TMOC: Hopefully Hopeless
This world is fallen and can’t be fixed.
Once in awhile you find someone who understands that even without relying on revelation, such as Albert Jay Nock. I’ve read so many excerpts of his famous Our Enemy, the State, I probably should simply sit down and finish it off. Someday. Right now, I’ve got too many other very interesting things going on. You can always peruse this review and get the gist of it.
The world is hopelessly stupid. Not so much in details and individual pursuits, but stupid in the main. All governments drift to oppression. You can’t successfully revolt against any government unless she fails to keep her armed men paid and comfortable. When that fails, the armed men will lead the revolt and you will get no say in the results. However, we the governed always outnumber them. If we simply stopped obeying them, it wouldn’t take long for their power to fall apart. This is self evident, as people do it on the small scale every day. All such rule is by consent, typically via massive and evil deception. Unlike the reviewer, I don’t hold out much hope for actually educating the masses. Not that it’s impossible, just so unlikely as to be impossible in effect.
What would Jesus do?
Ask rather what He did. The only hope is outside this realm of existence. It’s not as if He didn’t work tirelessly to make things a little better here. He brought some of the fruits of God’s justice through His countless miracles. He taught a powerful corrective understanding of the Laws of God, more than simply Moses. You may recall He famously contradicted Moses’ soft limitations on divorce, indicating God’s standards were actually higher than that. It’s very instructive, in teaching us God tolerates a lot of things less than His divine will. Not in the spirit and conscience of a redeemed soul, but among human society at large. It doesn’t remove His standard, but leaves the initiative for action in His own hands. It shows He will use fallen man and direct human affairs at large, and if we just pay attention, the implacable failures of humanity will indicate much about Him. Jesus willingly died on the Cross to offer wide open access to that higher understanding of the Laws, so we can make some sense of why we are stuck here in the Big Lie.
We as believers succeed where Nock and his ilk inevitably fail. However, our goals aren’t the same. By no means do we embrace the folly of trying to fix this world. To the degree we should try to make things better, we must embrace the Laws of God. Once our spirits are fully aroused, the Laws make entirely too much sense to ignore, given a chance to understand them. Life here ranges between bad and worse, but under His Laws it’s least bad. That “least bad” includes some awesome miracles God did defending His Covenant from human truculence. He doesn’t treat human-designed government the same. Whatever brilliant ideas for human organization men have tried, nothing — absolutely nothing — comes so close to a decent life on this earth as His Laws. They don’t fix what’s bad, only restrain what’s worse. That’s as good as it gets. We understand this, and our hopes are more realistic. God says He’s going to destroy the whole thing soon enough, so stop trying to save it. Save yourselves, instead.
We cling adamantly and resolutely to the Laws of God as proof this world is a failure. It’s our way of saying, “Repent! Break off from this world and its ways, and cling to the Other World.” Embracing His Laws constitutes my Three Pillars of Christian Mysticism, including pillar of disengagement. We allow things to take their own course in the hearts of others. The Laws require a living commitment to a covenant between believers. It’s power is entirely in the drive of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the members. Should we someday, somewhere, somehow meet in covenant and institute His justice in our small community, then perhaps we can talk about such full measures as the death penalty for adultery. However, in the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth, ostracism is death penalty enough. It serves the same purpose. Things have changed forever. That’s because the one and only real chance for having a just and lawful human government ran its course and ended with the Cross. Moses isn’t coming back, but the frame of reference in God’s Law Covenants remains the source of understanding.
Quite often in the New Testament, Paul and the others would say something about the failure of the Law. Context is everything. Pay attention to what they are talking about, because their harshest comments apply to the Talmud, which at that time was “the Law” in the minds of most Jews and Gentiles who knew about it. The Talmud was still mostly oral and incomplete in Jesus’ day, but it was en route. He referred to it as “traditions of men” as against the revelation of God. He gave examples of how those human traditions failed against the actual revealed will of God. In Jesus’ mind, the Talmud is trash, an exercise in human oppression using God as an excuse. That excuse arose when the restraints of the Hebrew mystical intellectual legacy were thrown away in favor of Hellenism.
Nock is right in his prognosis. He’s only half right about how to fix it, because Nock is very Hellenized in his assumptions. Let’s do better, because the Mind of Christ was the ultimate example of Hebrew mysticism — God’s own intellectual legacy.
I encourage you to embrace this thing to which I can only point with my limited talent in words. I don’t pretend to understand it, only use it in my own life. When you start using it, you’ll likely have plenty to say. Share with me your thoughts and words.