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Saturday, March 08, 2014

Twisters and Bullies and Isms, Oh My!

"Woe to him who unjustly gains wealth for his house 
to place his nest on high 
to escape from the reach of disaster." 
Habakkuk 2:9

There is a reason power get's misused. Corrupt people who exploit and steal to accumulate wealth unjustly, need a mechanism by which to protect that wealth and place it out of reach of those from whom they have stolen and who, quite rightly, want some justice.

To many among the exploited, it seems a good thing to create a powerful system which prohibits such behavior and which redistributes ill-gotten gains back to the people from whom it was exploited. This is the raison d’être for political systems like communism and socialism. For that matter, even capitalism in its pure form seeks to control the greedy through free-market trade and equal opportunity. The problem with any of these systems is that they are predicated on the idea that man, through any system can be made perfect, for perfect men are needed to sit in the seats of power in those systems in order to protect the integrity and intent of the system. John Dahlberg, Lord Acton, famously said, however, that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

But power does not always corrupt. Men like George Washington have laid down great power willingly when their task was done, but power does attract the corruptible and so long as it does so, no system, however benign it intends to be, which creates great power as a way to prevent corruption, will long remain uncorrupted. No system that concentrates power in the hands of the few will long be able to accomplish its purpose of protecting the many. C.S. Lewis said this:

  • "What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them? I do not mean for a moment that we ought not to think and think hard, about improvements to our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all that thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realise that nothing but the courage and unselfishness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly. It is easy enough to remove the particular kinds of graft or bullying that go on under the present system; but as long as men are twisters or bullies, they will find some new way of carrying on the old game under the new system. You cannot make men good by law and without good men you cannot have a good society. (C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity)
The most robust system of justice yet created on Earth has been the constitutional republic created by the founding fathers of the United States. In their wisdom, they placed the decision as to how long those who sat in government above us remain in office in the hands of the people governed. Our system, which decentralizes much power to state and local government that in other nations is concentrated in the central government has remained tough, resilient and prosperous for more than two centuries. Part of that success has been that throughout that time, we have, as a people, also focused on making men good through their association with their Creator.

In essence, America has two systems working in the interest of its people.
The first is its limited government and the second is its faith in God. You will notice that as we have abandoned our faith, our system of government has become more repressive as the corruptible have climbed the ladders of influence to grab the power they need to protect their ill-gotten wealth. The corruptible have always done this.

We would like to end the domination of the men Lord Acton called "the great men", but because we live in a sinful world and sinners are relentlessly self-interested, we fight a battle that is in reality a steady and inevitable retreat. One day, the corruptible will get their hands on so much power that the historical fall and reset of nations will be impossible.

The Second Coming of Christ is not an invasion and occupation of this world; it is a rescue mission. Once it is accomplished and God's influence is entirely removed from this world, all these great men will fall upon one another and, in the attempt to attain ultimate power, the power of the gods that such men have always craved, they will destroy themselves and the planet along with them.

This is why Revelation speaks of a New Earth. This one cannot be entirely saved. The great conceit that we can "save the planet" is a vain hope. Only God can save the planet and He must do so by allowing the infection that has overtaken it to run its course, wipe the planet clean by fire and rebuild it again with the help of men and women who have no lust for power; no need to sit as Lords over their fellows; no reason to destroy themselves ever again.

© 2014 by Tom King

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