals; one’s only concern should be to fashion a self that was ‘a work of art.’19 For that reason, the notion of ‘coming out’ is part of the parlance of queer writers – it is the celebration of the act of a new creation by the artist, a new birth he celebrates for him/herself. ‘Coming out’ may sound like a wholly individual experience. In one sense it is. Yet because this notion of gender is at odds with biological sex and the family, it is a celebration that queer theorists insist everyone must celebrate. For as Peter Sanlon notes (somewhat confusingly using the word gender for sex): Queer theorists seek for a freedom from the limitations of gender itself. Only when humanity understands itself as construed not by biological realities, but malleable sociological relations, will homosexuality be able to be enjoyed without heterosexual oppression. The assumptions latent in a presupposed biological bias towards heterosexuality must be Queered sufficiently that they may be discarded. 20 For this freedom to be truly free, queer theorists require that everyone worship it. COMPULSORY AMBIGUITY AND THE RETURN TO PAGAN ANDROGYNY Because those who promote Foucault’s agenda deny that the world is God’s creation, they also deny that there is a predestined meaning or foreordained pattern in the universe, or in human nature. So long as this remained an esoteric view, its sheer irrationality and absurdity would have rendered it impotent. After all, it entails that life is meaningless and purposeless, and that thinking was itself a vain exercise. But once it attained the status of truth in the academy, which it gained through a constant appeal to victimization, it had an immediate practical consequence which we can best see by comparison. In the Christian worldview, because there is an understanding that final judgment belongs to God, there is no necessity for immediate reckoning of all injustice. This is one of the foundations for Western freedom, the limitation of vengeance in the lex talionis, and the understanding of God’s final judgment. But as Albert Camus observed, in the anti-Christian universe: …the judgment pronounced by history must be pronounced immediately, for culpability coincides with the check to progress and with punishment.21 This explains both its oppressive character and the speed of its development. Guilt in a sociallyconstructed universe is not related to committing an offence– as we shall soon see, Christians are of the caste that are already structurally guilty – it is a function solely of a failure to zealously promote social justice. Coupled with the clear attack on Christian truth in every area of life, it marks the return to the worship of what Peter Jones calls the pagan sexual ideal, androgyny.22 Nowhere is this clearer than in the so-called ‘web of oppression’ which is presented to undergraduates throughout many universities, which underlies the contemporary thrust of social policies amongst progressives, and under the auspices of ‘social justice’ is fast becoming the raison d’être of our schools, social agencies and legal system.23 What Figure 1.0 shows is a nexus of characteristics that describe those who have privilege, power, access, and resources. The further one is from the centre, the more structurally oppressed one is. What must be understood is that one’s personal conduct is irrelevant to the case of injustice being made. If one is a white, male, heterosexual, ablebodied, wealthy, U.S. born English speaker, then one is ipso facto a structural oppressor, and as such must be extirpated from that position in order to bring about social justice. THE INJUSTICE OF ‘SOCIAL JUSTICE’ AND ITS OPERATIVE DENIAL OF CHRIST’S ATONEMENT According to such a view, only whites can be racist.25 The immediate response to such an assertion might be to conclude that it is simply a form of race-baiting. But while that is true, that is only the beginning of its malignance. For the effect of what we now call ‘identity politics’, which cloaks its own naked prejudice in the robe of ‘justice’26, is utterly to subvert the common law tradition, in particular its emphasis upon the equality of each and of all before the law. This is also its most bitter irony: in the name of defending the rights of oppressed minorities, the most vulnerable minority, the individual and his rights, have been annihilated. This is no small thing. The integrity of every human being, and his immunity from the absolute and coercive power of the State, lies at the heart of all true human rights legislation, from the movement to abolish slavery to the movement to acknowledge the full equality of women before the law and in the political system. In short, the social justice movement saws off the branch it purports to stand upon. The movement could not be in greater error. It is anti-social and unjust. The English common law brought the theological belief that every human being is made in the image of God into the legal and political fabric of English-speaking nations, enshrining both its rights and its freedoms. One of the magnificent features of the common law tradition is precisely its antipathy towards the very idea of ‘group rights.’ Group rights invariably entrench the power of an identifiable group, and empower them unjustly against all others. There is another, thoroughly insidious implication which every person in the Western world is currently sensing: the power of the State is immeasurably enhanced (and even demanded) by the movement to embrace ‘social justice’. For the instant that collective rights are acknowledged, not only are individual rights destroyed, it requires that the government take on the role of Lord and judge: firstly in establishing a hierarchy of victim groups, and secondly in involving itself in the arbitration of their disputes. In Canada, we call their organs ‘Human Rights Tribunals’. And perhaps the most nefarious of all its consequences is the fact that we can increasingly observe that the law bends towards those who agitate the most, particularly those willing to go so far as to break the law. As Mark Steyn observes: In some of the oldest free societies in the world, the state is not mediating speech in order to assure social tranquility, but rather torturing logic and law and liberty in ever more inane ways in order to accommodate those who might be tempted to express their grievances in nonspeechy ways.27 Many Christians have been duped into adopting this same agenda, precisely because in its appeal to equality they have been deceived that the social justice movement, promoting group rights, follows the precedent set by Christians who fought against social injustices in the past: chiefly, the ill-treatment of other races and women. In this, they often work with the humanists in seeking to create a public square which allegedly espouses moral neutrality. Yet God is not morally neutral, nor should His spouse, the church, be. The difficulty with the indiscriminate appeal to equality is that the broad categories it includes (race, gender and sex, spirituality and religion, sexual orientation, ability, national origin/ language, socioeconomic status) are not equal, let alone comparable. Racism and sexual discrimination are truly abhorrent because they treat people who bear the image of God, which every person does, as if he or she did not. But in those instances, the fight for equality is thoroughly in accordance with the notion of individual equality before the law in the common law tradition. But individual sexual practices cannot all be treated as equivalent, let alone comparable, to racism and sexual discrimination. The mistake lies precisely in the irrational terminology of gender identity and sexual orientation. Sexual acts should not be deemed synonymous with ontological states, as the Foucauldian terminology would have it, but as forms of moral or immoral actions. They are categorically different. We can see how damaging the categorical mistake is in its effect. To speak of monogamous marriage between a man and a woman as inherently oppressive is simultaneously to dispense with any and all the foregoing notions of sexual exploitation or violation that were defined by normativity of marriage. We have a perfect illustration of this in the extraordinary recent popularity of the “Fifty Shades” novels. What in the past had normally been considered to be sexually violent and to exploit women has become highly desirable, particularly among women!28 What had long been socially cursed has suddenly become blessed. And we can see a literal explosion in human trafficking, prostitution, and child pornography. And we also see the reverse has become true. The sole exception to the blessing of undifferentiated sexual conduct is the growing stigmatization of what had previously been considered normal. We thus have a new morality, which the Human Rights priesthood and the public educational establishment oversees: it states the orthodoxy and pronounces the blessing of all sexual practices except the one that God has differentiated and blessed. Without God’s ordained sexual norm, the curse of human sinfulness must invariably result in sexual exploitation and perversion. Freedom thereafter is nothing but unbridled licentiousness. This is clear when one notes that the arguments advanced in favour of gay marriage are precisely the same as those used to promote paedophilia: 1) Paedophilia is innate and immutable. 2) Pederasty is richly attested in many different cultures throughout history. 3) The claim that adult-child sexual relationships cause harm is greatly overstated and often completely inaccurate. 4) Consensual adult-child sex can actually be beneficial to the child. 5) Pederasty should not be classified as a mental disorder, since it does not cause distress to the pederast to have these desires and since the pederast can function as a normal, contributing member of society. 6) Many of the illustrious homosexuals of the past were actually paedophiles. 7) People are against intergenerational intimacy because of antiquated social standards and puritanical sexual phobias. 8) This is all about love and equality and liberation.29 Some will bristle at the association, but since the standard of justice is the blunt instrument of ‘equality,’ it is difficult to imagine why the push for gay marriage would not be followed by the legitimization of any and all other sexual practices, to the effect that the law will wholly depart from any sense of justice that accords with the promotion of the social good, the love of God or of neighbor. This may be an unfair criticism however. A just society was never the aim of Foucault’s social justice. BEAUTY INSTEAD OF ASHES Christians need to become more aware of the fact that conforming to the dictates of queer theory, accepting or adopting the unbiblical concepts of ‘gender identity’ or ‘sexual orientation,’ entails departing from treating all people as equal image bearers of God. Privileging a self-proclaimed group of victims is not treating them with equity. These terms are not just neologisms, they are the product of a thoroughly anti-Christian theological framework. The new language cannot be ignored. Even if that were desirable, it is quite clear that queer theorists will not allow that. It is at odds with their understanding of human freedom. Christians need to speak out against these changes out of love for God, their neighbor, and for the sake of the children who are presently being indoctrinated in it. It is plain from the documents that emerge from these educational authorities that a new compulsory form of religious education is being conducted, which like the cults of old makes sexual initiation30 a compulsory and integral part of its system.31 I would strongly urge Christian parents to remove their children from the public school system, and demand of their elected officials that their taxes go to the school of their choice. God has charged parents – and no one else – with the responsibility to educate their children.32 Above all, we must preach the gospel of the kingdom, and disciple the nations in all areas of life as our priestly calling. The familiar words of Isaiah 61 impress on us an eschatological meaning: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;33 In Luke’s Gospel, having just withstood the devil’s temptation in the wilderness, a place of judgment throughout Scripture, Jesus read from this very passage and pronounced that ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’34 As God’s faithful covenant partner, Jesus announces the advent of the kingdom of God. An old hymn put it this way: ‘A second Adam to the fight/ and for our rescue came.’ The Lord’s promise to His people in Isaiah 61 is that He shall “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.”36 This is not a future promise; it is an announcement of the splendor of victory wrought at Calvary. God’s grace shall similarly be rendered to His people in the midst of a time of judgment. We should not ignore the dichotomy in the words. They speak of the same event, ‘the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God’. We live in a time of great shaking, which I see as a different sort of differentiation. The church is being purified, while it is simultaneously under the assault of all manner of false teaching. It is being asked to speak the tongue of Babylon the Great, which it must not do. In the midst of that, we can trust in God’s promise that this is for ‘the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.37 What we do know is the certainty of the outcome: the cataclysmic finale of the Book of Revelation, that tale of two cities, foretelling the destruction of the whore of Babylon the Great in ashes, mourning and despair, and the nuptials of the new Jerusalem in beauty, joy and praise.

Thanks be to God.

Emerging From a University in Ruins | Jubilee Magazine

First Published in Jubilee / Spring 2011

UPON HEARING OF HIS WIFE’S suicide, Shakespeare’s Macbeth declared that “life’s but a walking shadow… a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.”1 His remarks were born of despair. They bespoke the dark heart of a will to power, the same nihilistic philosophy of life that had led him and his wife to ignore conscience and defy the moral order of the universe. For a time it appeared to work. Macbeth succeeded the king he had murdered. He bore the sword of the earthly representative of Divine justice, and the country followed him. The rebellion against God that Macbeth’s murder of Duncan announced did not destroy him immediately. Yet the cancer of injustice soon not only corrupted the natural and civic order in the land, it consumed the new king and his wife, and the rot was only stopped with his death and a reassertion of the moral order with the return of Duncan’s son Malcolm.


The university is in crisis. That has been the considered opinion of scores of eminent academics since the late 1980s, so frequently expressed that books on the subject are almost forming an apocalyptic subgenre. But enthusiasm for tertiary education continues unabated, which demonstrates how much worse the state of affairs is than that in Shakespeare’s play. A coup d’état will not solve this problem. Despite soaring tuition rates, growing levels of debt, massive class sizes and what John Sommerville, author of The Decline of the Secular University, describes as the obvious “marginalization of our universities” politically, culturally, scientifically and socially,4 and former Dean of Harvard, Harry Lewis, describes in terms akin to an eclipse of biblical wisdom,5 university education seems more popular than ever. What can explain this willingness to incur exorbitant debts for something that is deemed largely irrelevant to life? It seems a commitment to a rite of passage is holding the university together even after the aim EMERGING from a University in Ruins and substance and character of education have been lost. D.A. Carson notes that it is not a recent development. The university has been under sustained assault throughout the whole modern era, and yet held itself together: What preserves the university as a university during the later stages of the so-called “modern” period is a nexus of presuppositions and commitments: strong belief in the autonomy and power of reason, massive assumptions about progress, widespread conviction that truth is objective and obtainable, and…. rising philosophical naturalism. In other words, what kept the university together was not the Christian worldview that prevailed several centuries earlier, but the common commitment to a common process. However, it now also seems to be withstanding a loss of almost all the presuppositions and commitments Carson describes to have held the university together in the “modern” period. In today’s postmodern university, there is clearly a decline in the belief in the autonomy and power of reason, a growing sense of social and scientific pessimism, and a widespread conviction that truth is perspectival.7 The only thing remaining from the modern period is its late-blooming philosophical naturalism, which ought to have been understood to be incomprehensible without the other presuppositions and commitments, and to have been implicated in their discredit. That has not happened though, or at least not exactly, which means that Carson is either off the mark, or else that something has changed about the contemporary university to appear to allow philosophical naturalism and cultural materialism to stand on its own. I think that the latter is the case. Three things have prevented the implosion of a secular university largely dedicated to philosophical naturalism thus far:

1) A hermeneutic of suspicion has gained widespread acceptance. Writers such as Marx, Nietzsche and Freud employed a ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ to considerable effect throughout the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, but in recent decades have been accorded a degree of profundity that has allowed variations on their ideas to filter into mainstream academia, despite their infamous legacies. According to their own metanarratives, all preceding metanarratives were rhetorical or tactical ploys used to gain or hold power by groups interested in maintaining the status quo. All three thinkers attacked the historic understanding of a rational, orderly universe, irrespective of whether it was presented by the Christian or the modernist, as a fiction designed to impede healthy criticism and change. They suggested that what had been called God or reason in the past was actually immanent in the human will, which made it a common will, which could be most fully expressed by the great man, the great artist, the State (or some combination of the above). But now the suspicion has fallen on the Enlightenment concept of humanity itself, which it is said has profound intellectual and historical baggage.

2) The university has changed into a multiversity. As a consequence of this suspicion about the Enlightenment conception of humanity, a unified ‘humanities’ perspective is regarded as symptomatic of the problem, not a source of a solution. In the multiversity of today, forms of philosophical naturalism have thus been fostered under the guise of research into the peculiar mental constructions of individuals or groups (normed according to their distinct race, gender or sexual ‘orientation’) without grounding in any other higher reality, such as God, the forms of the Platonic ideals, or truth (and human nature) apprehended according to the dictates of autonomous reason. In this assault on the Enlightenment’s secular humanism, a rational universe is still operatively assumed, but never in a consistent way. The humanities are being reframed as a sort of United Nations of ‘interest groups’. 3) The State and the university it sponsors agree on a ‘democratic’ politics of educational empowerment as a new vision for the humanities. In the multiversity of today, a great deal of energy is invested into advancing a politics of minority empowerment, i.e. of divergent ‘humanities’ as the educational good. It is effectively a ‘humanitarian’ redefinition of the humanities, which transpires at the expense of a common humanity. While diversity has its merits, the change largely serves a pluralistic agenda of moral and social relativism which actually regards a traditional university educational agenda, whether Christian or modernist, as its enemy. This takes place under the banner of academic freedom which emerged from a Christian worldview and persisted for a time in the modernist belief in the autonomy of reason. But the true believers in the politics of empowerment appeal to academic freedom only when and insofar as it serves their ends, and increasingly overturn it in the name of ‘tolerance’ when it does not. In this, the postmodern university is aided by its State sponsors, which increasingly tend to understand their own role in the terms of cultural materialism. Since in public discourse the public good is almost invariably couched in economic (materialist) terms and increasingly operates with a thoroughgoing moral relativism, there appears to be no end to the practical good thought to reside in further ‘education’, or in maximizing participation in it. Tellingly then, the most common goal of education today is not wisdom or knowledge of the true, the good, and the beautiful, but social advancement or empowerment. As a secondary aim or as a consequence of education, this is no bad thing. But as the primary motivation for education, the aim of power fits rather seamlessly into philosophical naturalism’s reductionist vision of life. Its consequences are not appealing. It has redefined life as survival. It is no longer just nature, but human nature, which is understood to be ‘red in tooth and claw with ravine’ – an utterly bleak, fatalistic, and, by its own lights, amoral worldview. It is hardly surprising that with such cynical criteria for understanding life, the best many in the university can imagine today is either to gain economic and social power themselves, to take it from others, or to say the same thing in the opposite fashion; that is, to be free (or free others) from all forms of economic, social and moral compulsion. This reduction of the aims of the secular university to an impoverished narrative of freedom and compulsion plays itself out in two observations Sommerville makes about them:

[T]he liberal arts core of the universities have been hollowed out in two ways: . . . The great majority of students are now in professional programs, learning how to make money and be useful. Second, the liberal arts themselves have changed. They’ve turned into technical specialties. They’re often addressing questions nobody is asking, and giving answers nobody can understand.8 He notes a similarly distorted pattern in the sciences. They have become increasingly technical studies which assert the truth of naturalistic philosophy but don’t really explore it in any depth. University science has largely become applied science. The ‘pragmatic’ aims of the multiversity have meant that this shift has been accepted almost without notice, let alone question. But it is in many ways a watershed moment: When the focus of the university was on the discovery of physical reality, the burden of proof was on religious thinkers to show how they were relevant. Now that our universities are devoted to professional education, our questions are about human needs and aspirations… optimal conditions for humans are at the centre of attention. And the burden of proof should shift to scientists to show how all human activity, values, dreams, interests and culture can be explained in terms of, for instance molecular biology or quantum physics. This is clearly preposterous. Religion has always provided us the language appropriate to these concerns… In short, science was never cut out to be the queen of all thought; rather it is meant to be a servant. It appears that the stage has been set to reexamine the wisdom of abolishing God from the university. For, with that, a clear, humane purpose for studying and for living has been lost. The time is ripe for a reassessment of the secularist agenda of the past centuries, and to consider the opportunities and challenges for a Christian university.


What then is a Christian to do in the light of the current state of affairs? Christian universities are an obvious alternative to the secular university, but they are not immune to its problems. The church does not operate in a culture-neutral environment. A Christian university can and should be superior to its secular counterparts, but there are issues that need to be addressed within the church and the academic community in order to make it genuinely viable. The following cursory suggestions at least need consideration:

1) Note the sign of the times – The entire trajectory of the postmodern university, as noted at the outset, has been denounced as intellectually and spiritually bankrupt by some of the most eminent academics of our day. The silence of the counterargument is deafening. So too have the masters of the ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’, the men who continue to provide the underlying intellectual metanarrative to the multiversity: Nietzsche has ever been associated with the fascism and social Darwinism of the twentieth century; Marx has been utterly discredited by the terrors and ineptitudes of Communism; Freud and his disciple Carl Jung have been exposed to have falsified and even invented their observations,10 and Darwin’s model of evolution, the basis of a great deal of scientific pedagogy and research, has faced sustained and serious criticism from the school of ‘intelligent design’. This does not mean they have gone away. Yet, with the exception of Darwin, the names are rarely invoked. In some ways, that has simply rendered them more pernicious. Variations on their exploded theories persist in a variety of forms attached to the various strains of contemporary academic pluralism. This should not surprise us: the hermeneutics of suspicion, which has now turned upon all forms of unity, including the unity of consciousness itself, is the natural corollary of Cartesian doubt, the premise behind the empiricism of modern science. As has ever been the case, the academy and its vested interests are resistant to change for good and for ill, and while it is too early to determine the outcome of these challenges in the public universities, the signs are ominous. What is apparent is that there is more than science at stake; there is a moral and spiritual tenor to the discussions surrounding the university (and indeed education as a whole) and its purpose at the same time that an activist judiciary is implementing a recalibration of human life and its structures based on present scientific ‘certainties’, and an unprecedented understanding of the law being implemented that is threatening the very stability of Western civilization.

All the same, there are signs of hope in the desert. In 2005, Stanley Fish, often called the Dean of the postmodernists in the United States, was asked what the ‘next big thing’ would be in academia after the study of race, class and gender. Without hesitation, he announced that it would be the study of ‘religion’, and not from the ‘neutral’ perspective of the secularist, but from the inside, because the truisms of Enlightenment liberalism had quite suddenly appeared obsolete: To the extent that liberalism’s structures have been undermined or at least shaken…the perspicuousness and usefulness of distinctions long assumed -- reason as opposed to faith, evidence as opposed to revelation, inquiry as opposed to obedience, truth as opposed to belief -- have been called into question. Since Fish admits that liberalism’s neutrality is a myth and its claim that a Christian worldview lacks integrity is highly questionable, it is clear that there ought to be more room for Christians to think as Christians in the public university. There are few signs of that happening. The obvious place for that to happen is a Christian university. As said, this isn’t without its challenges.

2) Develop a holistic Christian worldview – Among other things, this entails: i) A Critique of Reason: Accept some of the substance of the postmodern critique of autonomous human rationality, but also develop a clearer vision of how the worldview of the Enlightenment fundamentally differs from a Christian worldview. This means establishing an understanding of rationality and ethical conduct on the basis of the revealed word of God, as opposed to dispensing with reason altogether. The creative action of the divine Logos has rendered the created order logical. Our knowledge of the world is not exhaustive, but it is adequate and it is real, as is our knowledge of God himself because he has revealed himself to us. The historic understanding of a rational, orderly universe created by God has been attacked by our contemporaries in part out of sheer historical ignorance. It has been uncritically assumed that there is an absolute continuity between a Christian and a modernist worldview. This needs to be rebutted, because there is a great deal with which a Christian would agree not only in a critique of the presuppositions and commitments of modernism, but of its consequences in the aggrandizement of the West over and against the ‘unenlightened’ world. Reason is not an invention of modern science, and needn’t be dispensed with in our concerns about the abuse of power. In fact, a full-orbed understanding of reason (and justice) is necessary to identify and rectify it. But reason and justice must be defined by scriptural categories and terms of reference, not just their contemporary homonyms, which are the product of the world’s self-understanding. Among other things, the Christian community needs to become more aware of how biblical words like justice have acquired non-biblical meanings in its own vocabulary. ii) A Critique of Doubt: Understand that the Enlightenment’s method of doubt, specifically in the authority of the theological and metaphysical underpinning of the university, has led to a wider contagion, which in our time has engulfed the concept of authority in every sphere of life. So long as Western society adhered to a belief in an absolute and transcendent God behind and beyond it, its laws retained their validity and Western society retained its vitality. Without that basic credo, everything else was rendered ‘relative’ and contingent. For example, the Romantic emphasis on ‘nature’ and ‘feeling’, which has led to our moralistic and therapeutic culture which emphasizes the goal of self-discovery and self-love,13 cannot be understood to offer a genuine antidote to the Enlightenment’s autonomous rationality. It is actually an attempt to continue its project by making reason immanent in the world, thus ‘spiritualizing’ nature, while still leaving God’s existence to be a rather doubtful matter. This has a further implication. When natural law and reason were regarded as the immanent principles of God in the medieval university, the freedom of a collective of scholars, made in God’s image, were implicitly claimed against the authority of the State. It is a part of the history of the foundation of the university, and of academic freedom, that it defined itself so. But because justice is a metaphysical concept, just as law is, the rejection of the metaphysical validity of law has resulted in a growing social anarchy. Once the Divine will was collapsed into the human will and made immanent in it,14 as it has been since the onset of Romanticism, Divine immanence has been translated from the realm of law and reason to the will of the people, and by implication to the State. Human freedom thereafter has merely become a formality contingent on the State’s definition. iii) A Critique of Rights: The same is true of human rights. It has been remarked by nonWestern governments that ‘universal’ declarations of human rights are in fact Western conceptions of rights rooted in their understanding of human nature. This is partly true. They are not of an absolute, non-historical character. But that does not mean they are relative or untrue. They owe their universality to the degree to which they conform to the theological conception of the Person in whose image all people are made, not to their geographical or historical origins per se. The work of the person of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the nations of the West remains a part of its legacy, however much those of our generation are seeking to eradicate it. It is also true that these human rights have become rights guaranteed by the State, and have been advanced by states. Yet we can observe how quickly this leads to difficulties without an awareness of their theological origins. As soon as human rights are understood not to have been recognized but rather defined by the State, they are no longer ‘inalienable’ as once advertised. For what the State giveth, it mayeth also take away. Our contemporary human rights tribunals are making this more and more apparent. The incursions against the human community and the decline in human freedom has been particularly accelerated by legal positivism, which has destroyed the metaphysical concept of justice, and made law and justice to be the product and will of whoever is strongest, or who has been ‘empowered’ to speak against injustice. The Christian university needs to dispense with the antinomianism which has increasingly marked Protestantism, and become aware of the resources within God’s law (and within the Christian tradition of jurisprudence based upon it) to address the multiplicity of political and social issues that face academia and society at large in our day. At present, it has adopted a quasi-Marcionite reading of Scripture which has led it largely to assent to entirely speculative social and legal measures that often contradict natural law, let alone biblical law. This has never been the case when the Christian university has flourished. iv) A Critique of Culture: The malicious and entirely superficial connection of colonialism and exploitation with Christianity needs to be rejected. This does not mean absolving Christians (or Christendom) from all culpability or responsibility, but it does mean observing how Christians have acted as the city of God within the city of man. It also means dispensing with the fashionable and ultimately disingenuous act of national repentance for the sins of others. It is, as C.S. Lewis once observed, an act of repenting for our neighbour’s sins, which we are not called to do, usually while also neglecting the ones we commit. The Western tradition, seen with a critical eye, needs to be recovered as a norm for the Christian university in order to foster cultural understanding and humility. Among other things, there is no possible way in which true cultural understanding can develop without an understanding of how Western conceptions of beauty, truth, goodness, human nature, freedom, the moral character of God, etc. can engage with those of other cultures, such as the growing phenomenon of Islam, without first understanding what the Christian conceptions are, and what modernity did to them. The assumption of modernity that we develop a clearer worldview by removing our cultural lenses ignores the importance of the incarnation. It assumes that we are naturally perspicacious rather than myopic, which everything including the witness of history speaks unequivocally against.

3) Recognize the idols of our age – It has been noted how universities tend to emulate the norms of their culture, even in adverse circumstances. It happened in recent times to the church in Nazi Germany and in South Africa. The tendency to capitulate to the powers that be is all the stronger when these institutions do not root themselves in the words and the logic of Scripture. Such nationalistic dangers seem to be remote from us at present. In our age, one of the surprising dangers is the opposite phenomenon of ‘global Christianity’, which seems tellingly different than the church Catholic. It encourages the historical anomaly of ‘global Christians.’ It is a fact that God revealed himself to humanity through the language and culture of the Jews, Greeks and the Romans. We don’t need to be first-century Jews to follow Christ, and one of the great beauties of the Christian faith is the way in which Christian truth has set its roots in so many languages and cultures throughout the world. But Carson describes the danger well: …it is a denial of this cultural wealth, and finally a denial of the incarnation itself, to love people everywhere and no one in particular, to be sensitive to cultures everywhere while never being rooted in any of them – in short, to be “midearth” people. It was not Jesus’ way; it was not Paul’s way.16 Being a ‘global citizen’ of the church, for all its apparent appeal, is actually a charter for irresponsibility because there is no global nation or church to which to be accountable. All too often it means Christians involving themselves as ineffective contributors in programs that have nothing to do with biblical religion. All too often, they serve an agenda of radical relativism in which human solidarity and ecumenism have become the paramount virtues.

4) Cease and desist with the impractical pragmatism – Christian families need to stop propping up the secular universities uncritically. Many are only living on their reputations, and the public endorsement of them irrespective of their quality is only hastening their decline. While the writing is on the wall for the agenda of both liberalism and post-liberalism, academia is slow to change, and lacks an alternative. The pattern of many centuries will not change overnight. For all the prophetic calls, academic freedom for the Christian to think as a Christian is increasingly difficult in the secular university.

5) Make the study of theology primary in the church – Universities, even Christian universities, cannot be trusted to be the first place in which a robust presentation of theology is encountered. There is a detachment in academic study which is dangerous for a faith not grounded in an intimacy with the Lord encountered weekly from the pulpit, and nurtured by a people of faith. Furthermore, while professors have a comparable aim and teaching responsibility to that of the pastor, it is not wholly congruent. Among other things, they assign grades on their students’ achievement. A Christian university cannot flourish, let alone survive, without a thriving community of churches to support it.

6) Make the study of theology secondary in the university – This is not to make theology to be of anything other than primary significance in the university, it is to suggest an order of study. The seven liberal arts formed the foundation for the study of theology, the Queen of the sciences, throughout the period of church history in which Christian education flourished, as did its pulpits and its congregations. The liberal arts themselves need to have a thoroughly theological character, and in an age of great intellectual and spiritual confusion, they need to educate not just in the areas that are currently fashionable, but to take into account the riches of Christian history. Too often the ramparts of Christian truth are left undefended against ancient heresies. It is actually an odd symptom of success. It is not because the saints of old could not answer their opponents and accusers; in fact, it is because the answers they gave were eventually regarded as so evidently true that their opponents no longer opposed them, and they and their slanders temporarily vanished beneath the waves of time, until subsequent generations of Christians forgot the magnitude of the battle. This explains the recurrence of ancient heresies throughout Christian history, as well as the perception that the heresies are new and incontrovertible.

7) Serve God and the church – Recognize and submit to the authority of Scripture and the rule of faith; accept the local church’s legitimate concern and involvement – albeit at arm’s length – in university affairs. There is certainly a danger in adopting the secular university’s model of the professor as one of the intellectual elite, making a Christian professor one of what Carson wittily calls ‘the elite of the elect’;17 but in our present age and circumstances there is an equal (but far more likely) danger, particularly in ‘private’ Christian universities which must generate their own funds, to reduce Christian education to Christian ‘market values’. Usually this entails that they have precisely the same goals as parachurch or missionary organizations (which even the world can often support) in order to gain sympathy and support from their churches and donors. In a culture in which the arm of the church has grown short because of a circumscribed gospel, and Christians have grown accustomed to adopting a defensive posture in the public sphere, revival can only come when greater latitude is given than meeting such perceived needs. To combat this, churches as a whole need to rediscover the distinctiveness of a Christian worldview and its necessity for their congregations’ health. This worldview must be carefully cultivated in an unapologetically academic atmosphere which will not suspend the pursuit of what is best for what seems good at the time. It is precisely this sort of compromise to temporary expediency and loss of integrity which has resulted in the implosion of the worldwide financial system on ethical grounds. In other words, a Christian university cannot genuinely serve God or a church which does not expect of it the highest standards characteristic of it; nor can its students be served if these same standards are not demanded of them.

8) Regard character development as central – A cynical world which interprets all actions and statements according to a narrative of power and self-interest desperately needs the integrity of Christian conviction, a recovery of the truth about Christian conduct in world history, and the humility and other-centredness of those who bear witness to Jesus, God incarnate, crucified as man for man, and raised to the seat of majesty on high to show the power of the meekness of his majesty. Education in the early church was distinct from its rivals more than anything because of the moral character it cultivated in its students, which is needed today as much as ever. Eventually, the Christian school wholly superseded the alternatives. Allan Bloom, in his influential book The Closing of the American Mind, lamented the fact that the sole virtue remaining for those schooled in the university today was their openness of mind.18 As G.K. Chesterton noted, “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”19 A Christian university not only stands on something solid, it gives real food, for the mind and heart and soul.

The Family's Mandate to Educate | Jubilee Magazine

First Published in Jubilee / Winter 2010

“HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deut. 6:4-7)

A Newsweek article of Feb. 11, 2010 began with an appeal to common sense: “It doesn’t take a degree from Harvard to see that in today’s world, a person needs to know something about religion.” Its exquisite irony became plain when the author drew attention to the Harvard faculty’s surprising rejection of a proposal to mandate at least one course in religion for its undergraduates despite its obvious contemporary relevance. A sympathetic interpretation might explain it as a principled stance, announcing that true education doesn’t give way to fashionable trends. Yet at least one commentator quipped that it exhibited the faculty’s own peculiar ‘crisis of faith’. Perhaps he had in mind its consonance with the changes made decades before to drop the words ‘for Christ and the church’ from the university’s own ancient motto, Veritas, presumably to avoid the putative narrowness of education informed by the Christian faith. It appears that the judgment of narrowness may itself have been the product of a particular faith-perspective, and a myopic one at that.

Observations about the departure of institutions of learning from the Christian faith are not new in the Western world, and certainly not restricted to Harvard. The institutional separation of Canada’s public universities from their confessional origins took place at various points over the twentieth century. This was not the end of the dying of the light however. To choose just one example, in 1990, all overt forms of religiosity were removed from the Ontario public school system. To promote tolerance-in what was described as a matter related to the principle of ‘the separation of church and state’- it seemed that the last vestiges of Christianity, which had till then been part of the status quo in Canadian public education, would no longer be tolerated. There were muted objections at the time, but for many Canadians, there is a pattern of giving credence to experts who are civil enough to make benign gestures towards them, and this one was coupled with the promise of being in the vanguard of multicultural and inclusive gestures. The new terms of forming our polity were presented in the terms of politeness. New equity and inclusivity policies have recently followed on its heels. Alarm bells are ringing as we see the fulfillment of the warning made over fifty years ago, that in the public system even

[t]hose areas still termed democratic are losing the freedom which gives meaning to democracy because they are losing that sense of direction which gives meaning to freedom.

How did it come to pass that in a few short years freedom of religious expression and adherence to Christian moral character were denied to Christians in the name of democracy? Since academic freedom can be traced at least as far back as the Christian liberal arts universities of the Middle Ages and the insistence on teaching of Christian moral character in schools as long as there has been a church, the irony is particularly heavy.


The obvious answer is that this sad state of affairs did not develop overnight. Seen from today’s vantage, one might say the public education system in Canada developed at the expense of the church. But a closer look at its historic development betrays a different picture. When the public system was developed in the nineteenth century in Canada, what was at stake was not whether the Christian faith should be brought to bear on education – there was no dispute about that – but rather whether the well-heeled established church, represented by Bishop Strachan and the Family Compact, would continue to exert a stranglehold over it. The man given credit for opposing Strachan and creating a public education system in Canada, Egerton Ryerson, was a Methodist minister, who modelled the new Canadian system chiefly on the one developed in Germany by Philip Melanchthon, Martin Luther’s deputy. Far from a move towards secularization, the defeat of the Family Compact resulted in a proliferation of denominational colleges, and a concerted attempt to extend the Christian faith across class divides and to create ‘a common patriotic ground of comprehensiveness and avowed Christian principles.’ In other words, the close relationship between the Christian faith and education was reorganized and extended across the socio-economic divide rather than rejected. The stone set above the entrance to Victoria College, for which Ryerson was the first President, reads ‘the truth shall set you free.’

In the interim, the most significant movement in public education in North America had emerged in the form of the educational philosophy of John Dewey. Dewey’s philosophy has been described as ‘romantic progressivism’, and it is not wrong to view it as a rival religious perspective rooted in the ‘natural supernaturalism’ of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his English and German literary inheritors. For the sake of brevity, it might be useful to employ a summary of its tendencies. It takes three words. Nature is good.

An educational philosophy marked by it espouses a belief in the basic goodness of the child’s soul, and thus rejects traditional educational attempts to instruct, civilize or to ‘train in righteousness’ as artificial, a newly pejorative word, and ultimately injurious to a child’s development. Eric Froebel, the founder of the modern kindergarten (a Romantic invention) puts the theological aims of such a path of education this way:

…the purpose of teaching and instruction is to bring ever more out of man rather than to put more and more into him; for that which can get into man we already know and possess as the property of mankind, and every one, simply because he is a human being, will unfold and develop it out of himself in accordance with the laws of mankind. On the other hand, what yet is to come out of mankind, what human nature is yet to develop, that we do not yet know, that is not yet the property of mankind; and, still, human nature, like the spirit of God, is ever unfolding its inner essence. The principal means of encouraging this sort of self-expression is to unleash the child’s inherent creativity and imagination — two words which gained their contemporary meaning and force in the Romantic movement. Before the Romantics, it was considered blasphemous to use the term creativity for human productions, but that ceased to be the case when the human soul was conceived as inherently godly. Moral education, the following of our ‘natural impulses’ and the spontaneous release of creativity and imagination were felt to go hand in hand. In 1953, Hilda Neatby, a member of the 1949- 51 Massey Commission, wrote a scathing critique of the influence of such ideas on education, noting that having originated in the U.S., they had come to dominate the educational establishment in Canada, and had done so for a generation. Dewey, she stated with no little irony, was the Aristotle of her day. His acolytes were ‘profoundly influenced by the new study of psychology, and by the increasing application of scientific techniques with unscientific optimism to every sphere of human activity.’ Her description of the average progressive school of her day is worth repeating: is a place where all children find sympathy, understanding and encouragement. There are no terrors for the dunce, there is demand for no feverish application from the good scholar. Learning is free and unforced because it is believed that children work best when they are happy and retain most firmly what they learn gladly. ‘The whole child goes to school’ and when he arrives he is accepted as an individual of the first importance. ‘The school is child centred.’

The child is confronted with ‘activities’ related to his life outside the school rather than tasks related to learning; led by discussion rather than driven by dictation; given ‘real’ as opposed to formal discipline, and by natural means to self-discipline, the new object of all moral training.

Neatby objected to this philosophy of education on three grounds: it was anti-intellectual, anti-cultural and amoral. All three grounds were related to the new type of freedom it advanced. In its anti-intellectualism, it freed the pupil from the exercising, training or disciplining of the mind, which would have been required if he had had to know a body of knowledge as all previous generations had; in its antipathy to culture, it freed the pupil from the ‘bondage of the past’. With his gaze firmly set to the future, the educator freed himself from the contamination of the sins of the past, and freely denounced it; finally, in its amorality, the pupil was freed from making judgments of right and wrong actions. The only moral requirement was that he be ‘open-minded.’ Liberated from having to judge actions or achievement, teachers retreated to the therapeutic language of ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable’ ‘attitudes’ or ‘responses’.

The cumulative effect, Neatby observed, is that “the pupil soon learns the meaning of desirable and thinks, quite rightly, that in a democratic society he has as much right to desire as anyone else…(and thereby) even the elementary discipline of establishing rules which the child was required to keep is questioned.” Her trenchant conclusion: “In a democratic society which must ultimately rest on the morality of individuals with every opportunity for, and incentive to immorality, this seems strange indeed.”

Since Neatby wrote her indictment of Canadian education almost 60 years ago, it would be difficult to maintain that anything has changed, other than that new idealistic approaches to education derived from the same bankrupt educational philosophy have been brought forth; that the attack on the school as an instrument of cultural preservation and transmission has accelerated; that yesterday’s immorality has become today’s morality. The strong teleological assumptions of Ryerson’s vision for public education, as it had been for Christian educators for millennia – drawing the past, present and future together, assuming that the past foretold the present and that the future would fulfil the prophesies of the past – has largely been broken.

With it, both the meaning of life and a sense of social cohesion across classes and nations that goes deeper than mere tolerance has gone. And yet the progressivist belief in a utopian future which has replaced it, the outcome of a so-called natural evolutionary process, whose professed goal is to be student-centred, is completely belied by the bored ranks of pupils and their cynical views of education as simply a means to an end. Ironically, the pragmatism it reflects actually comes at the expense of the highly practical public good, for it is when the life of the mind is pursued as an end in itself that people are rendered most socially useful.

A recent book, What’s Wrong with our Schools: and How We can Fix Them, makes precisely the same indictment of the romantic progressivism at the heart of the Canadian educational establishment as Neatby, making such revolutionary suggestions as demanding ‘a pass should be earned’, ‘grades should reflect achievement,’ and that ‘subject matter matters’. What the repairs themselves indicate is the degeneration of public education to the point where even the demand for basic competence needs to be contested.

The question to Christian parents today is whether they are going to respond to the clear Scriptural mandate to the faithful to take responsibility for the education of their children. The prophet Jeremiah offers this counsel: “Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16) Surely this offers us light in a dark place.