From the Desk of the Associate: Grasping for the Knowledge of Good and Evil

How did we get here? This place of a seemingly alternate reality where up is down and down is up. Where reality seems to be completely subjective and where my truth and your truth may disagree and both be true at the same time. Nowhere is this more obvious in our world today then in the so called gender revolution.

Many people have written extensively on this issue but I want to give some brief thoughts of my own and point out how this is the logical outflowing of humanity’s attempt to snatch the power to define good and evil, beginning way back in the opening chapters of Genesis. Even with a fallen human nature it still is a big jump to enable us to deny basic reality about man and woman but the starting point for such a radical fall is the denial of the authority and existence of the one who made everything and therefore gets to define everything.

This is what I mean, when we misunderstand the nature of mankind, and misunderstand the source of morality, we quickly will veer off any sane path and into the worst kind of ditches. Carl Trueman writes a very helpful book called “Strange New World” where he provides a helpful review of the writers and philosophers who moved our society in this direction. I want to discuss two of the basic stepping stones that our culture has used to take us from where most everyone had an accurate understanding of the basics of life to where we don’t know what a woman is. The first stepping stone was that of the natural condition of man.

During the enlightenment it became in vogue to believe that mankind was born basically good and that any corruption that was exhibited in ones character could be blamed on society at large. This idea was greatly advanced by writers like David Hume but was perhaps most famously articulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He believed that good was most clearly seen in that which was most closely tied to nature. He wrote often of the “noble savage” who did not have the corrupting constraints of society and could therefore most act on his natural self. Put basically, people are born good and it is society and institutions that corrupt them. Therefore we need to tear down the institutions so that people are free to express the good that comes from within them. Mankind is the basic source of good.

The second stepping stone that has lead us to our confused moment in history is that of who decides what good is? Before the enlightenment very few public thinkers would have questioned, much less denied the existence of God. It would have been taken for granted that there was a God and that he is the moral law giver. During and after the enlightenment critics and sceptics were granted powerful voices to shout down and scorn the existence of God. With the rise of Darwinism, many felt like they were no longer required to believe in an external creator because they had an adequate natural explanation. This led a man like Karl Marx to believe that the moral laws that are articulated in the Bible and were promulgated by the societies and governments of his day were simply tools of oppression. Religion was only a means of power. In this view there was no ultimate lawgiver and therefore man had to rethink all of right and wrong.

I know that these are very basic and crude summaries of these very powerful cultural voices but when you boil it all down, in order to get to where we are at today, mankind first had to deny original sin and affirm internal goodness. Additionally, mankind also had to deny an external law giver. If we are born good and if we are the source of good, then whatever I feel on the inside is what is moral and right. The only transgression in this society is to deny someone’s feeling of self. That is why culture demands that we affirm everyone’s belief about themselves, because if you deny what someone else is feeling about themselves, you are denying their personhood.

This worldview only leads to despair because it is constantly running up against the reality that mankind indeed has an innate and internal evil that manifests in hurtful and self-destructive behavior. It also leads to the hurt and destruction of those around us as we constantly act in our own perceived self interest. Ultimately, this is the outflow of mankind rejecting the Creator’s good design and His good law for us. God made us in the beginning in the image of God as male and female to glorify and enjoy him forever. What we see played out around us is the radical rejection of God’s good design and the headlong plunge into delusion and self destruction.

We need a Savior. Not just a Savior who pays for our sins, but one who sheds the light of the Gospel into our hearts causing us to reject the lies of the world and allowing us to receive His truth. We need the Spirit to open our eyes from the natural blindness that we inherit from our first ancestor and his rebellion. True change for good in our culture won’t come from electing the right politicians but through changed hearts and lives that come through the Spirit by means of prayer and the preaching of the Word. May we be individuals who do just that.

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