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No. 37: The Case Against Western Civilization, Part 2

OPEN BOOK, Views & Reviews, No. 37
Copyright (c) 1997 Biblical Horizons
December, 1997

Part 2: The Enoch Factor

Back in Open Book 21 we discussed "The Enoch Factor." Because that was several years ago (May 1994) and many people have begun reading this letter since that time, we shall return to the subject here and expand what we wrote at that time.

After Cain murdered Abel and was driven out of the land of Eden, we read that he had a son whom he named Enoch, and that he founded a city that he also named Enoch (Genesis 4:17). The city, we are told, was named for his son.

This was the first city ever built, but it will not be the last. The last city is the New Jerusalem, built by God the Father on the basis of the blood of God the Son through the power of God the Spirit, and "named" not for a son but for a Daughter: the Bride, Daughter Jerusalem. As Enoch was prince of the city of Enoch, so Christ is the Prince of the holy city.

A city named for a son has no future, for femininity is eschatological. Man came first; then woman. Man after man after man after man is no future. The idea of a city’s and a son’s having the same name is ultimately narcissistic, which is the same as ultimately homosexual, for the son is married to himself, to a man. The true City of God is the Bride, married to the Son King.

The first city was built on the blood of a murdered brother. The last city is also built on the blood of a murdered younger brother, the Ultimate Younger Brother, Jesus Christ. Throughout the Bible we see younger brothers replacing older brothers because the older brother is unfaithful: Seth replaced Cain, Isaac replaced Ishmael, Jacob replaced Esau, Joseph replaced his brothers, David replaced his, etc. Jesus was the last Adam, the final younger brother, and His death is the foundation for the City of God.

Enoch did not plant a garden and then let it grow into a city. In this he was setting a course different from God’s. If we follow the history of the garden concept in the Bible, we find that Abraham and the patriarchs worshipped at oasis-sanctuaries characterized by altars, trees, and wells. Later, these elements were organized into a formal tent-centered sanctuary, the Tabernacle, as a place of worship. Still later, the Tabernacle grew into the Temple, and the Temple is set in a city, Jerusalem. In this way, God grows the city out of the garden.

God grows His civilization up from the root of true worship in the Garden of the Church. From the Garden, that true civilization grows into a community of free land-owning agriculturalists. Notice now Leviticus 25 safeguards the integrity of individual land ownership, for instance. Only finally does that true civilization build cities. After calling Abram to set up true worship, God provided the Hebrews with 430 years before setting them up as a culture of free landowners. Another 443 years passed before David established Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

For the wicked the progression is reversed. The city comes first, and it dominates the land, forcing the agriculturalists and other workers into slavery to the city, as was the case in the ancient, medieval, and early modern world and in modern socialism and communism. The ruler of the city also makes himself high priest and religious leader of the community. (Though it means next to nothing today, a remnant of this pagan conception is seen in that the ruler of English is the head of the Church of England.) Religion does not stand prophetically over against the city to challenge the city, but is a bureau of the city itself. The Garden-Church does not lead the city to new righteousness, but instead provides a rationale for whatever the city and its rulers want to do, acting as toady "court prophet."

Enoch started with a city. That means he started with a tyranny. The city becomes a place that conquers and enslaves the "peasants" and "serfs" of the agricultural countryside. Because the tyrant-city has no root it cannot last, but while it lasts it is brutal, beginning and ending in murder (Genesis 4:8, 23).

Enoch’s sin was like Adam’s. God had told Adam and Eve that every tree was for them to eat (Genesis 1:29). Thus, they could figure out that the forbidden tree was only temporarily forbidden. Their sin was that they would not wait for God’s permission. Similarly, Enoch was unwilling to work patiently and grow a city out of a garden. He jumped forward and tried to seize the final fruits of generations of labor: the glory of a city.

For a variety of reasons, the heathen often make more rapid initial cultural gains than do the righteous. The heathen are willing to enslave other people to work for them. The heathen don’t take one day in seven to rest. The heathen expend no psychological energy in repentance and striving against sin. Thus, the wicked get there first. This is what I call "the Enoch Factor."

City culture is "high" or developed culture. As long as people are scattered in small villages and towns, the more advanced aspects of trade and music and art and government do not develop. There are not enough musicians in one place to form a choir or orchestra. There is not enough division of labor to afford artists and large architectural works. There is no large seaport for international trade. Civilization is not complex enough for an extensive political structure to be necessary — the "elders of the gate" can do quite nicely by themselves. Only when large cities form do these things emerge into play.

Because the wicked bypass the earlier stages, or foundations, of true worship and free workers, they can create an enviable, advanced city culture before the righteous do.

We see the Enoch Factor in Genesis 4. Not only did Cain build the first city, but his descendants became "fathers" (experts, teachers) of the sciences of animal husbandry, music, and metallurgy.

The Enoch Factor means that very often great advances in technique (not in philosophy) come from pagan sources. Usually the heathen get there first, and then the believers come after. Practically speaking, what does this mean?

First, it means that in many ways the wicked lay up an inheritance for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22). They get there first, but it is we who inherit. God sent hornets ahead of the Israelites to drive the Canaanites out of their homes and towns, so that the Israelites inherited walled cities, houses, cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, etc. (Exodus 23:27-28; Deuteronomy 6:10-11). This means that Christians may participate in any civilization of which they are a part, and pay their required taxes, knowing that it is our children who will inherit whatever good is produced.

Second, it means that Christians must not be overwhelmed by the technological and artistic prowess of the heathen. In our society today, it is still the case the best artists and technicians are seldom believers. We know from the Bible, however, that they have no root and will burn out. Our city is built more slowly, but it will endure forever. As history matures, Christianity will more and more become culturally dominant, and more and more we will see Christians "getting there first" in the arts and sciences.

Third, it means that Christians often must learn technique from the heathen. How foolish would it have been for Israelite herdsmen to refuse to manage their animals well, just because it was pagan Jabal who developed many fundamental techniques! And how sad if David had refused to learn music because Jubal got there first!

Now think about what this may mean. Often pietistic Christians are critical of their brethren in the arts because artistic Christians rub shoulders with degenerate heathen. Indeed, a Christian artist may have to apprentice himself to a degenerate heathen. Are we mature enough to support our Christian brethren in this?

The arts are very powerful, because art enhances belief by means of emotion (glory). Thus, the Christian who studies with Jubal must be very careful and be sure to keep separate the study of technique from the adoption of a philosophical outlook. Still, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world, and the Christian is called to take dominion in all areas of life. We can learn from the world, and should be bold to do so.

The proper context for study of the techniques of Enoch is the Church. We need the teaching and sacramental community of a local church as a support base, a garden, the whole time we are studying in the world. Apart from such a context, we run the danger of being sucked in by the philosophy of Enoch.

Part 3: Philosophy

When we turn from the arts to religion we find the same thing, only the contrast is much greater. If we can and should learn some techniques of art and science from the wicked, we should not learn religion and philosophy (a word for non-religion, at least traditionally) from them at all. God did not condemn the Israelites for learning how to play musical instruments or how to build cities and ships from the wicked, but He always condemned them when they sought to learn how to worship from the wicked. The great contrast was, and is, that the wicked worship via the works of their own hands: images and icons.

Philosophy, an icon of the mind, is more subtle than (idolatrous) worship through images. In the ancient world, there came a time when the wicked had matured in evil to the point where they no longer made obeisance to any gods at all, but only studied "the divine." This is the development of "philosophy," which came about in pagan lands at about the same time as the prophetic movement was raised up by God among His people. Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), Kung Fu-Tsu (Confucius), Lao-Tse, Plato, and Aristotle were roughly contemporary. Each sought to replace worship with contemplation, a further step of apostasy from God.

Each of these three was a Cain. Virtually from the beginning, philosophy was political philosophy, designed to support the city of man. Philosophy was to be the religion of the state, the new form of the "court prophet." The quixotic pre-Socratic philosophers had rejected personal gods and worship, and had debated what "ultimate being" was like. Full-fledged philosophy arrived with Socrates and Plato, who sought to bring this horrible thinking into the city and persuade the people to stop worshipping personal spirits and refound their cities on the empty consolations of philosophy. The people had enough sense to reject Socrates’ Satanic temptation, putting him to death, and Plato decided to express such ideas indirectly in the form of cryptic dialogues. Eventually Aristotle was able to reconcile the city and the political rulers to the fundamental ideas of Socrates and Plato, and as the teacher of Alexander the Great, set these notions in motion.

The differences between Confucius, Plato, and Buddha should not blind us to their fundamental sameness. Lao-Tse, the Plato of China, advocated an inner contemplation. Plato advocated a new and more radically anti-God kind of political order, wherein contemplated abstractions such as The Good would replace the worship of living gods. Buddha took a more anti-political position, leaving the city to do its business while advocating a kind of dropping out of society. But this position is still in the overall context of doing philosophy (religion) in political terms. Aristotle, heir of Plato, managed to reconcile Plato’s radical ideas with practical politics, as Confucius, heir of Lao-Tse, did in China.

In a ghastly misinterpretation of reality, many Christian thinkers decided that the philosophy of Plato and his associates was an improvement over idolatry. Actually, it was something far worse. The heathen idolater still recognizes that persons govern his life, and he still worships these persons. While distorted, such a view of reality is far closer to the truth than is a philosophy that denies personal gods and rejects acts of submission and worship. Plato does not represent an advance beyond idolatry, but a deepening of it.

The wicked get there first. The heathen were the first to develop a full-fledged political philosophy. The Bible is concerned essentially with deeper matters, matters that form the basis of a true political philosophy. The Christians, however, became enamored with the philosophy of the pagans, and instead of developing philosophy from the Bible, adopted much of it from the wicked. They were impressed with the city of Enoch and were far too unsuspicious of it.

After all, they reasoned, if we can learn how to make flutes from Jubal, why can’t we learn how to govern from the heathen also? Isn’t it still just a matter of technique? The answer has to be a hard "No!" And for three reasons.

First, to learn political philosophy from the city is to learn it from Cain, not from Jubal or Jabal. Every city not founded on Christ is a city of Cain, an Enoch, a Babylon. Jubal’s musical techniques are two steps removed from Cain’s foundational political philosophy: (1) Jubal is a different person from Cain with a different talent; (2) We are only learning technique from Jubal.

Second, and more importantly, political philosophy (law, statecraft, etc.) operates in a different sphere from music, agriculture, and metallurgy. The latter operate in the area of dominion, the world beneath man. Politics operates in the area of man himself, the image of God, the social arena. And religion operates in the area above man. These three zones of life have different qualities, different languages, different psychologies. We can learn statecraft from the Greeks and Romans only if we start with the assumption that other people are merely things, like musical instruments.



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