Polybius–too much of a gentleman to say “I told you so”
I wrote this essay for Chalcedon in 2006, and 13 years later, it seems more on target than it was when it was new. Maybe Chalcedon is rubbing off on me.
Polybius was a Greek who lived in Rome when Rome’s Republic was at the height of its power and prosperity. He studied it shrewdly and intently, praised Rome for its system of checks and balances [which inspired our own country’s system of checks and balances, and divided government]–and accurately predicted its collapse.
As a pagan, for Polybius there was no escape for humanity from the impersonal, unchanging, hopeless “cycle of political revolution.” Rome, he predicted, would be brought down by the intense “craving for office” among her elites, who would do literally anything to obtain it, and the masses “roused to fury” by class warfare rhetoric. He could imagine no way out of it: for him there was no Kingdom of Christ, no sanctification, no redemption.
But if we’re going to behave and think like pagans instead of joint-heirs with Christ, well–take another look at today’s headlines. If Polybius could see them, he’d swear he’d seen it all before.
Mark Rushdoony wrote “Man and the Earth: Environmentalism vs. Kingdom Responsibility,” as a Chalcedon editorial in 2009. It seems to be more on target today than it was ten years ago.
Environmentalism “is based on evolutionary assumptions about the most fundamental aspects of man’s being,” Mark wrote. As a result, “nature” gradually replaces God in the minds and hearts of the worldly.
Is it necessary to observe that the very same people who are always yammering about “green this” and “green that” are also the very first to pave the green over, if they think it’ll net them another 25 cents or another vote? Anyone who thinks Democrats “protect the environment” needs to tour New Jersey.
In the long run, Mark writes, “the sin is not against the earth, but God.” And God will use the earth to punish the sinners.
Hershel Shanks at work
When I interviewed him in 2005, Hershel Shanks was president of the Biblical Archaeological Society, which he helped to found, and editor-in-chief of its print magazine, “Biblical Archaeology Review.”
I’ve been a BAR subscriber for many years, and it was a kick for me to interview the man who launched it and served as editor until his retirement last year. BAR has been notable for its coverage of all the liveliest controversies in the field of Biblical archaeology–most of which spilled over into the “Letters” column.
Two of the controversies covered in this interview were “Biblical minimalism” (he didn’t support it) and the purportedly ancient ossuary (bone box) that bore the inscription “James, brother of Jesus”–which the Israeli authorities had branded a modern forgery, but which Mr. Shanks felt ought to be studied further, and more deeply, by an international team of experts.
There is, unfortunately, a great deal of material in BAR by “reputable Bible scholars” who don’t believe a single word of Scripture. Readers have to learn to ignore them.
One thing Mr. Shanks did as editor, though–he kept things lively. I haven’t seen that, so far, from his successor.
Is there a state that’s short a governor?
I keep asking myself how long this crazy stuff can go on; and I don’t know the answer.
The March of Lunacy
Why do we have a “transgender” movement? Was there some kind of demand for it? Really? Why do you get kicked out of your job for saying only women can give birth to babies?
Why does the government tell you how many points your high school football team’s allowed to score? Why does the governor of New York insist there were no hurricanes until we came along with our SUVs and created Climate Change?
Who thinks it’s a good idea to keep the crazies in the driver’s seat?
Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus
Today’s Chalcedon editorial gives us an answer to the world’s craziness.
The answer is “Faith,” which takes us out of ourselves and makes God the center of our lives. Examples are listed in Hebrews 11, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible: “the faith Hall of Fame.”
All power comes from the Lord, not man, not man’s institutions. Faith must shape our lives and works; and God is always looking for faithful men and women to accomplish His work in the world. As His servants, that’s why we’re here.
I have to go vegetate in the veterinarian’s waiting room, but first let me post this Chalcedon editorial by Mark Rushdoony, from 2004:
Christ’s command to “Occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13) should have been the church’s watchword–and ours, too, individually.
Because we didn’t occupy, the ungodly came out of the woodwork and occupied our culture; and we’re having a very hard time holding on to the little bit they’ve left us.
Work harder. Pray harder. Sing louder. And proclaim the truth.
Suddenly adults of the liberal persuasion just can’t get enough of children telling them what to do.
Using Children as Political Props
It’s something for the whole world to be ashamed of.
Children should be seen and not heard.
I thought you might enjoy my 2005 interview with Lee Strobel–lawyer, former legal affairs editor and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, former atheist… and now, for many years, a servant of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mr. Strobel was about to go skiing when I phoned him, and he said he could give me 15 minutes. But we hit it off, and wound up talking for an hour and a half.
In this interview, shortly after the publication of his book, The Case for a Creator, Mr. Strobel predicted that science itself would help lead us to belief in God and away from Darwinism. But unlike some Intelligent Design proponents, he doesn’t stop there. Science may teach us that there is an intelligent design that governs the universe, but we need the Bible, and faith, to tell us of the Designer.
Humanism is dying, as we can see by its fervent embrace of such cruel follies as abortion, sexual anarchy, socialism, censorship, assisted suicide, and the incessant growth of government. There is no leftist project that does not bear the stink of death.
This Chalcedon editorial, published today, meets this crisis head-on.
Christians do know what they’re against, but they’re not so clear about knowing what they’re for. This is what needs to be changed.
We do need “a new civilization,” founded on God’s law and God’s word; and the good news is that we, all of us, can start building one now. Right now. New schools, a re-commitment to the family, new science, and new churches. New everything.
We pray that God will equip us for our service to Christ’s Kingdom.