From a Christian presupposition then, the law cannot change or reform man; this is a spiritual matter.
- Stephen McDowell
(Editor's note: this is part 2 of a 3 part blog series)
A War of Worldviews
A Humanistic View of Law: the Reason the Leftists Rage
Comparing the Christian and humanistic philosophies of law reveals why the left has such apoplectic rage at having lost power and why they are willing to do anything to regain it, while conservatives accept liberals ruling with relative calm.
Law, from a Christian perspective and as the Founders of America viewed it, originates in the will of God, revealed in general to man through nature and his conscience, and more specifically in the revelation of the Scriptures. Law from a humanistic view is rooted in man, ultimately autonomous man, but practically in the state, and in the consensus of the majority, or of a powerful minority.
From a biblical perspective man is fallen and fallible, has a sinful nature, and thus needs to be restrained. The biblical purpose of civil law is to restrain the evil action of men in society. True law reveals what is right and wrong, and hence, exposes law-breakers. But law in itself cannot produce what is right, nor can it change the heart or attitude of man; therefore, the Christian acknowledges the inability to legislate “good,” or to make people moral by passing laws. However, the Christian recognizes the moral basis of all laws. All laws everywhere are based upon the moral presuppositions of the law-makers. Laws against murder reflect a moral belief. Laws against theft are based upon the command to not steal. All law has a moral concern. The important question to the Christian is “whose morality does it legislate?”
From a Christian presupposition then, the law cannot change or reform man; this is a spiritual matter. Man can only be changed by the grace of God. He cannot be legislated into a new morality.
Humanists see the evils in society and in man, but explain them differently than Christians. To the humanist there is no higher being than man. There is no incarnate Savior. From a humanistic perspective there is no hope of internal regeneration to save man, therefore, any salvation or transformation that occurs in men or nations must come from man. Historically, humanistic man has tended to use the instrument of law and government to attempt to bring such a transformation or “salvation.”
Having no other means of provision, of salvation, or of peace, humanistic man attempts to regulate and provide all things through government and law. It is only through the force of law that evil will be eliminated and utopia established on earth. Humanistic law is used to promote and advance humanistic morals. Such law, in conjunction with a corresponding educational system, is the only hope humanistic man has of establishing a “saved” or “righteous” — that is, good and progressing — society.
To restate this, if there is no God who redeems man internally, then any elimination of problems brought on by what is in the heart of man must be done by man — often collective man and his government. The attempt will thus be made by government (at least those that have a vision for a progressing society) to use the instrument of law to bring more peace and goodwill among men and to eliminate all that is negative, such as poverty, crime, war, disease, prejudice, and ignorance. People with this worldview will also often look to government to provide their own personal material needs, and they usually vote for those who promise them the most. Therefore, it is not surprising that in the last election (as well as all recent elections) the vast majority of people receiving food stamps, public housing, medicaid, disability, Obamacare subsidies, and various welfare benefits voted for liberal Democrats, who promised to continue and/or expand such programs.[i]
From a Christian perspective, law can restrain sinful man from acting evilly, for the fear of punishment is a deterrent, but he cannot be changed by law. Unless the evil heart of man is changed, there will be no advancement toward a better society. Humanistic law seeks to save and change man internally. Since the government (and laws issued thereby) is the instrument for such change, the government becomes the savior in a humanistic society. Therefore, the humanist tends to see law (and the state from which it comes) as savior. This might not be overtly proclaimed, but is demonstrated by actions. Certainly man is the highest authority and the source of law in a humanistic society, and hence he is the god of that society, for the source of law of a society is the god of a society — and man will look to his god to assist him, to provide for him, and to save him.
Understanding the two views of law and government presented above reveals why the leftists are much more outspoken than conservatives about loss of power. Leftists will be much more radical and even militant in their opposition to conservatives governing than conservatives would be in the opposite position, because to leftists, government is their “church” and is a primary place where they can execute their god’s (that is, man’s) vision for life. To them, government is the place to advance man’s kingdom in the earth. Government is their highest source of authority, their highest place to appeal. They have no higher power or savior to trust in – no belief in a sovereign God who works in the hearts of men and events in history. To them, no savior exists outside of man; therefore, they think, “we must save ourselves,” and to do so, they must control the places of power and influence in the nation. Many are sincere in their beliefs and convictions, but they have a wrong view of what is good and how to bring about their vision of utopia on earth.
Conservatives only want to get control of government to slow it down, to keep government from trampling upon the unalienable rights of man. Christian conservatives have God as the highest source of power to which they can appeal. They have a savior Jesus Christ who brings positive transformation by first changing the heart of man, and then changing his mind as he studies His precepts in the Bible.
(Editor's note: the final part of this blog series will be posted soon)