The myth of neutrality for a cultural gospel
Second, she must reject the myth of neutrality for a cultural gospel. This demands an entire world-and-life-view grounded in the sovereignty of God. Without it we are not able to develop the politics of the Kingdom of God. God’s sovereignty as both Creator and Redeemer over the totality of human existence necessarily includes politics. Created, male and female, in the image of God, man is therefore a covenant creature. Every person is thus a covenant-keeper or covenant-breaker, and is inherently religious, either worshiping the creator-God of the creature (Rom 1:18-32). Man is not neutral: neither religiously, ethically, nor intellectually. Apart from grace he is at enmity with God.
Secularism, therefore, is not a benign ideology. The notion that the secular-state is neutral must be seen for what it is—a delusion of the first water. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Lk 11:23). What applies for individuals applies also for their corporate expression in the state. There is no neutrality. Whether as an individual or in his corporate expression through the state, man either worships the true God or a false god. As Henry Van Til rightly observed, “Culture is religion externalized”.
With the Enlightenment and our present hyper-modernism, man is now his own ultimate reference point, his own god, determining his own reality. And this plays out in the state. Every state inevitably legislates somebody’s law. It will either be the sovereign creator-God’s or autonomous-man’s. There is no middle ground. No system of law is religiously or morally neutral.
It has been rightly said that when a nation changes its god, it changes its laws. The West’s cultural amnesia, wilfully forgetting her Christian foundations and forsaking the personal infinite-God, has led the English speaking West to a shift from common law to positivist law. The former entails the humility of interpretation (Biblical precedent law), whereas the latter entails the hubris of creation (Roman legislative law). With the rejection of its origins the West has turned its back on transcendent law for purely immanent law, and thus the tyranny of man’s law over man. As a result there is no appeal beyond man-made law. Law, as the random product of a materialistic closed-system, is thus considered as a “social construct”, as evolving and mutable, responding to changing times and conditions. It is thus shaped by the vagaries of passing fads and fashions. As a result, in a relativistic world one man’s food is another man’s poison; what is freedom to one is slavery to another. Thus the overturning of the age-old Christian definitions of marriage, family, sexuality, and human significance. With the rejection of the world-and-life-view of man – male and female – made in the image of God, human life as inherently sacred has been lost. This has opened the door to legalized abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Instead of protecting life the West has become a culture of death.
The Christian church must therefore rediscover the law of God in antithesis to the law of autonomous man. As concomitant, it must also rediscover that it is not antithetical to the gospel, that, in fact, the Law and the Gospel are the foundation of not only of Christianity but also of justice and law for society. And allied to this is the recovery of the biblical doctrine of the state as under God (Rom 13:1-7), and its corollary, the rejection of secularism’s myth of neutrality. This then demands a Christian state. Not an ecclesiocracy (rule by clerics), but rather a theocracy (rule by God). While this may affirm the separation of spheres, of church and state, it does not affirm the separation of Christianity – of God – from the civil state. Contrary to popular mythology the First Amendment of the American constitution makes no reference to the separation of church and state; rather it simply states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… .”. The founders’ concern was not to institute a particular denomination as an established church over another (Jefferson). Furthermore there is no evidence in the Constitution, the acts of Congress, or in the constitutions or the laws of the various states that stipulate a separation of church and state. Rather, the opposite is the case; a number of the states had established churches after the First Amendment and their constitutions were not religiously neutral (e.g., Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina).
Only a state that places ultimacy in the triune God can offer true freedom. The alternative is a state that places ultimacy in man—in human tyranny. Even a democracy is a dictatorship of the 51% majority. Only a state under the God of the Bible can provide individual freedom, although held in balanced tension with individual responsibility. From its first-century origins, by refusing Caesar as lord, Christianity injected into world history the notion of limited government, the pagan world being dominated by absolute state power, beyond which there was no appeal.
Only the Gospel of the Kingdom of God – of God’s government on earth – offers individual and political freedom.
Part 1: Partisan politics for the politics of the Kingdom
Part 2: The myth of neutrality for a cultural gospel
Part 3: Experientialism and false prophecy for the Scriptures
Part 4: Tribalism and sectarianism for apostolic unity
Part 5: Eschatologies of defeat for Christ’s victory in history