five core principles, drawn from The West's Judeo-Christian WORLD VIEW (CWV), form the foundation for Western civilisation. THEY ALSO PROVIDE THE BASIS for the 'next generation church' model.
IF YOU WOULD PREFER TO READ THIS AS A NON-CHRISTIAN (SECULAR) VERSION GO TO THE HEADING DIRECTLY BELOW THIS SECTION WHICH IS TAKEN FROM NGC: NEXT GENERATION CHURCH.
The five core CWV principles are:
- Every person is made in God's image
- Free Will
- Individual Responsibility
- Love your neighbour (A respect and concern for others)
- Accepted (traditional) moral values (Bible: to love god is to obey his commands)
Taken together they will when applied properly produce a ‘Civil Society’, defined as:
The totality of governmental and community activity that act in unison and in the right balance to produce ordered and free societies governed in an aggregate sense by the will and consent of a responsible, well informed and active citizenry with maximised opportunities to achieve individual potential.
First principle: Being made in God’s image: This is the principle that tells us we humans are a cosmic phenomenon –unique. Environmentalists and new age spiritualists would have it differently. The so called ‘deep ecologists’ are adamant we are just another species of animal. God declares he made us with qualities common to his Trinitarian character. This principle is of special importance. It is therefore explicitly holds its own place in the NGC model. It will be explored in more detail later as what I call the ‘wedge portal’. I give this principle far more specicvity than is usual, which may be taken as an indication that there has been a general failure to think through its meaning and significance within the Church. Go to the relevant sections in Issachar's Call or NGC for more detail on our made in God's image characteristics. In my other book Against Our Night I talk about being made in God's image using non-Christian language, referring to it as from a non-Christian perspective as achieving our individual potential. This captures the idea that God gives us characteristics and gifts or talents we can use to maximise our potential in life if we are given the opportunities to recognise and exercise them in combination.
Second principle: The Great Command – love God and in like manner love our neighbour. It is the suppositional lynch pin of the Christian world view. As Jesus said, it sums up all the law and the prophets (Mt 22:37-40). It binds a devotion to God at spiritual, practical and intellectual levels to a concern for others, while mitigating our own fallen selfishness (“Do to others as you would have them do to you” – Luke 6:31). It links our relationship with God to a commitment to the world around us, confirming that God takes salvation past the personal to community and society. If we love God we will hate what he hates and seek to shield society from anything opposed to God’s will.
The Judeo-Christian world view rests on this one command, not only because it sums up biblical law but because its binding agent is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). It is love that lies at God’s heart; a love for holiness and justice, expressed in ways that both work for people in all spheres temporal, spiritual and eternal. Too many Christians see the biblical concept of love as a relational regard for individuals, but it goes well beyond that to a love for all God’s precepts and statutes and the means by which they can improve people’s lives and protect them from the things God hates. Civil society, within God’s economy is maximising the opportunities for each individual to achieve their “made in God’s image’ potential”.
The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbour as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:9-10
Third principle: Free will: Without free will Mankind could not be made in God’s image because God has the ultimate right to choose, set goals, determine purposes and make decisions. Without a corresponding ability Man could not be a self-aware being with the ability to reason and know God. He and she would be just another animal with no right or need for an immortal soul. We would be merely instinctual beings. Without granting us free will God could not be the God of love because all he could do is either compel and direct, or programme for robotic action. A God of love and a God of justice could not create Man made in his likeness if Man lacked independence and autonomy. Thus humanity’s conscious awareness and volition are ultimate expressions of his love. How could a God of love create a being without the ability to choose and then consign them to salvation or damnation. There would be no justice and no sense in such an arrangement. The God of the Bible would be unknowable and capricious – just like Islam’s Allah. Free will carries with it a heavy responsibility; to use that freedom fruitfully in pursuit of those made in God’s image skills given to each of us in various measures and to use them wisely to avoid the pitfalls and agonies of poor decision-making. Freedom exists to make right choices by overcoming our fallen-ness. Without free will there is no basis for democracy and human rights and now basis for salvation. Liberals who deny free will are tyrants in waiting. They will eventually and inevitably destroy the essence of love. As Michael Novak says in his 2002 book On Two Wings:
“…via the preaching of Jesus Christ, from whom the Gentiles learned the essential outlook of the Hebrews: that the creator gave humans a special place among all other creatures, and made them free, and endowed them with incomparable responsibility and dignity… Liberty is the axis of the universe, the ground of the possibility of love, human and divine.”
Fourth principle: Individual responsibility: Each person is unique in thought and action. For that reason each person is judged individually relative to their personal relationship with God. Each of us cannot blame someone else for our own mistakes, nor can we use freedom as an excuse to satisfy any appetite. As God is unique, each of us made in his likeness is also unique. It follows from the free will principle that autonomous individuals, able to choose what they do for themselves must bear the responsibility for those actions alone, hence the parable of the talents. They must also exercise their free will and related responsibility without harm done to others. Each individual is equipped according to their ability and then held individually accountable for what they achieve (Matthew 25:14-30). The Bible is replete with references to this principle, here are a few:
“You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s Judgement seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘Every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’ So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10-12.
“For we must all appear before the Judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10.
“The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.” Ezekiel 18:20.
Fifth principle: Obeying God’s commands: This is the apostolic injunction to prove our love for God by obeying his commands (1 John 5:2-3). Jesus said he did exactly what the Father told him to do. Isolating all the commands found in the Bible is beyond the scope of this book. All that needs to be emphasised here is that if God has addressed specific issues with a direction to do this or that the Christian is bound to honour it – because they know implicitly that “…the words of the Lord are flawless …purified seven times (Ps 12:6).”. What God has bound (decreed) in heaven we are obligated, if we love him, to bind (sanction) on earth. This the broad implication of Matthew 16:19. Locked into this forth principle is what God calls the foundations of his throne justice and righteousness. The whole biblical narrative, is replete with reference to obedience and respect for what our Father tells us is right and wrong, both spiritually and practically. That is the whole basis for any sort of biblically based system of justice. It is for this reason that one of the 12 NGC reforms is about our system of justice:
Proverbs 21:15 “When Justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to the evildoers.”
Romans 13: 4 “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear he sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
It is difficult for Christians distanced by church life from social forces and debates, to appreciate the importance of these five core principles. All five run as major themes through the Bible. If the Church had not retreated to the wilderness its awareness of the principles and their world view application for gospel and Great Command purposes would be much more acute. The love God – love our neighbour principle sums up the whole command and principle infrastructure of the Bible. Loving God is entwined with loving others in ways that says a concern for others is a measure of one’s understanding and fear of God. Free will is the independent actor principle. It is the cornerstone element in being made in God’s likeness. Since God is a free actor then Man must be also. Without free will God cannot be a God of love because love does not coerce or subjugate. Free will leads to individual responsibility. We are free to make our own choices but we must do so in the knowledge that we are individually accountable to God for our words and deeds. If we do not live by his standards we will be judged accordingly; accountability being measured against God’s commands – also one of the core principles. The exercise of free will has all sorts of societal and relational implications. By extension from the other principles free will must be exercised within the bounds of what is right and good for each individual and for communities. This is where the anti-Christian secular world view has had its biggest impact by insisting free will is a licence to do much as you like within the moral sphere. Evil, rampant narcissism, greed and just about any other sin you can think of has its origins right there.
THE 5 CORE PRINCIPLES: THE SECULAR VERSION
“…how was it that a system of ownership based on selfishness (what’s mine is mine) ultimately came to produce far higher levels of generalised prosperity than any of its collectivist – and superficially more ‘altruistic’ – rivals.” John Adamson.
“…there were evidently some principles which interest [people] in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it.” Adam Smith.
My ambition is to re-establish ‘civil society’. Under the now ridiculed Judeo-Christian consensus, circa. 400 - 1960 A.D., four core world view principles provided the basis for western societies; a concern for fellow citizens (love your neighbour), free will, individual responsibility and respect for traditional (Judeo-Christian) values. Charles Murray would bracket them with the four principles upon which America was built; industriousness, virtue (morality), marriage and religion. All four are implicit within the ‘big four’. It took a long time to turn the big four into a working system because the human condition does not naturally bend to them. It is now clear they have been systematically degraded since the 1960s. To make matters worse, those who would suborn classical capitalism to corporate monopoly threw in their lot with the liberals. What better way to facilitate monopolies and asset stripping than stocks held in government power. Controlling the people as consumers, workers and voters is the ultimate form of vertical integration.
The four core principles are still out there simply because they are fundamental, or natural to a just society. What liberal humanism did was interpret them according to its ‘Enlightenment’ and Marxist-fascist orientation, manifesting from the 70s as a now pervasive ‘postmodernism’ (deconstructionism). Exaggerated rights and exaggerated individuality (Bork, 1996) replaced self-reliance and individual responsibility. Love your neighbour became love yourself. Traditional Judeo-Christian values were replaced with situational ethics (relativism); the idea that people should decide for themselves what is morally and socially right. Free will was replaced with state-sanctioned rights, limited democracy and regulation. Then they rushed into a much expanded system of state largess. Take from some and give it to others. This was combined with an expanded view of Keynesian economics where the state supposedly pumps economic life into a nation to energise enterprise, funded by taxation and central bank money printing (debt). That paved the way for the rise-on-rise of the corporate banking and money market sector. Give the corporates free reign, so the argument went, and the wealth will all just ‘trickle down’ to the people. Why we should be satisfied with just a trickle is a moot point. The western world staggered off its upward trajectory as liberalism formed an unholy alliance with corporatism. Hardly any of it has proved to be good and most of it was imposed against the will of a then sensible populace.
The four core principles are largely unique to the West, because they emerged from another uniquely western phenomenon, the Judeo-Christian tradition. Today they are so de-valued that their continued slide from the public consciousness heads the list of causes behind the decline of the West. While there is a great deal that characterise western civilisation it can all be reduced to ‘the big four’. Their special quality lies in their universal applicability. Their importance has to do with their connection to community life generally and social policy in particular.
A concern for others (love your neighbor): Leading the pack is the idea that we should all treat others with high regard and expect others to reciprocate in kind. This was once known as ‘the golden rule’. We should act with a regard for the interests of others, with a reciprocating respect from others. It is the lynch pin of the Judeo-Christian world view. This principle is the glue that binds societies together. In societies governed by the laws of karma, fate and sharia the golden rule carries little cultural weight.
Free will: This is the independent or autonomous actor principle. Everyone should have the right to choose their life path, set goals, determine purposes and make their own decisions. It recognises that human individuals, unlike animals, are self-aware beings with the ability to reason and define their lives in the existential sense referred to earlier. Without free will humans are little better than instinctual animals. In fact they are worse off because a thin world view creates terrible angst in Man’s soul. In free will’s absence there is no need for justice or democracy and no sense in such concepts. The exercise carries with it the understanding that free will cannot, by its very nature be orchestrated or regulated. This puts a responsibility on the state to respect this natural right, something liberals are loath to do. There is an important corollary to the free will principle. It should only be exercised by individuals drawing on the pool of responsible, moral choices. The Judeo-Christian / western concept of free will never advanced the view that it could be used as an unfettered right. Given this stricture western societies will have to reach a place where they re-examine the liberal creed’s moral relativism. Western societies with a Swiss-style referenda system at their disposal would be able to have the debate around its values and use referenda to decide moral arguments. Those wanting to return to the traditional moral order would have to win the battle at the people’s ballot box, using the referenda system discussed at various points and condensed into concrete recommendations in Part Four/Reform Group One. If they won that battle free will would be returned to its proper place at the centre of a properly orchestrated system of individual social responsibility.
Individual responsibility: Free will and the golden rule work together to generate a duty, enshrined in this third principle. Free will does not mean free rein, but individual rights exercised with due regard paid to the social context and the effect on others and ourselves. Freedom must be used fruitfully in pursuit of the potential, interests and skills latent in each individual, for the benefit of that individual and society. As Michael Novak says in his 2002 book On Two Wings (paraphrased):
“…humans [have] a special place among all other creatures…[they are], free, and endowed with incomparable responsibility and dignity… Liberty is the axis of the universe, the ground of the possibility of love…”
Traditional western thought recognises each person is unique in thought and action. For that reason they should be individually respected and held to account when they fail to reciprocate by honouring others with the regard they are due. Each person cannot and should not blame someone else for their own mistakes and poor life decisions, nor can freedom be used merely as an excuse to satisfy any appetite. It is not a licence to do whatever one wants but to do what is good. It follows from the free will principle that autonomous individuals, able to choose what they do for themselves must bear the principal responsibility for their actions. They must exercise their free will and related responsibility without harm done to others (the first core principle), or themselves. Each individual should be given every opportunity to equip themselves for a self-reliant life, according to their abilities and interests. Being artificially propped up by the state saps people of their will to make the most of their lives, corrupts their respect for the four principles and masks the reasons for their less advantageous condition. It can ruin both them and the wider economic infrastructure that liberals insist must support them.
Accepted (traditional) moral values: This fourth and last core principle is concerned with line-in-the-sand social standards. We used to call these standards ‘moral values’ but that term has now been so trivialised that it has lost much of its meaning. I am therefore struggling to come up with a replacement term. Unimpeachable or core values might be a good way to put it; the beneficial behaviours western civilisation has to agree on if it is to remain civilised and focused on what made it successful. Some critical traditional values, particularly concerning the family and behavioural restraint have been sacrificed to a modern liberal over-emphasis on rights-as-a-licence. If western civilisation is to survive it will have to re-establish the values, or virtues, that made it great and isolate those things that are undermining them.
I am reluctant to add more specifics to this fourth principle because I would have to digress into a lengthy and complex morale debate. Before assuming I am ducking important questions keep in mind that all the criticisms and recommendations I make in this book are heavily laced with values-based Judeo-Christian traditionalism. As Michael Novak says:
“Liberty is the object…, Liberty needs virtue. Virtue among the people is impossible without religion (Novak, 2002).”
Also, on this fourth principle I am assuming, given the people-empowering democratic reforms I advocate in Part Four, people will naturally default over time to traditional moral values; because they will have the freedom and opportunities to weigh the liberal deconstruction of traditional values in the balance. In doing so they are more than likely to eventually and naturally defer to tradition, given the obvious harm liberalism has caused and the natural inclination of conscience. The reforms would give the people the means, opportunity and power to ring the moral changes as a free will choice.
We are unique in the cosmos: This is the principle that tells us we humans are a cosmic phenomenon –unique. Environmentalists and new age spiritualists would have it differently. The so called ‘deep ecologists’ are adamant we are just another species of animal. This principle is of special importance. A human life lived to its full is a cosmic phenomenon; there is nothing we know of that is comparable in the universe. A life lived without full, self-actualised expression is almost as pointless as a rock in an asteroid cloud. We might marvel at giant stars or vast galaxies but they are just mindless inorganic masses. The fact that we can marvel at them and comprehend the physical forces and constants that made them possible is cosmically phenomenal. Even if we found other intelligent life forms we would still be part of a very exclusive club and we are definitely not just another animal. No animal imagines, writes, creates or discovers like we humans. For this reason every human being should have the opportunities to live their life to the full. This should be the aim of social and economic policy. Sadly, under liberalism and corporatism it is not.
Put together these five core principles form a latent framework for high potential individuality and robust social capital. To work they have to be held in tension; each is dependent on the other. It is this inter-relationship that liberalism has sought to quash.
The current western condition is hopelessly hypocritical. While freedoms are extolled the oppressive apparatus of liberal state-ism closes in around us. The changes were made, often against the people’s will, using democratic systems, or judicial activism, that lacked adequate checks and balances. The people were incessantly bombarded with the propaganda needed to condition them to the new order, by depreciating the four core principles. Most of us have now slipped sheep like into Plato’s cave where we myopically stare at the dancing shadows, made on the walls by the liberal-corporate fires, and assume it is reality. As we do, the chains of uncritical acceptance slip around the limbs of our consciousness to shackle our every conception of life’s meaning. The western malaise can be reduced to two misguided ideas. The first, championed by our liberal elite is that social cooperation, trust, empathy and selflessness must be orchestrated by the state. The second, peddled by the corporate world, is that global mercantilism, monetarism and market dominance is the only way to define success, happiness and prosperity.
Despite it all most westerners would unanimously accept some over-arching values, so a few hand and toe holds remain; getting out of the cave is still possible. Those values include the right to vote, access to and equality before the law, free speech, free association, unfettered movement and travel, educational opportunities, access to health care, a reasonable standard of living, safe streets and national security. These are all important ingredients for a civil society. The academic view on this subject is that a civil society refers to all the elements that go to make up orderly and co-operating civic life beyond governmental institutions and legal obligation. I do not draw such a distinction. Instead, I take civil society to mean:
…the totality of governmental and community activity that act in unison and in the right balance to produce ordered and free societies governed in an aggregate sense by the will and consent of a responsible, well informed and active citizenry with maximised opportunities to achieve individual potential.
Getting to the full measure of this definition requires some wholesale changes to the way things get done and those changes would be very unpopular among the elitist interest groups that dominate western societies. These groups include political parties, corporate executives, media moguls, the academic fraternity, educationalists, elements within the legal profession and those brainwashed by the liberal arts disciplines in our universities.
 In his review Of Owning the Earth by Andro Linklater (2014), The Spectator: Australia, February 2014, pp. 24-25.
 Robert Bork (1996), Slouching towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline.