THE PARADOX OF HUMAN GOVERNMENT
Human government is God-ordained. Scripture says: “There is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). Therefore we are in duty bound to honor the civil magistrate (I Peter 2:17), to pray for him (I Tim. 2:1,2), and to pay our taxes (Rom. 13:6, 7). It can hardly be denied that American citizens, the Christians among them too, need to be re-minded of these duties.
Human government is in blessing.
That is plainly implied in the foregoing. Scripture also says so explicitly when it describes “the ruler” as “the minister of God to thee for good” (Rom. 13:4). It is the business of the state to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good (Rom. 13:3,4). In short, it is the function of the state to maintain justice. By doing so it holds sin in check and encourages virtue. In theological language. it is a gift of the common grace of God. And, in distinction from the church, which operates in the sphere of saving grace, the state operates in the realm of common grace.
Strange though it may seem, human government is also a curse.
Whether there would have been some sort of human government among men if man had not fallen into sin, is a debatable question. However, the fact is that man did fall, and consequently government by men is government by sinners. Obviously such government cannot be an unalloyed blessing. When man rebelled against God, God said to him in effect: “If you reject my rule, you will—like it or not—have to submit to the rule of sinful men.” Time was when God’s people lived under a theocracy. When they demanded a king such as other nations had, God said: “They have rejected me that I should not reign over them; and he instructed the prophet Samuel to inform Israel that such a king would inevitably be a tyrant” (1 Sam. 8). God punished the nation by letting it have its way. More than one wise man has observed that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the history of the human race few things loom as large as the determination of rulers to deprive their subjects of God-given liberties and the struggle of subjects to retain those liberties. The Magna Charta and our own Bill of Rights strikingly illustrate the point at issue. Today there is a strong trend in the affairs of men toward statism. But that is nothing new.
The empires of the ancient world were totalitarian states.
The Bible informs us that human government will one day culminate in the rule of Antichrist According to the thirteenth chapter of Revelation there will be toward the end of time a totalitarian state, a totalitarian church, and a totalitarian economy—all rolled into one under the despotic rule of the Antichrist. The state will be god. When that has come to pass, the King of kings will return to crush Satan’s kingdom and upon its ruins to bring to completion his own kingdom. Great voices in heaven will sing: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). Under his rule the new humanity will enjoy perfect justice, perfect freedom, perfect security, perfect peace, and perfect bliss.
A paper with a fresh approach, independent thinking, many hard-hitting articles on all spheres of theology and practical life, and a minimum of froth is Church and Nation ($3.00 per year; 153 West 4th St., Hamilton, Ont.). In a recent issue (eight large pages) there were the following articles: a frank (this is what is refreshing in contrast to official church papers) and fair review of the Calvin Campus Development program, a straightforward account of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod’s statement of Christian social and political organizations, Prof. Zuidema’s sharp evaluation of the World Council of Churches, and a lengthy Dutch church report on the hush·hush subject of artificial means of birth control. It should be added that the last two articles were in Dutch and the paper is destined primarily for the Christian Reformed constituency. But it would be hard to over-evaluate the “principal” stimulation which this paper gives. This publication is a real “sleeper”; it is little known but it has great potential.
Marxian dialectic materialism as it has worked itself out in Russian Communism lays claim to many successes. Retroactively, it claims the initiation of many inventions which had their origin in democratic countries. So retroactively it assumes credit for the material success of modern life!
With the launching of the cosmonauts, the Russian Marxists presume that they have successfully explored interstellar space, the “macrocosmos.” This exploration has lent credence to their atheism. None of the cosmonauts has caught sight of God in his orbitations. This, then, constitutes proof positive that there is no God!
Exploration in the “microcosmos,” the world of the atom, leads the Marxian materialists to similar atheistic conclusions. The principle of determinism operating in the atom excludes the possibility of any teleology, purposive action with a prescribed end in mind. This determinism eliminates the need of a purposive intelligence or a God. The necessary alternative again is atheism.
This dialectic method is a real time saver too. It can lead one past erroneous hypotheses which must only be proved false. For example, had Cuvier been in possession of the dialectic method of the materialist, he would not have guessed that life developed by leaps which might have a background of sharp breaks and catastrophes that suggest the caprice of a Creator. Had Cuvier been guided by the dialectical law of transformation of the quantitative into the qualitative, he would have sought in nature itself the changes which he viewed as leaps. He would have sought in nature that tendency which presently brings about a turn or overturn involving a qualitative change, that is, a “leap.” In this way, according to the Russian philosopher B. M. Kedrov, the dialectical method can keep one from running off into futile tangents. The dialectic law will lead one into all truth!
An even more fascinating use of the dialectic law becomes apparent, when it is employed in the socio-historical realm. It can accurately predict the turns and overturns which will culminate in a successful people’s revolution. Even better, it can predict not only success but continued success. This prophetic role of the dialectical law is suggested by Kedrov in the following statement:
“In all cases without exception in which forecasts of socio-historical events were made on the basis of materialist dialectics and laws, they have been confirmed with the same iron logic as that with which the predictions of hitherto unknown things and phenomena have been borne out in the natural sciences. Yet it is vastly more difficult to make predictions in the field of social life than in the study of nature…For example, when Hitler’s hordes invaded our country the vast majority of bourgeois public figures in all countries were confident that the Soviet Union would be defeated. But Soviet people and the Communist Party base themselves upon the teachings of Marxism, including its dialectics. Using them as a method of scientific prediction in the analysis of the historical situation that had come into being, it was proclaimed with confidence in the very first days of the war that despite the temporary successes of fascist Germany, its defeat was inevitable. Within less than four years history itself confirmed the correctness of these forecasts and thereby the predictive value of the theory upon which they were based” (B. M. Kedrov, “Philosophy As A General Science,” in The Soviet Review, Summer—1963, p. 69).
Two comments might be to the point here. Apparently the prophetic forecast of Marxist dialecticism have a retroactive quality as well as an inventive genius. Secondly, we might compare what God has to say through the mouth of Isaiah as to the turns and overturns that take place in the course of history (Cf. Isaiah 47).