EPISTEMOLOGICAL SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS (2): Our Future and our Foes

12th October, 2021, by Kevin Craig (circa 1980)

As the government escalates its war on independent Christian schools, wearied soldiers of the Cross may often find themselves asking, Is it all worth it? Is there any chance that such a tattered minority can triumph over the gargantuan State and its institutions? The concept of “Epistemological Self-Consciousness,” explained in a previous article, not only shows us who the ultimate victor will be, but how we as Christians should deal with our enemy.

Matt. 13:24-29 records the parable of the Wheat and the Tares. The parable indicates that believers and unbelievers both are left in the world until they mature. Then the tares are taken out of the world, followed by the wheat. In this historical process, the wheat becomes more like wheat, and the tares more like tares. The Christian, equipped with God’s Word, sets out to exercise dominion under God, and through the Word is given power (Acts 1:8; Eph. 1:19; I Cor. 4:20; 2 Tim. 1:7; II Cor. 10:5; Rom. 16:20). The unbeliever is propelled by his own rebellion against God into a headlong dash toward death (Prov. 8:36). Fortunately, the Word of God acts to restrain his lawlessness (I Tim. 1:8-10) and he does not destroy himself. The man who acts consistent with his avowed unbelief will be a very ugly, powerless person; something like a punk rocker. Or worse.

For some unbelievers, however, the law of God does more than simply restrain lawlessness. It is used by them to become great scientists, teachers, and scholars. Even if they don’t read the Bible, they have the work of the law written on their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15). Their consciences tell them they should obey the law of God. The more they do, the better teachers they will be. They would never admit that they are following the Word of God, but they are, and God, who guides the universe by the Word of His Power (Heb. 1:3), promises that those who obey his law will be prospered in this life Deut. 8 and 28).

Gary North therefore points out that unbelievers have two choices. First, they can conform themselves to Biblical law, or at least to the work of the law written on their hearts. Or second, they can abandon God’s law, and thereby abandon power. They can succeed in whatever they do only if they do it on God’s terms: by acknowledging and conforming themselves to God’s Word. There is no other way. Remember, any turning away from the Word brings impotence, fragmentation, and despair.

This leads us to our future and our foes. If God is the source of all good gifts (Jas. 1:17), then the future belongs to those who are blessed by God, and overtaken by his gifts. According to Deut. 28 and Lev. 26, this means that only those who turn to God and His Word can expect victory and success. The maturing of the wheat and the tares does not lead to the cultural impotence or defeat of the wheat. Christians who are committed to God’s Word are in the driver’s seat. The atheist punk rock star cannot compete with the genius of a Christian like Bach. He will destroy himself while Bach goes on to glorify God in victory. The unrighteous can gain access to God’s blessings only by accepting God’s moral universe as it is, not by inventing an evolutionary fable, and imagining a universe of chaos and meaninglessness.

The future has meaning for the Christian, because it is in the future that the Christian will triumph. Proverbs 13:22 promises that “the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.” Just as Canaanites inhabited the Land and kept it from going wild so that the Hebrew children could inherit cities they did not build (Ex. 23:29-30) so the Lord allows Humanists to devise wonderful music, physics, chemistry, and even teaching methods, so that when we inherit the Promised Land, we can burn the idols and keep that which conforms to God’s Word. Cornelius Van Til describes it like this: “Sinful men will continue to produce a marvelous culture. But all of the products of their culture will be taken from them and brought into the great display chambers of the Kingdom of Christ. When sinners repent then their culture is saved with them. If they do not repent then their culture will still be saved, but for others who do repent, and these will enter in upon the inheritance of it. The meek shall inherit the earth” (Essays on Christian Education, pp. 8, 15).

Matthew 13 also tells us something about our foes; that we sometimes can cooperate with them. Until the unbeliever matures, and strikes out against God and His creation, he may look and act much – like a Christian. Some Satanists respond to the knowledge of God’ law written in their hearts. They have a large degree of knowledge about God’s creation. We must keep in mind that the fall of man was not a decrease in knowledge or intellect. The unbeliever can still have knowledge. It can be applied to God’s creation and produce beneficial results. The rebellion of the unregenerate lies beneath the surface, smouldering, ready to flare up in wrath, but restrained by God and His Word. The atheistic scientist says that there is no order in the universe, but knows in his heart that there is order — God’s order. And for him to continue working, he assents to God’s order.

The successful unbeliever (i.e., one who resembles a Christian more than a punk rocker) is like a cattle rustler who steals his neighbor’s cows, raises them, and produces a really great steak. Without his neighbor’s cows, or his neighbor’s knowledge of raising cows, he would be lost. He says that there is no order or meaning in the universe; that it would make just as much sense to feed the cattle lye or poison, but he knows this isn’t true, and he feeds them according to God’s Word and succeeds. As long as the unbeliever is willing to abide by the Word of God, we can work with him.

Every gift he has has been stolen from God, but as long as what he does is inconsistent with what he says he believes, he can be a great economist, a great scientist, or even a great teacher. Our standard is the Word of God. We judge all things according to the law of God. The Biblical Educator is observing even humanistic teachers and is constantly finding Biblical approaches to education that Christians can employ. Just because a person is not a Christian does not mean that that person can arrive at no true knowledge.

By the grace of God, they can. And they do. Next time the BibEd cites an atheistic or humanistic publication, or praises a non-Christian teacher, remember this sad fact: For decades now, professing Christians have neglected the Bible as God’s instruction book for all time. They have dropped the torch in one area after another. Our current economic, political, and educational problems are the result of this retreat. But even many humanists recognize that their children aren’t learning, and their conscience tells them that what they are (or are not) doing is wrong.

They have searched for solutions and have found the answers in the law written in their hearts. Thus they may be working in terms of God’s Word even though they deny God all the while. Ironically, many Christians claim to believe God’s word, yet deny it by failing to practice it. Our standard is not what men may say, but what God has said.

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