Freeman

ARTICLE

World in the Grip of an Idea: 32. The Restoration of the Individual

AUGUST 01, 1979 by CLARENCE B. CARSON

In this series, Dr. Carson examines the connection between Ideology and the revolutions of our time and traces the impact on several major countries and the spread of the ideas and practices around the world.

There is a logic in thought that we ordinarily see but dimly, if at all. Because we can state ideas sepa­rately from one another, it may ap­pear to us that our belief in the validity of a given idea is indepen­dent of others. That is not how it is generally, however. The structure that undergirds our beliefs is much broader and more interconnected than we are apt to suppose. It can be likened to the framework of a house. Remove any load-bearing portion of the framework, and the whole house will begin to sag, shift, and settle. Remove the foundation and the whole structure will crumble and fall. This is so for ideas as well. In the thought of an individual this process may occur rapidly. For a society, when it occurs it will take place more slowly, and for an exten­sive civilization slower still. Even so, the undergirding ideas are as essential to the beliefs of a people as is the foundation to a house. Tamper with them, remove them, and the surface beliefs will no longer have support.

It has been observed that each succeeding century is the product of the thought of the leading thinkers of the century just past. Such a judgment is gross and imprecise, of course. A century is an arbitrary division of time, and some ideas have much more immediate impact than that, while others may have much longer duration. Nonetheless, the observation has some validity, at least for recent centuries in Western Civilization. In important ways, it is valid to say that the nineteenth cen­tury was the product of eighteenth-century thought, and the twentieth of the nineteenth. Not only do ideas spread and get accepted rather slowly but also there is a time lag between acceptance, exploring their dimensions, and applying them.

Testing Man’s Endurance

The idea that now has the world in its grip was shaped and set forth in the nineteenth century. Its appli­cation has been in the twentieth century. In its application, it has been a broad and expansive experi­ment in exercising power over and controlling man. Its experimental character is most apparent in the testing of man’s adaptability and endurance. How much can he stand? How much will he take before breaking or resisting? In what ways can he be changed, and how rapidly? The Nazis carried out such experi­ments most directly in concentra­tion camps. Physicians and scien­tists conducted experiments with human beings to determine, for example, how much heat or cold they could endure, and for how long. The whole concentration camp ex­perience was an experiment in human alteration and adaptability.

The Soviet Communists were less scientific than the Germans but no less barbaric. Interrogation prisons were testing grounds for human en­durance. The Slave Labor Camps were, from one angle, economic ex­periments to determine how much work could be obtained for the smal­lest expenditures. The Nazis did this, too, with the workers brought in from surrounding countries. As one historian says, "Once in Ger­many, they were housed and fed on the general principle of ‘exploitation to the highest possible extent at the lowest conceivable degree of ex­penditure.’ "1

It is easy to see that those who gave the orders for such undertak­ings had devalued man, and that those who carried them out were degrading men. It requires only a little greater imagination to grasp that the whole revolutionary socialist effort springs from a de­valuation of man and an attempt to reduce him to the point where he is the willing instrument of others. It takes considerably more insight, however, to discern a similar animus behind democratic or evolutionary socialism. The animus is often obscured because these gradualists may work within the framework of venerable institu­tions, proclaim their belief in human dignity and freedom, and move slowly.

Yet, democratic socialism is an experiment, too, an experiment aimed at devaluing man by taking from him control over his affairs. It evinces itself as an experiment to determine how much control over their affairs people will yield up at any given time and how much they will change under the goad of com­pulsion. The limit at any given time is not so much human endurance as it is how much the electorate will take before they throw out their rulers. The tacit premise of these efforts is that man’s value consists in the extent to which he is brought under the control and direction for the use of others.

Bold Experiments

The idea that has the world in its grip did not originate as a conscious devaluation of man nor as an explicit intention to subdue him. On the contrary, it arose at a time when human dignity was held in the highest esteem and when freedom was oft proclaimed as the highest end of man. The nineteenth century was a seedbed of bold and daring conceptions of human freedom. One of the great thrusts going on in that century was the establishment ofindividual liberty. The animus be­hind this and the ideas on which they were operating can be traced to eighteenth-century forebears (and further back to Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian antecedents). But nineteenth-century thinkers pressed on, or so they thought, to some­thing much beyond political liberty. The boldest of them reached for what they conceived to be ultimate freedom—freedom from all restraint and limitation, freedom from God.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the mad German philosopher, proclaimed that God was dead, writing in 1882. In consequence, he said, "we philosophers and ‘free spirits’ feel ourselves irradiated as by a new rosy dawn by the report that ‘the old God is dead’; our hearts thereby overflow with gratitude, astonish­ment, presentiment and expecta­tion." All things now become possi­ble, or so he seemed to be saying. "At last the horizon seems once more unobstructed . . .; our ships can at last start on their voyages once more . . .; the sea, our sea, again lies open before us; perhaps there never was such an open sea."2

Not all who denied the existence of God did so with human freedom in view, so far as we can tell. For some, it was a position arrived at from their philosophy, science, psychol­ogy, or what not. Ludwig Feuerbach, who is supposed to have confirmed Marx in his atheism, declared in 1841 that what men conceive of as God is in reality only themselves. "The divine being is nothing else than the human being, or, rather, the human nature purified, freed from the limits of the individual man, made objective—i.e., con­templated and revered as another, a distinct being. All the attributes of the divine nature are, therefore, at­tributes of the human nature. . . ." Feuerbach, too, saw what he took to be the implications of freedom in this view. "God is pure absolute sub­jectivity released from all natural limits; he is what individuals ought to be and will be; faith in God is therefore the faith of man in the infinitude and truth of his own na­ture; the Divine Being is the subjec­tive human being in his absolute freedom and unlimitedness."3

Ernst Haeckel asserted in 1899 that the sciences no longer needed the hypothesis of God to solve "The Riddle of the Universe." "Through­out the whole of astronomy, geology, physics, and chemistry there is no question to-day of a ‘moral order,’ or a personal God, whose ‘hand hath disposed all things in wisdom and understanding.’ And the same must be said of the entire field of biology, the whole constitution and history of organic nature. . . ."4

Outspoken atheism never became a popular pastime in the Western world. T. H. Huxley’s contemptuous term, agnosticism (contemptuous because he attributed a "gnostic" view to believers) had considerably more success. What happened, how­ever, was not that unbelievers sported such labels ordinarily; rather, theism and Christianity were pushed aside and made inap­propriate to intellectual activity. Eugen Weber, an historian of Europe, notes that "By 1939, when the Times Literary Supplement re­viewed T. S. Eliot’s Idea of a Chris­tian Society . . ., it had to remark that intelligent men seldom admit even the possibility that Chris­tianity ‘is a system of truth from which flow inexhaustible principles in metaphysics, ethics and politics.’ Hardly anyone would have doubted the thought half a century earlier. . . . But the half century had seen great change."5

Removing the Religious Foundations of Western Thought

By 1929, Sigmund Freud could describe religious belief as a kind of distemper of the masses. He said of such belief, "The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to real­ity, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. It is still more humiliating to discover how large a number of people living to-day, who cannot but see that this religion is untenable, nevertheless try to defend it piece by piece in a series of pitiful rearguard actions."

The impact of this development is not to be understood at all in terms of militant atheism. That, after all, is relatively rare in the Western world. The significance lies in re­moving God from His place as prem­ise of Western thought. Religious belief is tolerated generally in the non-communist parts of the world. Sometimes, it even has official en­couragement, though that is rarer nowadays. But it must exist in at­tenuated form, as private belief which presumably has some impact on private morals. It has been largely removed as the general foundation of thought and belief.

Without God, no system of thought is or can be complete. It lacks a foundation. It lacks, at the least, a Prime Mover, something to set the whole into motion and give impetus to it. Without God, it is necessary to posit a universe which is a perpetual motion machine and, in addition to that, one that was either self-starting or was always running. Scientists usually deny the possibility of a perpetual motion machine on this planet; such a no­tion runs counter to all experience. But if a perpetual motion machine were possible, it would still have to have an initial impetus. Without God, much more would be lacking as well. There would be no final valida­tion of either reason or fact, no sup­port for a premised order which is essential to make reason of some account. Without God, value and purpose would be downgraded to such values and whatever purposes men might have.

Of course, men do not make do without a god, or gods, of some sort. Certainly, those who would be think­ers and have some following can­not. G. K. Chesterton put it well, "When people cease to believe in God, they don’t believe in nothing, but—what’s far worse—in any­thing."’ In the private realm, those who do not believe in a transcendent God tend to turn to the occult for meaning and purpose. Weber says of the European situation in recent years: "Today there are a thousand professional astrologers in Paris alone, some 50,000 in all of France, counting seers, cards, coffee, and crystal ball gazers; there is a union of 120,000 occultists in Italy; 60 per cent of French people read astrology forecasts regularly . . . , and one English astrologer counts among her regular clients fifty British and forty-nine foreign firms."8

A Mechanical Universe

In the public realm, most of the place once occupied by religion has been taken over by ideology. The idea that has the world in its grip is a god-supplement, god-substitute, or god supplier. (It tends to produce a personal god, even, the leader.) This ideology locates meaning and value in the collective, the mass, or the demos, however, not in the individ­ual. The individual ceases to have any discrete meaningful existence, aside from his own awareness of it. Waldo Frank traces this "deper­sonalization," back to Descartes and down through Hegel, Marx, Lenin, and Hitler to Mao Tse-tung.

Descartes provided the mathematical foundation for a mechanical view of the universe. By his approach to knowledge, Frank says that for Descartes "Man is left outside the cosmos, of which only as person is he integer and focus. Thus stripped, he coalesces into the mass-man of Hitler. . . ." Not, how­ever, before much else has happened in thought. G. W. F. Hegel was yet another crucial figure in the de­velopment of ideas. "Hegel’s Abso­lute works through history but ig­nores the individual, the potential person; acts indeed, in Hegel’s words as if the individual did not exist. Without this Hegelian premise, it is also impossible to understand Marx. . . ."9 "In neither Hegel nor Marx," he says elsewhere, "is there place for the person."10

Lenin reduced the individual to an integer of "the proletariat" or "the people," whose active arm was the Party, whose guide is the leader. "The leader is the symbol of the truth in the workers; he is stability, he is orthodox knowledge incarnate.

He is not, in the Western sense, a person at all. He bears the same relation to the Party as the Party to the people." That is, he is an extract of "the people." This depersonaliza­tion has reached its peak, thus far, with the Chinese and Mao Tse-tung, Waldo Frank believes. When Mao speaks, "One feels the half billion Chinese become one figure, waking, rubbing his eyes, shrewdly apprais­ing the situation, getting his legs under his body to hoist himself up on his feet." Perhaps this is overdrawn, but it does suggest the end toward which communism moves."

Downgrading the Individual to Upgrade Collectivism

In the West, man is drawn into the maws of collectivism by the sense of his smallness, his unimpor­tance, and futility as an individual. It has been by no means easy to exorcise from the West the belief in the value of individual man. (In the East, it was much easier, because Buddhism had always emphasized the suppression of the self.) Demo­cratic socialism continues to pro­claim this value in its rhetoric. But the foundation has been cut away, and the structure is crumbling. By organization and numbers the indi­vidual is being overawed and made to feel impotent unless he join him­self to some group or collective.

Viewed naturally, man is indeed a puny creature. He is exceedingly fragile, weighing ordinarily no more than a hundred or so pounds even in maturity, and that but some flesh and muscles surrounding a bony structure. He is born of woman in labor, flourishes for a short time in maturity, if he is fortunate, and then is no more. Even the smallest accident can wipe him out, should some vital organ be severed from him or irreparably injured. He can bleed to death in minutes from a severed artery. He is vulnerable, usually rather easily intimidated, and tends to feel helpless when con­fronted by organizations and num­bers. Viewing himself so, he seeks comfort and safety in the warm smell of the herd, as H. L. Mencken said. Alone, he is drawn almost ir­resistibly to some sort of collec­tivism.

Make no mistake about it, either, to the extent that force is the arbiter in this world the individual is largely helpless alone. An organiza­tion is incomparably more effective in exerting force than many indi­viduals acting independently. The increasingly pervasive reliance upon force which is entailed in the idea of using government to concert all efforts means that force is the arbiter. It is not difficult for the individual to believe that this world is in the domain of force, and he is helpless.

Even so, the case for and position of individual man is not so hopeless as this may imply, even when the matter is viewed naturally. Groups, collectives, and organizations are not themselves independent beings. They are contingent things. They de­rive every ounce of their energy from individual men. They derive all their initiative, all their force, and all their direction from individ­ual men. Their purposes, too, arise from men. Organizations cannot think, imagine, will, or act; only individuals can do these things. Groups, even organized groups, are not at bottom superior to individual men; they are creatures of men. And, in constructive action, they are inferior in potentiality to a like number of individuals outside them.

Numbers and Organizations Weaken Self-Reliance

Collectivism does not draw men into it because of its natural superiority, however. It does so be­cause the devaluation of man has sapped the confidence of the indi­vidual in his powers. Man can think, but unless there is substantiation for reason, his conclusions carry no weight. They can only be given weight by numbers and organiza­tion. If right is only what the posi­tive law of government proclaims then the ground beneath his claim to right is slippery indeed. Individ­ual man cannot establish his own value. That must be transcenden­tally or collectively done.

Strive as he will, natural man cannot devise an answer that will overcome the demanding spirit that now overwhelms him. The religions of statism and collectivism do not yield ground to no religion. The only effective answer to low religions is a high and noble religion. The only way to avoid the worship of numer­ous idols is to worship the one God. The only way to transcend the sub­jectivity of values and the relativity of all knowledge is to go to the source of value and knowledge. If this world is all there is, force does indeed rule, and some sort of collec­tivism is the appropriate answer.

There is Good News for any and all who will hear it. It is electrify­ing news. It is not news addressed to any group, team, class, race, or or­ganization; it is news for individuals alone. It is news beside which Das Kapital is a mishmash of history laced with hatred. It is news beside which Mein Kampf is the dis­torted assertions of an egomaniac. It is of something which we would not dare hope for did we not know it already. It is news which confirms, vivifies, animates, and restores man. The primary source of this news is the Bible. It is vouched for by the death and resurrection of its bearer. Its truth is confirmed by the testimony of the saints down through the ages. If it come not from God, then whence came it? Surely, it is not of this world.

The Good News, first, is not that man is the origin of values but something much more: he is a value. He is valuable because God places a high value upon him. Contemplate the words of Jesus:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a farth­ing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father.

"But the very hairs of your head are numbered.

"Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."12

And again:

And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? . . .

And he said unto them, "What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

"How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.” –Matthew 12:10-12.

Promise of Immortality

There is more, however; these verses tell us that man is valuable, but they do not suggest the extent. The greatness of his value is indi­cated in the following verse. Jesus said,

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." –John 3:16.

This tells us much more besides. It tells us that man is immortal, that he is a creature chosen for eternity. The "whosoever" in the sentence tells us that only individual human beings may have that promise of immortality. The magnitude of man compared to organizations begins to appear. All organizations are but temporary things, destined it may be to flourish for a time and then be no more. The record of history is replete with instances of kingdoms, nations, empires, cities, and all sorts of organizations which once were and are no more. They lasted only so long as they were sustained by indi­viduals; then they disappeared, things dependent finally upon the memory of men. Man, by contrast, has a future of which this life is only the beginning.

There is a way to test the quality of a religion. It is in that to which it appeals. Does it appeal to the baser motives? Or does it appeal to the highest and best? Socialism is a mean, low, and vulgar religion, and it is as a religion that it finally stands or falls. It appeals to greed, to avarice, to popularity with the crowd, to the desire to get something for nothing, to envy, to jealousy, to class hatred, to the lust for power, to the lowest common denominator, to the will to be free of responsibility, to the urge to destroy, and to the longing to crush that with which one disagrees. The mainspring of socialism is the fear of individual man, and a loathing for him as he is. Socialism incarnates force, and wor­ships the state as the embodiment of it.

By contrast, Christianity appeals to the highest and noblest in man. The God revealed by Jesus Christ does not use force and power upon men in this world. God is love, we are told; He woos man by sacrifice, by coming in lowly guise, having naught of the things of this world by which to awe man. He comes not as an earthly conqueror with force, terror, and violence to destroy men but in boundless love to redeem them. The virtues He commends are higher than any man can conceive. But let them speak for themselves. First, from the Sermon on the Mount:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. "Blessed are they which are perse­cuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." –Matthew 5:3-10.

What should stand out in all of this is that there is nothing commended to which any should take offense.

There is a marvelous congruity permeating the New Testament in the virtues commended. Here is an example from the writings of Paul the Apostle:

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribula­tion; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality.

Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not.

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. –Romans 12:9-21.

The Apostle Peter summarized the great virtues this way:

and beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. –II Peter 1:5-7.

And from Paul again:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. –Philippians 4:8.

Jesus Christ was God Incarnate; He was the Word made flesh. He came to reveal God’s ways to men. The beauty of what He taught and was has brought forth singular words of praise. He has been de­scribed as the Lily of the Valley, the Rose of Sharon, the Pearl beyond Price, and in Isaiah, as prophecy: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

This aspect of him has tended to shield us from understanding an equally important truth: Jesus Christ was man incarnate. He revealed to men their full poten­tialities and possibilities; he lived and taught—was the embodiment of—not a religion, as we understand such things, but a way of life. He showed that the individual person is of great and momentous account. He restored man the individual to his central place in all of creation. The way of the world is wrong, he said; it is the way of death. The way of the world is to use force, coercion, to attempt to control men to the pur­poses of others, to use them. There is another way: the way of love, of service, of persuasion, of influence, of kindliness, of giving, and of be­coming. It is the way of life.

Ancient Pagans believed that man was a plaything of the gods. Modern Pagans believe that he is an instrument of the organization to be intimidated by numbers. "En­lightened" Greeks and Romans be­lieved that man is either a comic or tragic figure. Contemporary intel­lectuals incline to view man as a sensual being, caught in the grip of passions and desires which rend him.

Man without God is indeed capa­ble of every debasement that can be imaged. He is comic or tragic as you will, a creature of the senses, a play­thing, an instrument, an object, a belly, a power monger, or whatever. If proof were needed, this century offers enough for all time. Without God, values are subjective; no judg­ment can be made. Man is a buffoon; and television offers continuous programs which prove it. Without God, reason is a blunt instrument, for there is no truth. Without God, there are no rights; there are only such perquisites as those who oc­cupy the leverage points over the exercise of power permit. Without God, life is a situation comedy, and the idols provide the canned laugh­ter at man’s antics. Without God, life is a tragedy for those who aspire to something better. Without God, individual man is but a dot in the scheme of things, and those who control the organizations work out the puzzle by drawing lines from "dot to dot."

Man’s Support from God

With God, the perspective changes dramatically. Individual man acquires leverage with which to deal with the world. The basis of that leverage is reason and right. Individual man can think; no group or organization can do that. If there is a God, there is truth, for He knows it. If a tree falls, and no man hear it, it still makes a sound, for God hears it. Man’s special means for discern­ing truth is reason. Reason provides truth before which organizations, numbers, and machines must bow, else they proclaim their own futility. The other lever is right. The indi­vidual in the right, and secure in the knowledge of right, is formidable. The most fundamental right of the individual is his right to his property. That right is affirmed over and over in Scripture. "Thou shalt not steal" is an ancient command­ment, as is "Thou shalt not covet." The Apostle Paul put the most basic principle this way:

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good. . . .

Ephesians 4:28.

Since all other rights stem from or depend upon the right to property, all just rights of the individual have transcendent support.

Jesus demonstrated what an indi­vidual man can be and do; in this, he was man incarnate. The bare details of his life show that this was what he demonstrated. Of the things of the world, he had none of any conse­quence. He was born in a stable, in a trough from which the animals ate. His parents were people of low es­tate. He must have had very little of formal education or training. Legend has it that when he reached an age to work and provide for him­self, he learned and practiced the trade of carpentry. No organization ever set its seal of approval upon him. He lamented the fact that he was without honor even in his own community. He had for support only twelve men; they were such as he gathered about him in his wander­ings, and of uncertain loyalty. He became what we would call an itinerant preacher, traveling here and there, speaking to such as would hear him.

True, there were some who heard him gladly. There were even those who said that he spoke with such authority as no man ever had before. But the rich young man turned away from him sorrowfully, and people of prestige, if they came at all, came in secret, as Nicodemus did. In all those things which a man is supposed to have in order to make an impact, he had none. Organiza­tions and men of authority sus­pected him of sedition. The Sanhe­drin condemned him and turned him over to the civil authorities of Rome to be tried. He was condemned by a throng of accusers and, though Pon­tius Pilate, the judge for Rome, found no fault in him, he was con­demned to be crucified to please the crowd. At the last, the authorities offered to release him, or such as the crowd might choose. They chose a notorious thief instead.

The Confrontation between Might and Right

Why were the Jewish rulers so fearful of this man? Why did the pillars of Rome tremble in his pre­sence? Why was the crowd so deter­mined to see him put to death? We are not told. Yet we know. He had flung no challenges, broken no laws, formed no revolutionary party. He was innocence personified. But he had taught a way of life which un­dermined the way of the world, a way so superior to the way of the world that no comparison is possi­ble. Organizations had to show their powers; numbers (the throngs) had to intimidate else they must yield; force must be triumphant. If might did not silence him, it would give tacit approval to right, the very means by which it is constrained and limited.

But force was not triumphant. He rose again from the dead; many wit­nesses testified to the fact. Nor did putting him to death put an end to his teachings. God used even this great wrong to bring about good, as He had purposed. Jesus had said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth [crucified], will draw all men unto me." And so it has been. The Good News has been told from one end of the earth to the other. Where once there were only twelve disci­ples, and they not firmly planted, there have since been millions moved to follow him. True, many wrongs have been done in the name of Christ, but every one of them was without warrant. Unable to stifle the message, the world has often enough done the next best thing: adopted it and adapted it to its own purposes, even to the use of force for supposedly good and constructive purposes. These actions have done much damage to the name of Chris­tian, but to those who will hear the message, it still shines through un­dimmed. To those who would take it to their hearts and study it with understanding there has been given the gift of a new birth of the spirit. Everywhere that the message of love, sacrifice, and concern has gone in the world it has gentled hearts, produced works of charity, freed slaves, buttressed responsibility, and begun its work of liberation. All this has come about, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." It is a testament to the influence of example and to the potentiality of man—with God.

Individual man without God is very little. Man with God is in another dimension; he is man as he may be. Lest it be thought that what Jesus did does not tell us any­thing of the possibilities of men gen­erally, Jesus made it clear that it does:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that
believeth on me, the works that I do shall
he do also; and greater works than these
shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
John 14:12.

Man the individual begins to come into focus with all his potentialities. "Ye are the salt of the earth," Jesus said. "Ye are the light of the world." (Matthew 5:13, 14)

Moreover,

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.

"For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."

Matthew 7:7-8.

What emerges from this is a vis­ion of a man who can stand against the might of this world. How can this be? Paul says that to do so one should "Put on the whole armour of God."

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the dark­ness of this world, against spiritual wick­edness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the prepara­tion of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith . . .;

And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. . . .   Ephesians 6:11-17.

Men who are thus prepared can stand. They have stood in the past, and they may stand again in the future.

Man is a whole potentially much greater than the sum of his parts. Far from being a mere zero, a cog, an object or thing of use, individual man is valuable beyond compare. He is a living, breathing being with a soul, mind, and body. He is touched by the Divine. Each child that is born is a miracle, and every full grown person potent with pos­sibilities beyond our dreams. He is a creature worthy to put in their places principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and the wicked in high places. They are, after all, but gos­samer, deriving all their strength from his flesh and blood. God has placed a value on man; he has put him in an high place. None may reduce that value with impunity.

Restored man, confident of his place, can loosen the grip of the idea.

Next: 33. Conclusion: Loosening the Grip of the Idea.

 

—FOOTNOTES

‘Frank P. Chambers, This Age of Conflict (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962, 3rd ed.), p. 575.

2Eugen Weber, ed., The Western Tradition (Boston: D. C. Heath, 1959), p. 673.

2Franklin L. Baumer, ed., Main Currents of Western Thought (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967, 2nd ed.), pp. 570-71.

*Ibid., pp. 578-79.

5Eugen Weber, A Modern History of Europe (New York: W. W. Norton, 1971), p. 1016. 6Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Dis­contents, trans. James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1962), p. 21.

‘Quoted in Weber, op. cit., p. 1019.

‘Waldo Frank, The Rediscovery of Man (New York: George Braziller, 1958), p. 215. p. 164.

"Ibid., p. 165.

‘Matthew 10:29-31. (All quotations below are from the King James Version of the Bible.) 

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August 1979

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