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This is a Wednesday Update Archive piece.
Subject: The Age or Era of Peace, Justice, and Righteousness on Earth,
(or) The City of God on earth, Part II (Conclusion),
Part XI in a Series On End-Time Bible Prophecy
(Wed., Sept. 15, 2004)
(approx. 9645 words, 15 pp.)
Bible Prophecy Series, Part XI
No Satire, but Great Joy actually,
"I will Pour Out My Spirit on all flesh"
(The time when)
"The Knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as waters cover the sea"
The Spiritual Nature of the Age of Peace, Justice, and Righteousness on Earth
On Wisdom: "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart"
This is a second Part to "The City of God" and our planned final piece in our long (some would say "too long") Bible Prophecy Series, but it is pretty hard to do all history and Bible prophecy, Genesis to Revelation in less than 11 Parts, is it not? . . .
Up to Speed? To Repeat: The City of God: the Whole Thing in a Nutshell
As we said before these final comments on the Kingdom of God on earth will no doubt be very anti-climatic, even disappointing for some. We suggested (in fact just flat stated) as we ended Part I of The City of God on earth (or what we called "the Preface to the City of God") that the reason that we have had such wars and injustice over the last 6000 years (at least) is that we either lack the will (or desire for peace and justice in our various historical tyrannies, in lusting, murdering, lying, and so forth, as James says) or we have, as a slight understatement, been terribly misguided with a lack of wisdom in wars or revolutionary efforts or our political struggles and strategies in trying to establish true justice, liberty, rights, and so forth, for all.
The Spiritual and the Practical as Spirituality and Applied Spirituality
Actually, the failures of both tyranny and being misguided are pretty overtly "spiritual" matters, right? Last time in Part I we did a brief but massive historical and philosophical overview of the City of Man and of its problems (in humanistic theory and practice, as it were) because that "City" is not based on true justice, peace, and righteousness. (Sometimes because these ideals or principles are not sought and sometimes because man seeks such ideals but fails.) This Part II will now be a look at the spiritual and practical problems of establishing the classic City of God or City on Hill, which really is nothing more than a society which truly has in principle foundations of true justice, rights, liberty, and righteousness, etc., and in fact successfully manages to pull off these efforts (of will to principle with wisdom, as it were). Simple enough.
However, the practical problems of such a society (if you stop and think about it) are also really at bottom spiritual problems of human will, wisdom, insight, organization, and so forth. "Practical problems" of government are not like technologically difficult or impossible things which we either cannot do or do not know how to do like human flight, which we are obviously not capable of without assistance, or turning water into gasoline, which may be technologically possible in the future but not now. No, primarily problems of just or good government though humanly doable are practically difficult, but certainly not humanly impossible, as we normally think of that term. One might even say practical problems of good government (especially the wisdom aspects of things) are problems of what could be called applied spirituality, or that is, we need wisdom practically speaking added to our good intentions, if and when we all have the will to so act, for a good, just, and righteous Republic, etc. In short, one needs the spirituality of the will of a heart to do good, or to have good faith or moral integrity or non-corrupt citizenship, etc., and then one needs the practical or, in essence, the applied wisdom of that spirituality, to work out the actual details with wise and just voting, legislation, and social policy, and so forth in order to have a peaceful, just, and prosperous society, and whole world for that matter.
There are really two different questions here for today on the Millennial Era. . .
Really, there are two different questions to be asked about an era of just, and peaceful, and prosperous societies, and of Good government. One is, Will this long and much prophesied era or age ever occur in history? And, two, if so, What will be the details and characteristics of its nature, both spiritually and practically? The answer to the first question is, of course, "yes!". That is the whole point of our doing this long, very long Bible prophecy series, and indeed it is the very point of the Bible itself and of the entire cosmology or story of the Bible from the creation to the fall, to the flood, to Abraham, the father of Covenant faith, to Moses, even to David and the Prophets and the Apostles, to the 2000 year Church Age, to our present time and to our current New Millennium.
Really all that Bible prophecy says, in effect, is "Yes, this longed-for era is going to happen because there is a Creator, Covenant-making God Who is Sovereign in History and sent His Redeeming Son, and so forth, and so therefore, there will eventually be the actual time or era in history of peace on earth and good, just and righteous governments, etc." So, the answer is "yes" to the first question, or at least that is pretty much the sum of Bible prophecy on this matter (which is what we are doing here of course in this series in particular). In fact, without being a wise guy, one can say this is about all there is to almost all Bible prophecy? That is, the old "yes" or "yes, we win" answer, and that's about it? Certainly this answer is a little anti-climatic for some, though no doubt glorious and of much importance, if this era is indeed upon us?!
The second question is much more interesting, and that question is, IF this "1000 year" era or age occurs, which prophecy has said "yes" to in our first question, WHAT will this age look like, spiritually and practically? Again, in a nutshell, (and, again, without being a wise guy) it will look like or be a time of free societies based on truth, justice, and righteousness. Not too complicated? Still, it is almost inevitable in doing this sort of thing that we ask, What are the details and especially what are the practical political aspects and realities to all of this, and of course this is where it all gets complicated. However, there is a sense in which it does not get complicated, and there is a sense in which it does, and this is where we do not always think about such an era very clearly, and we tend to go astray and fall back into city-of-man thinking, as it were.
The Problem with "the details" . . Everyone likes "the politics thing." Right?
In doing prophecy analysis (in general) we can seemingly never get enough of all the sensational and cataclysmic prophecies and stories in the Bible. But in doing the practical aspects of the good or just society, the problem is mostly everyone likes or focuses on "the politics thing," right? In fact, "the world" seems to obsess on "the politics thing" generally. But why? I think maybe it is because for "the world" politics are about power and fame, and these days often even sex and money, no less. But THE real issue of politics is not power or might, etc., it is justice and righteousness (in wisdom, is it not?), and so long as we think the primary (or foundational) issue of politics is might or power or mere self-interest, politics will tend to be corrupt, and further will tend not to accomplish justice and righteousness with wisdom. In fact understanding politics primarily in terms of might and power and self-interest is inherently (almost by definition) something of a city-of-man approach to this matter, is it not?
Look at it this way: elected representatives are not primarily "caretakers" of the people or "advocates" of "my" interests or some group's interest etc. as is too often thought today (that tends to create nothing more than corruption and demagoguery?), but rather elected representatives are "caretakers" or "advocates" (if we must use such terms) in scared trust of good, just, and righteous government? Right? So, let us not lose focus and go astray with "the world," as it were. Jesus had it right, I think. The Kingdom of God, as such, is a spiritual thing, but the practical City on a Hill (what we are calling here the City of God) is an applied spirituality of will with the wisdom to do right. In truth, modern humanistic man notwithstanding, we are definitely "spiritual" creatures of a sort with a soul (that is, we have minds, desires, wills, emotions, and so forth), but we are definitely in physical bodies, I think. (Last time I checked I was in one!) But, still at heart, at bottom, at the core, life is "spiritual," clearly, both personally and socially. And, again, we live practically (with our actions) as well as spiritually (with our being) in one of two "cities" or "kingdoms," do we not? Yes, we do. . . either The City of Man, or The City of God, etc., and hence, the question is how do the larger society and culture as well as government and politics (and similar things) tend to fall out into one or the other of these two different cities?
The Will to Good versus the Will to Power
I do believe it was Nietzsche who wrote a very popular book with the Nazis called The Will to Power. I've never slugged my way through the whole thing, hardly parts of it, but what a wonderful title! Why? Because "the will to power" is definitionally reflective of the City of Man (and even the path to human depravity, is it not?). Given the general humanistic philosophical direction of Nietzsche's writings, it could no doubt just as easily have been called The Will to Self, of course. Again, why? We all live in or exist spiritually in one of two cities. The will to power, the will to self is one "city." And the will to God, the will to true Good and Right is the other "city," and these two cities or modes of existence, have opposite, even opposing, spiritual foundations, right? Namely, there are two general wills or spirits or hearts: one to God and His will and righteousness, and one to self or my group uber alles (over all etc.). Right? Everybody on board here?
And this is all true whether we speak of the structure of our own lives built on one of these two foundations, or whether it is the structure of our government, culture, and society generally. And we here are discussing the nature of such a society and the will and wisdom to such a society in the so-called "City of God," and how it is discussed in the Bible (in particular) in so-called "Millennial Era" prophecy, right? In truth, as Jesus and Solomon were at pains to explain to us, building the house of one's life or society on the sands of humanism and moral relativism is foolish, and such structures, lives, or societies will not stand over time, they will not "work" and bear "good (long-term) fruit." In fact they are inherently unstable. So, Solomon writes a book of Proverbs so young men (and young women) can get all of this down (wisely) for their lives! And Jesus delivers his keynote address called the Sermon on the Mount about the ultimately spiritual nature of life and the Kingdom of God, also so we can get all of this down (wisely) and not build a foolish house on sand with our lives individually and our societies collectively, as it were. Simple enough? (And it is definitely a good thing both of these teachings have not been banned from all the schools over the last 40 years!)
One more time: Whether personally or socially, we need the will (or heart or spirit or character) to do good (to have integrity, righteousness, etc.), and we need the wisdom to do good and to do rightly, justly, or even love mercy etc. (as Micah says). AND, believe it or not (unless you are Isaac Newton) things like a good will or heart, moral integrity, wisdom, etc. do not tend to fall off a tree and hit us on the head, no? We must seek them diligently, whether one speaks in terms of theology and Bible prophecy or in terms of more naturalistic philosophy, but, in fact, Christian theology and true naturalistic wisdom are very interrelated. . .
Christian Salvation, a new Heart, and more. . .
Christian salvation is really about getting a new heart, a good heart, a heart which loves the things of God, the truth, the goodness, and the righteousness of God. Right? This is from a Christian point of view a spiritual reality and transformation, which literally takes place within us when we enter the New Covenant, and it is famously prophesied by both Jeremiah and Ezekiel in the Old Testament when God says through them (to paraphrase), "I will make a new covenant with you and give you a new heart of flesh for your heart of stone," (and God even says He will put a "new spirit" within us). Christians have always identified this transformation of heart and this new covenant with the New Covenant of the Cross and the spiritual transformation of that Covenant and with our being made new creatures in Christ of Romans 5 (for the old man we were in Adam, and so forth). This is to say fallen man is given a new nature for his prone to be naturally selfish nature, which means, in essence, man is given a new heart which is sensitive to and desires the things of God. . . and, of course, desires our good old friends truth, justice, and righteousness! But this is not simply all a Biblical truth and understanding of things. . .
Also in Common Natural Understanding it is said. . .
In common parlance when we say "have a heart" we mean have compassion, or loving kindness, etc. Or, when we speak of "man's inhumanity to man" we mean his cruelty or absence of human kindness or lack of proper association or identification with his fellow man as human beings, no? You, my dear readers, must be thinking, "Gee, man, why don't you tell us something new?" The answer is because there isn't anything new! The meaning to life is mostly, as already said, right in front of us. Being inhumane is not simply having no compassion or pity but overtly, almost by definition, a violation of the Golden Rule or, that is, being inhumane is not treating others as we would like them to treat us, etc. And the Golden Rule, as Jesus and Paul say, is the fundamental basis for the entire moral law. Right? (As 'just deserts' is for justice?)
"You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."
It was C S Lewis who said "the long way around is the shortest way home" for the good society (which is, of course, our topic for today), and this means we must first get everybody on board personally with a heart for Good or with the goal of the Good Society (with this right will, human heart, good faith, etc.) and then we can move to accomplish the Good society with wisdom, as a larger goal, practically speaking. You might say that it is difficult if not impossible to apply the good, the just, the right, the true, etc. with wisdom to government, business, family, art, literature, culture, law, entertainment, education, journalism, or much of anything else, unless one thinks that is the point of one's own life and of life generally. And, further, rather obviously, one must truly seek these things (that is, the application of the good, the right, the true to all aspects of society) as a condition of finding them, no? Or, as God says of Himself in Jeremiah, "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." And, of course, this is not just talking about God Himself, or even an experience of God, but God's truth, justice, goodness, mercy, righteousness, holiness, and loving kindness, etc., and in a word, for our purposes here, this is ultimately the way to "wisdom" or the wise application of noble principles and ideals to our own lives and to society generally, including government. . .
Solomon says, "Wisdom has built her House. . . "
Solomon says (more or less), "Wisdom builds her House and it has seven Pillars." And, interestingly, there are said to be seven "spirits" of God or spiritual aspects to God, etc. (as in Isaiah and Revelation?). But, regardless, the point is we will find the wisdom to build our "house," not just personally, but practically as it applies to good government and the culture and society generally when we seek it (that is, wisdom) with our whole heart, and not until then? And this is the entire theme almost of the book of Proverbs, is it not? Along with the overarching theme of Solomon that "the fear of the Lord" is "the beginning of wisdom" (the very thing we are looking for), and as the Bible says elsewhere, God is a rewarder of those who believe that He not only exists, but that diligently seek Him! Seeking God or wisdom is not a casual or self-centered activity, rather it is a love of truth, and good, and right. Solomon says we must seek wisdom as we would seek or mine for silver. Further foolish, unwise actions do not "work" and do not lead to a good, happy, truly fulfilled, and prosperous life. ("The unexamined life is not worth living," Socrates says.) This is not complicated? However, in addition to the philosophical, practical, and applied Nature of Wisdom, there is (Biblically speaking) a conscious Supreme Being Sovereign God of history Who brings all things in history and all people into righteous Judgment, both now in the present to a degree, and ultimately in a final accounting? (And only "the fool" does not know this also?)
In any case, the 1000 year time or era of wise and good government is the time when true or real Truth, Justice, Good, and Righteousness, etc., serve as the foundations for government and indeed the entire society and culture (by the practically applied will of the people) so that the Good, the Right, the True are applied practically with wisdom to all areas of our lives, society, culture, government, etc. because this is where our hearts (or wills) are, right? (Maybe?) And this is said to be the time when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord (and His goodness, truth, justice, righteousness, etc.) as the waters cover the sea," and when "God pours out His Spirit on all flesh" or, that is, when all people have this spirit, will, or heart to the Good. . . of God. Is there another "Good"? (Not really?) And none of this pure heart matter to "the Good" of God is really very "complicated"?
But what is the point of "wisdom"? The philosophical nature of Wisdom. . .
A better life, a truly fulfilled life, knowing really or practically what is good, right, and true is not simply a heart for God and good and so forth, but rather being able to make the most of one's circumstances and one's life generally in the best manner possible. Again, wisdom is an applied spirituality, as it were. This is "wisdom," is it not? And what is the opposite of wisdom? It is foolishness; it is thinking that nothing really matters. It is not simply not having wisdom, it is thinking the question of wisdom, the seeking of the good, the right, the true and fulfilling life is not important! Foolishness is not simply "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die," but it is the entire post-modern, ultimately meaningless and decadent life, lifestyle, and culture. And this is in fact the so-called "culture war" in America today, practically speaking, my good friends. What is THE question of the so-called "culture war"? It is, Does life have (moral) meaning, purpose, and value, or does it not? This is a pretty straightforward question, is it not?
If you think life does not have real or ultimate (moral) meaning, purpose and value, and that everything is equally good or right, or that we cannot really say what is good, right, and true, then, you are on one side in the culture war. And if you think there is a good and worthwhile and meaningful life or existence to be had, something to be "wise" about (if you will), then you are on the other side in the culture war. In this "war" the liberal or so-called "moderate" is not postmodern, nor simply self-based selfish, but rather he has one foot in one camp and one foot in the other. He is not a traditional moral theist, believing in the absolute truth of the moral law, nor does he believe in the atoning work of Christ, nor the Judgment, but equally he does not want to embrace outright humanism, hedonism, and postmodernism, and further he does not want to accept the logical and practical decadent results or consequences of a limited moral relativism or of partly rejecting the literal historical God of the Bible, but these two things (moral relativity and no literal God of the Bible) lead ultimately and inevitably to no moral truth at all as the postmodernist correctly says and to the reality of "if there is no real God of the Bible" then "everything is permissible," or ultimately meaningless. To correct ourselves, one might say, the liberal or so-called "moderate" has no foot in either camp, rather he has suspended judgment or commitment thinking he can avoid coming down in either camp at all (at least before he dies, presumably). But of course not to accept God or seek wisdom is to reject God, and, quite simply for our purposes here, it is not to seek wisdom!
To my knowledge being a liberal on the Good, the Right and True (or "the moral" as it is called) did not exist prior to the late modern era. The naturalistic "God" which came out of the pagan Greco-Roman world and was incorporated by the early Christians into their theology was established by just the reverse argument or process, as we usually think of these matters. The pagan ancients realized if there is "an ultimate Good, Right, and True," which there must be if there is any real truth, meaning or good to life, then this is "God" (philosophically speaking), and this for the ancient Greeks and Romans all tied into moral excellence and virtue and true human good, meaning, and fulfillment, etc., and this was all called "wisdom," and the study of it was called "philosophy." And, the moral of the story of life? Don't be an immoral idiot? Stop and think, please! What is the point of wisdom? To do good, to do life better, to have a good life, to have a truly fulfilled and satisfying life, and to have a life which does not use others (wrongly, immorally, etc.) for our own pleasure or gain, etc., and we definitely want wisdom so we do not have foolish and destructive lives. (Right?) And of course this is true of societies as well. . .
No Wisdom? No tomorrow? No morally Good life? No Just Republic?
Here are 4 questions but they are all one and the same! No Wisdom? No tomorrow? No morally Good life? No Just Republic? Naturalistically speaking they are all the same question, are they not? If you live like there is no tomorrow? Surely you are a fool, and have no wisdom? You certainly, ultimately, are an atheist, and you believe in no real Meaning and Truth and Good, (and of course no beginning of things and no final end of things in a Judgment). The moral, just, etc. is the wise goal of the Good life, and of the Just Republic, right? The problem or foolishness with the unjust Republic (in its collectivist city of man mode) is that the goal is not to worship God in the Good (the Right, the Truth, etc.) but to worship the group, as a supposed solution to radical selfish individualism, recall our French and Russian Revolutions, but this solution is a faulty, misguided one generally tending toward some sort of egalitarianism which is, of course, the very opposite of true Justice. (If there is anything "Justice" is not, it is not "egalitarian"? But we digress.)
The point here is the City of Man tends to go astray in two ways: with will (to self or one's particular group, and no heart to God, Good, Truth, Righteousness etc.) or with faulty man-centered wisdom. You might say the city of man is inevitably stuck in the two extremes of radical (amoral, unrestrained) individualism on the one hand or egalitarian (unwise, misguided and unjust) collectivism on the other. The solution of course is not really an attempted "healthy balance" of these two unhealthy humanistic extremes (as we have been saying on this website for years) but rather the solution to the problems of the City of Man is a healthy or wise concept of the good, just, and righteous Republic! Oh me! Oh my! It is the City of God, or, that is, the society based on true, real or valid concepts of good, truth and right, wisely applied no less. The righteous, good or healthy society or body politic respects the rights and roles of each and every individual without making a god out of the autonomous independent individual and without making a god of the group. (These are probably the two major mistakes of the city of man in its humanism going astray with will and misguided wisdom?)
Think of it this way? The good (or wise or virtuous or moral) life, the good society as well as the just Republic are kind of a package deal, are they not? And you kind of figure these things out as the point of life whether personally, professionally, politically or profoundly as the existential meaning of life, or you don't? In any case, separately or as a package deal the Good, the Right, the True etc. are the wise foundation to one's own personal life and to one's role or business or service in the society, and also these ideals are the larger point and goal of the society itself, whether in good, just and wise legislation or the wider culture, entertainment, education, law, and so forth which so define a society, culture, age, and people.
Mr. Lewis, please . . .
When C. S. Lewis wrote Mere Christianity or at least prepared that series of radio talks around the time of World War II, he began by saying (we paraphrase), "Look, folks, there is a Natural moral Law of God (sounds familiar?), and we come short of it. If we accept Christ's atoning death, we are made right with God and enter spiritually into new life with God." And he ends that book by saying our new being is as anointed "little Christs." Or classically put, the Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God, or have such new being, etc. And in the middle of the book he talks about the fact that we may have naturalistic experiences of God, even quite valid ones, but they are not the New Covenant rebirth experience and reality, as such, which is, of course, the point of the Christian faith, this new heart to God, this heart of flesh and not of stone, this heart to the truly Good, Right, and True of God, etc.
Nothing complicated here, folks. Very basic. Still, having established these basics, Lewis in the middle of his Mere Christianity asks the question, What would a Christian society look like if we were to have one or seek one? That is, a society with the will to this good or the Good, Truth, Righteousness, Justice, and Mercy of God? My goodness gracious! That is the very question we are looking at here! What are the practical (applied spiritual) aspects of a City of God or of righteous government if we have the will and wisdom to seek it?! (Well, go get Mere Christianity, and read it, and then we can all go home, again! Just joking. . . sort of.)
What's the Point? Lewis and Paul on Natural Conscience
Lewis begins his treatise Mere Christianity, if we may take the liberty to call it a treatise, as we just said by saying that there is a moral law whether we understand it naturalistically (or through God's 10 Commandment revelation) which we fall short of, and that is our problem with God or why we are separated from Him and what Christ came to restore both in the spiritual condition of our hearts and in justified or reconciled relationship to God. But Lewis also says something else which is very interesting as he begins that book. He says if you cannot see that there is such a (natural) moral law and that it is Good, True, and Right, THEN he (Mr. Lewis) has nothing to say to you (about Christianity), and he might also have said (but doesn't), "and neither does God!" Why is this? If you cannot see that killing, stealing, lying, adultery, promiscuity, homosexuality, coveting, etc., are "wrong," then you have a very serious "problem," shall we say? (And you have nothing to be reconciled to God about!) Paul calls this a totally debased, depraved, or reprobate mind (depending on your Bible translation), or a seared (natural) conscience. (We today sometimes call it being humanistic or pc or postmodern, etc.) The point is for Paul as well as Mr. Lewis when you are in such a depraved condition, you are (for most all intents and purposes) beyond hope. Why? Because both Lewis and Paul appeal to people's natural conscience to get them to accept Christ's atoning sacrifice on their behalf (with a "conviction" brought by the holy Spirit, of course). Where this is all going should be fairly obvious. . .
The foolish City of Man: Come out, come out wherever you are (in it). . .
What does this all have to do with us here? The point is you are not simply beyond hope for Christian salvation in not seeing the natural moral law, you are not thinking clearly, wisely, nor even really dealing with reality, since you think you have no sin and in fact can have no sin, since morality does not even exist (supposedly), right? What this means, in effect, is you are in fact "stuck" as a condition of your existence in the City of Man, right? Why? There is no ("moral") Good, Right, and True to base your life on, right? Let alone the society! And, of course, the wisdom thing is even more irrelevant, since there is nothing to have "wisdom" about! All there is in life and to life, in the City of Man, is self and manipulating and maneuvering for personal power, pleasure, gain, glory, advantage, etc. Though he does not lay it out this way explicitly, in essence, Lewis is also saying as we are here, we need will (to the Good of God's Truth, Justice, and Righteousness) and we need wisdom (to apply our spirituality to our lives practically and socially, etc.). (And this is, more or less, Lewis's idea that the long (even longest?) way around is the shortest way home?)
However, these two things or aspects or necessities (of will and wisdom) for the City of God are not exactly Christian salvation as such, which is specifically seeing the reality that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and then accepting the atoning work of Christ for ourselves and committing to live for him, etc. Nor does Lewis say these things (of will or heart and wisdom, and will for the good society) are the same as Christianity. Rather as a Christian apologist, Lewis is saying Christianity is what we need to get the will (or heart) for good and the wisdom for the good, and for Lewis, Christian rebirth is about the only way we will get them! But that is another story for another day.
The point here is what Lewis is correctly saying is before we can set up the practical society of the so-called City of God based on the spiritual truths and principles of the spiritual Kingdom of God (whether naturalistically understood or Biblically understood), we need to get everybody on board spiritually to this ends and to this ends as good and the point of life, namely, for him being reconciled to God and knowing and seeking His good, truth, justice, love, mercy, righteousness, etc. It is then and only then that Lewis asks, What would a (wise) Christian society based on Truth, Goodness, Justice, and Righteousness look like? In truth this is to ask, philosophically or politically or practically more than theologically: What would the City of God look like? And, as we said above, this is the very question we are investigating today! Or, is it?
To Have the City of God, or not to have the City of God, that is the question?
I do not agree with some of the details of Lewis' true Christian society, I must say, but he is correct in his broad Christian principles for the society, no doubt, and he is even more correct procedurally that we must first get people on board in their personal faith in God and His truth, good, justice, righteousness, etc. and then to the ends of such a society. But for his practical details Lewis says, for example, we do not need significant civil marriage laws. Why? Because, for Lewis, marriage serves no significant social function, only a religious function! Utter nonsense, Mr. Lewis! But this particular mistake or point does not matter. We can work out the details of such a society, through free and open discussion and legislative bodies and so forth, IF we all agree on where we are trying to go, and if we have the appropriate wisdom, of course.
Further, Lewis is not giving us, or trying to give us, a blueprint of the City of God (or Christian society, etc.), rather he is speculating on the question of, If we decide as individuals to take the society in this direction, what is the society, government, economy, etc. going to look like, if we have the wisdom to apply various principles of truth, justice and righteousness to various circumstances and conditions and so forth? (Note: It was the Old Testament law which gave all the details.)
In short, Lewis is correct, the BIG decision is to commit ourselves, first and foremost, individually to God and His truth and righteousness and then to commit ourselves to the general social contract, as it were, of the Good or Just Society. Then the particulars should work out fairly easily, no? That is, in wise social and economic and political theory and in practical legislation and regulation, and so forth which is for the "good" or "justice" of all. So, you ask, "Where is this analysis all going?!" Beats me, but I can tell you a few places it is not going. We are not going back to the City of Man based on self and mere self-interest and power, and ridiculously misguided and morally relative liberal notions of truth, good, and right. We are leaving that "world" behind forever!
"The City of God" looks like, and does not look like?
Look, Lewis has a lot of fun with this stuff, and I think he personally tries to shock people, either for fun or to get them out of their complacency and foolishness. Was it not that sweet, innocent, quiet, pipe-smoking, pub-visiting Mr. Lewis who once said that the reason the "idiot" British Parliament tends to make such lousy laws is because they are "demon-possessed"? (That is, not simply "lousy laws" of course but for our purposes here "unwise laws.") I believe he was the person who said that, but of course he had, presumably, never been to America and seen "real legislative" bodies at work! (I know what you, my dear readers, are thinking, "I have read Lewis, and I never saw anything like that in his writings!" Well, I have to say to you, you did not read him very carefully, now did you?)
Now, where were we, and what were we talking about? Oh, yes, "real legislation" . . . . But of course "real legislation," is not the issue, now is it? The issue is "wise legislation," is it not? I do believe it is. And how, pray tell, do we get "wise legislation"? I am not trying to be a smart guy here, but maybe we need "wise legislators"? Just a thought (I am so smart!), and of course we need "non-corrupt legislators," which in today's world would be something of a rarity in itself? I have no personal comments for the British Parliament myself, one way or another, "demon-possessed" or not, but in truth, over a period of time, in America, anyway, we have lost a sense of social purpose to do justice or righteousness, love kindness or mercy, and to walk humbly (you must be joking) with our God. And this loss of purpose, focus, vision, etc. is not limited to our legislators or legislative bodies in America. We have tended to lose this personally in our own individual lives in order to be able to establish true justice and righteousness and so forth socially with wisdom even if we set that as our goal. And, again, obviously, we are not going to establish real truth, justice, and righteousness etc., without wisdom as well as will. Otherwise, we are just well-intentioned fools. . .but we sure do not have to worry about that!
Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, . . Legislator?
So, really if we are to do justice, righteousness, good, and so forth with wisdom, what principles do we operate from? And this is not just for laws and legislation but for all aspects of society and culture. As Socrates would ask, How is one not just a good or virtuous legislator, but how is one a good or virtuous entertainer? Or businessman? Or doctor? Or lawyer? Or educator? etc. Each of these has its own application of "good" and "virtue" to be "wisely" or "excellently" applied to the field or craft involved, right? But, by contrast, as Lewis correctly says, the City of Man (as it were) first and foremost tends to get too "political," and then we tend to think we are simply going to pass 10 or 100 good laws (or 1000 or 10,000!) and have the Good or Just Society, etc. Not so. In fact what we need to do is to start seeing all endeavors of life or occupations (political or otherwise) as pursuing a given field or role or responsibility with moral integrity of honesty, character, etc., and with virtue, excellence and wisdom, and herein is going to be the resolution of the political problems, and indeed almost all other problems in the society. You say, "How obvious"? Really?
Legislative Failure is very "Interesting" and very "Important"
Last time we discussed how unintended Court activism is dishonorable and not based on traditional, real or true notions of Good, Truth, Rights, and Justice, nor of course Constitutionally stipulated ones; indeed that is why such activism is so dishonorable (it flips off the Constitution?). We also pointed out in many ways this theoretical confusion over Justice and Rights and related notions is THE issue of our time, we said, because it so reflects the shift in our entire social consciousness of human existence in the 1960s from a traditional moral theistic worldview to a liberal morally relative one and ultimately to an overtly humanistic one (and even mandatory humanistic one). I truly do not wish to offend anyone here, but unintended Court activism based on faulty humanistic worldviews is not only not honorable, it is utter foolishness, and it is really not even very interesting, though truly it is well-intended, no doubt. In short, unintended Court activism (against any possible original intent) is extremely "important" but not very "interesting" (at least for the most part). Sorry to say. (In the long run, it is what is known technically as a "no brainer," not to offend anyone.)
The fact is, however, as we seek to understand the role and function of good government based on true principles of truth, right, good, and justice, there are also ways our legislative branch has gotten off track with clearly misguided and at times even intended (City of Man) principles which are destructive to the well-being of the society generally or the political process, as such. One might correctly say, the function of the legislative bodies of America or any Republic is to make good laws to the benefit of all, with wisdom, and so forth. This is so obvious, that it is almost a definitional point to make about legislatures, is it not? In fact it isn't, this in fact is what has been lost in the legislative branches in our society. This question is as important as the judicial ("new rights") failures, and it is more interesting, and much more complicated.
The Function of Good Legislatures, and the Good Legislator
One can, I think, even go so far as to say that the function of the legislature is THE second major issue of our time for the purposes of good, just, righteous, and wise government, and it is also something which must be addressed and corrected if we are ever to see good, traditional, Republican, moral-theistic government in America again. If the Democrats (for good or ill) have something of an exclusive monopoly on unintended Court activism and its "new rights," the particular problem of understanding the role and function of legislatures in a true Republic is lacking to a great extent in both major political parties. Although the problem is much more complicated than a single term, it can perhaps be summed up, roughly speaking, in a single term, and that is, "special interest politics." The term does not do justice to the problem, but everyone has a gut level feeling of what that term means, and that such politics are destructive to the overall well-being or general well-being of the society and body politic or, that is, what we are aiming for with good and wise laws! But it is difficult to say exactly "why" so-called "special interests" have such a negative and destructive effect. And that is because the "why" is kind of complicated, and it has a long history of problems in social, economic, and political theory and practice. The short answer is special interest politics (by their very nature) stand over and against what the good legislator is supposed to be doing: namely, seeking good and wise and just laws for the whole of the society, no?
Why are special interest politics so damaging?
It is certainly dishonorable to be corrupt or take pay-offs etc. as a legislator. This is very related to problems of character and will, but further, it is unwise simply to represent one group's interest over and above the well-being of the society as a whole, or, that is, the justice and good of the society. Why are special interest politics so damaging to "the good" of a Republic, and why are they inherently a City of Man problem? To answer these questions is a little complicated because obviously a legislator "represents" people, no? So, the question is how can "representation" go astray (besides in overt corruption)? As I recall, it was Ronald Reagan who first began to talk about this in the early 1980s, but it never got a lot of traction. In fact, I have never seen this topic discussed seriously philosophically except to defend special interest groups. However, it should be obvious by definition that special interest groups are not what we want in seeking a good, just, and righteous Republic, and in fact such a system of government is the very opposite of what we want, and in fact such a system virtually defines the City of Man. (Boys and girls, this means "not good.")
Look at it this way: What we want is wise legislation and wise social and economic policy which is to the overall benefit of everyone, right? There is a tendency to say if we just slug it out with competing advocacy groups, this will result in the best for everyone, and there is some truth to this, but this is not a foundational truth, though it can be a certain procedural one at times of course, much like so-called "just price" theory. However, good legislation generally does not work this way because one does not "split the difference" on matters of justice usually, just the opposite in fact. Further, from any given voter's point of view, obviously, there is a tendency to vote for someone who represents "you" ethnically, geographically, culturally, professionally, whatever, but such qualities should not outweigh character concerns, clearly? A crook, is a crook, is a crook. But, further, the larger point is we should vote for the person who most represents or understands or embodies what the goal of legislation is, right? What is the goal? Listen up here! This is important! The goal is good, just, and wise legislation, is it not? In essence this means we need good legislators with, yes, moral will or character, but also and equally important with wisdom, and hence, this is the proper standard to use for how one votes (not in the City of Man, of course) but in the City of Good, Just and Righteous Republics. Why? Because this is the standard of a good legislator! Of course a good legislator will seek to represent the interests of his constituents (this is not the central question) but he will seek to do so as part of the overall good of the society (this is the whole point).
"What have you done for me lately?"
Forget the philosophy here, let's put it in plain English: The person for whom the good citizen should vote (in a good, just and righteous Republic) is not really the candidate you think can get you, or your group, the most government benefits, right? That is so-called "special interest group" politics. But this problem has become so commonplace in the last 40 years that it seems "normal" to us today! I am not sure we even had serious special interest politics in America before the 1960s, but today they not only tend to define our politics, we almost cannot think of having anything else! I have done this sort of analysis over 25 years, and I can tell you many liberals and definitely most libertarians are pulling their hair out (figuratively speaking, of course) as they read this. We tend to and even expect to see candidates promise things to different groups, and the person who can get the most groups behind him (with promises) wins? This is not the way to do politics nor to set national social and economic policy for the good of the whole society. This is often associated with labor groups, of course, but it could just as easily be done by businesses seeking to avoid good or desirable environmental laws or something similar. And this is not all "theory" and "morality." It deals with economic policy, perhaps more than anything else.
For years we had tax rates in America that went to 70 or 80% it is commonly said. I have even heard 90%, but I do not know if that is true. This was not smart, nor good for the society, and certainly not good for the economy, but obviously it was done by the, in effect, special interest majority (as it were) to get other people's money for redistribution, and social programs, etc. And no doubt the majority saw this redistribution (or confiscation?) as "justice" or so-called "economic justice," and that it was being done by legislative (city of man) due process. Note, much of this city of man theoretical nonsense for "economic justice" came out of the 1960s as well, but what slowly dawned on even the left in America is excessive tax rates for the purposes of redistribution (and getting votes, of course) is not only not true justice or good, nor traditional American politics, but classical demagoguery. But more than that it was also, in fact, destructive of the overall good of the society or the so-called "commonwealth," or at least destructive of the overall good of the economy because it was tending to kill the goose (or at least make it very sick) which was laying the Golden Eggs! That is, "the goose" of the American economy. (Interestingly, it was that "shallow-thinking" Ronald Reagan who came, more than anyone, to see the destructive effects of excessive taxation, as such, was it not, apart from the issue of special interest groups, as such?)
Moral integrity and wisdom, Moral integrity and wisdom, and . . .
What are we doing here? We are looking at the possibility of a good, just and righteous Republic or what the conditions are for one, etc. Right? And it is definitely not so-called "special interest" politics, and this is not simply a matter of labor groups or business groups, as is usually held. In fact, the porn industry, the gambling industry, the homosexual rights industry, the trial lawyer industry, the abortion industry, etc., are said to run many legislatures in America. I would not know myself, but none of these would be associated with traditional "labor" or "business" interests as we usually think of them (is the point here). Or, more classically, (there are many aspects to this) the ultimate special interest politics, going back to ancient Athens no less, is probably an appeal to individuals' interests against the good of the society in a traditional and shameless demagoguery of, say, "A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage," or whatever ("rich" against "poor," and all that business). This was considered unusual and outrageous (let alone "City of Man") when it first appeared on the scene in the 1930s, but since the 1960s it is somewhat commonplace? And it is definitely not "theoretical." Such politicians should be run out of town on a rail, and not elected to our highest offices, which is what we usually do with them today?
In any case, what is the point? Moral integrity and wisdom, moral integrity and wisdom, and moral integrity and wisdom . . that is what makes for a good legislator or a good anything else for that matter. Or as the ancient Greeks and Romans would say, life is all a matter of "moral virtue and wisdom" or "virtue and excellence and wisdom," but the idea is equally clear whether in modern language, Biblical language or classical philosophical language. And it is also equally clear what the standards or criteria should be for our votes in a true Republic, beyond simply who represents our "interests." This is a polis wisdom or applied spirituality politically of what we hold to be foundationally important and necessary etc. for the good society and true justice and righteousness, etc. But in truth we should use this same heart or will to good and wise actions in the culture and society and our lives generally. . .for true fulfillment in truth, good, justice, righteousness, etc. That is the whole point of life (or the truly fulfilled life, is it not?) and of the good society generally and of good government in particular, no? And in fact we need everybody on board on the same (heart/ will/ character) page, and going in the same (wise/ just/ good) direction to these ends, no? "But what in the world does this all have to do with Bible Prophecy and the Millennial Era?" Well, I am glad you asked because this Bible Prophecy Series is now over!
Malachi, Bible Prophecy, and The End of this Prophecy Series!
The whole question of this entire Bible Prophecy Series, and certainly this City of God writing is nothing more, nothing less, than What did Malachi say? Why? Because Malachi's message is representative if not almost definitional of the entire question of all Bible Millennial Era Prophecy? There is a "Messenger" who will come and say the New Covenant is true, and whatever is not based on righteousness will not stand (his judgment), and he will condemn specifically false spirituality, sexual adulterers, liars and perjurers, fraud and dishonesty, those who exploit the poor, and deny the disenfranchised their rights, and he will condemn all those who do not live righteously and who have no fear of God. But, then, we (the people) will return to God with righteous lives (to follow all God's ordinances), and return in our giving, and in our trusting in Him generally to provide all our needs. I may be mistaken, but I think this might be what is known as the Millennial Era, and I think all Malachi is really doing is giving us, not the actual details of that Era, but the fact that it will be based on his stated foundational truths or principles of good, truth and righteousness, and that is about it? As we like to say here, "Sorry, folks, if you were looking for something more!" "But," you still ask, "what are the details of this era to be?!"
The answer is we can work out the details, if we get everybody on the same page going in the same direction with our heart and human longings for true and ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction, both socially and individually Not complicated. Again, it is all a matter of will and wisdom and wise foundations? In coming months (on this website) we will seek to do some good social and political philosophy and look at the truly interesting questions and details of, What is social justice? What is economic justice? What is the social good? What is good and true education? What is wholesome and uplifting entertainment? What is wise and truly good legislation? What is "culture," whether good or bad? ("Culture" is kind of the sum of it all?) And ultimately no doubt all of these are fascinating and important questions and ones which must be answered to the have The Good Society on earth, the City on a Hill etc. But these questions are way beyond what we are considering here, namely, Bible Prophecy! Nothing more, nothing less, and in truth we are getting into quite a bit more than that already, are we not? This is not a social and political and economic philosophy survey, study or commentary! Give me a break, please!
This Series is over! And so is "the world," the "city of man," of corruption, dishonesty, unrighteousness, and injustice! At least if Malachi is right! I must confess, I laugh again as I type. Look at it this way: "The Truth, Justice, and Righteousness of God are going to become the foundation of the lives of people and of societies and governments" according to Bible prophecy, no more, no less. And that is about all there is to this entire writing and to this entire series in a mere 20 words or so!? (You could have skipped the whole series and not missed anything?)
Bottom-line on our 2 questions for today. . .
Bottom-line on our 2 questions for today: Will there be a Millennial era? And what will it entail or look like, and what are its details, etc.? Well, to answer the second question first, the details are not important, we can and will work those out when we get everybody on the same page going the same direction to the good, just, wise, righteous and fulfilling life both personally and socially. But will this Era ever really happen? I would say "yes!" Why? BECAUSE "the Bible tells me so!" However, I personally would say (apart from the Bible and its Prophecy) this age or era will happen, BUT with one Great Caveat, and this one caveat is not in the Bible, to the best of my knowledge, so we will look at this One Great Caveat to our ever having a Millennial Era of Truth, Justice, and Righteousness on earth next time in a POSTSCRIPT to this Bible Prophecy Series. Although this POSTSCRIPT could be called "To Will and Wisdom, or not to Will and Wisdom?" it isn't. Rather, it is entitled, well, "The One Great Caveat?" to the Kingdom of God or that City on a Hill ever coming to pass on earth. . .