The Reformation and the Birth of Christian Universities
A German monk, Martin Luther, discovered the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers from his studies in the New Testament. Gradually the Church grasped that the Old Testament, in Genesis, had taught that all human beings were created equal. Races did not evolve from apes mating indiscriminately across species. That would have made races genetically inferior and superior. Eve is the mother of all the living, which means that we are all brothers and sisters – all descended from one created man and woman.
Luther’s Reformation introduced this biblical doctrine of equality into Western thought. It became the West’s fundamental intellectual-social revolution. The priesthood of all believers made education mandatory for all. If everyone is to serve God, every child must know God and learn to meditate on His word. Universities became centers of higher learning where the Scriptures were the core component of a thorough education.
American Assumptions: A House Built on Sand
Sadly, the seeds of corruption were planted in the very beginning of the republic, allowing the eventual rejection of revealed truth throughout the education system. The loss of faith in God’s revelation was partially revealed on one of the greatest days in American history — July 4, 1776.
One of the most memorized statements in the West is found in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” However, human equality by creation is most certainly NOT “self-evident” to the average university student of today. Rather, modern academia is proclaiming that “no one is created – we evolved.”
When we evaluate the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable . . .”18
Jefferson’s original draft recognized that “truths” of human equality and undeniable rights came from the “sacred” scriptures, which George Whitfield, the great revivalist of the First Great Awakening had been teaching to the 13 colonies. However, the Founders, in order to appease the Enlightenment Rationalists in their numbers, changed Whitfield/Jefferson’s understanding of “sacred truths” to “self-evident” truths. The Rationalists were confused by their compromised Christian assumptions. They did believe that God created human beings, but they thought that “all men are created equal” was a common sense (not revealed) truth. It would be assumed by all, Bible-believer or not.
Whitfield had died in 1770. The Revolutionary War had started in 1775. Given the emergency collaboration required in the midst of a war, this compromise in language was understandable. Everyone who signed the Declaration was a genuine hero, including those who owned slaves but affirmed that slaves’ right to liberty. They were heroes because they signed their death sentence for everyone’s liberty. If caught or defeated, they knew they would hang for treason.
America’s initial tragedy of abandoning “sacred” truth was highlighted by John Adams. In writing to to the Massachusetts Militia October 1796 he wrote, “But should the People of America, once become capable of that deep <…> simulation towards one another and towards foreign nations, which assumes the Language of Justice and moderation while it is practicing Iniquity and Extravagance; and displays in the most captivating manner the charming Pictures of Candour frankness & sincerity while it is rioting in rapine and Insolence: this Country will be the most miserable Habitation in the World. Because We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by <…> morality and Religion. Avarice, Ambition <and> Revenge or Galantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.19 The “moral and religious people” are people with a Biblical worldview deeply imbedded in their DNA. Adam’s warning ignored, is evident in culture and legislation today.
America’s philosophical tragedy was that after the war, for two centuries, church leaders and theologians lacked the courage to challenge the Rationalist’s nonsense that there were “self-evident” truths without revelation. But their “common sense” was far from common in the world.
Indian philosophers and sages were as brilliant as any American. It was self-evident to all of them that human beings were in fact unequal. Inequality is, in fact, the “self-evident” truth. The philosophical problem is: Why are human beings born unequal? Indians invented philosophical theories of caste, karma, and reincarnation to explain self-evident inequality. No Greek philosopher saw human beings as equal. Plato thought that people were born into three distinct classes: Philosopher-kings, warriors, and peasants/merchants.
A Fatal Trust in Rationality
The shaky foundation of common sense in America was never going to be able to stand the opposition that was sure to come from rationalists with their own agenda. The overt attack began with Thomas Paine’s book, “The Age of Reason.” It was published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807. Its aim was to clip America’s reliance on revelation as the basis for truth. It attacked God’s revelation, the Bible, as irrational/illogical.
Thomas Paine believed in God. But the God Paine imagined, though He created the universe and all life, was incapable of resurrecting a dead Lazarus. Miracles were impossible. Paine’s God created beings that speak but He could not reveal His own thoughts in human words, works, dreams, or visions. Paine’s deistic God was incapable of loving human beings enough to come to this earth to save them. Paine thought that the “God” his rationalist arrogance had invented created physical light, but the God he invented could not possibly conquer the darkness of sin and death. God had to be eternal, but the Rationalist’s God could not give eternal life to His children.
American Rationalists who followed Paine identified as “Christian.” Christianity produced rational cultures for it taught that God was rational Word (Logos) and that reason was God’s special gift to humanity. In order to be godly, a person had to study and cultivate the mind. That is why the European Church had cultivated human reason in its monasteries and universities. Like many intelligent teenagers, the Enlightenment pursued knowledge without the wisdom that comes from humility before God.
Intellectual hubris drove Rationalists to capture Christian universities and colleges that had been established by the party of humble faith — the Church. Puritans, for example, had founded Harvard University in 1636. In 1805, the Rationalists won control of its governing body. Power over Christian universities allowed Rationalists to replace America’s humble faith with humanist arrogance.
But then something unexpected happened. America’s confidence in the Enlightenment’s Reason, including Thomas Paine’s common sense, disappeared.
American Common Sense: A Shadow of Biblical Assumptions
Imagine a modern conversation in a secular home in America. Two daughters are debating their father:
“Marriage should be between a man and a woman” insists the father, “this is common sense.”
“No!” counter the daughters, “Common sense is that marriage should be between two lovers. What has gender got to do with marriage? If two men love each other, they should have the right to marry. That is common sense.”
“Common sense” is the only source of authority father and daughters invoked. But it did not lead them to a common conclusion. It put them into opposite camps.
There exists no Platonic realm of Ideas (Forms), a reservoir of “common sense,” from which all cultures can draw the same intellectual conclusions. That father did not know that his “common sense” that marriage should be between a man and a woman was a shadow of the Bible’s revelation that God created man in His image, male and female, to be one flesh.
“Common sense” was a philosophical myth invented during the Scottish Enlightenment. Some Founders thought that Equality and Rights were “self-evident” only because American common sense was a
shadow of the Bible.
The American Eagle in Free Fall
American has been described as an eagle flying on two wings: revelation and rationality. The American Eagle’s first wing, based on humble faith in the Bible, was the reality. But reality and its shadow do go together. Therefore, the American eagle did fly on those two wings initially. However, when the reality — the first wing — was clipped off, the shadow, traditional common sense, fell off on its own.
This crashing of America is not simply a fanciful imagery. America’s crash will be catastrophic for the whole world. The Bible’s doctrine of human equality came from German Reformation. But when German theologians began to think that the Bible was simply man-made stories, and not God’s word, they lost the only available foundation for equality. The Theory of Evolution eventually became the philosophical foundation for the Fascist belief in Aryan supremacy. The Fascist story cost millions and millions of lives. America’s melting pot cannot be expected to escape a similar fate, since its foundation is gone. The castle must to collapse.
Rationalism, which clipped America’s first wing, failed because it is intellectually bankrupt. It is incapable of proving its faith in reason. Worse, it cannot prove that you exist as a person, let alone as a male or a female person, endowed with dignity and inalienable rights.
Rene Descartes, the Father of the Age of Reason, relied on logic to prove that he exists. He said: I can doubt that the world exists. I can doubt that God exists. But I cannot doubt that I, the doubter, exist. The statement, “I doubt that I exist” is false because it is self-contradictory and illogical. On the basis of this faith in logic Descartes concluded, “I think, therefore I (— the thinking subject, the person, the self, the soul —) am.”
But then philosophers such as David Hume quickly pointed out Descartes logical fallacy.
An atheist believes that the universe is uncaused. Either it has always existed, or it came out of nothing and for no reason. If the universe can exist without a cause, why can’t thinking exist without a thinker? Descartes doubting proves that thinking exists, but not that the thinker, the “self”, the permanent, spiritual entity, the “soul” exists. If God does not exist as a person, an infinite, eternal Spirit, how can you exist as a permanent soul? You can be nothing but an accidental collection of molecules with ever-changing chemical reactions. Bio-Intelligence may exist in your brain, but there can’t be a permanent you — a male or a female person, endowed with intrinsic dignity and rights.
For references, click here: https://worldviewcommons.com/secular-education-and-the-uprooting-of-revelation-references/