Friday, February 8, 2013

Idolatry as Government

The American internet web site ran an essay in 2006 by a British libertarian thinker on how the United Kingdom is governed.[1] The thesis put forward in the essay was that the resignation of the man who was at the time the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and the subsequent revelation of the immoral behaviour of one of the candidates for the leadership of the party, along with the election the leader of the Conservative Party in 2005, the general rehabilitation of the Conservatives in the media, and the destruction of the UK Independence Party, was all part of a grand conspiracy orchestrated by the “ruling class” and put into effect by the secret police. The essay sought to fit the deleterious liberal trends of recent British history into an overall conspiracy theory. In doing so it identified some obvious and baneful developments in our society. But in seeking to explain these harmful trends in terms of a grand conspiracy theory the essay has missed the real point about how Britain is governed today.

One should always be sceptical about conspiracy theories, not because conspiracies do not exist—they do, as the Bible clearly teaches. But such conspiracies are underpinned and shaped by a more basic, indeed one could even say fundamentalist, conspiracy that is religious in nature, namely a conspiracy against God and his righteousness, against his anointed, Jesus Christ, and against the social order created by the Christian world-view (Christendom): “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2:1–3).

It is this rebellion against God, originating in the sinful orientation of man’s fallen nature, that determines and shapes the conspiracies of men and nations. But it would be a completely false inference from Scripture to attribute to these conspiracies the kind of power, authority and influence that conspiracy theorists attribute to them because, as the Bible also teaches, the Christian God is a predestinating God who controls history according to his own will, and he holds such conspiracies in derision: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou are my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps. 2:4–12).

Believers should likewise hold these conspiracies in derision. God controls history and uses the evil plans and deeds of men and nations to accomplish his own will no less than the works of his Church. The Gospels themselves make this unequivocally clear in their account of the accomplishment of man’s salvation in the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But even given that rulers do conspire against God and his will for the nations, and that in his providence God uses such conspiracies to bring his own purposes to pass, we must seriously doubt the reality of grand conspiracy theories such as the one suggested by the essay in question above, even though they may be theoretically possible.

The real problem we face in Britain is not government by conspiracy, but rather government according to idolatry. After 1500 years of being pulled out of the slime by Christianity the West has rejected the faith and returned to the grand idolatry of all history—the State as God. Our modern Western world is a new Babylon, and we should expect it to engage in the politics of Babylon. The only difference is that this is a secular Babylon.

Idolatry of the State as the supreme authority (God) was the religion of the ancient world. All things were subordinated to the State, which claimed sovereignty over everything, including the cults of the national divinities. This was especially true of Rome. The function of Roman religion was political, to provide social cement and support the State, which is why the official religion of Rome continued long after people had ceased to believe a word of it. In the ancient world Pharaohs and kings were called divine and divine attributes are no longer imputed to our rulers. Because of this people today fail to understand the real nature of the modern State, i.e. that it is a religious institution that claims the rights and authority that legitimately belong to God alone. The only difference between the modern idolatrous State and the idolatrous States of the ancient world is that our modern State does not establish and promote the cults of official deities or insist on the divinity of those who have ultimate rule. It is secular; in other respects idolatry of the State is largely the same today. The only real difference in the modern world is that our gods are secular gods. But the chief God of the modern Babel/Babylon is the State. Of course there are a few secular humanists who are libertarian or anarchist in their beliefs. But libertarianism is very much a minority sport, and always has been. The dominating religion of the modern Western world is the secular humanist religion of politics, the State as God. This is the new Rome.

The contest between the early Church and Rome was a political one, not a religious one in the narrow sense. To say Jesus is Lord was primarily a political statement, and the Holy Spirit, in choosing the word ecclesia as the proper designation of God's people assembled together chose a highly political terms that had no cultic associations whatsoever. The ecclesia was a meeting of the demos—the people constituted as a body politic—for political purpose. The term is purely political. To claim that one belonged to a new ecclesia with a divine king whose law is absolute and whose rule is universal, as the early Christians did, in opposition to the Roman State, which claimed its emperor was divine and that the State was sovereign over all things, was treasonous to the Romans. The early Church was a political threat to the political order of Rome, which was of course a religious order, as all political orders are.

British society, having rejected Christianity, is of course returning to the old religion of politics that governed the world before Christ. Modern politics is secular religion. The irony is that Christians on the whole have failed to see this because they have bought into the lie that "Christianity is not political." They have also bought into the lie that "Christianity is not a religion." These two common errors have been devastating for Christian civilisation. In fact modern atheists have no more problems with religion than they have with politics, though they do not like the term "religion" (because they perceive it as referring to Christianity, Judaism or Islam); but with the concept of religion (i.e. an overarching belief system that structures the life of both the individual and the society to which he belongs) the modern secular world has no problems and is just as religious as every society ever has been. But the religion that is dominant today is the religion of secular humanism, the chief idol of which is the secular State. This is the new secular religion of politics. It is the logic of this idolatry that is now working itself out in our society and in our politics, and it is this idolatry that the above conspiracy theory of government fails to recognise.

It is not really conspiracy that is driving modern political religion but idolatry that is driving men politically, who will of course conspire to achieve their politico-religious topias, whatever their nature. The real point is the religious apostasy of the age, not the conspiracies. Conspiracy theory misses the point because it does not recognise the real issue. Our politics is being driven by idolatry of the secular State, which has usurped the role of God in our lives and society. For the modern atheist God is dead; but men cannot live without their gods and so someone or something has to replace the true God that modern men believe they can live without. The institution that has in our society, as a result of the decline of belief in God, inherited the attributes of deity, though in a secularised form, is the State. The insights of the essay on government by conspiracy mentioned above are virtually non-existent, and those who are taken in by it will miss the real point about how modern Britain is governed and what is happening in the modern world of politics in the UK and Europe. We are returning to the religion of the ancient world, but in a modern secularised form. Our modern politics is highly religious. The Church has not only failed to see this idolatry for what it is, but has become severely compromised with it. We face the return of ancient idolatry today in a secularised form. The Church faces a threat she has not seen for a long time, and has no idea how to deal with it, indeed does not even realise the nature of the threat.

The issue at point here is the fact that the logic of this idolatry will work itself out in all spheres in society, including the political. But Christians no longer believe their faith is a religion that must work itself out in all spheres of life. The faith is seen largely as a form of escapism, not as a religion that structures life, including political life. In the vacuum created by the Church's abandonment of Christianity as the true religion the modern religion of secular humanism has become dominant. This religion is atheistic, not theistic, but it is a religion nonetheless, and in modern Western society the kind of atheism that is dominant can only be described as fundamentalist in nature. Religion is inescapable. Men are religious by nature. The question is, which religion will dominate: the true religion, or a false religion? What dominates modern Britain is the false religion of secular humanism, which is a form of political idolatry. This political idolatry is the form of religion that has overwhelmingly dominated human civilisation outside of the influence of the Christian faith. The difference today is merely in the secularised—i.e. atheist—form in which this idolatry is manifesting itself.

Because the Church does not recognise the issues she does not call her members to abandon this idolatry. Therefore the Church is engaged in a severe form of syncretism. Babylon the Great is back with a vengeance, only in a secularised form, and we must do battle with it. The problem is that most of the Church's soldiers are in the wrong army. They worship in the cult of Jesus on Sundays, but Monday to Saturday they serve in the Emperor's army, send their children to his schools, engage in his politics and thoroughly abominate anyone who tries to point out the problem with this kind of compromise. If the emperors of ancient Rome had only had such an understanding and compliant Church in the first century they would have had no need to persecute the Church and would have retained control over their pagan empire with gratitude to the Church for her subservient attitude to Caesar's claim to be Lord. Fortunately, the early Church did not see it that way and Caesar had in the end to bow the knee to the true Lord, Jesus Christ.

We need to see what is happening in our society from a different perspective to the conspiracy theories of the world and analyse modern politics in terms of the idolatry of the age, to which Christianity as the true religion is the only answer. The choice before us is whether we shall engage in the politics of God or the politics of man. There is no third way. If we fail or refuse to engage in the politics of God we shall, wittingly or unwittingly, engage in the politics of man and deny our true Lord, Jesus Christ, in whom is concentrated all authority in heaven and on earth and therefore whose sovereignty encompasses all things, including how societies should function, politically and economically no less than at the level of the public religious cultus. It is the task of the Church to proclaim this lordship of Christ to the world, a task that, at least in Britain, she has abandoned because of her infatuation with the chief idol of the modern world, the secular State. In a sense the Church in Britain is engaged in a modern secular form of the hybrid Yahweh/Baal cult that vitiated the religious life of ancient Israel before the Babylonian captivity,[2]  and just as Israel was sent into exile for her unfaithfulness in playing the harlot with the Baals, so it seems the Church in Britain shall have to suffer the same consequences at the hands of our own Babylonian captivity.

Please observe that my point here is not that the British nation will be taken into captivity. Britain is already in that condition effectively, and the modern British State is thoroughly part of the new Babylon. My point is that the Church will be taken captive and effectively internally exiled by the idolatrous State in a spiritual and cultural ghetto that will leave her without influence, relevance or the freedom to preach the gospel or even practice the Christian way of life fully. The writing is already on the wall, but few seem to understand this and many more in the Church are ideologically committed, though perhaps unwittingly, to the religion of the new secular Babylon. They are engaged, therefore, in an extreme form of syncretism. If we are to overcome the modern idolatry that confronts us by means of our faith (1 Jn 5:4), as we are commanded (Mt. 18:18–20), and as the early Church overcame the idolatry that confronted her, we must deal with this syncretism and reject the idolatry that is at the heart of it. Jesus is Lord, not the State—in every sphere of life, including politics.

   1. Sean Gabb, “Mark Oaten, Rent Boys and the Secret Police: A View of How England Is Governed at the End of Its History” (, 24 January, 2016).
   2. See my book, Baal Worship Ancient and Modern (Taunton: Kuyper Foundation, 2010).

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