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Vol. XIV • 1992

In Christ or in Crisis?
Jean-Marc Berthoud

... The entire movement of modern civilization since the Renaissance is in the direction of a rupture of its ties to the created order, to the Creator, so that man himself might finally, on the grounds of a dislocated reality, recreate in his head and impose by violence upon all reality, a perfect new order

In politics this was the clear design of Hobbes, of Rousseau and of Marx; in philosophy that of Descartes and of Kant; in biology that of Darwin and of Oparin; in theology that of Wellhausen, of Bultmann, of Barth and of Kung; in classical music that of Schoenberg and of Webern. In all areas we can recognize the slogan of the modern revolution: dissolve in order to construct everything anew: dissolve ut coagitur. Do not reform, reconstruct, reestablish in respect of reality, of true tradition, of Revelation, but as new human creator raze everything in order to build the new perfect City of Man. This is the pagan doctrine of creative destruction, the destruction of the Carnival of Revolution, of the struggle of the species or of classes which allegedly bear within themselves the capacity to create all things, Such a new creation would take place in politics and arts, in nature and in society. It would be accomplished without God and without His law, without respect for His creation and for the past. It would be brought about through cutting ourselves off from the testimony of the senses and of human language, of the created forms, and especially without recourse to the true lights of divine Revelation, Is it then astonishing that the great modern design only ends in the densest intellectual night, in the most complete cacophony, in endless ugliness, in the destruction of the family, in social anarchy and in democratic or despotic totalitarianism, in short, in the chaos of evil and sin? Such a program of destructuring of the created order, often advanced under the pretext of opposing existing abuses, ends in its replacement by a new structure fabricated in all details by men who want to throw off as a hateful yoke the created order and its laws. This program is the very foundation of modern politics.

Often without realizing it modern political thought has adopted the atheist and anti-creational ideology of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Hobbes explicitly sought to overthrow the political and social covenant which God established from creation on with man. Here are the terms of this covenant; all power comes from God Who delegates it to certain men; from the beginning the created order is social because the family is the constituent foundation of human society; the limits of power (God's Law) are established by God and not by man, and these immutable laws are normative for the individual as well as for all life in society; society which is both individual and social is a reflection of the Trinity, One in Three Divine Persons, Man's exercise of power is inscribed in this general framework. Outside of it power becomes abuse and consequently inherently illegitimate.

Hobbes, whom we might consider the Darwin of political science, succeeded in tearing Western political thought loose from its true framework. For God's original act creating and ordering society Hobbes substituted a myth of origins, just as Darwin replaced the ordered and stable divine creation of the universe and of life by the mythological fiction of the evolution of all things. All dominant Western political thought has for a long time fallen into step with Hobbes, though in rather different ways. Here should be named such influential thinkers as Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Bentham, Austin, Marx, Lenin, Kelsen, etc. who have all worked in the sense of a politics torn away from the norms of God's Law, from the immutable order of created reality, from God,

For Hobbes there was in the beginning a state of mythical nature, a pure speculative hypothesis, constituted of free and equal men totally detached from each other and individually totally sovereign, themselves deciding their proper interest, their good and evil. These men could only interact in violent conflict and destroy each other. Hence, in order to protect themselves from such a murderous anarchy, the Hobbesian myth postulates that by a fictitious social contract they all at the same moment renounced their sovereignty in order to delegate it to one single man among them. Thus this one became the only sovereign in whom rested the exclusive right of legislation and who was not subject to any exterior norm or control.

This sovereign, monarchical in the thought of Hobbes, became parliamentary in the thought of Locke and popular in the system of Rousseau, of the French Revolution and of the democracies justly called "popular." For the word "people" in the jargon of Rousseau and of the French Revolution, taken up by the communists, does not mean the total number of citizens but rather the place in society where sovereignty is in effect located: the Committee of Public Safety, the Jacobin Club, the Party, etc. These secondary political mutations in no way changed the very foundations of the anti-God system, independent of the divine order and without any tie whatever with the order of reality, invented by Hobbes. Thus was instituted the modern concept of the State as entirely independent of all created order and of any and all law placed above it. We now live under and in this State, and it is this concept of the absolute State which explains the limitless character of modern legislation in the East as well as in the West. Hobbes still maintained over against this State-Leviathan a private domain of inalienable human rights, but their content was also severed from any and all notion of a permanent social order or from any reference to a Divine Law beyond man.

This system, today universally adopted, explains by itself why the countless solutions proposed by our legislators, parliamentary or despotic, only aggravate the crisis in which we find ourselves, because all these solutions are entirely arbitrary in principle (once in a while common sense and the respect for God's Law prevail for an Instant over ideology), for they are neither ordered by a sound concept of the created order of social and political reality, nor are they limited by the norms of usage established by the Maker of society, God. Thus we see that our two democracies, "popular" and "liberal," beneath their apparent differences and in spite of the greater benefits granted to individuals in one of them, are equally, when all is said and done, of a totalitarian nature. For in rejecting God as social and political finality they take themselves as their own finality, they make themselves their own gods. Thus the political system independent of God and of reality itself guarantees the permanence of the spiral of crises in which we live. For it rejects the sovereignty of our true and only King, our Lord Jesus Christ,

We could go on listing and analyzing the crises of the modern world indefinitely, for a world without God, without submission to God's Law and without respect of reality is like a physical organism weakened by its own malfunctioning. It is invaded by hostile agents which insure the permanence of its state of crisis. The disturbance of minds has become so great that these hostile agents are even proposed as remedies. In his latest work, Useless Knowledge (Grasset, Paris, 1988) Jean-Francois Revel confirmed this statement when he showed to which point our society is refusing true information, which has become useless for it because in the absence of stable criteria and of a sense of reality true information cannot be distinguished from false information. God tells us today as He did in the time of the prophet Isaiah: "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed" (Isaiah 6:9-10).

Can we then be amazed that such a world is so blind about those who really rule it? That it falls so gladly in fatuous admiration at the feet of the first clever, subtle, false, courteous, and unscrupulous conjurer come from the East? "God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie" (II Thessalonians 2:11),

The world-wide crisis of sense and society, of ecology and life, of information and politics is manifestly sent by God Himself to a mankind in revolt against its good Creator, against the gracious Savior. Such a crisis is intended for the temporal and eternal judgment of some, and the repentance of those who are destined for life, here below as well as in eternity. The proclamation of Truth, Law and Grace, Judgment and Mercy, can only harden the heart and the thoughts of those who obstinately reject the grace God is offering them. But for others, this hard judgment upon our vain works leads us to separate ourselves from our personal sins as well as those of our civilization, and to turn toward the Lord Jesus Christ, Savior and King.

Editor's Note: Slightly abbreviated and translated from "Resister et construire", No. 7, Nouvelle Serie, Avril 1989, a Christian French language quarterly review available free of charge upon demand from: Resister et construire. Case postale 468, CH-1001 Lausanne, Switzerland.

"In Christ or in Crisis?"
CSSHS • Creation Social Science & Humanities Society • Quarterly Journal

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