The 2016 Presidential Election revealed the deep cultural divide that exists in this country. Donald Trump’s victory has spawned protests in cities and on college campuses around the United States. The slogan for many? #NotMyPresident.
The slogan might be fun, but it is practically meaningless and everyone knows it. They protest because they know he is their President. For your convenience, I put together a flow chart:
This election and these protests should put an end to “you have your truth and I have mine,” at least with any practical import. Is it really true for some citizens that Trump is not their President, but he is for others? Their demonstrations demonstrate that they know he is their President. As current Vice President Joe Biden said, “Reality has a way of intruding. Reality eventually intrudes on everything.” Reality is intruding on the postmodern landscape.
We live in wonderfully confusing times, because the philosophy of our age is humanism. And humanism is anarchy. I genuinely mean that. We live in “a state of disorder due to the absence or nonrecognition of authority.” Go out on the streets, make a moral or truth judgment, and weigh the response!
“Who are you to judge?”
“Judge not, lest ye be judged!”
If there is no authority, then, so the reasoning goes, no one has the right to give orders, make decisions, or enforce obedience!
The heart of humanism is that man is the measure of all things.
Logically, it looks like this:
Major Premise: Man is the measure of all things.
Minor Premise: Keith is a man.
Conclusion: Keith is the measure of all things.
If another comes along and pushes his measure down on me, then he denies my humanity and his measurement is met with derision. Yet, if you think about it, any objection to my judgments or imposition onto others is actually a judgment and an imposition onto me. So, barring man being completely isolated from all others, humanism has no practical function in reality, because any time two different measures meet something or someone has to give. Whose?
If we ask, what does it mean to be a human? What is your answer? Is there an authoritative answer to that question?
If no, then no one can actually deny another his humanity, because there is no measure of “humanity.” In order to dehumanize someone, you need to pull or bring him down. How can that be done without man having an elevation?
If yes, then humanism must recognize an authority beyond the individual (or collective) and admit that man (individually or collectively) is no longer the measure of all things, because of this measure outside of man. If that’s the case, then humanism is over.
Man cannot escape reality. It has a way of intruding.
Modern man is irrational and confused, because he rejects that he is the imago dei. In rejecting the source of his identity and being man must reject what it means to be human. In rejecting YHWH, the source of our humanity, we are actually left with a total dehumanizing – a total bringing down of man. Man, in his attempt to exalt himself, has brought himself low.
The Christian Remedy
In radical contrast to this anarchy, we preach, teach, and believe that Jesus has “all authority under heaven and on earth…” Jesus is an absolute, personal authority and we seek to observe all things he has commanded us. Jesus has the right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience!
Logically, it looks something like this:
Major Premise: Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, be it visible or invisible.
Minor Premise: America and its citizens are on earth.
Conclusion: Jesus has all authority over America and its citizens.
Jesus is Lord! Jesus is the measure!
The conclusion is the rub. As we evangelize, we will be met by protesters #NotMyGod. In our humanist age our conclusion is difficult to swallow. No protester cares if Donald Trump lives in your heart, but they care he sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They hate his authority. Likewise, no one cares if Jesus lives in your heart, but they do care that he sits at the right of God the Father with all authority in heaven and on the earth, including the authority to judge them, which they believe is dehumanizing. We must learn to communicate to them that which they “know” is True (Romans 1:21)!
I think the communication is accomplished several ways, but one trajectory is what I have laid out above. The first move is to demonstrate the logical conclusion of what the culture is communicating. They believe “absolutes” runs into evils, like tyranny. Now, in a sense, we Christians agree if we absolutize the wrong thing. If we absolutize a man, a race, a gender, or a culture, we concede that it leads to evils and the destruction of man. However, humanism destroys man, because humanism places man in an absolute vacuum, aside from his own declarations. If all he has in his own declarations, then if he absolutizes himself, his race, his gender, etc., he’s not doing anything wrong, because there is no measure pressing down upon him from the outside (a moral reality). Point: however you spell it out, humanism is a poison and destructive of their goal.
The next step is to show how God puts man in his proper place. A place that won’t fall into the total dehumanizing of man. Dehumanizing can only happen if man is the imago dei, but not if naturalism, atheism, agnosticism, or some other “ism” is true. So, man, seeking to hide from His Creator, finds death, but God, seeking to find His creature, brings life.
What does this all mean?
If you pray, “Our Father who art in heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” what are you expecting that to look like? Does it at all look like the United States doing God’s will as they do in heaven? Europe? Africa?
Our Gospel is “political.” Our Gospel is “this worldly” – not in its source of power, but in its application. Our Gospel is how God created the heaven and earth, how man ruptured heaven and earth, and how God is reconciling heaven and earth. Our Gospel speaks to the lords of this age and says, “Jesus is Lord, not you!” Fidel is not Lord. Trump is not Lord. The Demos is not Lord! Jesus is Lord!
Yet, our philosophy and politics are radically different from the worlds. Their philosophy dehumanize’s man, while our Gospel “detheolizes” (if I can make up a word) God. While humanism totally brings down man, the Gospel totally brings down God! Humanism exalts man and leads to his death. Christianity brings down God and leads to mans life. The Gospel teaches us that Jesus:
“who, being in the very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but emptied himself,
by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in the appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”