St. Paul, in his farewell address to the Ephesians in Acts 20, said that he had not hesitated “to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (v. 27) The “whole counsel of God”, as the ESV renders this phrase, can be summed up in two messages, the Law and the Gospel. The Gospel is the primary message, and its name means “the good news.” It cannot be understood apart from the message of the Law, which could also be called “the bad news,” not because it is bad in itself (Rom. 7:7) but because it reveals what is bad in us. For this reason it is called the “ministration of death” and of “condemnation” (2 Cor. 3: 7, 9) and all who are under it are said to be under a curse (Gal. 3:10). The Law reveals the aspect of the goodness of God that is called justice, and the perfect righteousness which God in His justice requires of us. To one degree or another, the Law has been communicated to all mankind, having been written in our consciences (Rom. 2:14-15), handed down as a moral code to national Israel in the Covenant of Mt. Sinai (Ex. 20:1-17), and taught in its highest and purest form by Jesus Christ Himself (Matt. 5-7). At whatever level we consider it however – conscience, Ten Commandments, or Sermon on the Mount – the Law is only ever bad news for us, because we are incapable of meeting its requirements of righteousness. The Law reveals us to be sinners, and therefore can only accuse and condemn us. It identifies our basic problem of sin, and reveals our basic need of righteousness but can do nothing towards solving that problem and filling that need.
It is the Gospel that meets our need. Whereas the Law is, albeit imperfectly, communicated to us naturally through our consciences, the Gospel is only to be found in the direct revelation of the inspired Holy Scriptures, where it is the main message. Theological liberals claim that the ethical teachings of Jesus – which are simply the highest and purest form of the Law - are the main message of the Christian Scriptures. In doing so they reveal that theological liberalism is not a version of Christianity but of the natural religion of mankind, of which all religions except true Christianity are forms, and which is clearly condemned in the Scriptures. Man’s natural religion is to seek acceptance with God through the Law by doing good works. True Christianity is the religion of the Gospel – the Good News that although, as the Law reveals, we as sinners are incapable of earning God’s acceptance by our works, He freely gives us His acceptance, pardoning all of our sins and declaring us to be fully righteous in His sight, out of His grace – favour that we have neither earned nor deserved – on the grounds of the completed Atonement for sin made by the Saviour Whom He has given. We receive that grace simply by believing in that Saviour as He is presented to us in the Gospel. The Saviour is God’s Only-Begotten Son, Who being true God, of one essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity, took our human nature unto Himself when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, and became true man. His name is Jesus and He is also called Christ or Messiah, meaning that He is the Anointed Redeemer-King that had been promised since the Fall of mankind. He lived a life of perfect, sinless, righteousness and then, when He was arrested, accused, and convicted of crimes that He had not committed, and condemned to die a cruel death on the cross, He took the guilt of all of the sins of the world upon Himself and voluntarily bore the punishment due those sins, fully satisfying the justice of God. In raising Jesus from the dead, God declared His satisfaction with the Atonement, His reconciliation to the sinful world, and His promise of pardon, justification, everlasting life to all who believe the Gospel of grace.
The two messages of Scripture, Law and Gospel, are both concisely summarized in one verse by the Apostle Paul: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23). Or, as Baptist evangelist John R. Rice was fond of paraphrasing it, “if you go to Hell, you pay your own way; but you go to Heaven on a free pass.”
While everyone needs the Good News of the Gospel a great many reject it. They reject the Gospel, because they refuse to accept the verdict of the Law upon themselves, that they are sinners who have earned the just condemnation of God, whose works are unacceptable, and who are therefore in need of the salvation announced and offered in the Gospel. When man refuses to accept God’s diagnosis of his basic problem as sin, he will not accept God’s solution to that problem in the Gospel of grace. He then tries to substitute alternative diagnoses and false gospels.
Everything the Left has ever proposed has been just such a false gospel. At the heart of liberalism, the political philosophy that is the source and foundation of all political leftism, is the rejection of the Law’s diagnosis of the human condition. All of the woes that have afflicted the human race throughout history, liberalism says, come not from sin inside ourselves, but from something external, some defect in our education, our form of government, our system of social organization, our method of producing and distributing wealth, etc. Having substituted these false diagnoses for the true one, liberalism has been devising political solutions to these problems for centuries, wrapping each of them up in the language of salvation. The attempt to put these false gospels into practice has been called the Left since the French Revolution – although it has been around since the Roundhead Puritans of the English Civil Wars. Each one has been a notorious failure.
Republican democratism is the oldest false gospel of the Left. Liberalism falsely diagnosed hereditary, royal, monarchy as the source of the evils of tyranny, despotism, and oppression, and proposed government by elected representatives (republicanism) and/or popular assembly (democratism) as the solution. The Puritan Roundheads, the American and French Revolutionaries, and all Communist revolutionaries have believed this false gospel and it has always failed to deliver in its promise of earthly salvation. The Cromwell Protectorate, the French Reign of Terror, and the Soviet Union and its imitators were all far more tyrannical, despotic and oppressive than the monarchies they replaced. Granted, the Americans did not turn their country into this kind of totalitarian hellhole – at least until the Presidency of Lincoln – nevertheless, the Americans have experienced a far more oppressive burden, both in terms of taxes and intrusive legislation and regulations, under their republican form of government than before their Revolution. Indeed, every Western country in which government authority has been taken out of the hands of royal monarch and placed into the hands of elected politicians has experienced this burden, whether it has officially become a republic or retained its monarch as a figurehead. History has thoroughly discredited this first false Gospel of the left. All false gospels are incompatible with the true Gospel. I am not saying that those who are not royalists are not Christians but it is a blasphemous insult to the King of Kings to attempt to demote Him to President of Presidents.
The next oldest of the Left’s false gospels are capitalism and socialism. Here a qualification is necessary. Capitalism, or economic liberalism as it is more properly called, has often been presented as a false gospel of economic salvation. This is how it appeared in the writings of Frédéric Bastiat and Richard Cobden in the nineteenth century who preached free trade as the path to world peace. It is how it appears in contemporary American neoliberals and neoconservatives who believe the American political and economic systems to be the hope of the world which should be exported to all other countries, by the force of American military might if necessary. The basic elements of economic liberalism, however – the private ownership of property and legal protection of the same, and legally protected freedom to enter into contracts and buy and sell – predate the theories of the economic liberals, indeed, are basic, common-sense facts of human existence, and are upheld by the Law of God (“thou shalt not steal”). They can be held without attaching any salvific significance to them.
Socialism, on the other hand, is ALWAYS a scheme of economic salvation. That is the sine qua non of socialism, its essential nature. Socialism starts by replacing the Law’s diagnosis of sin in the human heart as our basic problem with the idea that the unequal distribution of wealth – and therefore the private ownership of property – is the root of all our ills. It proposes salvation through either the elimination of private property or the government confiscation and redistribution of wealth. Socialism is a complete failure. Those countries unfortunate enough to fall under Communist tyranny, experienced the widespread poverty and misery that socialism, in its purest form, always produces. Western countries have discovered that the partial socialism they have implemented has left them with a choice between spending far beyond their means, crippling their economy, or doing both at once. Socialism is always a false gospel. There is no such thing as “Christian socialism” because the true Gospel cannot be combined with a false gospel. To the extent that a so-called “Christian socialist” is a Christian, he is not a socialist. To the extent that he is a socialist, he is not a Christian.
Feminism is another of the Left’s oldest false Gospels. While many people think of it as a fairly recent phenomenon it goes back to the early nineteenth century. Feminism’s one-word false diagnosis of the human condition is “patriarchy”, a term the roots of which suggest the meaning of “fatherly authority” but which feminism uses to mean a more general male dominance in politics, economics, society, culture and the family. The false gospel that it preaches is “the equality of the sexes”, although feminists often give the impression that “gynocracy” is what they are truly after. While feminism has become far more crazier over the years, to the point that today leading feminists maintain that heterosexuality is an oppressive artificial social construct, that complementing a woman on her looks constitutes “sexual harassment,” that sexual intercourse should be considered “rape” if the woman is dissatisfied and withdraws her consent ex post facto, and that women have the “right” to be believed in whatever accusations they choose to make against men regardless of whether or not there is evidence to substantiate their claims, among other lunatic notions, it has never been in touch with reality but has always been based on sheer fantasy. The implementation of feminism has required bloodshed on a Hitlerian scale (1) and the same adjective might be applied to feminism’s suppression of dissent in academia, government, and most workplaces. While the church has been plagued for decades with “Christian feminists” who oppose the Scriptural doctrine of the headship of the husband/father, who demand the ordination of female clergy against the clear Apostolic teaching, who have mutilated and bowdlerized hymn books, liturgy, and even translations of the Scriptures, with “gender neutral language”, and who in the most extreme cases wish to replace the triune God of Christianity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) with some pagan deity they address as Mother/Father God, what was true of “Christian socialism” is also true of “Christian feminism” – to the extent it is the one, it is not the other.
The false gospel of tolerance has been the leading false gospel of the Left since the Second World War. In most Western countries it has assumed the status of an unofficial state religion, and comes with its own redemption story, one which people are not allowed to openly question without severe legal repercussions. Originally, racism was its false diagnosis of the human condition, but it has since been expanded to include other forms of “intolerance” such as “sexism”, “homophobia” and more recently “transphobia.” Needless to say, “tolerance” is the proposed solution. Both “tolerance” and “intolerance” as they are used by the Left, do not correspond very well to their dictionary meanings. “Intolerance” seems to include any negative attitude towards people who differ from you in any discernable way – with the exception of negative attitudes towards white, Christian, heterosexual, males. “Tolerance” has no relationship to its Latin root, which means “to bear or endure” and thus necessarily implies a negative attitude towards its object. At its most benign it seems to mean little more than “be nice to each other, children.” More often, however, it means, “you’re not allowed to think or say that” and resembles the thought control found in Communist countries and the novels of George Orwell and Arthur Koestler.
There is one final false gospel that we will look at. Several decades ago the modern environmentalist movement was born as a synthesis of neo-pagan, pantheistic, nature-worship, feminism and Marxism disguised beneath a thin veneer of ecological science. At its best it promoted things that only a moron would find fault with – such as clean air and water and the preservation of plants, wildlife, and natural beauty. At its worst it called for depopulation through birth control, abortion, state-imposed limits on family size, euthanasia, and suicide. In the late 1970s it began to develop its own apocalyptic, end-of-the-world, doomsday scenario. In this scenario, civilization and life as we know it is on the brink of imminent destruction due to “global warming” or “climate change.” The diagnosis? Mankind’s industrial consumption of fossil fuels over the last two centuries has caused the problem by releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The gospel of salvation? The nations of the world need to agree to reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions.
This entire concept of anthropogenic climate change can be summed up in one word: bunk. It does not matter how many ex-American presidents, Hollywood movie stars, or Japanese-Canadian celebrity zoologists promote the idea. It does not require a Ph.D in climatology to understand that if the industrial emissions of greenhouse gasses is responsible for impending disastrous climate change then nothing short of a total return to some sort of pre-industrial society could possibly help. Therefore the climate change treaties, which propose reductions of carbon emissions – not their elimination – accomplish nothing more than allowing the politicians who waste tons of fuel flying around the world to have their picture taken signing these accords to feel good about themselves and to send the message to their voters that they are on top of the “problem.” Of course the entire theory is nonsense. The climate did not start changing in the twentieth century or with the dawn of industrialism but has been changing for all of human history. Other factors have had far greater, more demonstrable, and more immediate effects on global climate than human activity such as the volcanic winters brought about by the nineteenth century eruptions of Mt. Tambora and Krakatoa. Whether the current eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea will have a similar effect remains to be seen. The effects of Justin Trudeau’s self-righteous climate posturing – of which his arrogant carbon tax, his grants to anti-pipeline protesters are but two examples – are already being felt on our country, however, as the Canadians who can least afford it are being forced to pay the price of the former at the gas pumps, and unemployed Canadians are paying the price of the latter.
Political schemes of salvation are counterfeit gospels, of course, regardless of where they are found, Left or Right. Certain movements on the secular Right have demonstrated the same tendency to look upon their political agenda as a plan of salvation as the Left. It is the fundamental nature of the Left, however, to blame man’s problems on everything except the sin in his heart, and to look to politics as the means of salvation. The true Right, the Right of the old Tories, sees politics differently. The Tory Right accepts the doctrine of Original Sin, and that mankind is incapable of regaining Paradise through his own efforts. It sees civil government as being ordained for the ministry of the Law in its use as a curb to restrain evil. (2) The ministry of the Gospel, in Word and Sacrament, belongs to the Church. Government and the Church, with their respective ministries, are neither to be separate nor confused. In liberalism, with its schemes of secular, political, salvation they are both.
(1) William Brennan, The Abortion Holocaust: Today’s Final Solution, (St. Louis: Landmark Press, 1983). The comparison has only become more valid over the last thirty-five years.
(2) In orthodox Protestant theology the Law has three uses – the curb, mirror, and guide. These are also called the first, second, and third uses of the Law but the order is different in Lutheran and Reformed theology. In Lutheran theology the order is as above, in Reformed theology it goes mirror, curb, guide.
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