In light of this dilemma, it becomes apparent that people must choose between two gods: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Yahweh), or the god of humanism (Man). There is no other choice. There is no compromise. The two are utterly antithetical and incompatible, and mankind must choose this day whom they will serve. These are the two great adversaries that have struggled against each other since the Fall, and every generation has had to choose a side in the great conflict.
To make this choice, we must first define what constitutes a god.
Essentially, a god is the one to whom we look for salvation. If we seek salvation from want, then we look to our god for provision. If we seek salvation from enemies, we look to our god for protection. If we seek salvation from our own waywardness, we look to our god for law. In return we give that god our worship through submission and obedience, doing whatever that god requires. A god is one who rules and protects those who obey it. Worship is not comprised of meaningless rituals or traditions, but obedience and submission to the god, and faith in that god’s wisdom and strength.
When we look to a government “of, by, and for the people” for our provision, protection, and guidance, we have chosen “We the People” as our savior. We worship Man, and bow at the feet of his image, the State. We have declared Man our god. The governmental system through which Man exerts his power becomes the idol to which its worshipers bow.
The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them. – Psalms 135:15-18
An idol, being a creation of human hands, is nothing more than an inanimate object. It has no life, no power, no resources of its own. And yet somehow, throughout history, man has feared and obeyed idols, living for centuries under the religions surrounding these stylized lumps of wood, gold, or stone. We moderns laugh at the ignorance, thinking ourselves beyond such silliness. In reality, it’s much worse today than then.
“We the People” has made an idol. He has enshrined that idol in the White House, on Capitol Hill, and in other governmental temples of marble. He pledges allegiance to it and to its flag. He pays daily homage to it, meets its demands in taxes and compliance, hails it as the greatest system in history, sends his children to fight in its wars, and looks to it for protection. And yet it has absolutely no power whatsoever. It has no ability to exist on its own without the recognition and obedience it receives from its awestruck worshipers. (Revelation 13:4)
The idol, being Man himself and the government shaped with his hands and mind, is a modern Baal, a false god. In order to maintain the illusion of being god, that idol must necessarily draw from another source (namely, its worshipers) for its strength and resources. Without the consent and the property of the people over which it holds sway, the idol, as any other idol, cannot be that source of salvation, or god.
The welfare system is one great expression of Man as a god. Looking to the State to provide our education, housing, food, and so on is seeking salvation by Man. The people rely on Man to give them what they need, and Man, in order to fulfill the role of god to his supplicants, institutes programs to grant their requests. However, being a false god, Man’s State has no resources of its own, and thus, to make its godlike illusion possible, funds its welfare programs by plundering, through taxation, the very people who look to it for provision.
The military is another expression of Man playing the role of god and savior. When dangers (whether real or contrived) from beyond or even within our borders arise, Americans look en masse to Man and his military. Again, because Man’s State has no resources of its own, it funds its standing armies by draining the pocketbooks of its supplicants and enlisting the men and women who would otherwise be contributing to their families, their economy, and their society as a whole.
The legislative system is perhaps the greatest expression of Man playing at god and savior. It institutes legislation by which to run both its welfare and military programs, as well as to control industry, economy, property, justice, education, and individual behavior. Thus Man determines what is right or wrong, what is legal or illegal, what is acceptable or unacceptable. Man becomes his own source of law, establishing an unbearable burden of legislation, restrictions, and judgments. He becomes god.
Frederic Bastiat, in his classic booklet, The Law, speaks of “the law” (in his treatise, indicating the State) in this context:
… the law is not a breast that fills itself with milk. Nor are the lacteal veins of the law supplied with milk from a source outside the society. Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless the other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in.
Bastiat, though being a man of the so-called Enlightenment, yet understood that any human government we set up must of necessity draw directly from its subjects the resources (recognition, obedience, money, manpower, etc) in order to be a god and savior, a provider and protector. This in itself is proof that human government, no matter what its form, is nothing more than an impotent idol.
By contrast, if we look to the God of the Bible for our provision, protection, and guidance, we choose Him as our savior, and declare Him our God. Because He is a real God, He can provide without plundering others. He needs no standing army, because He is not constrained to save by many or by few (I Samuel 14:6). He is an easy God to follow because His laws are not burdensome (I John 5:3) and are hung upon love (Matthew 22:36-40). A people who has chosen the salvation of God and utterly rejected the pseudo-salvation offered by Man has chosen to worship the one true God.
A nation that has made “theocracy” a dirty word and glorified “We the People” has obviously made an emphatic proclamation, just as did the Pharisees and their rabble at the trial of Jesus when they shouted, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). A nation that has made this choice seeks salvation in the humanist god, and thus embraces the humanist religion. (And as much as humanists and atheists claim not to hold to religion, they rank among the most vehement religious zealots in history.) They have placed their hope for salvation in Man.
Most Christians are unaware that they are embroiled in an ages-old war, a war for dominion. On the one side is Man, with his Caesars and kings and democracies and ideologies, while on the other is God, with His perfect Law of liberty (James 1:25) and His elect under the banner of the King Jesus Christ. The war determines who is ruler, lawgiver, protector, and provider. The war between these two gods is over religion.
It is a war for government.