by Young Oon Kim
Age Of Ideology
Since the Christian era repeats the essential pattern of Old Testament salvation-history, there must be some special providential significance to these last four centuries of the modern age. Does our time merely portray the spiritual exhaustion of Western civilization, its moral bankruptcy and the eclipse of its conscience, as Rabbi Berkovits thinks? 11 Or is it possible that the whole world is moving toward a new age of hope, as Moltmann predicts? According to Divine Principle, we should examine the messianic implications of our times. If it looks as though contemporary man dwells in a wilderness, that may be on the road to the land of promise, as the Hebrews discovered.
Earlier we mentioned how history regularly produces twin movements somewhat comparable to Adam's sons, Cain and Abel. That means, history operates in terms of a basic law of polarity. The modern age therefore gave birth to a series of several related yet contrasting trends:
a) The Renaissance and Reformation
b) The Enlightenment and Pietism
c) The Anglo-American and French Revolutions
d) Industrialism and Social Idealism
e) Nationalism and Imperialism
In comparing these parallel movements to Biblical characters, we should be very careful not to contrast them too sharply. As God intended to use both of Adam's sons and wanted them to work together as brothers for the sake of the kingdom, one should never think of Cain movements and Abel movements as inevitably antithetical. The Renaissance, for example, was not wholly satanic or the Reformation completely godly. Nor was the Enlightenment totally bad and Pietism only good. Like Cain and Abel, each had a positive role to play in providential history. The tragedy was that so often they failed to act in harmony on behalf of a higher goal.
What were the positive aspects of the Renaissance? The Renaissance attempted to cure the ills of the Middle Ages by recovering the wisdom of classical Greece and Rome. Instead of trying to escape from the world, it pointed out how God created the world as a place to be used for man's betterment. Renaissance spokesmen therefore stressed man's dignity, his power of reason, love of nature and the need for scientific investigation. 12 In all of these ways, they sought to reaffirm man's original nature, Divine Principle states.
The Reformation was not intended to oppose the Renaissance as such, but rather to deepen and strengthen its values by reminding men of their Biblical heritage. Renaissance Hellenism and Reformation Hebraism working together instead of in rivalry would have elevated mankind to a new level in the providence of restoration.
In the opinion of the Protestant Reformers, the only way for men to improve their situation is to accept and practice a theocentric philosophy of life. Whereas the Renaissance advocated a revival of the Graeco-Roman spirit, the Protestants urged men to return to the original Christianity of the apostles. What then were their fundamental teachings?
1) Salvation depends upon one's personal faith.
2) The authority of the Bible is greater than that of the pope, an ecumenical council, one's bishop or local priest.
3) One does not have to become a monk or nun in order to lead a Christian life.
4) God speaks directly to every man's conscience, so the right of private judgement in religion must not be denied. 13
The next step in modern man's understanding of himself and the world came about in the 18th century Enlightenment. What were the benefits of this Age of Reason? Because overemphasis upon correct doctrine in the Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation had led to the disastrous Wars of Religion," many intellectuals started to concentrate on the ethical teachings of Jesus rather than the metaphysical subtleties of church dogma. Also, as a result of numerous scientific inventions and discoveries, they learned how God governs the creation through natural laws. 15 Then too, for the first time Christians became aware of the existence of great Asian religions. Jesuit missionaries sent back word of Chinese civilization, so that the teachings of Confucius became popular among educated Europeans. Finally, weary of theological controversies, Western writers insisted on the value of toleration. In all of these ways, the Enlightenment assisted human progress.
But it was not enough to reduce Christianity to a "religion within the limits of reason," to use Kant's term. More important is the religion of the heart. 17 Consequently, to remedy the weaknesses of the Enlightenment rationalism and naturalism the Pietist movement sprang up. Pietism took three forms: a central European revival of Christianity based on personal religious experience, the Methodism of the Wesley brothers and the Great Awakening in America. 18 Like Cain and Abel, the Enlightenment and Pietism would have helped to deepen man's awareness of God's purpose for creation if they had worked together rather than opposing each other.
The birth of democracy can be traced back to ancient Athens. Nevertheless, it began to assume its present form as a result of British attacks on absolute monarchy in the 17th century. This struggle for the rights of Parliament in opposition to the Stuart kings was supported by the Puritan movement, because it promised more religious freedom. While the British were generally satisfied to limit the royal powers, elsewhere their ideal of representative government paved the way for more fundamental social changes.
The 30 Years War in Germany ending in 1648, the Dutch war of independence from Spain, the British Civil War leading to Cromwell's Protectorate and the early Hussite rebellion in Czechoslovakia (Bohemia).
Politically, the Age of Reason created the American and French Revolutions. While they possessed many features in common, these revolts against absolute monarchy led to very different concepts of democracy. In America the fight for self-government was usually connected with the Christian doctrine of each man's innate dignity as a child of God. 19 Because God created us, we have certain inalienable rights and definite responsibilities, the Founding Fathers insisted. This faith which was derived from the Bible enabled the United States to found a stable representative government. By contrast the French Revolution was primarily anti-Christian in origin, leading to social turmoil, class hatred and finally dictatorship. 20 Whereas the Americans defined man in terms of individual freedom, French revolutionaries 21 considered man as a perpetual rebel. One could therefore quite accurately describe the events of 1789 as a Satanic imitation of the 22 events of 1776, it would appear.
The 19th century witnessed the widespread industrialization of western Europe and the United States. At the same time intellectually and morally this period manifested intense social idealism. Again one can see a Cain-Abel situation. Nor were these two tendencies completely antagonistic to each other. On one hand, prophets of social progress preached that mankind would be able to create a heaven on earth through industrialization, scientific research and urbanization. On the other hand, at least some far-sighted prophets of social righteousness warned that the technological revolution would undermine moral standards, dehumanize men and cause numerous social disorders.
Often these days Karl Marx is praised for saying that, in the past, philosophy showed men how to interpret the world, whereas in the 23 present it must tell them how to change the world. There was nothing very original about that statement. The 19th century was full of social reformers who recognized the defects of their age and did something about them. Non-Marxists abolished serfdom and outlawed the slave trade, extended the right to vote, passed laws against child labor in the factories and fought for workers' rights. The difference between these reformers and the communists was that the former were too wise to assume that utopia would be created when the right of private property was suppressed and an all- powerful State set up under the dictatorial 24 control of a Marxist elite.
The modern age created one last pair of conflicting ideologies: nationalism and imperialism. The nationalists asserted the unique values to be found in their particular language, their history, their 25 culture and their racial genius. In the 19th century, Hungarians, Czechs, Serbians, Greeks, Arabs, Mexicans and others claimed their national rights against their respective imperialist rulers. As Woodrow Wilson announced at the Versailles peace conference, every national minority has a right to self-determination.
At the same time, the big powers became aggressively imperialistic in the modern age. First the Portuguese and Spaniards created vast overseas empires. Following their example, the British and French established even more immense colonial empires. As could be expected, the conflicts between the nationalists and the imperialists inevitably led to World War I. 26
What lessons can be learned from these rival ideologies: Renaissance humanism, Protestantism, rationalism, pietism, demomodern, technocracy, nationalism and imperialism? According to Divine Principle, God used them to prepare mankind externally and inwardly for the dawn of the New Age. Each was a step toward the restoration and completion of the divine purpose for cre, technocracy, nationalism and imperialism? According to Divine Principle, God used them to prepare mankind externally and inwardly for the dawn of the New Age. Each was a step toward the restoration and completion of the divine purpose for cremodern. Science and industry created the tools for material progress. Imperialism indirectly promoted worldwide Christian missionary activity and tended to enlarge men's vision to encompass the entire globe. The Renaissance and Enlightenment reminded men of. Science and industry created the tools for material progress. Imperialism indirectly promoted worldwide Christian missionary activity and tended to enlarge men's vision to encompass the entire globe. The Renaissance and Enlightenment reminded men ofmoderngood earth God had created for them and encouraged them to enjoy its benefits. The American Revolution reaffirmed the worth of every person and the French revolutionaries clearly revealed the need for major social reforms. Thus, each of the trends of good earth God had created for them and encouraged them to enjoy its benefits. The American Revolution reaffirmed the worth of every person and the French revolutionaries clearly revealed the need for major social reforms. Thus, each of the trends of modern times shows the importance of man's portion of responsibility in establishing God's kingdom.
The Spanish conquistadors always planted a cross as a symbol of their dominion over their lands in the New World. Similarly, Christian missionaries in Africa and Asia expected protection from their home governments.
11 E. Berkovits, Crisis and Faith (1976), Preface.
12 For a classic interpretation, cf. J. H. Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind (1976), pp. 111-248.
13 As the Viennese psychotherapist Victor Frankl maintains, the truly religious man respects his neighbors' freedom of choice because he believes God created us free which implies the possibility of saying no to our faith (The Unconscious God, 1975, p. 56).
15 Sir Isaac Newton was the dominant scientific figure of the Enlightenment.
16 The British philosopher John Locke (d. 1704) illustrates how belief in the reasonableness of Christianity was combined with pleas for religious toleration.
17 Piety above all must rest in the heart"-Prof. Joachim Feller, U. of Leipzig (1689).
18 For a contemporary defense of Pietism, see D. Brown, Understanding Pietism (1978), pp. 9-28 or E. H. Littell, "Radical Pietism in American History" in EE. Stoeffler, ed., Continental Pietism and Early American Christianity (1976), pp. 164-182.
19 Admittedly several of the architects of the American republic were deists (Jefferson, Franklin). Yet one should not overlook the Puritan roots of the War for Independence (Samuel Adams, John Adams, Roger Sherman). John Adams, for example, traced the colonial rebellion to the Congregationalists' struggle against the imposition of Anglican bishops in New England. In his opinion, the practice of self-governing local churches quite naturally led to a demand for political freedoms.
20 C. Dawson, The Gods of Revolution (1972) shows the anti-Christian tendencies of the French Enlightenment.
21 Cf. A. Camus, The Rebel (1956) for a perceptive analysis of the French revolutionary tradition and its problems.
22 The opinion of conservative thinkers like Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre, for example.
23 Cf. E. Voegelin, From Enlightenment to Revolution (1975) for a perceptive critique of Marx.
24 For a brilliant attack upon contemporary Marxism, see Bernard-Henri Levy, The Human Face of Barbarism (1979).
25 Cf. L. Snyder, The New Nationalism (1968).
26 World War I broke out in the Balkans where the clash between nationalists and imperialists was the dominant feature of late 19th century politics. For that reason, the Balkans were called the powder keg of Europe.
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