Friday, May 31, 2013

The Justice of War and the Sixth Commandment

It is often the case that Christian pacifists appeal to the sixth commandment in opposing the justice of waging war. God's prohibition against murder seems as good a place as any in the Bible to go in order to discuss the legitimacy of war, which often, if not always, requires the taking of life in order to wage it.

However, a thorough consideration of the requirements of the sixth commandment not only fails to support pacifist claims against any possibility of just war, they actually oppose such claims in providing the basic justification for waging war.

In the Westminster Larger Catechism, question 135 supplies a clue:

Question 135: What are the duties required in the sixth commandment? 
Answer: The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.

Notice that the clause about resisting the unjust taking of life is joined to the clause about just defense against violence by the preposition, "by," which in this case most liking is talking about agency, that is, one resists those things that tend toward the unjust taking away of life by means of a just defense against violence.

It does not take long to think of scenarios in which the taking of another's life would be necessary in order to defend the unjust taking of life by that other. With war in particular, the application of the sixth commandment is the protecting of a political community against a hostile opposing political community through defensive response to aggression. Ideally, defensive response would not result in death, but in such cases where death does result from defensive opposition to the unjust taking away of life, then the culpability for that life falls upon the aggressor, not the defensive party.

Consider a very non-aggressive defensive example. Let us say that First City learns of a plan of attack against them by Second City. First City then builds a large wall of defense around their city and gathers supplies and provisions for an immanent siege. Second City marshals its troops and arms and approaches First City to conquer it, unprovoked. First City has no long-range weapons, so they do not attack Second City directly, but bolster their doors and place men with swords at the doors and on the walls. Second City has brought several war devices, including ladders and grappling hooks to scale the wall. In the process of setting up these ladders and hooks, several of Second City's troops do a poor job of setting their ladders and securing their hooks, and they plummet from the wall to their own deaths.

Would any pacifist consider the actions of building the wall around the city to be an unjust act of violence by the First City? Yet such an act is in fact an act of warfare, albeit defensive in nature, since it was in response to the aggressive intention of Second City. First City could have simply sat back and prayed for God's mercy, as opposed to building the wall to protect its citizens. But let us take the example one step further. Let's say that as the ladders and grappling hooks are being set, several of the men of First City unhook the hooks and unhinge the ladders, which leads to the deaths of several soldiers from Second City who plummet to their deaths. Again, the action is defensive--preventing an armed enemy from entering the city by removing his means of entry. The pacifist is probably less likely to agree with this action, the only difference is the amount of agency exerted by the defensive party in preventing the aggressor from harm. The defensive posture of the action is unchanged, as is the object of protection. The men of First City might even yell to their enemies prior to unhinging and unhooking in order to offer their enemies an opportunity to survive.

The main problem with pacifism is that it tends to consider only the life of the aggressor and ignores the life of the party or parties that face the violent threat of the aggressor. Even when the life is one's own, one is responsible to protect that life, for one's own life belongs to God, and not to oneself. To allow a violent aggressor to take one own's life without engaging in a "just defense thereof against violence," is so far from keeping the sixth commandment, but rather is a breaking of it!

Certainly the topic of just war is much more complicated that what I've expressed here, but I'm not attempting to consider the particulars of waging just war, so much as I am interested in showing the basic justice of war, as it is entailed in the sixth commandment. One cannot protect and preserve life without being willing to take away life when the life one must take threatens the life one is seeking to protect and preserve. Ultimately, we must remember that God calls us all to be as He is, a Defender of the weak and defenseless against the mighty who would oppress and kill them unjustly.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Two theological theses worth defending

1. Ontology should be the starting point for Christian education, for it is only insofar as we know what is God and what is man that we can know who is Christ as Lord and Savior.

2. Epistemology should be the starting point for Christian apologetics, for it is only insofar as we can justify our claims to the truth as well as our refutations of error that the unbeliever can be shown foolish, and the wisdom of God be acknowledged as true.

As a student of rhetoric I have a suspicion that one of the chief causes for the differences between Cornelius Van Til and Gordon Clark was in the context and audience of the development of their thought. Van Til taught at a reformed seminary where appeals to the Word of God and the basic knowledge of God were as common and acceptable as tap water. Clark taught for almost three decades in the philosophy department at Butler University, an institution of Christian heritage, but not directly governed by any ecclesiastical authority.

There is a different emphasis when one addresses an audience who is in basic agreement, particularly on a presuppositional level, than when one addresses an audience is in basic opposition. While I don't think this observation minimizes the differences between the two apologists, I do think it helps to explain why they developed their thoughts differently, despite being very close in the actual way in which they refuted opponent arguments.

Van Til wanted to begin with the being of God; Clark with the knowledge of God. Van Til was following the Dutch tradition of the Heidelberg Catechism; Clark was following Calvin and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

I think there is value in both approaches, but I think that audience matters, and thus I would defend the two theses at the top as the preferred approach for a sympathetic and unsympathetic audience, respectively.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"It ain't sexy," or possible reasons Christians don't like Presuppositional Apologetics

I was first introduced to presuppositional apologetics through an online forum where several older, wiser, and honorable Reformed men handed me my hat in several arguments, many of them unrelated to apologetics. As my respect for these men grew, I sought them out for things to read to grow my feeble understanding of theology, and to sharpen my own thinking in general. Three names were mentioned most; Gordon Clark, Greg Bahnsen, and R. J. Rushdoony. The former two were trained philosophers and wrote positive contributions to Christian theology and apologetics as well as defended Christianity against opposing claims. The latter wrote more widely, and (to my knowledge) did not deal specifically with apologetic method in his writings as did Clark and Bahnsen. I've always found these authors to be lucid and compelling, disagreeing with them only on minor points for the most part.

However, I have often encountered folks who find Clark and Bahnsen to be rather unconvincing and underdeveloped in their claims, providing more assertions than arguments. In fact, a friend of mine whose opinion I take seriously commented that he found Bahnsen's "Great Debate" with Gordon Stein to be terrible, mostly because Bahnsen was short on argument and long on assertion. He cited Kelly James Clark, an apologist of the Reformed Epistemology stripe, who made a similar remark about the debate in his response to John Frame's presuppositional position in the Five Views on Apologetics book. Prior to this friend's comments, I had once shown my graduate professor (who was usually pretty even-handed in evaluating arguments) a criticism of Marx, written by Clark, and the professor thought it was an absurd representation of Marx's viewpoint. Finally, in the online forum where I had first encountered these authors, many folks found presuppositional arguments and their proponents to be not only unpersuasive, but something akin to purveyors of cheap parlor tricks--a sort of Christian sophistry, if you will.

While I respectfully disagree with all of these criticisms, I have tried to come up with some plausible reasons why a method I find to be so cogent and pristine in its argument is considered so banal and reprehensible to others. Here's what I've come up with so far:

1. "Presuppositionalism isn't very persuasive to unbelievers, in fact, it doesn't seem to even try to persuade." There is some merit to this criticism, in the sense that presuppositionalism acknowledges that persuading unbelievers to accept Christianity isn't the primary goal of its apologetic. Presuppositionalism is essentially destructive in nature; it seeks to tear down alternatives to Christianity in order to leave the unbeliever "without excuse," or as Bahnsen might say it, to leave the unbeliever in direct confrontation with his own self-deception. Given this negative approach, there is usually less argument devoted to proving positive claims about Christianity. Evidences are not rejected, but neither are they frequently appealed to for support. They are seen as secondary to the destruction of foundational assumptions the inhibit opponents from rightly interpreting evidences, yes, even from accepting evidence as valid. To some this approach seems disingenuous, even unsupportable--isn't one obligated to provide positive arguments for one's own position? However, one must recognize that, with regard to knowing the truth, knowing what is false is also useful. Indeed, knowing something as false entails knowing its contrary, the truth of which is logically entailed. Therefore the presuppositionalist usually only advances one positive claim, the transcendental proof of God's existence, which claims that Christianity is true by the impossibility of the contrary. The apologist then spends the entire debate showing how something that his opponent considers indispensable to his own position is only rationally supportable upon Christian presuppositions. It is a positive argument through negative means. It seems sneaky, but it is just indirect. You can catch a bear by coming at him head-on with a large net, or you can put some fish in a cage with a trap-door.

2. "Presuppositionalism doesn't respond directly to opponents' claims, but just accuses them of being irrational, inconsistent, arbitrary, or incompatible with human experience." Like the first objection, there is some superficial merit to this claim. Presuppositionalism is, by design, an indirect critique of opposing positions. It seeks to provisionally accept the claims of the position it seeks to refute, and then show that contradictions, arbitrary standards, or incompatibilities are logically entailed by its foundational assumptions. Thus, if an empiricist were to say, for example, "How can you, as a Bible-believing Christian, accept that the sun stood still as it is stated in the book of Joshua, when scientifically such an event would be catastrophic for the entire planet?" a presuppositionalist might respond by asking how the empiricist knows that the sun hasn't stopped right now, or how does he know that the sun's stopping now would result in catastrophe. Thus, instead of answering the question, the question is turned back on the opponent, forcing him to justify the grounds of his own objection. The presuppositionalist simply asks, "Can the empiricist's objection stand upon the foundation which the empirist has used to support it?" If it cannot, the force of the objection disappears. While this seems unfair or disingenuous, it is not underhanded at all. Suppose someone accused you of stealing and demanded that you prove your innocence. Would it be unfair for you to ask what grounds the accuser has for his claim that you have stolen? So while an indirect method may be quite unorthodox in terms of how most debates proceed, it is not thereby unfair, disingenuous, or otherwise evasive or unethical. Indeed, the naturalist could with good will and good reason ask the Christian for the grounds of his objections to naturalism. Moreover, as I mentioned in the first objection, the presuppositionalist does use positive claims, but they are usually few and depend upon an indirect method.

3. "Presuppositionalism is a petitio principii, a circular argument fallacy that assumes its conclusion in order to prove its conclusion." There is a sense in which presuppositionalism is circular, however, presuppositionalism makes the claim that all systems of thought are self-referential and therefore circular, but not in a fallacious way. For example, the Christian by his very fact of being so, assumes that God exists--otherwise he would not be Christian. Similarly, the naturalist, by his own convictions, assumes that the world contains no spiritual realities--otherwise he would not be a naturalist. The Christian and the naturalist cannot cease to accept these assumptions without also ceasing to be what they are by conviction. The best either can do is to assume, for the sake of argument, that the opposite of what he believes to be true is true, and see where that would lead--which is precisely what the internal critique of presuppositionalism attempts to do. But even in the assumption of this "unbelief", one is only doing so hypothetically, for otherwise one's convictions would be changed and one would no longer be arguing against the view on behalf of his original position--his own view would have changed. The supposed neutrality of debate is really not neutrality at all, but rather a willingness to follow the logic where it leads whenever one's assumptions are made manifest. Further, the rational approach to being persuaded could only proceed through the destruction of one's accepted assumptions that prevent the change of mind!

4. "Presuppositionalists are only interested in winning the debate, and aren't concerned about presenting the best arguments." I suppose this claim could be true in many cases where presuppositionalists have debated, but I've never been shown how such a tendency is "built into" presuppositionalism--it isn't logically entailed. I think this objection is also related to the method of internal critique used by presuppositionalism. When the presuppositionalist consistently demands that his opponent offer justification for his claims and objections instead of responding to them directly, it can appear that the presuppositionalist is simply trying to "score points" or avoid the difficult arguments of his opponent. Of course, the presuppositionalist maintains that he is very much engaged in proving his case while also answering his opponent's case, but his indirect method of doing so often trips up the opponent and/or the audience because it looks a bit too much like Socrates' gadfly tactics of elenctic argumentation.

5. "Presuppositionalists come across as arrogant, as if they were the only ones with access to truth; that certainty is the only valuable kind of knowledge, thereby disdaining probable arguments." Presuppositionalists believe that God's Word declares knowledge of God to be basic to man, and that God's revealed truth in the Word is irrefutable. If man both knows God, and God's truth is irrefutable, then there is a real sense in which the Christian has "cornered the market on the truth," although the truth about God is possessed by all men in differing degrees. The problem of the unbeliever is not, therefore, predominantly intellectual--a problem of ignorance--but moral; he has only rejected Christianity out of rebellion and consequent self-deception. When ignorance is the problem, instruction in probabilities can be of some use. But when truth is being suppressed, there is little value in relying upon probabilities, since they always afford the possibility of legitimate denial. There is room to persist in rebellion and self-deception. Consider Paul's Areopagus speech in Athens--he does not seek to advance the probability of God's existence or Christ's resurrection. Instead he uses it as the basis of his criticisms of the Greeks' system of belief. One may object to using Paul as a good example of apologetic method, I suppose, but I'm not sure many Christians would take that line. Consider another analogy. If the King of the land sent a proclamation through his many heralds that he had conquered all of his enemies, and that anyone wishing to bow to the King's authority should make public confession and abide in the King's commands, would the heralds use probable arguments to support the fact that the King really had conquered his enemies, or that he really had given the proclamation? Would he not rather insist upon the certainty of the King's reign and rule, and emphasize the peril of those who would be skeptical? When claims of "maximal warrant" are available, why resort to arguments that have less warrant?

There are probably many other criticisms of presuppositionalism, and there are certainly more philosophically challenging critiques, but my main objective has been to address common objections that an audience or newcomer to the method might raise.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Special Revelation in the Garden

Although natural revelation and special revelation are both from God, the latter is like a pair of spectacles (so says Calvin) that helps us to understand everything else. Natural revelation was sufficient before the Fall. And if Adam and Eve had not fallen into sin, it still would be sufficient. The Bible only came about because of the Fall. We can’t see properly unless we put on the spectacles.

The above quote came from Lane Keister in a post concerning the reinstatement of theology as the "queen of the sciences." The reason I bring up this section of his post is because I think it includes one of the continuing difficulties that some Reformed folks have with understanding the nature of man in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall.

If Natural Revelation (NR) is defined as what God has revealed in Creation, apart from any Divine Word, then it is not true that it was sufficient before the Fall. Why not, you ask? Well, the most important reason is that NR does not provide commandments for men to follow, which means that NR could not provide Adam and Eve with the standards necessary for pleasing God in the Garden. Only God's Law-Word could give Adam and Eve the stipulations or requirements for maintaining their holy and obedient status. This is, in fact, what God provided by commanding Adam and Eve to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth; and to subdue it and care for it. It is also what God provided when He prohibited Adam and Eve from partaking of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, lest in eating they transgress and die.

But even if Lane were to qualify his claim so that the pronouncement of Law becomes one exception to the sufficiency of NR in the Garden, he would still suffer from a deficiency. For not only is God's Law-Word required in the Garden, so is His declaration of truth and of blessing. To assume that Adam could intuit from Creation alone all that he was intended to do is to assume that he did not require communion with God in terms of truth and blessing. There is some precedent for thinking that Adam was well equipped to manage Creation on his own. For instance, when God brings the animals to man, the text indicates that Adam named them, but it does not imply that Adam sought out God for knowledge of these names. However, we may wonder how Adam would have been assured that his pronouncements were good and right without God's blessing them and pronouncing them acceptable in His sight. What honorable son does not bring his work before his father for the father's approval? Moreover, how would Adam have known he lacked a counterpart unless God had delivered unto him the animals and given him the task of naming them? God's direction is as much a requirement in the Garden prior to the Fall as it is after the Fall.

As much of a "superman" as Adam may have been, it is obvious that Adam's righteousness and abilities to honor God did not exceed those of Christ, and yet Christ explicitly says that everything He does, He does because it is what His Father has told Him to say or do. In other words, the Divine Word is necessary for the proper functioning of man. Natural Revelation is not sufficient whether prior to the Fall, or after the Fall, to provide man with the proper knowledge he requires to satisfy the Father. And why should it, since the whole purpose of man is to be in communion with God, which certainly implies verbal communication.

So while it is good to affirm with Lane the need for Biblical presuppositions to govern scientific endeavors, it does not require us to accept that Natural Revelation can provide man with the sort of positive knowledge of God that Lane seems to believe it does. Natural Revelation is able to confirm all that Special Revelation provides, and certainly Natural Revelation provides all that is necessary to hold men accountable for their offenses against God. But Natural Revelation is not sufficient for providing man with the knowledge of God that he requires to commune properly with God, in any state of man--whether pre-Fall state, post-Fall state, Redeemed state, or Glorified state.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Making Sense of the Story of Judah and Tamar

I've always been a bit puzzled by the account of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. From the point of view of crafting a flowing narrative it seems a discordant digression. It occurs immediately following the selling of Joseph into the hands of the Midianites who take him down to Egypt and sell him to Potiphar. Why does Moses insert the rather unflattering story of incest here? What does he intend the Israelites to learn from this story, especially given the later positive details concerning Judah? I've struck upon some plausible reasons in going through Genesis with my seventh grade theology students this year, which I'll share here.

Several details within the story, as well as some of the ways in which earlier narratives seem to "work" for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob help to make sense of the story of Judah and Tamar.

First, in the earlier accounts of Abraham, Isaac, and Judah we discover that God often brings each patriarch through various difficulties and threats (some of which are of their own decisions) in order to grow them up into the kind of individuals whose thoughts and actions are consistent with God's own. For example, Abraham would have been unlikely to have offered up Isaac, believing that God would raise him from the dead, if God had not already delivered Abraham through the threats of a Pharaoh in Egypt, delivering Lot from Chedorlaomer, delivering Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah  and so on. Similarly, Jacob the schemer was himself schemed, yet God allowed him to flourish despite Laban's mistreatment. By this humiliation, Jacob learned how to trust in God and instead of scheming Laban and Esau, acted righteously with both, even though he was fearful in the latter case.

So, knowing that Judah is going to be the bearer of the promised line of Messiah, the heir of the promise of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God must discipline Judah in order to prepare him for the responsibilities of carrying on the promise. The story of Judah and Tamar plays an important role in showing the development of Judah's character, and the importance of why he carries on the promise rather the Reuben, Simeon, or Levi.

As for the details that Moses may be using to indicate the relevance of the Judah and Tamar story, several stand out for notice. First, Genesis is riddled with the themes of famine and barrenness. Both are consequences of the Fall and bring death to man--the barrenness of the ground and the barrenness of the womb are both reversals of the commandments to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth while care-taking for the earth through dominion. However, there is also a theme of life resulting from death, as when famine (death) drives Abraham into Egypt, yet God brings him out of Egypt with great wealth. We thus see that death characterizes life on earth, but for the promised people of God, death is swallowed up in abundant life.

In Genesis 38, however, we see that Judah is literally cutting off life from his own family by not allowing Tamar to marry Shelah. Judah's fear for Shelah's life shows a lack of understanding of what protects life (God's promise and walking righteously before him), and in a vain effort to protect the life of Shelah, he is actually threatening the Messianic promise, which comes through Tamar.

Similarly, Jacob withholds his youngest son, Benjamin, which is cutting off life from his own family, for it is only through Benjamin's going down to Egypt with his brothers that Joseph will receive them and allow them to buy grain to alleviate the famine. Jacob clings to the life of Benjamin, but in doing so threatens the lives of his family and therefore the Messianic promise.

In order to receive what is rightly hers, Tamar engages in a deceit by which Judah's unfaithfulness will be uncovered and the opportunity for restoration to be made. Similarly, Joseph's deceit of his brothers is a chance to uncover their unfaithfulness and give them an opportunity for restoration to be made. Although Tamar looks like a harlot, it is Judah's unbelief that is adulterous in the eyes of God. Although Joseph looks like a wrathful master, it is the envious brothers who had dealt with Joseph in wrath.

When she deceives Judah, Tamar takes his signet and cord and his staff--the signs of his authority. She takes from him what he has abdicated. When Joseph deceives his brothers, he plants upon Benjamin his "divination cup," which is the sign of his authority and recalls the prophetic dreams that the brothers should have acknowledged. Joseph gives up what had been usurped already by the brothers--his prophetic right to be in authority over them.

When Judah's sins are exposed by Tamar's deceit, he repents of his unrighteousness and receives her back into his family where he had before excluded her by his refusal to offer Shelah--he honors his responsibility to his children as a father of his clan. When Judah's sins are exposed by Joseph's deceit, he repents of his unrighteousness by offering up his own life for Benjamin's that he might honor his father Jacob--the father of his clan.

Judah knows what it is to jealously love a son, and he recognizes what it cost Jacob to give Benjamin away. Judah stands as a father to Benjamin in the absence of Jacob, and so redeems Benjamin's life by offering his own. He has learned from his failure to give up his own son to Tamar and now thinks and acts as God the Father thinks and acts--giving of Himself in order to redeem another.

There are other details in the Judah and Tamar story that I've not come up with explanations for at this point (like the significance of the scarlet thread, the names of Shelah and Perez), but I think I've found a plausible exposition of the text that harmonizes with the larger narrative of Joseph, the larger narrative of Genesis, and the trajectory of Redemptive history. It is all very rough, as I've only recently been thinking on these details, and I'd appreciate any further observations or criticisms that my readers have to offer.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Whenever Babylon Conquers Assyria

Frederick Nietzsche, no friend of Christianity, once performed an immaculate reductio ad absurdum of scientific materialism in his essay, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense. The essay purports to uncover man's "will to truth," by analyzing the origins of language in man's quest to understand the world. The underlying premise upon which Nietzsche builds his argument is that of scientific materialism, that the world is no more than a collection of brute particulars subject to the irrational (i.e. purposeless) forces of nature, which are observable in their effects, but are otherwise inscrutable.

He asserts that any vocalization of a proposition, say, "This is a leaf," depends upon three levels of metaphorical translation: 1st, the nerve impulse that is the sensation of seeing the object, which in turn becomes and image in the mind (seeing and perceiving the object to be called "leaf"); 2nd the formulation of a sound to express the sensation and its image (saying the word "leaf"); 3rd, the categorizing of other similar sensations and images into a form that purports to express a definite class of objects (formulating a concept of "leaf" by which similar sensations are classified).

Nietzsche's criticism of this natural human process is that there is no rational basis for these metaphorical translations--it is simply human beings acting according to their purposeless nature, the same as any animal might react to nerve stimuli. There is no reason to think that man's thinking about objects in the world expresses anything generally true about the world anymore than a gnat's experience  of objects in the world expresses anything generally true about the world. All that human thinking expresses is human experience, which possesses no verisimilitude with the world of nature as it is in itself. Rather, human beings poetize their own experience and regulate one another upon the basis of collective, stipulated designations (which are designed to be productive of pleasure and reductive of pain). Thus, to "tell a lie" is to inflict undesirable or painful consequences according to the herd's stipulated designations, and to "tell the truth" is to produce desirable and pleasurable consequences by the same standard.

Nietzsche goes on to explain where the will to truth originates, that is, what led humans to enforce their designations upon one another in the first place. Nietzsche then concludes by separating two kinds of human expressions for the will to truth, one rational and the other intuitive (he does not say so, but one is the philosopher and the other is the poet, it seems to me).

Nietzsche's aim, one may suspect, is to open up to his age realization of the unfettered possibilities of poetizing the world according to one's own fancy and in one's own image. There are, of course, limitations upon what one can do--one is only human after all--but one need not follow the conventions of the herd, or should one follow the conventions of the herd, one can do so knowing that they are simply conveniences, without rational force. In either case, one may choose to be an overman, the individual who forges his own way apart from or among the herd, though it bring about his own ostracizing from the herd, and even great pain according to his all-too-human frailties. Whatever his hopes, the Christian can recognize in Nietzsche's remarks the intellectual conquest of an "Assyrian captor" by an equivalently dangerous "Babylonian force." That is, the replacement of trust in scientific observation as a guaranty of Truth by anarchical freedom to express one's power in whatever way one is able and willing. In one breath we may be thankful for the removal of an intellectual oppressor, but in the next we may pray for deliverance from the tyrannous idea that has been its demise.

The Church, grounded neither in the brute particulars of nature, nor the anarchical fancies of man, may justly laugh with her Bridegroom at both of these evils, yet only for a moment, since laughter is but the respite to take courage in one's own epistemological self-consciousness under the Sovereign Christ before marching once more to the front, where such vain ideas produce their devastating consequences upon men and things. The Church should not necessarily be opposed to settle down and grow strong in the midst of Babylon, but she should ever be wary of becoming Babylon herself. The quest for wisdom that liberates one from evil and the despair of present pain still begins, continues, and ends where it ever has begun, continued, and will end: with the fear of the Lord. Looking out for oneself and one's neighbor never involves looking to oneself or one's neighbor, but rather to the King, whose Word heralds in peace for all who will abide in its eternal Truth.