The Secularization of the Christian Mind

3 Sep

An original goal among the secular social reformers of education was not only to provide public education (uniformity of method) but also secular education (uniformity of secular thought).  That is, they sought to capture the minds of the public school classroom to see to it that the next generation only thinks, explains, analyzes, critiques, understands using secular or naturalistic categories.  Most secular reformers were perfectly content to leave God on the walls of public school classrooms (10 commandments) so long as He was no longer the foundation of the public school classroom (the standard and foundation for knowledge).  I’ve noticed this among students today, even Christian students.  They are thoroughly socialized and secularized to explain all things in the world by interpreting them through purely secular or naturalistic grid.  This is what Nietzsche meant by God is Dead.  Not that no one believes in Him, but that modern man no longer uses Him (revelation) to make the world intelligible any more.

Consider Political Theory.  If you ask students where government gets its power or where government comes from, you will see the evidence of secularization even among the Christians. If they provide any answer at all it will likely be a secular theory of government, not a Christian one.

Theologian Robert Lewis Dabney in presenting the Christian view of human government could not be accused of being unfamiliar with the secular view.

Dabney on the Civil Magistrate:

According to Enlightenment philosophers, “one traces [the powers of the civil magistrate] to a supposed social contract. Men are to be at first apprehended, they say, as insulated individuals, separate human integers, all naturally equal, and each by nature absolutely free, having a natural liberty to exercise his whole will, as a “Lord of Creation.” But the experience of the exposure, inconveniences, and mutual violences of so many independent wills, led them, in time, to be willing to surrender a part of their independence, in order to secure the enjoyment of the rest of their rights. To do this, they are supposed to have conferred, and to have entered into a compact with each other, binding themselves to each other to submit to certain rules and restraints upon their natural rights, and to obey certain ones selected to rule, in order that the power thus delegated to their hands might be used for the protection of the remaining rights of all. Subsequent citizens have given an assent, express or implied, to this compact. The terms of it form the organic law, or constitution of the commonwealth. And the reason why men are bound to obey the legitimate commands of the magistrate is, that they have thus bargained with their fellow-citizens to obey, for the sake of mutual benefits…
The other theory may be called the Christian. It traces civil government to the will and providence of God, who, from the first, created man with social instincts and placed him under social relations (when men were few, the patriarchical, as they increased, the commonwealth). It teaches that some form of social government is as original as man himself. If asked, whence the obligation to obey the civil magistrate, it answers: from the will of God, which is the great source of all obligation. The fact that such obedience is greatly promotive of human convenience, well-being and order, confirms and illustrates the obligation, but did not originate it. Hence, civil government is an ordinance of God; magistrates rule by His providence and by His command, and are His agents and ministers. Obedience to them, in the Lord, is a religious duty, and rebellion against them is not only injustice to our fellow-men, but disobedience to God. This is the theory plainly asserted by Paul in Roman 13, 1 Peter 2…. [However] while we emphatically ascribe the fact of civil government and obligation to obey it, to the will of God, we also assert that in the secondary sense, the government is, potentially, the people. The original source of power, the authority and the obligation to obey it, is God, the human source is not an irresponsible Ruler, but the body of the ruled themselves, that is, the sovereignty, so far as it is human, resides in the people, and is held by the rulers, by delegation from them…
[The secular social contract theory] is atheistic, utterly ignoring man’s relation to his Creator, the right of that Creator to determine under what obligations man shall live; and the great Bible fact, that God has determined he shall live under civic obligations.

From his Systematic Theology (pp. 862-866)

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