The One True Heaven
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel–because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. Gen 11:3-9
The intellectuals of the Renaissance were made up basically of two groups of thinkers, those which were atheists who rejected the idea of God and organized religion and those that maintain their faith in God and yet rejected the corrupted forms of religion. The former evolved into what we call the enlightenment and the latter evolved into the Reformation movement. Looking back on these developments, we see these two movements traveling along through time side-by-side yet with an increasingly greater gulf growing between them.
In the beginning of the Renaissance, there was an emphasis placed on a return to reason and freedom. In order to accomplish this goal the old authorities of dogma, tradition and church had to be overthrown and replaced with the concepts of reason and freedom. However, the two different branches of the Renaissance, the enlightenment and Reformation would develop these two concepts of reason and freedom differently. The enlightenment side would enshrine reason and human knowledge as the ultimate authority, reason and science would become God and bring heaven down to earth. Man would be free from all authority and be self-directed. Out of this, thinking came the later systems of philosophies known as humanism, liberalism and communism.
The other branch of the Renaissance, the Reformation, believed that there were limits to reason and knowledge and that in order for man to be truly human he must live within those limits. They believed, without limits mans freedom would generate into chaos and the loss of freedom to his uncontrolled passions and his own finiteness. They believe that those limits were set forth in the revelation of God in Christ. The Reformation, therefore, believed that there were limits to the development of culture and that any attempts to bring heaven to earth would only end in misery. They were skeptical about the enlightenment’s blind faith in progress and in human goodness. In this, they rejected the twin myths of unlimited progress and the innate goodness of humanity; myths that still shape the vision of liberals and progressives to this very day.
After hundreds of years, we can clearly see the movement of both groups. The reformation group has lost its hold on Europe, symbolized by the French revolution that had its slogan “No God No king” which could be interpreted as no authority other than the individual. The failure of the Reformation in Europe could be largely contributed to its association with the ruling class and its failure to follow through on its attempt to reform organized religion and the culture. Its failures allowed the men of the enlightenment to hold out a secular hope to the people and actually create a brand-new faith, a faith in progress (heaven on earth) and human knowledge (science). The populace which had already lost their faith in religion were eager to accept this new faith even though there was no historical grounds or empirical evidence for it.
The question arises, How did the enlightenment thinkers believe they would accomplish bringing heaven down to earth? Well, it’s not a hard question, they simply had to bring God down to earth. That is exactly what the thinkers of the enlightenment did. They created the modern state. As one of them said,” the state is God walking on the earth.” This idea was set forth in varying degrees by a number of enlightenment thinkers and perfected in the writings of Karl Marx. In Marx, you see the state exalted to the place of God and the animosity of the enlightenment towards religion and any moral authority other than the state (human authority). For in the new heaven, no other authority can exist but that of the state which is nothing more than a human oligarch of authority. Of course, that authority should be based on reason alone and science, the two demon gods of the enlightenment. However, we also see in this system of unbelief a denial of free will and of human dignity. Man is nothing more than an animal predetermined by biological forces; life is not scared but is expendable for the higher good. Of course, the state is the higher good.
We now know that reason is never alone, and that science is limited and controlled by many things other than reason, such as money and the ideological taint. We also know from experience that the state never really promotes individual freedom, but rather it oppresses freedom. Though history has shown us the failure of the secular movement; those that have placed their faith in it continually are on the same course today, just as their ancestors of the enlightenment did. How do you explain this blind faith? I personally believe that it all comes back to their first presupposition of unbelief. Once you get on the road of unbelief, there is nowhere to go other than statism (God walking on the earth).
It only takes a glimpse of the last century to see what this new heaven on earth looks like. It looks like Russia and communist China. Where 100,000,000 people have been killed, and untold numbers persecuted for not bowing down to the new God of the state. Could it be that the materialist of the enlightenment promised one thing (heaven) and created the very opposite on earth? If we are the heirs of the enlightenment, what do we have to look forward to? It seems, if we continue on the same course of the enlightenment, there can only be one end; the ultimate state, a one-world government and George Orwell’s 1984.