Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.
The tendency toward humankind gathering itself together to oppose rule or authority reflective of God is as ageless as it is intuitive.
This intuition toward globalization or strength in numbers is clear from the Tower of Babel to the scene of Revelation 19. It is not merely a phenomenon to be played out in "the last days", it is the way of man.
Obviously, the desire in man to be a social creature or to socialize with his fellow is innate as well, nor is it in itself evil. It actually reflects something of the "imageo Dei" (the image of God) in his deepest part. God as a social Being in His essence (the Trinity is three "persons") merely reflects that social need in his pinnacle creature.
But because it is also true that man is fallen (and has a marred image-bearing capacity) so his tendency to socialize or gather together also has that quality of fallenness, hence alienation from God and toward self salvation or to be God himself. This is why globalization, not just now, in our day, but through history has been a constant bent and tendency. So it is that man seeking to be free from the rule of God has always found a home in relativistic and collectivistic societal paradigms. And because man's lust for self-salvation is without check or balance under such schemes, the ultimate end is always and ultimately totalitarianism.
And of course if globalization or socialization is to work there must be an abdication of individual rights and human liberties because there cannot be rogue elements which would tend to counteract the overwhelming movement in the direction toward this self deification.
Hence you have polarization or intolerance occurring at the same time that you have globalization or socialization. Therefore those "rogue entities" who would insist on human liberties, individual rights and the rule of God over man must be marginalized, must be put on the attack, must be silenced in any culture that is moving in a direction toward socialism or globalization.
That is ultimately what is behind the attack on our 2nd amendment rights. You cannot silence, or marginalize the "rogue element" without removing from them their ability to protect themselves from tyrannical control.
It is true, that while the left has the ascendancy in our day, it is also the case that there was a time when the "rogue element" had the prominent presence in the culture. This cultural shift, this drift toward the left, toward globalization, this polarization of our culture is merely evidence of the ongoing instability of a people that grows bored with freedom, willingly gives up it's liberty in exchange for a dubious, promised "fairness" and "security" at the cost of bowing the knee to the oppressor, removing God from the throne of the heart, and yielding to the slavery and chains of the state.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
The recent school shootings and subsequent threat to our 2nd Amendment rights is triggering a reactionary spirit on both sides of the issue. Those who fear the erosion of second Amendment rights would do well to broaden the scope of their thoughts to the larger concept of "rights" in general, for it is not just the 2nd Amendment which is at stake, but the first, fourth, tenth, etc, etc.
When we ask the question, "what really are my rights?" we can go directly to our nation's foundational documents and get a pretty good, broad-based idea of what they are. They are written for all to see.
However, if you were born in a different culture, different country, a different time, say under the bloody tyrant, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, or modern day North Korea your discussion about "rights" would be a very different thing altogether. In a day of the ascendancy of tyranny, individual rights and liberties are more than ever subject to the whims and dictates of those in the ascendancy. We have come to such a day in our great but dying country.
So in addressing the larger subject of "rights" - their identity, source and permanence, it seems necessary to divide the subject into two major categories.
There are rights that are derived from our position as citizens of a particular generation, geography, ethnicity, nationality, and other variables which all play into the identification and exercise of rights. These "derived" or secondary rights are not universal, nor are they permanent. They are subject to the turnings, and upheavals of the nations and the peoples themselves. What may be considered to be a "right" one day may not be a right at all the next day. In America, the highest court of appeals from which we may demand free exercise of our rights is the Constitution of the United States.
So what about permanent, universal rights? Are there none of those? In other words, does mankind, as a race possess any universal rights that can and are exercised by all men and women, everywhere, in every generation and every culture? Are there no what we might call, "essential", "universal", or "original" rights that I can claim? Do I not have a right to life? Private property, the pursuit of happiness? The answer is no, not as part of your essential or original rights. To what court will you appeal if you are killed by disease or accident in the prime of life? When and by whom were you granted such a right? Nor do you have the right to freedom from slavery, private property, happy, healthy children, financial stability, a happy marriage, good neighbors and on and on the list goes. You are promised the right to none of this as a permanent, foundational, universal right. Some of these rights may exist in some form or another as a set of secondary, or derived rights but it depends on the nation wherein you exist, and on the current social-political climate of that nation. As Americans under a leftist ascendancy, we are realizing a fundamental erosion of our derived or secondary rights.
But as humans, regardless of place of citizenship or geopolitical situation, or generation, or culture, we do enjoy whatever universal, essential or primary rights we have, don't we? Actually the whole range of universal, essential "rights" can really be boiled down to just one actual right. It is a right pictured from Genesis to Revelation. The Apostle John puts it this way: "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," (John 1:12). We may call this one, essential, universal "right", the "right to life in God". That's what John is describing here. It is the one thing we can insist, can take to the highest court and demand that we have it - and that demand is in fact, the most basic act of faith. It is a demand that will always be honored, for He says, "He who comes to me I will in no wise, cast out."
From Genesis to Revelation, this theme is a thread that ties the narrative of God together in a beautiful and striking manner.
Beginning in the pre-fall, pristine experience of man in the Garden, he was given this right to life, this freedom to enjoy life. He was given access to the trees of the garden, and primarily to the "tree of life" which was in the midst of the garden. By partaking of this tree of life, he enjoyed the benefit of enduring life. He had the "right" to life. He partook of that which God provided, and thus enjoyed the life of God himself. Adam did not have the ability to perpetually sustain his own life, but was dependent on something outside of himself for life. That life was his right and it was his privilege.
After the fall, man was banished from the Garden and forfeited his access to the tree of life. But that didn't mean that the one essential, universal "right" itself was forfeited. The picture of man exercising his one basic right comes into sharp focus in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not only is the term "right" (gr. exousia) used in John's text quoted previously, "to those He gave the 'right' to become sons of God", but repeatedly Jesus takes up this theme urging his countrymen to "come, eat of My flesh and have life in yourselves," and "I am the Bread of life". making both points, that man is not able to sustain his own life, and also that man has an unswerving, universal, unconditional "right" to get that life directly from God. In Jesus life, we have the tree of life, and an unmitigated right to that tree.
Finally the narrative finds it's resting place in the end chapter of the bible where we read of those who have "washed their robes, so that they may have the right (gr. exousia) to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (Revelation 22:14). In this scene all of the elements come together. You have paradise restored, man exercising his one basic right, his right to life in God in the presence of God and the Lamb for unnumbered eternities.
in summary, our derived or secondary rights are to be cherished, fought for, preserved, exercised and enjoyed so long as we have them. But they are not, of themselves permanent or unwavering. Like a raging beast, the pressure of "Progressivism" which is at it's heart Marxism, which is at it's heart, Atheism, which is at its heart Statism, always needs to be beaten back in America. It has in it's crosshairs, our cherished rights, freedoms and liberties. Thank God there is one right this juggernaut can never trample - our right to the Tree of Life, who is Jesus, This, our one true right means we will never be defeated ultimately. A skirmish here, a battle there...a right preserved here, one lost there, but we cannot lose the war.
So what are our secondary or derived rights in the end? Given that they are neither permanent nor universal, we should look at them more as privileges, or even as blessings. Every day the Father of Lights showers down His blessings upon us. We simply enjoy them, cherish them as we gather them up from the path of life. One day the path may be narrow, the blessings not so richly strewn. Who are we to murmur? We have our true right that can be enjoyed under any circumstances, any outward limitations.
There was a day when our nation was very mindful, and held out great honor to the essential "right" and to the right-giver. That's how we as a nation came to enjoy such a richness of secondary, derived rights. That was a time that gave birth to the bill of "rights" and spoke of the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". And so it goes. When the essential right is neglected, we forfeit our secondary rights. But the opposite is true as well. Let's make sure we're fighting the right battle.