Thoughtful people come to understand, sooner or later, that the world order of which we are unavoidably a part is not only not Christian, but is essentially unnatural and destructive. The world has changed dramatically since the days of Jesus and the apostles. There has been great progress in the building of Christian culture at various times, and in various places; but there has also been regress.
When Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, it was to claim the sovereignty of the world, and to commence the sure conquest of all those powers that refuse to surrender to the authority of their rightful King (Psalm 110). The cosmic war that has been going on ever since is a total war – no holds barred! The Enemy has devised every imaginable weapon and strategy for the deception of men and nations. He has not only succeeded in deceiving the nations about the truth of Christ; but he has seduced them into a way of life that violates every law of God and of nature; and through the idolization of technology, has replaced the ancient system of institutions and customs of human society that once gave order and meaning to life with a diabolical, anti-human reign of evil. All the foundations of godly social order have been overturned, and what are we to do?
He cannot succeed ultimately. His days are numbered (Revelation 20:1-3). But he has done great harm that will not be easily or quickly undone. I believe we are where we are today, in part, because of our failure as soldiers to stand for all of God’s revealed truth. The old maxim, “In essentials unity” has been so abused as to reduce the number of essential doctrines to a handful in the interests of a superficial unity. Whenever the church has stood firm on the particular doctrine under attack, she has been victorious. Whenever she has given way on the specious pretext that “this doctrine is not essential for salvation”, she has been overcome and driven back. The failure to hold fast to the whole system of revealed truth is folly; just as the failure of a fighter to guard any part of his body during mortal combat is a crucial mistake that may well mean his death.
God’s way of life for men is a system, just as the human body is a system. Just as it would be madness to try to “remodel” a living human being in order to improve it; so it has been our folly to believe that the basic structures of social order can be remodeled without peril. The ancient Adamic, familial, agrarian social order passed on through successive generations was the basis of a common life, common understanding, and common action. It was the fertile soil in which the gospel of the Kingdom was planted. In every place throughout the ancient world, there was a common understanding that farming was the normal vocation of men, that the production of food, clothing, and other necessities was best accomplished by a decentralized system of free, self-sufficient homesteads. This arrangement was the most efficient, for those who stood to benefit from the productivity of the farm were the ones who owned it and worked it, and they were all members of a family, bound together in a common labor of love. Furthermore, production was not removed from consumption by distance, the interference of markets, and the parasitism of middlemen. Money and markets did not, under that order, rule the world. Government was local, small, and comparatively unobtrusive.
That system has not only been modified; it has been so drastically changed that it is no longer friendly to human beings. We have, most of us, lost even the basic understanding of how the world is supposed to work. Humanity has fallen victim to the new alternative social systems of an industrial world: fascism, socialism, communism and capitalism. Power-hungry plutocrats can destroy our fiat currency overnight, making us all paupers. They are too smart to kill all the geese that lay their golden eggs, but they are ready to sacrifice a certain number of us whenever it seems prudent to them. We are naked and vulnerable because we no longer have strong, economically-sound families or the family farm to go back to. We no longer know how to survive without the system; and we have been morally weakened by the habitual compromise that is the price of participation in that system.
Perhaps, now that the evil root has borne it’s evil fruit, we are ready to begin to see things as they are. The situation is dire, but not without hope. It is hard to conceive how we can ever get back to the wholesome agrarian order from which we have been banished by the modern world. If I did not believe that the “old paths” of agrarian social order are a part of that “will of God”, that “righteousness” that is destined to dwell in the earth, I would despair of this world entirely. But it is vain to speak of the triumph of Christianity apart from the re-establishment of the only social order that is consistent with it, and in which it can thrive. So I confidently expect that God has a plan that will restore both the true Christian doctrine and a godly social order. As the prophets assure us,
“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.”(Micah 4:2-4)
Victory is assured, but it has never been secured by sloth or self-indulgence. We must get serious about our faith, and get ready for the battle of our lives.