Life, Liberty and…Happiness? Really?

Life, Liberty and…Happiness? Really? In his Two Treatises on Government in 1698, John Locke properly recognized and explained that the main goal of government was to protect the “life, liberty and property” of the citizens. Locke said: “The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.” This was the commonly held view of early Americans. It was, in fact, for this very reason of the violation of property that they revolted against England. Therefore, it is disappointing and spurious to consider a shift in thinking that was introduced by Thomas Jefferson (some suggest it was Benjamin Franklin’s idea) into the wording of the Declaration of Independence. (The change was accepted by the editorial review committee for the Declaration: Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman.) “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Words matter, and this “liberty” taken within the wording of the Declaration (a document that is a kind of fixed moral reference point for many Americans) has helped to bend the American experiment away from the creation of Capital, to the pursuit of Hedonism. Now granted, the early American citizens took the phrase to primarily refer to the creation and preservation of wealth, but many in our society today see the phrase more as a protection of the sexual indulgences. This is much of what is wrong with contemporary Libertarianism. That subtle shift in thinking plays a major role in leading your nation being a leader in Free Market Economics, to the slippery slope of economic Socialism. The prohibition against stealing is addressed in the 8th Commandment (whether by the citizens or the government itself), and it is for the punishment of this and other crimes against Life, Liberty and Property, that God created government (1 Peter 2:14). Allowing citizens to create wealth through the Providence of God (Deut. 8:18), may, of course, produce a by-product of satisfaction or happiness, but making happiness (in and of itself) a chief end or pursuit is neither a Biblical concept nor a sound basis for government. Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is also the Site Editor for...

What is Post-Postmodernism?

After the Protestant Reformation, a new ethos pervaded the Western world. Christianity began to infiltrate every aspect of culture, from the Arts to Literature, from Philosophy to Science. But then French Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau and Decartes began to assert that we could know truth and reality apart from revelation; we could be good without God. When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, rationalists and empiricists began to win over the masses by claiming scientific support to their atheistic dogmas. 1859 was, in my view, the beginning of the Modernist era. The Modern Industrial Revolution of the early 20th century typified the new cultural modus operandi. The new methods of industry were mechanical, predictable, mass-produced, calculated, and mathematical. The church is usually about twenty years behind the world in terms of allowing cultural trends to infiltrate her ranks. In time, however, Modernist tactics were seen in churches’ organizational structures and even in the evangelism approach of Billy Sunday and other Christian leaders. Around the 1950s the seeds of Postmodernism began to grow. By the 1960s, America was witnessing a full-scale cultural revolution. In contrast to Modernism, its sociological step-child, Postmodernism is decentralized, relativistic, experiential, pluralistic and in many ways irrational. Again, it took 20 years, but soon enough Postmodernism found a foothold in many churches. Today we find ourselves in a near civil war within the church. Postmodern Emergents are on one side facing off against died-in-the-wool traditional, institutional Fundamentalists on the other. The questions range from doctrine to style, with cultural presuppositions under-girding many of the arguments on both sides. Culturally, I believe that September 11, 2001 has provided a sociological turning point into a new era. It has ushered in, in my opinion, the beginning of post-Postmodernism. When a civilization is embodied by relativism and hedonism, history tells us that it falls apart from within. Despair first entered Philosophy, then the Arts, then General Culture and finally, the Church. (See: The God Who Is There, by Francis Schaeffer.) Dr. Schaeffer told us that the church is the final hold out in a culture against nihilism and despair. There are only two things that can keep a nation from sliding into the abyss of pleasure: 1. The gospel of Jesus Christ as preached by the true confessing church. The gospel exerts its restraining influence by means of he Holy Spirit working in someone’s heart to convict him of sin and empower him to live righteously. (i.e. Self-Government) 2. The arm of a...

What is Wrong with Libertarianism?

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to write a post about what is wrong with Libertarianism from a Biblical worldview. First of all, it would be helpful for you to see visually, a basic graph revealing the current political spectrum. Most Christians who call themselves “Christian Libertarians” don’t really know much about the roots or true ideology of the Libertarian political philosophy. They like the idea of small government, reduced taxes, gun rights, property rights and a free-market economy. So far, so good. I’m right there with them. The problem is in the inherent presuppositions embedded within the Libertarian worldview. One of the foundational beliefs of Libertarianism is the idea that “Anyone should be allowed to do anything they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.” Ever heard that? That is a Libertarian conception of Freedom and Liberty. That is NOT, however, a Christian view of Liberty and Freedom. That is a view of moral bondage. For example, Thomas Jefferson said: “A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.“ Thomas Jefferson (1801)“ Or: “It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve.” Henry George The Biblical definition of the role of government is found in 1 Peter 2:13-14: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. “ The civil government, according to Scripture is supposed to “punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.” How do you determine what is right or wrong in a certain society or civilization? You really only have a few options: The majority of people in a society determine it for themselves for that time and place. (Cultural Relativism) It is...

Altas Shrugged – Ayn Rand (review by Charles Colson)

Ayn Rand (1905-1982), Russian-born novelist and philosopher, is the poster lady for the modern-day Libertarian movement, and is admired by many freedom-loving conservatives and patriots. She was the founder of a philosophy called Objectivism and promoted Egoistic Hedonism (the belief that seeking your own selfish interests is a noble good and that greed is the foundation of all laissez faire Capitalism). Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for property rights, individual liberties, small government, free market and other ideas that Ayn Rand and her followers hold dear. However, as a Christian, our paths diverge at at least several crucial junctures:   Objectivism is rooted in Secular Humanism (the belief that man is the measure of all things) Objectivism is based in pride and exalts and glorifies human achievement, rather than God, as the benevolent giver of all good things. (cf. See: James 1:17a: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” Deuteronomy 8:18: “But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth”) Objectivism embraces an Epistemology (how we know what we know) of Rationalism (that we can know truth simply from our own minds and senses rather than from Divine Revelation). To see a rebuttal of this Epistemology theory, please read my essays: Reason vs. Revelation, The Limits of Human Reason, and Reason vs. Experience. If you remove all (or nearly all) external government, which Anarchists would prefer, then with what do you restrain society? I would argue that the Christian doctrine of Individual Self-Government (that each person is to be guided by the law of God restraining him in his own heart) gives the only hope for a truly free society. The secular Libertarian has no truly objective standard for morality and human behavior (despite their claims). Objectivism begins with a utopian view of human nature that is contrary to God’s word. The Bible teaches that humans apart from God will drift towards sins against themselves and their fellowman (Jeremiah 17:9). People will not get better and better apart from God, they will denigrate into chaos and ruin. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s most popular novel has recently been turned into a film (which I have not seen). Here are Chuck Colson’s perspectives on this film and the legacy of Ayn...

© Israel Wayne.