“They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” –Epheisians 4:18
Those who walk as the Gentiles do, suffer from a darkened or obscured (ματαιότης) understanding. Something obscures their thinking. Something veils the truth from them, but they don’t realize it. A lot of unbelievers today think that Christians are the ones who are blinded by their faith, and that they themselves (unbelievers) are not blinded because they reject faith as a criteria for understanding the world objectively. But this is not true, everyone operates from a faith basis. It is impossible to have no faith, just as it is impossible to have no assumptions or presuppositions. Everyone has a particular perspective, everyone makes assumptions on the basis of what they believe to be true about reality, and those who say that they don’t or who say that they are objective, are deceived, at best.
One gentleman I recently had an online discussion with said,
“As for the matter at hand I can understand where you are coming from as that view is certainly what the Bible itself suggests is correct, but living in the 21st century I cannot fully abide by it.”1
He claimed to have been an active, church attending Christian who understood that the Bible teaches God’s sovereignty. He even attended a Bible school with the intention of becoming a pastor. But like most Americans he elevated the sovereignty of the civil government above God, citing the Preamble of the U. S. Constitution as the central authority. He would not describe his position as I have done, but the result is the same. In particular, the supreme sovereign authority he claimed was the constitutional phrase “We The People.” It is also commonly accepted by the U. S. Supreme Court that the authority of government comes from the consent of the governed. And of course, there is an element of truth in this.
Any government that does not have the consent of its people will be tumultuous and short-lived because the people will resist and struggle against it. The situation in America is that American civil government had been understood through the lens and morality of Christianity by the majority of people long before the Constitution. The majority of the people, being Christian to some degree, have always imposed Christian categories, values, and understanding upon America and her government. Of course, America has never been completely Christian, and the Constitution created a kind of compromise between Christians and non-Christians at the founding. That compromise has always been in play. But the Christian majority has been popularly dominant—until recently.
The idea of the American Experiment was coined by Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1830s:
“In that land the great experiment was to be made, by civilized man, of the attempt to construct society upon a new basis; and it was there, for the first time, that theories hitherto unknown, or deemed impracticable, were to exhibit a spectacle for which the world had not been prepared by the history of the past.”2
America has always been the seed of the new world order that has been discussed ever since Tocqueville published his book. The establishment of the United States of America was founding of that new world order, and it has utterly changed the whole world beyond the wildest imaginations of anyone prior to its founding. As Christians we must acknowledge that God knew about the American continent when He talked with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
(from Ephesians—Recovering the Vision of a Sustainable Church In Christ, forthcoming, 2014)