- Benjamin Sherrill
Christ or Chaos
"More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist who was imprisoned due to his anti-communist rhetoric. His socio-cultural analysis of the Soviet Revolution is fascinating and very impactful. In his analysis, lies a truth that is taught from the first pages of Scripture all the way through the end. That truth stated simply, in the words of the modern-day prophet Bob Dylan, is:
You may be an ambassador to England or France You may like to gamble, you might like to dance You may be the heavyweight champion of the world You might be a socialite with a long string of pearls But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You're gonna have to serve somebody Well, it may be the Devil or it may be the Lord But you're gonna have to serve somebody (You Gotta Serve Somebody, 1979)
Everyone has a worldview. Everyone has pre-committed ideologies or presuppositions. Everyone is serving somebody: Pharaoh or God, Baal or Yahweh, God or man, Jesus or Satan. In other words, neutrality is a myth. It is not whether but which. It is not whether we will serve somebody, but which somebody. This line of thinking is delineated to us clearly in the Proverbs. There are only two paths: life or death; lady Wisdom or lady folly (Prov. 7-9). There can only be one. Jesus reminded his disciples that “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matt. 12:30)
Read the first and second installments of the Great Commission (Gen. 1:26-31; Matt. 28:18-20). Now ask yourself, what area of life or thought is outside the Lordship of Christ? Scripture answers with a resounding shout: There is no area! Everything in the cosmos belongs to the King and thus, the crown rights of King Jesus ought to be pressed over all of life. Consider Psalm 2:8 in this regard: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” Dr. Greg Bahnsen used to ask his students, “Do we think that Jesus as he ascended to the right hand of the Father forgot to ask for His inheritance? I don’t think so!” This is clearly re-stated by St. Paul in Colossians 1:15-19:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
The Scriptures continuously present to us explicit and comprehensive statements concerning the absolute authority of Christ in the heavens and on the earth being given to Him as a past tense reality. In light of this earth-shattering fact a Christian’s highest prerogative ought to be understanding, internalizing, and learning to apply this truth for all of life. The denial or acceptance of Jesus’ coronation session has very real implications for the human race. It’s always going to come down to the question of ultimate authority. We must choose between God’s Law-Word (theonomy) or man’s law-words (autonomy) for culture and life.
Solzhenitsyn comprehended the power and magnitude of that last thought, in a society where God is removed and his Word is obscured, tyranny follows. One does not have to look back into ancient societies such as the Babylonians or Assyrians to find what has been the fruit of systems of thought in which man is the center and ultimate authority. Consider the man-centered theories spawned out of the Enlightenment era, a time when man’s reason was postulated as the epicenter for truth and knowledge. We have Darwinian Evolution, Marxism, repackaged Atheism, Humanism, Postmodernism, etc. When fallen man (Rom. 1) pontificates himself as the ultimate source of reason and truth ruinous chaos follows (Deut. 28).
This means that there is no such thing as a neutral view of Economics, Politics, Education, Psychology, Medicine, Science, Business, Family life, etc. It’s always Christ or chaos. Our Christian worldview is not limited to the Church and Family, it is precisely a world and life view. Let us consider two examples of how affirming or denying the comprehensive Lordship of Christ as a starting presupposition plays itself out, particularly in political and scientific thought. Let us not forget whatever ideological pre-commitments are present, this leads an individual to have a radically different way of viewing the world and how it should operate.
A Darwinian or naturalist scientist who engages in the scientific method (making an observation, forming a hypothesis, making a prediction, conducting an experiment, and analyzing the results), inherently begins his experiment presupposing the denial of any supernatural framework. Thus his presupposition insists that he interpret his evidence to indicate that God cannot exist and any supernatural explanation for his findings is “irrational”. Often a Darwinian will quickly remind us that science is a matter of facts and that the facts conclude that humanity evolved from lower forms of life amid a long process of chaos and chance. They conclude this because of the worldview lens in which they observe these facts.
Here’s another example, but in the political realm. A secularist would presuppose the denial of God’s unchanging standards and opt to find their source of truth for law in experience, tradition, cultural-pulse, or whatever the people alive in that moment in history can agree upon. The greatest good for the greatest number. This greatest good has no transcendent reality that anchors it to a fixed source of justice, so the secularist can never really be sure that they are imposing a true standard of good.
This is precisely why the pagan-greek concept of democracy is a bad idea and contra-scriptural. Let us consider that democracy comes from two Greek words: demos meaning people and kratein meaning to rule, thus the ultimate power lies in the rule of the people. The secularist relies on the individual as the ultimate source for truth and reason. This leads to poor, ever-changing and unjust thoughts to become the law of a land. It is the flaw of the presupposition of the denial of God and his unchanging moral standards, that leads to the justification of the modern-day infanticide horror occurring with the slaughter of the unborn. It was also the presupposition which played a major role in Nazi Germany denying the humanity of Jews and other minorities, eventually justifying the extermination of millions. The Christian on the other hand believes that all politics must be grounded in God’s unchanging moral law found in Scripture (Ex. 20; Deut. 4; Ps. 119; Matt. 5-7; Rom. 13; 1 Tim. 1). Ideas have consequences, worldviews have consequences.
The goal in this short exercise of presuppositions is to aid the Christian to identify how biblically-centered presuppositions lead to completely different conclusions than their naturalist or secularist counterparts. It is only by starting with the acknowledgement of the existence of the Christian God that one can give a meaningful justification for the use of scientific methodologies, laws of logic, laws of morality, justice, truth, etc. Those who deny that Jesus is Lord and Creator of all, live in a world where they are constantly stealing from the Christian-biblical worldview.
The history of the human race truly is best encapsulated in the biblical narrative. In Adam, there is death, cursing, suffering, loss, sin, darkness, and ultimately eternal damnation. This is the path offered by lady folly as described in the Proverbs. There we see that her ways are tempting. She is cunning, deceitful and will do whatever necessary to take you down with her to destruction, because deep down she is an adulterer, a covenant-breaker, a mocker of the truth (Prov. 5). The only other option in this life then is Christ, personified by the Proverbs as lady wisdom. This wisdom we are told is eternal (Prov. 9). Paul says that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) Which is why Solomon starts his book on Kingly advice by saying that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).”
Dear friends, without Christ one may be smart, one may be intellectual, but one can never be wise. We are always building something. We are always serving someone. It is either Christ or chaos, Yahweh or man, Jesus or Satan. The greater Joshua has conquered the world and taken his people into the greater promised land. Yet, there are still false gods out there with false idols and ideas. The question stands today for the church as it seeks to express God’s kingdom-will on earth as it is in heaven: whom you will serve? It is my prayer that the saints reading this will be able to respond: But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord in our family. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord in science. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord in politics. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord in education, and so on and so forth.
Paul reminds Timothy that the Word of God is to be the authoritative blueprint for all of life: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Jesus owns it all, and therefore he commands us to labor in bringing everything in the created order under His Lordship, not forgetting that we are commissioned by the Sovereign Father, and empowered by the Sovereign Spirit! Amen.