Daniel R.



Father, Mother, Sister, Brother,

Let us care for one another.


Never to leave, but only to cleave.

For this, dear child, is the family tree.


Its branches we will never depart.

For family alone belongs in our hearts.


Father, ask and I will do.

It does not matter whether it’s true.


Mother, I will not rebel.

Even if my obedience damns me to hell.


Sister, “what is truth?” we say,

Lest it exact our souls to pay.


Brother, I will always be by your side.

Therefore, let us affirm the lie.


Mother’s womb knit us together,

And our bonds no sword could sever.


Look! The City’s water begins to flow.

Now our family tree can flourish and grow.


Time has passed and branches are swaying,

The wind blows and our leaves are playing.


Look! Our neighbor has denied the lies our leaders cast.

His family will suffer and ours will last.


The family whispers: “We support you, neighbor”

While they affirm his fall from public favor.


Another Man comes their way.

Curious, they listen to what He has to say.


His eyes were somber and He was not what He seemed.

“Tell us, Man of Sorrows, why have you come to our family tree?”


The Man questioned: “Who planted this tree? “

But no one could utter “it was me.”


Firmly He spoke, “I will tell you who planted this tree.

for you would be nothing if it were not for me.”


“This tree was a gift that I had granted,

And I have come to see if you’ve recanted.”


The Man continued: “Your love for each other is unending.

But to the State your wills have been bending.”


The father responded first.

“Sir, our leader is the worst.


“Yes, he asks us to affirm a lie or two.

And we only complied a little to sneak through.”


The mother was next, her words were like fire.

“Yes, we hid from the truth, but our times were quite dire.”


Then the sister began in her own skeptical way.

“Was it such a big deal that we let our conscience stray?”


Last of all came forward the son.

“I know why you’re here, for hypocrites we’ve become.”


“We are blind; no longer can we see.

Too many times, we denied simple truths like 1 + 2 = 3.”


The man and the boy’s eyes did not wander.

The son continued aloud with his ponder.


“We believed that because a truth appeared small

That there was no harm in denying it after all.”


“We believed it was nothing for we had not denied you.

But with each little step we darkened your Truth.”


“Immersed in the darkness, we did not know

That it was your truths that made our tree grow.”


The Man opened his mouth and broke the silence.

But the words He would speak contained no violence.


“You did not deny me, it is true,

But the truths you denied weren’t for me, they were for you.”


“I planted you not for yourselves, but for me.

And your denial of these truths has rotted your tree.”


“For you have forgotten that at the planting of this tree,

One day it would be fashioned into crosses to carry for me. “


“What do you mean! That cannot be so.

After all, what does it matter if papers we show!”


The Man, without a word, took his axe to the trunk.

And with one swipe the tree fell with a thunk.


He carefully crafted their crosses one by one.

The time for them to carry their burdens had come.


They all exchanged looks with each other.

All of them there, Father, Mother, Sister, Brother.


They finally arrived at the destination.

But most of them were filled with frustration.


He had said His burden was light,

And in order to get here they had quite the fight!


One by one, their crosses they set down.

But to their surprise, all but one settled like dust to the ground.


The one cross that remained in its stand

Was the cross from the child they never could understand.


“Why didn’t his turn to dust!” the family objected.

The boy cried out “Have mercy on me! For your truths I’ve neglected”.


The Man slowly removed His gloves.

Revealing to all the scars of love.


“I will not ask you to attempt what has already been finished.

For my sacrifice cannot be bettered or diminished.”


The Man took the boy’s cross and it was revealed

That upon the boy’s confession, his portion of the tree had been healed.


“What is the meaning of this?! Is he not as guilty as we?

What was it that he saw that we could not see?”


The Man continued: “You were not liars or thieves,

You were merely cowards who said you believed.”


“I saw in your hearts from the moment I spoke,

But it was only this boy’s heart that my words broke.”


“As he suffered under my words, a piece of his heart died.

And with it the idolatry of his family pride.”


“The truth in his confession predicted his lot.

But it also treated his portion which his lies had filled with rot.”


“To be trusted with much does not start with a burden too heavy.

You must practice with the small truths in order to become ready.”


“But his cross was heavier than all the others.

Truth is a heavy burden and the body it sunders.”


“Do you remember what it costs to follow me?

You must not just deny yourself, but also your family.”


“Let me say it again for good measure.

So that in your heart you may hold on to this treasure.”


“What must you do in order to be part of me?

You must deny yourself, as well as your family tree.”



Thank you for reading. This poem was inspired by Christ’s words in Matthew 16:34-39 and the division of families as depicted by the great Russian authors. Rather than an argument from metaphysics or logic, sometimes artistic expression is the appropriate tool to depict these dilemmas and their answers. To be sure, those philosophical elements are implied; they are the “quiet part” of the poem. For articles that delve into the deeper questions of conscience and truth, I encourage you to read our series on conscience and our articles inspired by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Thank you for reading, and keep thinking…

My apologies for not getting this post to you all sooner. Illness is a terrible obstacle to blogging.

Some of you have asked, “What is the rate that we are reading?”. It is approximately 20 pages a day (unless I get sick, then it’s about 0 per day).

Many in my weekly reading group have made the comment, “I’m sad. This is what America used to be like.” America, at that time and even now, is not without her sins (we will touch on Slavery and the Indians next week). I did not have this “ghostly” feeling of a country that is no more until we read the sections on religion. The picture that Tocqueville creates not only shames our most passionate liberty-loving Americans, it also shames our Christians. America used to be a Christian Nation. After reading Tocqueville and seeing the cowardice and corruption displayed by Christians and their leaders today, I’m uncertain how Christian we actually are in America. But we certainly have a plenty of “Obedient Americans”.  

The Church is the First Political Institution

Reading Tocqueville’s observations, it’s difficult to consider our country possessing an immunity to tyranny. The Americans we find in this section (219-376) possess a powerful religious zeal for their country. Tocqueville is interested in investigating the cause that prevents America from dissolving into an anarchist chaos or an oppressive tyranny (see our previous post on Tocqueville). Above all the benefits America has, it is the Christian religion and its influence of customs that is the most important. In America, the most important political institution is the Church:  

Thus, while the law allows the American people to do everything, religion prevents their imagining everything and forbids them from daring to do everything. Religion, which never interferes directly in the government of Americans, should therefore be regarded as the first of their political institutions, for, if it does not give them the taste for liberty, it enables them to take unusual advantage of it. . . I am sure that [Americans] believe [religion is] necessary for the maintenance of republican institutions. This is not an opinion peculiar to one class of citizens or to one party, but to a whole nation; it is found in every rank of society.

Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 342 [emphasis mine].

Ask yourself, do you believe Christianity is essential to the stability of our republic? It does not mean, as we will see later, that pastors should be presidents and that the church should pass laws. Rather, the church is to indirectly influence the republic by teaching the moral law God expects men, and by extension, governments to submit to. For Tocqueville, this is not the idea that you merely preach a sermon on the sins of homosexuality or a fire and brimstone message followed by an altar call. It is that the divine revelation empowers the church to provide the intellectual and moral habits or “customs” that will preserve the nation. The kind of tyranny Tocqueville imagines is the tyranny we have seen exercised in this pandemic; a tyranny enacted for the “good of society” rather than the freedom of the individual.

Up until now, no one in the United States has dared promote the maxim that everything is legitimized in the interest of society, that impious maxim which seems to have been invented in an age of liberty simply to justify every future tyrant.

Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 342.

Tocqueville would not be able to make this statement about America today. “Wear your mask”, “You can’t have more than 10 people in your house”, “You need to modify your religious practices”, “If you’re a good Christian, get the vaccine.” “Wear your mask or else you could get someone killed”. “We don’t want to be considered unscientific at this church. We are following the CDC guidelines.” All of these are real statements that Christians have made throughout the pandemic. I have yet to see a single Christian leader or denomination admit they were duped into exchanging their faith for “the science.” For a good example of how badly they were duped, see Meghan Basham of the Daily Wire’s incredible piece: How the Federal Government Used Evangelical Leaders to Spread COVID propaganda to Churches.  

While it’s impossible to know for sure, based on Tocqueville’s earlier statements and later statements about aristocracy, I doubt he would have “followed the science” nor do I think that Christians of his day would have drastically modified their religious practices or willfully given up their rights in the face of Covid. They were too moral, too smart, and too patriotic.

Our founders and our saints are a great cloud of witnesses; they are looking on as we stumble away from their example. For those of you who complied, you don’t have to keep complying. It is your Christian duty to stand for the natural rights God has given us: the right to freedom of speech, the right to peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, and many others. When Christians believe that they are to submit to the Government’s laws rather than God’s natural law, tyrants thrive.

How could society avoid destruction if, when political ties are relaxed, moral ties are not tightened? And what can be done with a nation in control of itself, if it is not subject to God?

Tocqueville, 344.

God’s Law or Man’s Law?

If you have a habit of thinking, you likely have an idea that sticks in your mind like an itch. You’re aware that you have stumbled on something that might be profound, but you lack words and categories to describe the “itch” without looking like a fool. This is why we read great men. They provide those categories and words that scratch the “itch”. When we dig deep into the writings of a great man it is then that we can begin building an intellectual edifice upon their shoulders. But we ought not take this to mean we are a kind of equal to their intelligence; we are not. There is a big difference between laying a foundation and standing on one.

The itch I had was that of the intersection between the church, politics, and natural law. If natural law is binding on all men, then the laws a state or nation authors must be judged by the standard of nature’s law. In short, a crooked line must be judged by a straight line.

The church wants to see themselves as non-political, but a problem arises when one recognizes that Natural Law is not nature’s law, but God’s Law, and it is the law by which a society rises or falls morally. Its purpose is not to bring salvation, but to hold men accountable and direct them to the source that can provide salvation, (i.e., God). If this is the case, then there is a conflict of interest between the state and the church. It is further complicated by the fact that both the state and the church are dependent on the submission and moral quality of the men that sustain them. Meaning, the behavior of men, either for good or for evil, will affect the health of the state and the church.  

Tocqueville recognized that the American people possessed intellectual, moral, and spiritual habits that had been forged over the course of 18 centuries. We have lost these, and his comments on the Christian man in the woods should cause all of us to consider how we could live our lives better. Not caring about what people see on the outside, but about how we are actively working on our inner lives for the benefit of ourselves, our neighbors, and our country.  

The evening traveler approaches from afar off to see the gleam of a hearth fire through the chinks in the walls at night…Who would not suppose that this poor cottage sheltered some coarse and uneducated people? However, one should not assume a connection between the pioneer and his place of refuge. All about him is primitive and wild, whereas he is the result, so to speak, of eighteen centuries of work and experience. He wears clothes and speaks the language of towns; he is aware of the past, is curious about the future, and is ready to argue about the present. He is a very civilized man prepared to take up a temporary home in the woods, plunging into the wilderness of the New World with his Bible, axe, and newspapers.

Tocqueville, 355.

We have now reached 20 centuries of development, and our Christianity proudly displays an indifference about the state of the world, our communities, and ourselves. “We should care about the state of affairs in our country.” To this the apathetic Christian responds, “Nah, the old is passing away. We don’t need to worry about that, Jesus will come back soon.” To the topic of ourselves he says, “I’m not under the law anymore, I’m saved by grace. I’m not a judgmental Christian, I’m a grace Christian.” This attitude breeds a nationless Christian who is indifferent to God and to his neighbor, but will do anything to keep his career, even compromise his conscience. As Tocqueville says, “Two great dangers threaten the existence of religions: schisms and indifference.”

Patriotic Christians: The Antidote to Tyranny

What is the antidote to this tyranny that Tocqueville foresees, and that we are living through right now? It is a Christianity that sees in the Cross not just salvation for them, but salvation for their country. What if the church needs, not a bit more conservativism or a bit more social justice, but a deeper understanding of the hope they can give nations?

As we consider the times we are in, Tocqueville offers very prescient observations that cast a shadow on our own state of affairs. The moral integrity and habits of Christianity are dying, and with them our rights and liberty itself. The most disturbing thing about this is Christians are either ignorant of this or do not care. Christians are more concerned with getting the life they want rather than pursuing the life they ought. And their pastors seem to encourage them explicitly with “feel good sermons” or implicitly with their silence.

Tocqueville contradicts our modern understanding of the American Dream. American Christians today are self-driven and self-interested; most won’t stand up to their employers, much less a tyrannical government. This stark contrast to early American Christians becomes clear when we consider Tocqueville’s words on the zeal of those Christians and their desire to establish churches to preserve freedom.

I have seen Americans coming together to dispatch priests to the new states in the West in order to found schools and churches. Their fear is that religion might disappear in the depths of the forest and that people growing up there might be less fitted for freedom than the society they had left. I have met wealthy New Englanders who left their native land in order to establish the fundamentals of Christianity and freedom on the banks of the Missouri or in the prairies of Illinois. In this way, in the United States, religious zeal constantly gains vitality from the fires of patriotism.  

Tocqueville, 343.

Today, pastors are terrified of being perceived as political. However, it is precisely when they delude themselves into thinking their theology has no political implications that they become a puppet for the government. It must be understood that when the church sees itself as apolitical, it sows the seeds of a corrupt nation and the destruction of their cathedrals.  

Allow me to put forward a conundrum for you pastors and Christian leaders out there. If God has a natural law, who must ensure that it is taught and followed? If natural rights come from God, who is supposed to be the most ardent protector of those rights? One might be tempted to answer “the government”, but are not governments subject to God? God does have a “royal priesthood” and their duty is to teach not just what is necessary for salvation, but to “will the good of the city” without compromising the laws of God. Natural rights are not privileges. They are the rights afforded us by God and our spiritual needs are nourished by the exercise of these natural rights. Additionally, the connection of these rights to the imago-dei becomes evident when Christians actively and in godliness exercise these rights peacefully in opposition to tyrannical regimes.  

There has never been a better time for you, especially if you are a Christian, to pick up a copy of Alexis De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and begin reading it with the nerds in your church. I leave you to mediate on this quote from Tocqueville.

“Tyranny may be able to do without faith, but freedom cannot.” 

Tocqueville, 344.

Keep thinking.

Disclaimer: these notes are just that, notes. They are not heavily edited but should provide a summary of the book’s ideas. The goal is to get the reader to recognize their need to read the book, not be dependent on the commentary alone. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

In our previous post, we discussed how Tocqueville was a prophet and philosopher: not in the revelatory sense we find in scripture, but in the sense that he is a student of the causes and natures of things. My goal in this post is to present a summary of three of his observations:

  1. Rational people are required for our government to work.
  2. Great men are a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition for a great nation.
  3. The evils of freedom of speech are a check on evil governments. 

Intelligence is a Prerequisite for Governance

Tocqueville makes the observation that Americans are a sophisticated political people. From the lowest rungs of society to the highest classes of American life, Tocqueville recognized that Americans’ knowledge of their government permeated everyone’s life

“The federal system rests therefore, whatever one does, upon a complicated theory which, in application, demands a daily exercise of rationality from its citizens. . .The Constitution of the United States[sic], the most complete of all known federal constitutions, it is frightening to note how many differences of knowledge and discernment it assumes in those governed. The government of the Union rests almost entirely upon legal fictions. The Union is an idealized nation which exists, as it were, only in men’s imagination and whose scope and limitations are revealed by understanding alone.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America and Two Essays on America, trans. Gerald E. Bevan (New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2003), 193.

This statement implies that uneducated nations cannot be afforded the same privileges as educated nations. It is a bit disturbing when you consider that our country is unsure of the meaning of pronouns, let alone the distinction between the judicial, legislative, and executive branches. As we will see, these other nations will revert to military despotism or tribalism.

Tocqueville continues the point that rationality and understanding of the people is necessary for the society to function by comparing young America with their neighboring country, Mexico.

The Constitution of the United States is akin to those fine creations of human endeavor which crown their inventors with renown and wealth but remain sterile in other hands. Contemporary Mexico has illustrated this very thing. The Mexicans, aiming for a federal system, took the federal constitution of their neighbors, the Anglo-Americans, as their model and copied it almost exactly. But although they transported the letter of the law, they failed to transfer at the same time the spirit which gave it life. As a result, [Mexico] became tangled endlessly in the machinery of their double system of government. The sovereignty of states and Union entered into a collision course as they exceeded the sphere of influence assigned to them by the constitution. Even today Mexico veers constantly from anarchy to military despotism and back again.

Ibid, 194.

It is difficult to argue with Tocqueville’s analysis. Thus far, I agree with the implication: a complex political system requires a people that behave rationally and are capable of nuanced political thought. To be clear, this is not political in the sense of “stumping for issues”. Tocqueville is not suggesting that a person who can outline their party’s over-simplified talking points is politically sophisticated. He is observing that the responsibilities of the federal government and the state governments were understood by every citizen. This provided a necessary stability to what he describes throughout the book as a chaotic system of politics.    

The Gift of Isolation

There is a concept in the Bible of a “refuge”. A bible translator friend of mine provided a devotional in which he discussed how the Jewish people would understand a “refuge” in the psalms. They would not consider it a castle, but rather a “natural” fortress or defensive point, or in other words a place of protection that is not man-made. This is what America was for the post-revolutionary citizens. Being a 6-month journey from any credible military threat, the Americans were afforded the incredible privilege of a “natural fortress” where her defensive structures were not merely stone walls and forts, but included the walls of the ocean and the cloak of open spaces. 

How does it come about that the American Union, protected as it is by the comparative perfection of its laws, does not collapse in the middle of a great war? It is simply that it has no great wars to fear.

Situated at the center of a huge continent in which human industry can enjoy limitless expansion, the Union is almost as isolated from the world as if it were surrounded on all sides by the ocean.

Ibid, 199.

There is a tendency for Americans, especially conservatives, to believe that America’s success is owed solely to the brilliance of the founding fathers. Tocqueville would disagree. While great men are a necessary ingredient for a great country, they are not sufficient on their own to establish a great country (you must have sugar to make cookies, but you can’t make cookies with sugar alone). There have been many great men and women, correct as they may have been, who died and whose ideas never became the guiding light of the people.

This unfortunate fact is due to the ever-present threat of neighboring nations encroaching on each other’s sovereignty. It was not too long ago that Russia and Germany began expanding their borders and forcefully occupying neighboring countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine etc). Threats like this cloud out the sun that freedom requires to grow.

Talking to my fellow Americans, they have a bit of implied hubris when they discuss other countries and their restrictions. “How could they not figure it out? Just take what we did and implement it in your country and you’ll be like America.” This is a naïve and ignorant position that neglects to understand the role that providence played in establishing our country. Unfortunately, these privileges were not afforded to other nations. We must not take for granted the additional conditions that are outside our control, the non-man-made conditions, that set the stage for the birth of a great nation. In order for freedom to be obtained, it requires great men, freedom from the world, and as Tocqueville points out, freedom of speech.

Freedom’s Evil

Freedom of speech is a counterintuitive idea. A society that protects the right to speak requires a resilient and tolerant people that are willing to sacrifice their own well-being for the rights of someone with whom they disagree. This includes speech that may promote ideas you judge as evil.

In order to enjoy the priceless advantages guaranteed by press freedom, one must submit to the unavoidable evils it produces. The wish to achieve the former while escaping the latter means submission to one of those illusions which normally sick nations use to soothe themselves when, tired of struggling and exhausted by their efforts, they seek the means of combining hostile opinions and opposing principles at the same time, in the same land.

Ibid, 211.

Freedom of any kind is a scary thing. Freedom is a combination of activity and responsibility: activity in that those who don’t exercise their freedoms will lose them, and the responsibility to ensure that we use our freedoms, not the government, to destroy false ideas and claims. As a consequence, we create the potential for evil because freedom must be applied to all, based not on our political positions but on our shared humanity. A man is free to believe that he is a woman, but he does not have the right to dictate to the world that they affirm his belief any more than an atheist can dictate that all Christians, Muslims, and Jews must now recant their faith.

Tocqueville ties freedom of speech, like others in our founding (e.g. George Washington), to despotism. While evil may find its ways into the cracks of freedom of speech, without it a greater evil, mainly totalitarianism, will find its way to the levers of power within society and it will crush your freedoms and with them your soul.

“I confess that I do not accord to press freedom that entire and instantaneous affection which one grants to things which are supremely good by their very nature. My affection for it stems from my regard for the evils it prevents rather than for the benefits it produces.”

Ibid, 210.

We find ourselves in a difficult time as a society; we no longer understand how precious nor how fragile our freedoms are. More discouraging than the moving targets of politics is the sliding scale of men’s convictions. Today a person will be outraged at a vaccine mandate and the suppression of scientific inquiry; tomorrow he is showing his passport to eat at his favorite restaurant. The rage only last for a moment. Tocqueville has something to say about this as well:

            A great man has said that ignorance lies at both ends of knowledge. Perhaps it would have been truer to state that deep convictions lie at the two ends, with doubt in the middle. In fact, human understanding may be considered as having three distinct states which frequently follow one another.

            Man has strong beliefs because he adopts them without looking deeply into them. Doubt arises when he is faced with objections. He often succeeds in resolving these doubts and thereupon he believes once again. This time he no longer seizes truth by accident or in the dark; he sees it face to face and walks straight toward the light. . .

It may be guaranteed that most men will halt in one or other of these two states, either believing without knowing why or ignorant of what precisely they ought to believe. Only a very small number of men will ever be blessed with the attainment of this other kind of deliberate self-confident conviction born of knowledge and arising from the very heart of agitation and doubt.

Ibid, 218.

Today, we do not appreciate the freedom to speak our minds. In fact, we are terrified of it so much that we will literally go along with the idea that a man can be a woman. Sure, you may think in your mind that it is bogus, but when HR hosts a gender appreciation month, you will find yourself applauding the progress your workplace as made. The belief of lies comes first from the suppression of the truth. Tocqueville recognizes the evils of freedom, but he also knows that they prevent a far worse evil: the transformation of citizens into subjects.

I am convinced, after reading Solzhenitsyn and Tocqueville, that they would look at our society and predict our demise—not that we would be overrun or conquered, but that we would become the very nation we had revolted against. Men have no conscience anymore, not because they lack principles but because they possess the wrong ones.

A good friend of mine asked, “What happens to a man’s soul when he is coerced to affirm a lie?” My best attempt at an answer is this: he severs his bonds of friendship and enslaves himself to those dark souls known as “comrades”. Should we lose our freedom to speak our mind, we will find ourselves in a dark place. But we must never forget, even in the darkness there is one for whom darkness and light are the same.

If you’re the type of person who skips the prefaces or introductions, shame on you; but if you pick up the Penguin Classics’ version of Democracy in America, you must read Kramnick’s introduction.  Beyond its readability, it demonstrates that Tocqueville is someone we all should be reading right now.

Kramnick writes:

“If the number of times an individual is cited by politicians, journalists, and scholars is a measure of their influence, Alexis de Tocqueville — not Jefferson, Madison, or Lincoln — is America’s public philosopher.”

Isaac Kramnick, introduction to the 2003 edition of Democracy in America and Two Essays on America. (New York: Penguin Books, 2003), i.

I would further this point and argue that Tocqueville is also America’s prophet. His descriptions of the Supreme Court, his comments on China becoming a power admired by future leaders, and his belief that an idolatry of individualism would eventually be the downfall of America are being realized in our own time. He is a demonstration of how a philosopher is not someone with a crystal ball, but rather someone with a deep understanding of the causal relationship between ideas and the people that live by them.

One of Tocqueville’s observations is that liberty flourished in America because it was defended by those who lived under tyranny. It’s clear that our founders had their love of liberty branded on their hearts through the fires of political tyrants.

[Americans] had all received their upbringing amid a crisis in society during which the spirit of liberty had been constantly locked in a struggle against a powerfully tyrannical authority. Once the struggle was over, these men called a halt even though, as is usual, the passions aroused in the crowd still persisted in their fight against dangers long since gone.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America and Two Essays on America, trans. Gerald E. Bevan (New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2003), 178

Appreciation for liberty comes from living under tyranny. I’m not sure that we understand this in our country; from millennials to boomers, we have become naïve about the corruptible nature of government. Tocqueville would, and did discourage, the blind trust our citizenry has in our government. Hence, those who have lived under tyranny are the most outspoken against COVID passports, while those who have gained a comfortable life through political apathy have complied.  

Revolutions have a tendency to be indefinite, regardless of the moral superiority of their position. They are like sharks: once they get a taste of blood, they become frenzied and insatiable. We find ourselves in a time in which two revolutions are being waged, those of wokeness on the left and those of nationalism on the right. Neither of these groups are friendly to historic Christianity. Tocqueville saw this on the horizon of America and gave plenty of warnings to his readers about the future of the nation. 

Idolatry of Individualism Leads to Totalitarianism

There are two long passages that I would like to quote for you that are the major takeaways from the first 250 or so pages. The first quote from Kramnick is an overview of Tocqueville. The second is from Tocqueville about the psychology of an apathetic citizen. Both excerpts express ideas that have already entrenched themselves in our politics today. Furthermore, they demonstrate why Tocqueville is vital to understanding the times in which we find ourselves.

Kramnick summarizes Tocqueville’s thoughts:

Rampant American individualism with its legions of fortune hunters, scurrying feverishly to better themselves, is more worrisome than merely the offense it gives to Tocqueville’s anti-commercial sensitivities. [Tocqueville’s] worst fear is that disconnected and docile individuals will apathetically succumb to a despotic, tutelary state. In love with property and ‘the enjoyment of the present moment,’ Americans turn from public life and ‘stand independently,’ creating the danger that individuals seeking only their own interest, existing for themselves alone, will leave all common concerns to the government, which if it offers them order and security will be granted more and more power unto omnipotence. Tocqueville conjures up a nightmarish democratic despotism, seemingly mild in its paternal control, but totalitarian in its reach. In this frightening fantasy the state takes over education, which the liberal Tocqueville, like Mill, opposed; it provides for economic wellbeing and manages most commercial affairs, virtually relieving individuals of the need to think for themselves. The horrible prospect comes full circle when self-centered individuals, whose initial abandonment of public affairs ultimately led to the state’s despotism, find themselves isolated and alone, ‘lost in the crowd.’

Kramnick, introduction, xxxiii-xxxiv.

Tocqueville’s warnings of a “Big Brother” state came well before Orwell’s 1984. Those that trust governments as upright and righteous entities more than likely think too highly of themselves; this is known as projection. Those that self-deprecate but elevate the government are inconsistent, since every government is a direct result of the ideas and ethics of the citizens that produced it.

Centralization, Apathy, and the Conquering of Nations

“It’s a different time…” seems to be on the lips of everyone these days. When most people use this phrase, they are acknowledging the suppression of rights, while simultaneously informing that they will do nothing to restore them. There is one exception: they will do whatever the government says you have to do in order to get them back. But to accept the terms of this exchange is to forfeit the idea of natural rights, meaning your right to speak is based on your humanity, not on whether you say the “politically correct” words. These individuals identify with different parties, but agree on the centralization of the government and its authority for the “greater good”.  Tocqueville discusses this kind of centralization of the government and how it will breed apathy in the nation and ultimately lead to its conquering.

There are European nations where the inhabitant sees himself as a kind of settler, indifferent to the fate of the place he inhabits. Major changes happen there without his cooperation, he is even unaware of what precisely has happened; he is suspicious; he hears about events by chance. Worse still, the condition of his village, the policing of the roads, the fate of the churches and presbyteries scarcely bothers him; he thinks that everything is outside his concern and belongs to a powerful stranger called the government. He enjoys what he has as a tenant, without any detachment from his own fate becomes so extreme that, if his own safety or that of his children is threatened, instead of trying to ward off the danger, he folds his arms and waits for the entire nation to come to his rescue.

Furthermore, this man, although he has so comfortably sacrificed his own will, still does not like obeying any more than the next man. Granted he submits to the whim of a clerk but, as soon as force is withdrawn, he enjoys defying the law as if it were a conquered enemy. So we see him constantly wavering between slavishness and license.

When nations have reached this point, they have to modify their laws and customs or perish, for the spring of public virtue has, as it were, dried up. Subjects still exist but citizens are no more. I maintain that such nations are ready for conquest. If they do not disappear from the world stage, it is only because they must be surrounded by nations either similar or inferior to them; or they must retain in their hearts a sort of indefinable intuition of patriotism, some unconscious pride in the name they bear, some indistinct memory of their past glory which, though unable to latch on to anything in particular, is enough, when pressed, to imprint upon them some impulse of self-preservation.

Tocqueville, 110-112.

Tocqueville describes a state of affairs that we are only now beginning to reap from seeds planted some 20+ years ago. If you think it goes further than 20, comment below. Regardless of the timeline, we find ourselves in a country that has forgotten its identity. Its citizenry is largely unaware of the workings of government, people have adopted fidelity to government rather than to neighbor and truth, our citizens (on both sides of the aisle) have mainstreamed major conspiracy theories (The left – Trump is a Russian agent; The right – the vaccine is a genocidal weapon; both parties questioning election integrity). We no longer have a memory of why our country was founded, and those that are searching history for a memory of our country cannot agree on its historical identity. Regardless of your political perspective, Tocqueville and the greatest minds history has produced recognize that if our country continues on its current trajectory that it will no longer exist.

🎄 Darkest night, O Holy night
When his glory took flight.

✨ What was it like when He descended?
Heaven and earth were upended.

🎄 Let me imagine his descent.
Impart mercy, for heresy is not my intent.

✨ Imagination God has granted.
That we may draw with truth enchanted.

🎄 Not with hard lines of law.
Rather, beauty, unity, the good, and awe.

✨ For how are we, material and broken,
To understand mysteries unspoken?

🎄 Before His descent into our earthly ways,
He existed in Heaven as the Ancient of Days.

✨ Can you imagine how it would start?
How the Ancient of Days and his glory part?

🎄 The stars, they align,
Forming a stairway divine.

✨ To earth these stairs like water flow
And with each step His glories go.

🎄 Fast and swift his majesty set aside.
But let our mind do its work where time does not abide.

✨ Let us imagine what each step imparts.
As the Ancient of days, his home he departs.

🎄 The first step brings bone and marrow,
And with them comes future sorrow.

✨ The second brings nerves and pain,
And with them comes future disdain.

🎄 The third brings blood and life,
And with them comes future strife.

✨ The fourth brings a heart and mind,
And with them comes a future bind.

🎄 The fifth brings nose, mouth, eyes, and ears.
And with them comes future tears.

✨ The sixth brings hands and feet and head to adorn
And with them comes future nails and crown of thorn.

🎄 The final brings a child born today,
And with it brings a manger filled with hay.

✨ The incarnation is now complete
The Ancient of Days is now asleep.

🎄 No nails, nor cross, nor crown has start.
No beatings, nor piercings, nor God torn apart.

✨ It is a holy night and the stars are shining.
As the Word made flesh is peacefully abiding.

🎄 The divine became flesh,
But his natures were not enmeshed.

✨ He had begun the journey; man shall be saved;
Man, wretched, wicked, and heart so depraved.

🎄 How did Christ set aside his glory?
Maybe this is part of the story?

✨ Alas it is not for us to know.
But this provides our imagination room to grow.

🎄 The impassible God became passible man;
How we wish to know, but no one can.

✨ On that night, that silent night
Our savior came down a holy flight.

🎄 As our King lay in Mary’s arms.
Let us thank him for his future harms.

✨ Knowing that he calls all who follow,
To be more than bodies dark and hollow.

🎄 We too have crosses to bear,
self to deny and sorrows to care.

✨ But praise be to God for descending his throne
And on that silent night making his love known.

Keep Thinking.

In darkness, God will meet us. This is the claim of Psalm 139. There is nowhere we can go where God is not; darkness and light are the same to him (Ps. 139:12). What kind of being is God, that darkness does not affect him and light emanates from him? When your life has been one of immense blessing and privilege, it is difficult to grasp what the psalmist states so confidently.

Pause for a moment and attempt to answer these questions for yourself. If you’re able, attempt to write the explanations; the mouth reveals our soul to others, but the pen reveals our soul to ourselves. 

Juxtaposed to these passages of God’s omniscience and omnipresence are the famous passages about God’s personal involvement with our identity and destiny. God is described famously by the psalmist as “knitting” us together in our mother’s womb, implying a deep and intimate design that only he could author. This prompts the question: if our identities are uniquely tailored, has God also uniquely tailored our trials and adversity?

These questions are difficult for us western, free, and prosperous Christians to answer. But for many Christians who lack these things, God’s love within their suffering is as evident to them as a mother’s love for her children. Our explanations fall short in because its reasonability is found in experience, not mere argument.

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God.

If you enjoy comparative readings, allow me to make a suggestion. Read the following passages together: Psalm 19, 2 Chronicles 33, and Gulag Volume 1 pages 482-83. Here, we see the Psalmist declare his knowledge of the Creator that was gleaned from the heavens. In the Chronicles, we read of Manasseh who, rather than worshiping the Creator to which the heavens declared, set up altars for “all the stars in the sky” (2 Chron. 33:6). In Gulag, we read the story of an astronomer named Nikolai Aleksandrovich Kozyrev who saved himself from insanity in the Gulag “. . . only by thinking of the eternal and infinite: of the order of the Universe—and of its Supreme Spirit; of the stars; of their internal state; and what Time and the passing of Time really are.”

Psalm 139 once again provides a foundation for grasping the significance and overlap of these three passages: “If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.” Sheol, or the place of the dead, is an appropriate analogate for the Gulag. Nikolai and Manasseh both found God in the darkness.

The Prison and the Soul

Solzhenitsyn, in a way only he can, describes the effects that the prison has on the soul.  

“. . .The soul of the lonely prisoner begins to emit, like the halo of a saint. Torn from the hustle-bustle of everyday life in so absolute a degree that even counting the passing minutes puts him intimately in touch with the Universe, the lonely prisoner has to have been purged of every imperfection, of everything that has stirred and troubled him in his former life, that has prevented his muddied waters from settling into transparency. How gratefully his fingers reach out to feel and crumble the lumps of earth in the vegetable garden (but, alas, it is all asphalt). How his head rises of itself toward the Eternal Heavens (but, alas, this is forbidden).”

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1 (p. 483). Harper Perennial. Kindle Edition.

Is it possible that this is, in some respect, how Manasseh also found the effects of pain and prison life? Solzhenitsyn describes in detail what the scripture summarizes in Manasseh’s story: that prison and pain are cleansers of the soul and a purifier of the mind. Through its fires, the soul begins to ‘radiate’ and recognize that the universe’s true purpose is to reflect the glory of its Creator.

The Lord confronted Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the Lord brought against them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria. They seized Manasseh, put hooks in his nose, bound him with bronze chains, and carried him away to Babylon. In his pain Manasseh asked the Lord his God for mercy and truly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. When he prayed to the Lord, the Lord responded to him and answered favorably his cry for mercy. The Lord brought him back to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh realized that the Lord is the true God.

2 Chronicles 33:10-13

Here we see Manasseh crying out for God. Similarly, we see Nikolai crying out for God to help him, of all things, to solve an astrophysics problem. According to Solzhenitsyn, Nikolai “began to discover a new field in physics” but he was not able to continue his work. So he prayed, not to end his suffering, but to solve a problem that God had uniquely gifted him to undertake:

But [Nikolai]’s line of mental exploration was blocked by forgotten figures. He could not build any further—he had to have a lot of figures. Now just where could he get them in his solitary-confinement cell with its overnight kerosene lamp, a cell into which not even a little bird could enter? And the scientist prayed: “Please, God! I have done everything I could. Please help me! Please help me continue!”

Ibid. 484.

Before we read further, let us recall the mysterious passage of Psalm 139: darkness and light are the same to God; there is nowhere we can go that he is not; he knows our days and has been intimately involved in our creation.

At this time [Nikolai] was entitled to receive one book every ten days (by then he was alone in the cell). . .Half an hour passed after his prayer; they came to exchange his book; and as usual, without asking anything at all, they pushed a book at him. It was entitled A Course in Astrophysics! Where had it come from? He simply could not imagine such a book in the prison library. Aware of the brief duration of this coincidence, [Nikolai] threw himself on it and began to memorize everything he needed immediately, and everything he might need later on. In all, just two days had passed, and he had eight days left in which to keep his book, when there was an unscheduled inspection by the chief of the prison. His eagle eye noticed immediately. “But you are an astronomer?” “Yes.” “Take this book away from him!” But its mystical arrival had opened the way for his further work, which he then continued in the camp in Norilsk.

Ibid. 484.


You may not understand why God made you the way he did. But for all your flaws and beauty, it may be the case that you will not recognize the glory of God manifested in you until he calls you to bear your cross, set your feet among the coals of hell, and in that moment of suffering, share a moment with you and reveal how he not only tailored your soul, he knew the intensity of the fire, and the unique piece of his glory your identity would reflect. But what if I fail?

Does God promise to only show his glory through perfect vessels? No. Those that endure are beautiful and reflect a unique aspect of God’s creative handiwork. But for those who try and fail to endure the fiery trials he has planned for them, God will demonstrate his glory through their redemption — preserving his original creation and accomplishing through your redemption what you could not on your own.

In all these passages, we discover that suffering is a necessary part of becoming what God intends. We are unfamiliar with the pervasiveness of suffering in the west, especially when much of the suffering we are expected to endure is at the hands of other people — Christian and non-Christian alike. These sufferings can range from exile by our family and friends to, God forbid, a Gulag or labor camp; often these sufferings are a direct result from the Christian convictions that ground our moral and political beliefs. But we who know God can trust that in the darkness that covers us, he is there. If we spread our bodies on the floors of hell, he is there. Should we fail, we must remember he can, from our very bones, raise us up and bring new life. In the end, darkness and light are the same to him; our identities were fashioned in love and order; our days are numbered and the trials he has prepared for us are uniquely tailored to reveal his fingerprints on our soul; with a God as mysterious as the I AM, should we be surprised that his fingerprints may only be illuminated in the fires of hell?

May God give us strength to love our neighbors as ourselves, to endure the trials he has prepared for us, to praise him for our unique giftings for the times of today and for the generations of the future. And when we fail, let us not forget that he is a redeemer; his mercy is always there for those who ask. God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

Keep Thinking. 

Resources used for this post:

Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Is the Church Ready?


Writing on The Great Reset is a risky endeavor. On the one hand you risk being lumped in with the conspiracy theorists, and on the other you risk underselling the real threat to freedom.

The Great Reset and its supporters declare that COVID-19 provides governments with the emergency policies necessary to radically transform the way we live. This not up for debate; the authors do an excellent job ensuring that the optimists of the world understand that “going back to the good ole days” is not an option. (In this article, The Great Reset will refer to the book, while the term Reset will refer to the concepts of the book)

“[The Great Reset] is not a ‘nice-to-have’ but an absolute necessity. . . Some may resist the necessity to engage in it, fearful of the magnitude of the task and hopeful that the sense of urgency will subside and the situation will soon get back to ‘normal’. . .The conviction that today’s world is better than it has ever been, while correct, cannot serve as an excuse for taking comfort in the status quo and failing to fix the many ills that continue to afflict it.”

Schwab, Charles & Thierry Malleret, COVID-19: The Great Reset. (Geneva, Switzerland: Forum Publishing, 2000), 245.

This article is an attempt to thread the needle of apathy and conspiracy to expel ignorance and raise awareness among the readers. This does not require us to be conspiratorial or distracted by fantastical theories on the internet. The ideas laid out in The Great Reset are terrifying enough to usher in a digital dark age, and its authors possess the influence and political power necessary to implement it. “Build back better”, “Reset”, and “fundamentally change the economy”, are all slogans synonymous with the ideas of The Great Reset. In their own words, the only thing that can prevent them from achieving their goal is a citizenry that desires individualism over globalism.  

What is the Great Reset?

COVID-19: The Great Reset is a book written by the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab and his colleague, Thierry Malleret. The book was published in June 2020. The World Economic Forum has an annual conference, and this book appears to be a summary of the 2020 conference’s presentations. The book covers a significant amount of content, much more than I can summarize. The Great Reset is not a timeless treasure, but it is an important and influential book for our time. It should be read, but not overanalyzed.

Midway through my seminary education, I was assigned to read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. About halfway through, I had produced a sticky-note tab on nearly every other page; the book looked like a small peacock, with each crumpled tab having its own scribbled rebuke. One day, I had the book on my office desk (I worked at the seminary). My professor walked in and picked up the atheistic propaganda. He was a towering man, well over 6 feet tall. In an instant, I found myself hoping for a compliment. What would it be? My attention to detail? My meticulous markings of the sticky-tabs? Maybe we’ll strike up a conversation about my impeccable insights? Pride cometh before the fall, as they say.

“This…” he said, gesturing to the whole book, “is not worth all of this.” and thumbed all my sticky tabs. Humbled, I realized he was correct.

The Great Reset and Propaganda

COVID-19: The Great Reset, like The God Delusion, is a piece of influential propaganda. We read other faiths and atheistic writings to understand those with which we disagree. There are plenty of timeless authors who will challenge or bolster our beliefs. Their works demand and deserve the best of our intellectual effort and attention. They rest on the pillars of time and truth — not on sophistry and iconoclasm that will likely fade from memory after the author’s funeral.  The Great Reset does not provide groundbreaking ideas or timeless truths; rather, it provides the reader with insights into a world they are not otherwise privy to: what do some of the most powerful persons in the world believe about technology, healthcare, and government post-pandemic? Their goal is to usher in a “fundamental” change to the global economy and the way nations interact with their citizens. More diversity and inclusion, specifically for minorities and LGBTQ+ groups, climate control, and more visibility into your personal day-to-day life and finances, is a short list of the ways your life could change under their Reset. If they hadn’t put it in a book, it would be hard to believe.  

“With the economic emergency responses to the pandemic now in place, the opportunity can be seized to make the kind of institutional changes and policy choices that will put economies on a new path towards a fairer, greener future. The history of radical rethinking in the years following World War II, which included the establishment of the Bretton Woods institutions, the United Nations, the EU and the expansion of welfare states, shows the magnitude of the shifts possible.”

Ibid. 57.

In summary, The Great Reset will capitalize on the pandemic, and implement a regress in all factors of your life: government, culture, healthcare, and economy. This will be accomplished via a technological reset and the implementation of a “global surveillance network” through mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT):

“…the containment of the coronavirus pandemic will necessitate a global surveillance network capable of identifying new outbreaks as soon as they arise, laboratories in multiple locations around the world that can rapidly analyzes new viral strains and develop effective treatments, large IT infrastructures so that communities can prepare and react effectively, appropriate and coordinated policy mechanisms to efficiently implement the decisions once they are made and so on…Its effectiveness depends on how well it works as a whole, and it is only as strong as its weakest link.”

Ibid. 34, emphasis mine.

Hope you have your COVID passport; would hate for you to be the “weakest link”.

The Church and the Government

The church and the government share the same object. Man is the necessary and sufficient resource needed to produce governments and religious institutions. No man, no church. No man, no government. He is a spiritual and political animal. His life in one sphere directly affects his life in the other; there is no separating the two from a man’s life. If he is taxed more, he cannot give as much to the church. If he is thrown in jail by his leaders, he cannot worship with his community. Thus, when men make a moral claim about man’s livelihood and his purpose, they make an assertion that the church is not only qualified to evaluate, but obligated to assess and judge.

“[The Great Reset] is ultimately a moral choice about whether to prioritize the qualities of individualism or those that favor the destiny of the community.” 

Ibid. 220, emphasis mine.

All moral systems are in peace or conflict with the church. Her representatives are obligated to challenge the government when policies or abuse of power distort God’s will for mankind. The Reset is a collectivist, or communist, framework. Political systems are moral, and The Great Reset is no exception. Communism should be understood in terms of a competing moral system with the church. The Great Reset proposes a moral system, one we can accept or reject.

The Reset seeks to restrict and suppress individualism in favor of the collective; this is a stated goal of communist propagandists. In the introduction to The Black Book of Communism, the introduction’s author affirms that communist systems are moral systems and that the biggest failure of the West is to view it as a product of social processes.

“Even so, a basic problem remains…the premise that Communism can be understood in an aseptic and value-free mode, as the pure product of social process. . . With such fables now consigned to what Trotsky called ‘the ash heap of history,’ perhaps a moral, rather than a social, approach to the Communist phenomenon can yield a truer understanding. . .” 

Martin Malia  “Forward” in The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression, ed. Mark Kramer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Press, 1999), x, emphasis mine.

Reading The Great Reset in light of the Black Book of Communism demonstrates the similarities Communism and the Reset share. Both will disrupt God’s purpose for man as a political and spiritual creature. God has endowed government with the sword, but he has not made government his representatives; we Christians, and specifically our Christian pastors, priests, deacons, and elders (or whatever other name you have for “Christian leader”) have an obligation to confront sin wherever it may be found. How is a government to know its God-given boundaries if his clergy remain silent?

The “Political” Christian

The idea that your faith is apolitical or can exist without influencing a nation negates the millions of Christians in other countries that see the Christian faith as the antidote to the political tyranny in their countries. I had the opportunity to participate in a day of prayer and fasting for Christians serving an international ministry. Nearly 200 nations sent in prayer requests for us to pray over, many of their requests asking for revival so that their governments would be reformed to a more free and less totalitarian state. Christians in the prayer group commented that they were surprised at “how political some of the requests were.”

Furthermore, do pastors who remain silent on “political” matters today truly believe that it was virtuous for pastors to remain silent in the wake of policies that instigated famines in Ukraine or the displacement of the Jews in Germany? How are Christians under their care to know what belongs to Cesar and what belongs to God if pastors only talk about God and not about Cesar? Does the church believe that it should stand by idly while politicians lead Christians astray into a dystopian nightmare? Is the church prepared for The Great Reset and its moral impositions? Clergy and their congregants may want to reflect on the meaning of complicity and its role in ushering in hellish governments and oppression.

The complicity of those who rushed into voluntary servitude has not always been as abstract and theoretical as it may seem. Simple acceptance and/or dissemination of propaganda designed to conceal the truth is invariably a symptom of active complicity.”

Stéphane Courtois “Introduction: The Crimes of Communism” in Black Book of Communism, ed. Mark Kramer (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Press, 1999), 13.

Is the Church Prepared?

The answer is no. Our pastors are cowards, not all of them, but a significant amount of them. For example, where are the church leaders, from any denomination, condemning the actions of Australia, France, and Italy? They are silent, because they fear the recourse that could come from the mainstream labeling them as political. They fear man rather than God. When God’s law (natural or revealed) is violated, the church, specifically her leaders, are to affirm the truth in the face of lies. If a human right comes from God, is not the pastor, as God’s representative, morally obligated to defend that right? If our rights are stripped, do our leaders not have a moral obligation to serve God rather than men and to exercise that right, even if they could be punished for it? This is not an argument that laws should be written by the church. Rather, they are to alert governments and her leaders when they are risking divine condemnation on themselves and their citizenry through the support and execution of unjust laws. The church should see itself as a base camp of spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual nourishment for those that refuse to submit to an unjust law. It was, after all, the greatest Christian thinkers of all time that said, “an unjust law is no law at all.”

For a church to prepare, they must read COVID-19: The Great Reset. As I write this, the economy is struggling, supply chains are blocked, immigration is elevated, China is flexing, Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban, and Vaccination Passports are getting stricter everywhere in the world. All of these scenarios, minus Afghanistan, were predicted by The Great Reset’s authors. If you want to know what kind of future your leaders are attempting to actualize, read the book for yourself. It is the play book for world leaders and compliant constituents, and the leaders appear to be implementing these solutions chapter-by-chapter.   

What Should We Do?

So, you read the book. Now what? The church should learn from Joseph and prepare for the future. Regardless of what you think about vaccines and mandates, Schwab and Malleret predict significant shock waves to the economy, which will inevitably hinder the livelihoods of church members and the bottom line of churches. Schwab and company also predict that automation will replace more jobs, i.e., more low-income workers, welfare programs will be expanded, the government will need more control of healthcare and insight into your financial assets so they know their upper and lower limits for the next catastrophe.

I may disagree with Schwab and Malleret on their communist ideas, but I don’t believe they are wrong on the impact their policies will have on the economy. They are obviously brilliant men and know what they are talking about. This is not the kind of book where the authors try to hide the weak points of their arguments. Rather, it is a set of ideas expressed by individuals that know they have the power to implement them, and they are stating exactly how they intend to do it.  In their own words, they say this could take “decades” to transform and recover. Indeed, Justin Trudeau announced that his net-zero-emissions plan will be implemented over the course of 30 years. Again, this is not merely a right-wing talking point, it is the “planners” stated consequence of “fundamentally” changing the economy and resetting it. Inflation, supply chains, disruption to the healthcare system, and increased unemployment due to government subsidies will cause significant problems to the stabilization of any economy. There is no “one-size-fits-all” scenario for the church, and ignorance is not a virtue. Acting like things are “normal” or getting back to “normal” is not an option. This is affirmed by common sense as well as Schwab, Malleret, and a cadre of government leaders.

Finally, the church must unite the body of Christ against The Great Reset and its communist agenda. There is no guarantee that The Great Reset will be successful, and the authors acknowledge this. But no matter how the world reveals itself over the coming years, the church must ensure that it regains and exercises its influence. In doing so, it must preach against totalitarian collectives, both secular and puritanical, but also radical individualism.

The Threat of Individualism

My father used to say, “every strength taken to an extreme is a weakness.” Individualism is essential to a thriving and free society, but so is respect for political office and the role God intended government to play in the life of his creation. In Democracy in America, there is a brilliant introduction by a man named Isaac Kramnick. Kramnick highlights Tocqueville’s concerns about a radical individualism:

[Tocqueville’s] worst fear is that disconnected and docile individuals will apathetically succumb to a despotic tutelary state. In love with property and ‘the enjoyment of the present moment,’ Americans turn from public life and ‘stand independently,’ creating the danger that individuals seeking only their own interest, existing for themselves alone, will leave all common concerns to the government, which if it offers them order and security will be granted more and more power unto omnipotence. Tocqueville conjures up a nightmarish democratic despotism, seemingly mild in its paternal control, but totalitarian in its reach. In this frightening fantasy the state takes over education, which the liberal Tocqueville. . . opposed; it provides for economic wellbeing and manages most commercial affairs, virtually relieving individuals of the need to think for themselves. The horrible prospect comes full circle when self-centered individuals, whose initial abandonment of public affairs ultimately led to the state’s despotism, find themselves isolated and alone, ‘lost in the crowd.’”  

Isaac Kramnick “Introduction” in Democracy in America and Two Essays on America trans. Gerald Bevan (London: Penguin Books, 2003), xxxiii-xxxiv. 

Those that are optimistic about the future and those that are apathetic about government overreach are both in the wrong. One is grown out of false optimism that says, “things always come back around”. These types of individuals will criticize Russian novels as being depressing and having a bleak outlook towards life; who would want to read that? The other group tends to be selfish and if the radical progressives don’t tread on them, they don’t care whether progressives tread on anyone else.

A New Creation

The Reset is a revolution influencing the most powerful countries and corporations to fundamentally change the economy in a “militaristic style” campaign. These were the words that Prince Charles used during a recent climate summit. This revolutionary rhetoric is only bolstered, and most likely influenced, by The Great Reset and its authors. It is undeniable that these world leaders have a post-pandemic vision, and they don’t care if you, your church, or your family are in it.

Schwab, Malleret, and our western leaders, view the pandemic as a kind of salvific experience for humanity; the pandemic justifies the sacrifice and death of your individualism so the government can resurrect you as a “new creature” and integrate you into the collective state. This may be why they propose that we change BC and AC to “Before COVID” and “After COVID”.  

It is true that the Church must not become overly political, as its history dictates. But it must also avoid believing it has no role to play in the influence of culture and, by proxy, politics. The church must understand that abortion and gay marriage are not the only moral categories hijacked by politics. For the church to stand and protect its flock, its leaders must begin to reflect on God’s law, both the natural and the revealed. Let us begin by fearing God rather than man.

Keep thinking.


A Review of J. L. Mackie’s Miracle of Theism

Why this Review?

Our aim at Solomon’s Corner is to help our readers become better thinkers. One of the ways you do this is by reading outside of your comfort zone, but it can be difficult to know where to start. A Christian who decides to read up on Atheism may start with Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and think he is getting the best arguments that atheism can muster, but this popular work is far from the best.

The following is a review of J. L. Mackie’s book, The Miracle of Theism. I wrote this in my time at seminary to help other readers. Surprisingly, it became the most upvoted review for the book on, and at the time of this writing is still in the number 1 position. When I wrote it, my hope was that Christians would see that not all atheists are bad, and that atheists would know that not all Christians just want to throw a Bible verse at them.

The Review: J. L. Mackie and The Miracle of Theism

As a Christian, I have been tired of the neo-atheist movement and its caustic rhetoric. Mackie is definitely not in that class of atheism. After reading Mackie, I suspect he would distance himself from such characters of Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. I could be wrong about this but based on his writing, he seems to at least have respect for fellow academicians who hold to theism.

It should be noted that this book is first and foremost an academic treatment of atheism and theism. Atheists and theists who are used to the popular neo-Atheistic writings of Dawkins and his ilk will find this book challenging. In order to really appreciate Mackie’s thought, as well as his mistakes, one must have extensive knowledge of the history of theology and philosophy (with some chapters being exempt from this observation i.e., the Problem of Evil, Chapter 9), especially knowledge of modern and medieval eras. In terms of contemporary theists, Richard Swinburne and Alvin Plantinga are given special attention throughout this work, especially Swinburne. Again, if you are not up to date on their writings, you will feel as though there are holes in your understanding, and you may find it difficult to grasp the significance of Mackie’s objections to theism.

Where I agree with J. L. Mackie

Regarding the actual content of the book, I found Mackie’s aggressive approach combined with an admirable respect to be a refreshing mixture in an atheist writer. He admits that atheism has challenges in the areas of consciousness and that there are ways to evade his famous problem of evil arguments, should one modify his definitions of evil. Today’s atheists are as dogmatic as many of their theistic opponents and this is frustrating for those searching for a constructive dialog on the issues. As a theist, I particularly enjoyed his treatment of William James and Blaise Pascal. In an era of fideism, it was great to see myself aligned with a respectable thinker’s responses to Pascal’s wager and James’ pragmatism. Although, I do wish Mackie would have more explicitly discussed James’ pragmatism and its influence, or lack thereof, on his views of religious experience.

Where I disagree with J. L. Mackie

Compliments aside, I found that Mackie doesn’t appear to offer any positive arguments for atheism. He offers polemics, but these are not the same as demonstrations of naturalism philosophically. In my humble opinion, and I don’t mean that sarcastically, he fulfills the stereotype that atheism could not exist without theism. Meaning, he doesn’t seem to have any chapter that argues for naturalism as such. All of his arguments for atheism are completely dependent on arguments for theism.

Secondly, while he does bring good arguments against James on religious experience, his views on morality seem to fall prey to the same arguments. Since Mackie believes in an evolutionary view of morality and admits that this leads to relativism (chapter 14), it is hard to see how one will not just adopt a morality based solely on the pragmatic or damaging ‘moral experiences.’ In addition, one of the major objections to atheism is its lack of objectivity in morality: thus, creating a toss of up for atheists to be nihilist or moralists. I don’t think that Mackie avoids this, but he could if he adopted an Aristotelian view, or even as he described it, a Kantian view of morality. But, to his credit, Mackie does provide a sound rejection of communism and Marxist political theories as being too oppressive and overly optimistic. He also admits that although he does not like the closed-minded Catholics, they have done more to stand against oppressive regimes and communist governments than atheists have.

Final Thoughts

I wish that the popular atheists of today would recognize what it means to be respectable, courteous, and possess academic integrity rather than resorting to rhetoric and ad hominem arguments (insulting one’s character to discredit their position). I think this was an excellent book; it is especially helpful if you are looking for authentic atheists who have truly thought through atheism and theism and reasoned to atheism. But Mackie has several problems unaddressed:

  1. He concludes on a self-defeating position (i.e. relativism).
  2. He assumes naturalism as a viable philosophy without proposing arguments for it, which seems to ultimately reduce to nihilism.
  3. He concludes that atheism is merely more probable than theism. This seems to be a bit of a leap of faith, especially for those who will believe atheism based on authority and not on demonstration.

Keep thinking…


The greatest holiday for Christians is Easter, but their favorite holiday is Christmas. Unelected individuals have recently stated that Christmas must be held open handedly (although Anthony Fauci walked this back later this week).  But in times of uncertainty and corruption, it is more important than ever that Christians protect their “ancient landmarks” (Prov. 22:28). Our leaders need to be reminded that worship of the almighty transcends lockdowns. God is a god of festivals and assembling, hence our right to “freely assemble”. People need holidays like Christmas, especially when they are living under a government that has forgotten its place. Holidays are a reminder to government and citizens. Christmas reminds government of its proper end — submission to God; it reminds citizens of their proper aim — to worship and enjoy God.

Fear and Humanity

“If we live in a state of constant fear, can we remain human?” This question posed by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his epic novel, In the First Circle, haunts us in our current dilemma. It is true that we should submit to government for “they do not bear the sword in vain.” But it is also clear that when faced with the choice to serve God or man, our fear of God should outweigh fear of anything else — friends, family, work, and government. There is a hierarchy, and government is not equal with God.  Those who believe they can worship God without any holidays, festivals, traditions, or the physical assembly of their churches, will soon forget the God they claim to serve and will replace him with the idol of government. Traditions are a time set apart for us to remember. If we set a personal precedent that government can trump our days of remembrance, we may eventually fail to take communion in “remembrance” of Christ; it’s difficult to remember the upper room when observing it from a live stream.

Solzhenitsyn and other authors on Communism unsettle us. This is not because of their detailed depictions of violence, torture, and barbarism; these depictions, though disturbing, are difficult to relate to. It is the psychological descriptions of the citizens who self-deceive in order to remain in good graces with their community that are most unsettling. Ask a Christian, “Should you compromise indefinitely?”  “No!” They adamantly state it’s absurd to not have conviction. Yet, the pressure comes and they forget or move their lines despite the prophets of communism screaming from their graves “Don’t compromise! Do not be silent! Do not comply!”. As they succumb to their peers and the government pressure, the cries of the communist victims are drowned out. They forsake their conscience, and in so doing, lose a bit of their humanity.

A constant state of fear is also dehumanizing. Whether our fearful state comes from a very real and present overreach of the government or our imaginations conjuring the worst possible scenarios based on The Great Reset does not matter. Things are objectively bad on all fronts in the world. But it is precisely in this moment that we must not forsake our holidays. This is why all Christians must stand firm on celebrating Christmas. It is our duty to worship God and to remind our neighbors and enemies that in the darkness, a light shined. God became a baby; he willfully entered a sinful and diseased ridden world; a diseased world without hospitals, hand sanitizer, and masks. Christians, are you seriously considering canceling Christmas over COVID? Christ entered the world at a time far worse than our own. Can we Christians really claim to serve God rather than man if we choose not to enter our own world and darken our church doors on Christmas? Is not a pandemic the best time to celebrate the gift of Christ? For those who think worshipping digitally and physically are the same, contemplate for a moment the implications of Jesus appearing digitally to the disciples rather than physically.  “God became digital” just doesn’t have the same significance as “God became flesh”.  If there is one thing COVID is doing, it is revealing our hypocrisy to ourselves and the world.  

Children are masked in schools, Americans are buying guns at record rates, parents are being targeted by the FBI over their complaints of Critical Race Theory. Wherever you look, fear is being weaponized against the global populace. We are now two years into this pandemic. Do you feel like your community is more united or less united than it was 2 years ago? How long can we go on like this and remain human? Better yet, how do we end this pandemic without forsaking our neighbor or violating our conscience? It is by fixing our eyes on Christ and recognizing that our government is not above the law; our law is above the government.

Christmas Unlike Anything You Have Ever Seen 

Solzhenitsyn’s epic novel describes the lives of men and women under Soviet Russia, specifically those “intelligentsia” that were forced to serve the state.  While the names were changed, the circumstances depicted in this novel were very real. The story takes place during Christmas in 1949, Soviet Russia. Early in the story, we find a scene that should convict any of us, especially those considering complying with any potential or actual government restrictions on our holidays. Within the first few pages we come across a chapter titled, A Protestant Christmas. Solzhenitsyn sets the scene:  

“The Christmas tree was a pine twig stuck in a crack in the top of a stool. A multicolored string of low-wattage bulbs was wound around it twice.  Milk white vinyl-covered wires connected them to an accumulator on the floor.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, In The First Circle: The First Uncensored Edition (New York: HarperCollins Pub., 2009), 13

There are six men present. The mere description of these men with their competing ideologies being in the same room is enough to condemn anyone who complains about their weird Al coming for the Holidays. Within this group are 5 Nazis and a Communist Jew. All six men had been sentenced to a sharashka, the first circle of hell. 

One of the main characters we follow in this chapter is Ruben. During World War II, he was responsible for brainwashing Germans and sending them back into their motherland to undermine the Nazi regime. Germans captured by the Russians were taken in by Ruben to train them in the ways of Communism and plant them back in their country to subvert their German leadership — apparently, a common strategy of communists.  So, why is a devout communist like Ruben in the Gulag? How could he be lumped in with the Nazis, one of which was an SS soldier! Humanity.  It was that law written on the heart. Those truths that are indescribable by the human tongue, but inscribed by the divine author — that one should love their neighbor as themselves.

Would you have ever imagined a scene where an SS soldier, a handful of Nazis, and a Jewish Communist would be celebrating Christmas together? Are these men the epitome of godliness? Far from it. The scene that unfolds has the tension of a stereotypical awkward Christmas gathering. The relative that wants to stir the pot, the friend who came out of obligation, and those who are enamored with the joy of the season. How can this be in Gulag of all places?  Within Gulag’s First Circle, they assembled for Christmas. Take note, Christian who readily punts to Romans 13 to justify your cowardice and apathy. This assembly was against the law of the prison, and their punishment would have been more severe than any consequence we face today. But Ruben had become fond of his German captives, now friends, and they were fond of him. With the exception of their SS companion, all were all insistent that Ruben be there:

“. . . In his efforts to convert Germans, [Ruben] had inevitably begun to feel close to them, gotten to like them, and, once Germany was prostrate, to pity them. That was what landed Rubin in prison. His enemies in the administration accused him of speaking out against the slogan ‘Blood for blood, a death for death’ after the offensive of January 1945.” 

Ibid. 14.

“For this little group of German exiles, storm blown into the gilded cage of a sharashka in the heart of barbarous and chaotic Muscovy, there was only one person with whom they felt any kinship, only one they understood: this major in the enemy’s army, who had spent the whole war sowing the seeds of discord and moral collapse among them.” 

Ibid. 15.

While attending seminary one of my professors gave a memorable sermon to our student body. His body had suffered immensely from football and the bodily harm he endured had caught up to him in his old age.  While in extreme neck and back pain, an occasional tear of agony rolling down his cheek, he said: “Suffering is God’s tool for removing sin from your life.” Solzhenitsyn affirms this idea throughout his writing — suffering makes you a better person. Viktor Frankl, a famed psychologist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, concurs. The Gulag strips a man of his vice and his prosperity and forces him to become an animal or a soul. These men, despite their vileness in a previous life, experienced a kind of sanctification that only suffering can bring. They celebrated Christmas, and reminded each other and themselves, that they were not mere animals; they were souls. Once persecutors of innocent life and each other, they were now united in suffering. They chose, in their prison and pain, to come together around a Christmas tree. 

At the close of the chapter, Ruben walks out of the Christmas party, worried “. . . that he might be stopped at the exit and dragged off to the security officer to give an explanation.” As he’s leaving the Germans begin singing carols in “sotto voce”, meaning: “In a quiet voice; as if not to be overheard.”

Serve God Rather than Man

If Christmas can be a unifying force in the darkness of Gulag, it can certainly be a unifying force in a COVID lockdown.  Christmas’ significance is that God entered a sin-plagued world, and willfully took the disease for us. In return, we are to do the same thing he did — enter a dying world and serve God rather than man. Are we slaves to truth or to man? If you are a church that closes your doors this Christmas and cancels gatherings in worship of your Savior, you are exchanging the bonds of truth for the road to hell. This exchange is illustrated by a later chapter, titled: The Church of Nikita the Martyr.  

In chapter 25, The Church of Nikita the Martyr, we meet a new character named Agnia. This is the only chapter in which she appears. Her lover, Anton, is a main character in the story. The question of the chapter is this: will Anton love Agnia or the state. “This is the Church of Nikita the Martyr”, says Agnia. She is referring to a beautiful church built by a group of “righteous masons”. But the church’s beauty was fully realized by Anton against the backdrop of God’s creation. Anton is awestruck:

“It was as though they had soared free from the narrow ravine of the city and come out on a steep eminence with an open view far into the distance…the river was on fire in the light of the setting sun. . . And in all this golden radiance Agnia sat with a yellow shawl around her shoulders, screwing up her eyes at the sun and looking golden herself.”

Yet, love is fleeting—especially when your other mistress is the state. Anton and Agnia begin to have an argument about the future of the church. The following is a lengthy dialog between the engaged couple. Their dialog parallels many conversations I have had with Christians since the lockdowns began. As you read this, know that it is very much a parallel for Christians in Canada and Australia, and possibly America. All emphasis indicates the characters’ dialogue:

 “They’re going to demolish this church, Anton.” She insisted.

“How do you know?”  he asked angrily. “It’s an architectural monument; they’ll let it stand.”

“They’ll pull it down!” Agnia prophesied confidently. . .She was for the church because it was persecuted.

“What makes you say the church is persecuted?” Anton asked in surprise. “Nobody stops them ringing their bells and baking their altar bread and having their processions. Let them carry on, by all means, but they aren’t really wanted in the cities and the schools.”

“Of course it’s persecuted.” Agnia’s voice never rose above a murmur in disagreement. “When people say and print anything they like about the church and never give it a chance to defend itself, when they confiscate the alter furnishings and exile the priests, don’t you call that persecution?”

“And what if it is persecuted? Say the church has been persecuted for ten years. For how long did the church do the persecuting? Ten centuries?”

“I wasn’t alive then,’ said Agnia, shrugging her narrow shoulders. ‘I have to live here and now. I see what is happening in my own lifetime. . . “

Anton smiled indulgently.

“What a dreamer you are! Do you really think that the soul of our country was ever Christian? In the thousand years of its existence, did we ever really forgive our oppressors? Did we ever ‘love them that hate us?’ . . .How did the Russian clergy safeguard its lands, its slaves and its cult? Why, with the Tatar sword! . . .”

Agnia never argued when she was challenged. She looked at her fiancé with wide-eyed bewilderment, as though she saw him for the first time.

“That’s what all those beautiful churches with their cleverly chosen sites were built on!” Anton thundered. “And on schismatics burned at the stake! And on sectarians flogged to death! Persecuted church! Don’t waste your sympathy on it!”

“Yes, yes,” she said in a sinking voice. “I realize perfectly well at times that living is very difficult for me, that I just don’t want to live. The world has no place for people like me. . . You can probably look forward to fame and success and prosperity,” she said sadly. “But will you be happy, Anton? You must take care, too. When we get interested in the process of living, we lose. . . we lose. . .how can I put it? . . . Once the bell stops ringing, once the tuneful sounds fade, you can never call them back. But all the music is in them. Do you understand? . . . Imagine yourself dying and suddenly asking for an Orthodox funeral . . .”

Ibid. 162-169.

I will not spoil the rest of Anton’s story, but you ought to read the entire chapter yourself. It is a “warning to the west”.  

I quote this at length as a bit of a book end to Solzhenitsyn’s parable of Christmas in the sharashka. At the beginning of the book, we are in the middle of a story. Christmas is no longer in churches. It is in a monastery turned labor camp. Later, Solzhenitsyn takes us back in time before the atrocities of the camps, to an innocent girl, raised by atheists, who found God because of the persecution she saw the Christians willfully and faithfully accept.  Contrast the western church experience to the Russian church experience, and the human spirit under and preceding the totalitarian conditions: it is impossible to declare Christians who are forsaking their faith, reforming their religious practice, in favor of the government mandates, as merely ‘wayward Christians’. They are stumbling blocks to the Gospel and to human freedom.

For my entire Christian life, I can remember Christians saying “when the church is persecuted, that is when it thrives most.” They don’t realize that persecution is borne from faithfulness, not apathy or pleasing your neighbor, family, and employer. Faithfulness is not closing your church doors during COVID so your surrounding neighborhoods see you “complying with the government to keep them safe.” Faithfulness is worshipping God despite mandates, listening to your conscience despite the rejection of your family and friends. It is celebrating Christmas, the first pillar in the Gospel, with Easter being the redemptive conclusion. It is time for Christians to stand strong, be courageous, operate in faithfulness to God first, love your neighbor, watch Die Hard, and be a catalyst for freedom for Christians and non-Christians alike. Merry Christmas.

Keep Thinking

Resources used for this post:

The Screwtape Letters – C. S. Lewis

In the First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Live Not by Lies – Rod Dreher

This article is the final piece in a 3-part response to Ben Shapiro’s “The Authoritarian Moment”. The previous articles can be found here:

Review: The Authoritarian Moment

Protect the Faith: Authoritarianism and the Church

Protect the Conscience: Authoritarianism and the Church

Part 3: Authoritarianism and the Church

Authoritarianism is a spiritual disease that takes root in governmental systems when citizens willfully ignore the truth and blindly follow a leader. History has demonstrated that this behavior necessarily leads to totalitarian regimes — the forced following of a leader or state. So far, we have demonstrated how our religious expression and our conscience are necessary ingredients for Christians to serve well within the terrors of authoritarianism. The final ingredient of this spiritual antidote is loving your enemies.

Love, Truth, and Injustice

In our previous article on conscience, we saw that the strength of our conscience is directly proportional to our desire for and our understanding of the truth. In short, you cannot have virtue if you reject truth. Our conscience leads us to act according to the truth, and the truth is the basis for genuine love of friend and foe.

The Apostle Paul states that without love, an individual is nothing but a “clanging cymbal”. If the truth without love is deafening, then love without the truth is a lie. Therefore, to love well, love and truth must be united in the believer’s life, especially in times of adversity. This is vital when a government, intentionally or unintentionally, pits brother against brother, son against father, daughter against mother, and seeks to leverage our disdain for one another to establish a godless form of government. Dr. J. Budziszewski reminds us of the solution:

“The connection between love and the common good is that love always intends the true good of others.”

J. Budziszewski, Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Treatise on Law (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2016), 389.

In Live Not by Lies, Rod Dreher compiles various stories of Christians living through the early, middle, and late stages of communism. The Benda family lived under communism in the Czech Republic. The parents, Václav and Kamila, not only lived under communist rule, but preserved their children’s faith in the midst of intense poverty, suffering, and social isolation. One of the lessons Dreher gleans from the family is that you must stand up and support everyone’s rights; not just your own or your fellow Christian’s.  

“Kamila says that obeying Christ’s command to love one’s neighbor means never failing to stand for every persecuted person, not just church goers.”

Rod Dreher, Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents (New York: Sentinal, 2020),143.

Kamila’s statement highlights an often-overlooked verse in the famous love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Paul states: “[Love] is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). Those who desire to apply any of the commands to love your neighbor or your enemies must do so from the basis of the truth. Those that reject the truth complicitly or explicitly, will not only have perverted their conscience, but will struggle to love their neighbors, their enemies, and those that attempt to stand for the truth. Truth is the basis for conscience and love.

I have a picture on my wall, given to me by my mother. It reads, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Americans always stated that “freedom isn’t free”, but have we really considered the cost of freedom not only as soldiers, but as normal working Americans?

We cannot love our neighbors if we are complicit in unjust laws, taking the easy way out for ourselves, or isolating ourselves from conflict while the rest of the world suffers. Case and point: churches in the U.S. continue to lockdown and modify their worship services for COVID while Afghan Christians are being martyred. Which faith do you think is more genuine? Which faith do you think an atheist is more likely to respect? 

A Short Story: Atheists, Christians, and Loving Your Neighbor

Imagine for a moment a Christian who has been sharing about his faith to an atheist co-worker. Conversations between them have ranged from “How could God allow the pandemic?” to “Why are there so many denominations?”  News begins circulating on social media and other outlets that the Biden admin will make an announcement on vaccines soon. The two employees discuss the possibility of a mandate and formulate their positions. The Christian says, “I doubt it will happen.” The atheist says, “Well if it does, f— the government because I have a constitutional right to liberty.” The Christian responds, “Well that seems a bit harsh, I mean they are just trying to keep people safe.” To this the atheist replies, “Have you ever read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn? After what I’ve read, this doesn’t end well if we all go with the flow. Besides, doesn’t Christianity have some sort of line about ‘unjust laws are not laws’ or something like that?”

The news breaks at work; employees must provide proof of vaccination to keep their jobs. The atheist refuses to comply and loses his job. The Christian knows what has happened to his friend is unjust, but he is still debating what to do. His friends and family begin pressuring him to get the vaccine; his crazy uncle tells him it will put 5g in his blood and he’ll begin speaking Mandarin by the year 2022. Rather than considering any other options like religious exemption, he opts to get the vaccine, hoping it will all just go away.

The next day at work, there is an eerie absence that he can’t shake. His good friend is gone and so is the opportunity to lead him to Christ. He begins to rationalize his position even more. But deep down, he admires the courage of the atheist co-worker. He considers going to HR and filing a complaint about how the dismissal of his co-worker was handled, but he rationalizes again. It’s “too risky” at this point. Besides, I’m already vaccinated, and I didn’t have any reactions like my crazy uncle said. To raise the issue now is a risk to my family’s financial stability.

While he won’t file a complaint to HR, he decides he will still keep in touch with his friend to make sure he’s doing ok. His friend tells him he’s surprised how hard it is to find a job, but that he’s still convinced he did the right thing. Finally, the atheist says: “You know, life is pretty tough right now. I probably could use a bit of God in my life. Where do you go to church again?” The Christian is ecstatic. God is coming through in the life of his friend! He’s going to use this whole pandemic just to lead his friend to Christ, he thinks to himself; how silly of him to feel guilty about what happened to his friend at work.

Unbeknownst to the Christian, a week earlier the church decided to enforce their city’s COVID passport mandate for all indoor gatherings. All others must watch from home if they refuse to present a passport. The Christian and atheist arrive at the church, but at this point the reader’s imagination is better than any conclusion I could write.

One’s decision to take/refuse the vaccine is a minor issue of conscience. But unjust mandates are matters of truth and love: truth in that one must reflect on their own rights to identify injustice, and love in that one must recognize it is not merely our rights that drive our decision. It’s on us Christians and our leaders to know the relationship between truth and love and act accordingly. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, the atheist affirmed God’s law. When Christian leaders counsel their flock to forsake the rights of others to maintain status in society, they are leading Christians to be complicit in injustice. Christian leaders like this should start practicing their swimming technique with millstones wrapped around their necks.   

The Christian above was wrong not to stand up for his co-worker, but we are not all given the same measure of grace. Christians that God has gifted with strength to stand must not crush their weaker brothers in their convictions. Weaker brothers must pray for those who are standing strong and support them. Strong brothers must encourage and bolster those who are taking their conscience seriously. 

Mercy and Forgiveness

All judgments aside, we must also have grace and mercy for each other. Suppose Christians rationalize away their nagging conscience. Suppose they remain apathetic. Suppose the soft tyranny of America worsens for those of us attempting to live according to our conscience. What are we to do? How should we live?

We ought not panic or feast on hyperbolic images of gas chambers or theories of vaccine-induced population control and “Left Behind” pseudo theories. If you are to partake in that kind of suffering, there is nothing you can do to change it. Accept your fate and live in the now. The Gospel provides plenty of application in our current state, such that anxiously predicting the future will provide little benefit to you or your neighbors. Our current oppression is nothing compared to the tyranny of past nations or of contemporary China.  

Many have already experienced challenges due to the politicization of COVID. One day your friends or family are saying they will not get the jab. The next day, they are struggling with the surreal fact that they could lose their job. We must not condemn. We must extend forgiveness and mercy. We do not affirm someone who has violated their conscience as morally right, but we do not shame the contrite. The Benda family provides a powerful example:

“Up to twenty people would show up every day at the Benda flat seeking advice, comfort, and community. And after police released the suspects, they would often return to the Benda home. Whether or not they had come through without breaking, or had given up information under duress, Kamila offered them a cup of tea and a glass of wine and encouragement. [Kamila] would tell them ‘that’s okay, next time you will do better . . .’ The dissident circle was too small and fragile to turn on one another, despite their failures, frustrations, and disappointments.”

Ibid. 144

This story of Kamila brings Christ’s words on the Cross to mind, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” At the height of being forsaken by man and the Father, Christ extended forgiveness. His life, death, and resurrection would become the impetus for a turning point in history and for the world. If you are someone who regrets your decisions in the past year, take heart. You will have more chances in the future, and you will do better next time.

Final Thoughts: Parallels of the Past

A hallmark of corrupt governments is the pitting of citizens against each other based on an arbitrary status or class. In philosophical terms, these “accidental” characteristics or “non-essential” qualities make us unique, but their absence does not make us less human. For example, social status, economic status, racial status, religious status, and health status are all characteristics that cannot make you more or less human. However, ill-willed governments exploit these differences to create opportunities for power-grabs.

In Gulag Volume 2, Solzhenitsyn describes the struggle this division creates for the human soul. In the early years of the Soviet Union, it was difficult for the average Russian to comprehend.

“No matter how clear-cut the declarations of the class teaching, openly displayed and proclaimed everywhere . . . it was impossible to picture to oneself the annihilation of each concrete two-legged individual possessing hair, eyes, a mouth, a neck and shoulders. One could actually believe that classes were being destroyed, but the people who constituted these classes should be left, shouldn’t they?”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation Volume 2 (1973; New York: Harper Row Publishers Inc., 2007), 46.

Stéphane Courtois in the Black Book of Communism makes a similar observation:

“The Bolsheviks had decided to eliminate, by legal and physical means, any challenge or resistance, even if passive, to their absolute power. This strategy applied not only to groups with opposing political views, but also to such social groups as the nobility, the middle class, the intelligentsia, and the clergy, as well as professional groups such as military officers and the police.”

Stéphane Courtois, Black Book of Communism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 8.

In the recent months, we have seen our academics, military leaders, police, medical professionals, clergy, and everyday employees targeted for refusing to comply with the state. Speech codes around pronouns and sexuality are being used to indirectly target those citizens who dissent. The more one reads on communism, the more terrifying our news cycle becomes.

These days, it is difficult to write on these subjects. There is a thin line between the hyperbolic conspirators and the apathetic down-players. This polarization only affirms that we are following in the steps of the most criminal states in the world. How far we get down that road is not something any one person can predict, but if leaders, friends, and families continue in their silence there are truths we can still hold on to.

This world and its evil are intense and scar the soul. But we must not forget that Christ’s scars remained, yet were used to restore the hope of his disciples. If we follow in Christ’s footsteps, we too will receive scars. But God’s redemptive power uses evil for good and takes the scars of his disciples to restore the hope of the weaker brothers. For those who have been abandoned for their stands, we must remember that Christ desires for us to imitate him. What better way to mold us into his image than to have those closest to us misunderstand or abandon us?  

It is undeniable that we are facing some serious challenges within our Western countries and churches. The degree and intensity that we experience it is largely up to the collective strength of our Christian conscience. We Christians must recognize our identity is in Christ, not our political party. This doesn’t mean one cannot argue vigorously and be politically active for their convictions. But we must remember it is not the power of man that will win this moment back for the freedom of everyone and the glory of God. Freedom does not necessarily produce virtue. It is the power of Christ in us; it is that despite our weakness, He is strong; despite our failures, even in death, God can take the intentions of a Christian and redeem them for good.

The greatest threat to authoritarianism is godly people willing to defend the rights of their enemies. We would not even know the taste of freedom had it not been for men and women who risked their lives to establish it but never experienced it. As we feel the squeeze of the authoritarian boot on our necks in America and other western countries, we must recognize that freedom is expensive. It can cost us our job, our careers, our medical and legal licenses, our homes, our friends, our families, and if God wills, our lives. We have been living on an inheritance that is running out. It is now our turn to seek God, mobilize, and pay the price freedom demands for our friends, our families, and our enemies.

Keep thinking.

Resource used for this post:

Black Book of Communism —  Jean-Louis Panné (Author), Andrzej Paczkowski (Author), Karel Bartosek (Author), Jean-Louis Margolin (Author), Nicolas Werth (Author), Stéphane Courtois  (Author), Mark Kramer 

Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Treatise on Law – J. Budziszewski

The Gulag Archipelago, Volume 2 : An Experiment in Literary Investigation, 1918-1956Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian DissidentsRod Dreher