WE ALL WANT SOCIAL PROGRESS. BUT PROGRESS MEANS GETTING NEARER TO THE PLACE YOU WANT TO BE …

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IT WAS ONCE BELIEVED that the basic insights of the Christian faith provide the best understandings we have into the nature of man. That is no longer the leading worldview. The awful calamities in which now find ourselves is the culmination of modern man’s radical attempt to deny the existence of a transcendent or spiritual reality and of the Progressive’s failure to find meaning and salvation in its self-conception of reality. Modern man’s worship of the Class, the Race, or the State has only further alienated him from reality and has plunged him deeper into despair, thus compelling him further along the road to de­struction and annihilation. Only through a return to faith in God, as God revealed Himself to man in Jesus Christ, can modern man and his society find redemption from his many sins.

If it is suggested that spiritual health and sanity lies in a return to biblical Christianity someone counters that, even if society wanted such a thing, it is impossible—for, he says, “you can’t turn the clock back.” It is indeed possible, fortunately, to retrace one’s steps spiritually, to begin again from a new point using a proven roadmap, and that is the proposal which is made here.

C.S. Lewis suggests that you can turn the clock back in this sense and that when the hands point to the wrong time it is a sensible thing to do. Sometimes the only way to go forward is to go backward and begin again. The most sensible way to go forward is to start from the right place and to follow the right path. If we have gone down the wrong path the common sense thing to do is to retrace our steps, to begin again, and this time take the path which we sidestepped on our original journey. C. S. Lewis says: “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you’ve taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer to your destination. If you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. We’ve all seen this at our jobs, haven’t we? When I have started a bit of work the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on with the task. There’s nothing progressive about being pig-headed and re­fusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the pres­ent state of the world, it’s pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We’re on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.”

… if you’ve taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer to your destination. If you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.

It is not suggested herein, as some may surmise, that we go back to the age of Luther. Even if we could, we should not make spiritual, intellectual, or social progress by blindly copying the social institutions or patterns of life of the Reformation. Should we do so, we would only find ourselves, our social institutions, and patterns of life informed by the same spirit and may closely resemble the Reformation, but they will never be identical. It should be noted that the Reformers, too, were seeking a biblical Christianity.; we should attempt the same goal. A highly technical, urban society such as ours will require very different institutions from one that was essentially agricultural, humanistic, and feudal. I am suggesting that we return to ages past only in the sense that we go back in spirit to a society that, intellectually and spiritually, was God-centered rather than man-centered. We will not eliminate our problems if we copy the Reformers, but if we pursue a biblical worldview, we will have the spiritual and intellectual resources with which better to understand our problems and to cope with them—not alone, but with the leading of God.

The evidence of history seems to confirm human nature is everywhere and at all times the same, and the problems encountered by human beings have been and will be, the same as long as man inhabits the earth. The principles in terms of which we search for immediate solutions to our problems ought to be the same for all times and for all peoples. These prin­ciples are not modern, medieval, or ancient—they are either true or false. If the principles in terms of which men can find personal happiness and authentic social justice were discovered in an­cient or in medieval times, then those principles are just as valid for people today as they were at the time they were rediscovered in the Reformation. But the important thing is not when the principles were discovered but whether they are truly adequate to fulfill men’s needs. Truth, in short, is timeless.

We labor in our current generation under the peculiar illusion that innovation is more highly prized than truth. Where formerly men looked to God for the salvation of their souls, they now look to science and technology for the gratification of their desires. In his search for economic security and political utopia, modern man appears not simply to have lost his soul but to have forgotten he has a soul to lose.The highest praise we can pay to a work of art, a design of new technology, or a fresh theory is to say that it is “highly original.” Confronted with a theory or an idea we are inclined to ask: is it modern? is it new? is it pro­gressive? Rarely do we ask the most important question of all: namely, is it true? Ironically it was once thought that a man whose ideas are so “original” that they resemble those of no other human being was generally regarded as insane; conversely, in the progressive times in which we live a man whose ideas are based on natural law, say, a biblical worldview is now regarded as impractical. The only genuine test of an idea or of a theory is not its progressiveness nor its originality but its truthfulness, i.e., its correspondence to reality. The principles that most closely correspond to reality – the very principles that ought to stir our personal and social lives- are those prin­ciples that were discovered and formulated by the Jewish prophets and the Christian religion as exemplified in the teachings of Paul, Augustine, Calvin, and their heirs.

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The argument that is frequently propounded today is that truth is relative to particular times and to particular peoples. This notion is entirely false. If a principle or an idea is true it is true for all times and for all peoples, if it is not true for all times it is not true at any time. Subjective truth is a denial of the conception of Truth itself, for to speak of the relativity of truth is to state a contradiction. Human conceptions of the truth may (and do) vary because men are not infallible or all-knowing, and their conception of the truth will always be some­what perverted by their own self-interest and self-absorption. But while some may promote the tolerance and progressiveness of the relativity of hu­man judgments it does not follow that Truth itself is relative. The confusion on this subject arises from a failure to distinguish between Truth itself and a truth manifested in the unique theories of influential individuals or celebrity opinion. Because popular conceptions of the truth have been and always will be relative, it does not logically follow that all truth is relative but, rather, that all individuals are imperfect. The fallibility of individual judgments does not mean that all individual judgments concerning the truth are equally valid for there are degrees of fallibility. Some individual conceptions of the truth will be deceptively closer to the absolute truth than others. We encounter frequently a belief that there is no truth at all because all individual judgments are representations of reality is not a confession of humility, but of despair; it is not of show of tolerance but of loss of faith. Unless we are conscious of our own intellectual and spiritual limitations, unless we are con­scious of the way in which our passions betray our most honorable motives and our best thoughts, we cannot approach the topic of social justice with sincere humility and con­trition. This change in thinking is the beginning of wisdom.

It is my belief that the principles and doctrines of biblical Christianity correspond to the reality of any situation. Christianity explains reality better than any rival religion or philosophy. The best hope modern man has for individ­ual and social redemption is to acknowledge our need for Jesus Christ and subsequently follow this Living Lord. Of all the so-called “higher religions” of the world, with which it shares many truths, Christianity is the most complete and perfect revelation we know of the nature of God and of God’s will for man.

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