I stumbled across this today in Francis Schaeffer’s “How Should We Then Live?”
What of tomorrow? In the United States, for example, a manipulating authoritarian government could come from the administrative side or from the legislative side. A public official in the United States serving at the highest level has wisely said, “Legislative dictatorship is no better than executive tyranny.” And one would have to add that with the concept of variable law and with the courts making law, it could come from the judicial side as well. The Supreme Court has the final voice in regard to both administrative and legislative actions, and with the concept of variable law the judicial side could become more and more of the center of power. This could well be called “the imperial judiciary.” Cut away from its true foundation, the power of the Court is nothing more than the instrument of unlimited power. This is especially so when it is tied into what Oliver Wendell Holmes called “the dominant forces of the community.”
As the memory of the Christian consensus which gave us freedom within the Biblical form increasingly is forgotten, a manipulating authoritarianism will tend to fill the vacuum. The central message of biblical Christianity is the possibility of men and women approaching God through the work of Christ. But the message also has secondary results, among them the unusual and wide freedoms which biblical Christianity gave to countries where it supplied the consensus. When these freedoms are separated from the Christian base, however, they become a force of destruction leading to chaos. When this happens, as it has today, then, to quote Eric Hoffer, “When freedom destroys order, the yearning for order will destroy freedom.”
At that point the words left or right will make no difference. They are only two roads to the same end. There is no difference between an authoritarian government to the right or the left: the results are the same. An elite, an authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on society so that it will not go on to chaos. And most people will accept it – from the desire for personal peace and affluence, from apathy, and from the yearning for order to assure the functioning of some political system, business, and the affairs of daily life. That is just what Rome did with Caesar Augustus.
Keep in mind, Schaeffer wrote this in 1976. Don’t we see this playing out before us even now? Nominations to the Supreme Court sway elections, because the court now has the power to legislate from the bench. The gospel of salvation is no longer welcomed in the public square, but the freedom and liberty found in only in Christ are demanded still, becoming a force of destruction in chaos. The madding crowds desire not peace, but just to be left alone, and for politicians to maintain the status quo, regardless the cost.
How we need the message of Christ! How we need the peace only He can afford! May we turn to him in prayer and seek His face today.