This is the month that Americans celebrate Christmas, the holiday season that commemorates the birth of Christ and the salvation he brought. The political climate today is not that much different from the one in Israel 2,000 years ago when Christ entered this world. Power politics was at play then and power politics is at play now. And as it was then, two theories of salvation are on the world stage.
According to Martin Selbrede, vice-president of the Chalcedon Foundation and today’s guest on Off the Grid Radio, statist humanists believe in a political salvation and in the inherent goodness of man, if only his environment would allow him to be so. Because the environment is what holds mankind back from perfection, all environmental factors are subject to governmental control and social change.
However, the Founders of this country did not believe in a supreme or dictatorial government. Political salvation was anathema to them. The greatness and strength of this country was built on the precept that God was the governor of mankind, and that civil government was the servant of the people, not the master.
There are problems in our country. There are societal ills that need to be addressed. But is the salvation we’re looking for found in the halls of Congress, the White House, or the judicial system? If we look to a political salvation for our future, it might be a future where not a modicum of freedom lives.
Off The Grid Radio
Release Date December 14, 2012
Bill Heid: Today we’ve got a special Christmas episode of Off the Grid News. We’ve got our guest, Martin Selbrede, vice-president of the Chalcedon Foundation with us today, and we want to talk a little bit about… it’s a Christmas episode, as I said… we want to talk a little bit with Martin about political salvation versus Christocentric salvation. Martin, thanks a lot for joining us.
Martin Selbrede: It’s a pleasure to be here again, Bill.
Bill Heid: It’s good to have you. As being someone so close to Rushdooney’s work, I think it’s really important, especially this time of year… I love Christmas, Martin, it’s one of my favorite times of year, just like Old Fezziwig and all the rest, but on the political side of it, we just got done with the election and I think inside this election, what we really saw was a lot of people that had sort of a view of salvation and religious folks tend to sort of put things over into these little compartments, right, and so salvation is being right with God and it’s your justification and that’s where it ends. But I wanted you to talk a little bit about this broader concept of salvation, or soteria, or whatever, and why don’t you tell us a little bit about, just a concept of salvation, because I think everyone kind of has a theory or an offer of salvation. Not just Billy Graham, right, but everybody… different world views.
Martin Selbrede: Yeah. To the extent that you believe there is something to be corrected or rectified or solved, your doctrine of salvation comes into play there. And where you position the thing, the problem, is the whole deal right there. For example, under Christendom, the problem is always a moral one and it’s resolved through the atonement of Christ. But in modern political salvation, and this goes way back pre-Christ era, you find that it’s something in the environment that has to be solved. It might be a physical environment, it might be the social environment, the business environment, something that has to be corrected. So then the function of the state under that circumstance is no longer ministerial, it’s no longer functional or positioned on restitution and justice, rather it’s functioning in terms of social change. It’s the way social grace is dispensed by the political structure, it’s by advancing social change to deal with all those evils that have to be corrected. That might be oh, we have an upper class that needs to be dealt with, we have a middle class that has to be dealt with, we have these problems in our structures or our unions or this and that and the other, and by moving the shell game around we supposedly will be able to solve the problem. So the second you move the problem from a moral issue in the heart of man to an environmental one (and I mean environmental in the broadest sense of the term), then you have political salvation. Then the state becomes the vehicle for saving you.
Bill Heid: Let’s talk a little bit about… let’s go back in time and let’s talk a little bit about Cicero. When Cicero hailed Octavian as a savior, he said, “In him we place our hopes of liberty, from him we have already received salvation.” Now, I don’t think a lot of people would think, I mean that sounds like a religious statement yet Cicero… and it is as far as I’m concerned… what was Cicero worried about and how did Octavian brand himself as the corrective measure for that worry?
Martin Selbrede: Well of course, the second you have the king or emperor or prince being born, you have the vehicle for salvation in front of you. That individual is supposed to wield that power that is bestowed upon them in order to correct all the issues. And one has to remember that the whole concept of salvation, we tend to rate it in terms of eternal salvation, but in the past it had to do with health in every single aspect – societal health, governmental health, familial health – so in the broadest sense of a wholeness or well-being of things. So the Christian concept is an important element because it deals with the consequences of our moral illness, but in the world at large, they see things from a very different perspective, and Cicero therefore was lauding the advent of a new era, if you will. Ethlebert Stauffer, he made it very clear in his book Christ and the Caesars that with the advent of every new Roman emperor, there were new coins issued that essentially proclaimed the new era of salvation, and there was “no name under heaven but that men might be saved” but by say, Caesar Augustus. The coins were very clear in this regard, that men were to look to the state for all things necessary for their well-being and therefore, statism reigns as the mechanism by which the new era, the new world order would come in. And so, in essence, we’ve inherited that same notion even here in America. We have shifted from where an early colonial Christian platform for restitution and justice were the norm, where the failures of men were seen to be moral failures and that you couldn’t make, really, a good omelet with bad eggs, flipping a little comment on its side there. They knew that you had to have a new humanity in Christ and that set in motion something new in the world, and that was what Christ actually came to bring.
And I think it’s so significant when we talk about the Christmas era, that the challenge of the coming of the Messiah was known to be a political one. I think Herod the Great knew exactly why he was calling for the extermination of all the male children in Judah and Bethlehem in particular. There were political ramifications because this child to be born, this son who is give, as we read about in Isaiah 9 and sing in our Christmas hymns, and that verse is very clear that the government shall be upon his shoulders. Now the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, and those are scary thoughts to the status quo because that means that the foundation of human thrones are not… are basically on shaky ground if they’re not anchored on Christ. “The Lord hath not planted, but he shall root up” according to Matthew 15:13. I think this is true for everything that is opposed to Christ. All things are being shaken and laid in ruins, that’s the whole point of the shaking of Hebrews 12, so that the kingdom that cannot be moved shall remain. And so there is a new thing set in motion that is in contrast to all the worldly kingdoms and all their claims of power and salvation.
So, going back to the question of Cicero or as the staunch linguist would say “Kickero”…
Bill Heid: “Kickero,” yeah… [laugh]
Martin Selbrede: Yeah, believe it or not, I’ve been corrected on this by people who are in the know, so “Kickero,” but we say Cicero… he definitely was doing what a poet’s supposed to do, which is just to paint the picture… or a story in poetry, if you will … paint the picture of what’s coming and to essentially accelerate the advent of salvation so everyone rallies around the new king, the new emperor, the new Caesar.
Bill Heid: And they even change their calendars, I think, to go along with your coinage discussion. You would even change, when a new emperor came in, he would change calendars quite often too, and say “Now, all time starts with me.” And that started back then and I think, even the French Revolution, I know the Russians played a little with that. It didn’t work too well when the rest of the world didn’t cooperate, but, what’s the idea of changing time? Saying “time starts with me?”
Martin Selbrede: I think, there again, if the problem is history itself, you want to get away from history. I think this is what motivated the People’s Republic of China in the Great Revolution in the late 1940s, to do what they could to destroy their own history, to start brand new, to basically repudiate the past and say, “All things are made new with the new era. The value is to be found in what we’re doing now, in the current moment, not in the past.” And consequently, this is a big dislocation, if you will, of the culture, because you’re resetting the culture at a brand new anchor point, which is the new rulers, the new doctrines if you will, and from them salvation to be had. Therefore, the position was that things like Confucius and his intellect were of no more real value in the new China, for example.
We see a similar thrust in our own country. The people look and read about the various state constitutions that the colonies put together and see no value in them. In fact, they see that as going backward in time and of course, this is a colossal error. They were on much stronger foundations in the colonial era than we are today. In fact, right now, we’re the ones standing on shifting ground. We’re the ones who are buying into the myth of political salvation and therefore we will be the rightful prey of those who take the reins of power and don’t know how to exploit it properly.
Bill Heid: Well… well said. I think it’s important for people too, just as a side note, that these early colonial governments were doing quite well and it’s important to realize that John Locke hadn’t been born yet and that they had figured a way to organize themselves in a way that didn’t require “Kickero” as you say, didn’t require sort of a Lockean philosophy, that they were grounded biblically in their covenant and constitution and as you say, Martin, that’s a whole ‘nother show that we could do, but it is intentional that that bit about our Pilgram forefathers… I just got back from London, I’ve spent time in Scrooby, and Gainsborough, Austerlands, and so forth, kind of on the Pilgram trail… that’s been ripped right out of the textbooks, so if you go to a public school, probably a Christian school, you’re not going to even know that at all, are you?
Martin Selbrede: No. They’re very good at depicting the truth as efforts at revisionism, so they’ve done a good job of subverting things. After all, if you can control the past, you have a better angle of controlling the future. Therefore, Chalcedon has done a lot in terms of exposing some of these efforts at destroying the pillars of our history. I think it’s not without reason that in Isaiah we read these very trenchant words, “Look to the rock from whence you were digged, to the pit—you know, the quarry—from whence you were hewn.” We have to understand where we came from in order to know where we’re going, especially the missteps that might have been in our past and understand them better. And always go back to the scriptures… you made a very good point that in a pre-Lockean era, America got some things extremely right. I think this is due to the fact that the scriptures are sufficient as a guide for government, that all we need for a biblical government (and it’s stated very clearly there), and that’s why we should proclaim that the government is on Christ’s shoulders, as the famous Advent proclamation of Isaiah 9:6 tells us. That he is, in fact, to be the governor among the nations and he speaks peace to the nations.
Right now, peace is spoken as a bad joke, I think, in U.N hallways, because it seems that all they really want to do is continually amp up the evil, because we have evil and you can always launch a fight against evil, and you can have an entire agenda for resolving it. Government, therefore, is not so much interested in solving problems as, in essence, perpetuating them because that becomes its reason to exist.
Again, the biblical model is the one of government is ministerial, focused on restitution, and the church focused on the moral recovery of man. The second you decline to deal with the moral issue that man faces, if you fail to deal with man’s sin, you are assuming you’re operating on Pelagious ground. You’re operating on the notion that all men are good and the problem lies in some structural issue or in a misallocation of resources or wealth, or even the physical environment has to be resolved because of these evils of damage and droughts and whatnot that mankind, through science, is to resolve.
Therefore, it’s not without reason that we should at times fear the priesthood of the new era, because people wish to resolve their … and focus their trust, on their fellow men. And I think this is the very thing that is condemned in scripture. “Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils, of what is he to be accounted from.” (Isaiah 2:22). Or I think even more plaintively, the comment in Jeremiah, “Cursed is the man who would trust in man, who makes flesh his arm.” And yet Christians even rule in terms of the trusting in the arms of flesh and I think John Howe, the Puritan, made it very clear, he says “the arm of flesh signified a great deal when the power and omnipotence [of an almighty] Spirit is reckoned as nothing.”
It’s because we’re functional atheists as Christians, that we repose all this energy and strength in the state. And we become statists and in point of fact, we become idolaters and our Christianity becomes a veneer, it’s not the core of our being anymore. Our real commitments are revealed say, in a ballot box or in our political affectations, and I think this is ruinous of the entire message of the coming of Christ. We’re subverting our King’s kingship in so doing.
Bill Heid: Years ago there was always a big push for the U.N., it’s funny that you say that. You don’t quite hear about that as much anymore. But back to your point, before we move on, just to reiterate, I think it’s really an important thing, Martin, to talk about the two differences. Go back again and talk about, make that separation… a lot of people don’t know who Pelagius is, but you’re at, really at the antithetical point in life, in scripture, and everywhere, there’s two ways to go. Go back and tell us which of those two ways to go, because one creates a lot of problems and the other creates joy and peace and prosperity. Can you go back and talk about the two ways one more time?
Martin Selbrede: Certainly. Basically it grows out of the question of where the problem lies. For modern man, for statist humanist man, the problem is anything but his moral conduct, his sin, his rebellion against God. He folds into his worldview the inherent goodness of man, if the environment would permit him to be good. Therefore, all environmental factors are up for grabs and social change, that’s the engine by which man is saved, by correcting all these environmental factors—his schooling, his business environment, his culture, community, the distribution of money—all these things become a factor in terms of the notion that man’s problem is strictly an environmental and the salvation comes from correcting these environmental problems, and you giving the government enough power to do exactly that. Therefore, by power, state power, problems are solved and salvation is achieved.
In the Christian worldview, man’s problem is not environmental at all. That’s secondary. Man’s problem is his own sin and until that power of sin is broken over man, you’re simply going to continue to rearrange all these sinful elements in different combinations, and you will always end up with a worsening evil because the evil is given a pass. It is folded into the infrastructure of your culture, and it becomes institutionalized. Envy becomes institutionalized, say, in your tax structure. Relocation of wealth does things in this order. The world itself, the environment, the creation, becomes worshipped and therefore the resources God intended it to yield up to us when we are faithful to him are blocked from access and then therefore starved as a consequence, in cause of a greater good, say Mother Earth.
So again, the big difference is man’s problem—is it a moral one or is it an environmental one? Therefore it becomes an ethical question. People who want to avoid that, could they figure, politics is very straightforward, we have these very straightforward problems, we just need to apply politics to them, the right solutions will come up, and boom, we’re home free. That assumes man can get away with his sin and prosper in his sin. The scriptures are very clear—we will never prosper if we remain in our sins. God loved the world so much that he did not allow us to stay in our sins. He made provision, the atonement of Christ to eradicate them, to create a new creation in each of us, and then we are to head out, move out, in terms of this new humanity which is under Christ. Therefore Christian self-government prevails. And when God is big, government (putting that as the civil government) can be very, very small. It becomes less necessary. It shrinks back to its proper dimensions, which is justice and restitution. Those are become the focus and then mankind moves in terms of true liberty and freedom, because it so happens that under political salvation, you lose your freedoms because that’s the thing that has to be place on the altar and slaughtered in order to give government the power to save you from all this imagined evils while leaving you to stay in your sins. I think the view of political salvation, it doesn’t challenge you as a sinner. They say that’s the church’s job to the extent it’s still legal to say things like that inside a church.
Bill Heid: Yeah, and I think if you watch cable television again, or if you listen to talk radio for most of it, Martin, it’s simply a repositioning and reengineering of the first part of the transaction of the bad way. In other words, the good guys, ostensible good guys, as well as the bad guys, are merely arguing how to reposition and reengineer the environmental factors, right? So it’s almost like, maybe Hal Lindsey was right, it’s almost like we’re in some kind of crazy satanic world where the only news that you’re watching is the news that can’t possibly help, right?
Martin Selbrede: Exactly right. We don’t need solutions from the statist point of view. If we were to challenge them at their core, their reason to exist is directly confronted. It’s not something that they’re interested in. First they’ll say that you’re not on this side of solving the problems because now you’re misdirecting the narrative. But you know, that’s probably what Christ was doing very effectively too, during his walk here on earth. He redirected the narrative to men’s sins and a provision for them.
Bill Heid: So how can we…
Martin Selbrede: He challenged them…
Bill Heid: Go ahead, I’m sorry.
Martin Selbrede: Very pointedly, when he and Pontius Pilate had the conversation, they could not come to an agreement on anything because they were talking past each other. Pilate even questioned the whole concept of truth because to him, it was simply something that was pragmatic, it was utilitarian in his outlook. It didn’t have any meaning because what meant something to him was power, say the power to crucify the man in front of him.
Bill Heid: And certainly, Bill Clinton would have echoed that same pragmatism, you know, when he said “what is ‘is’?” That’s what these men do, they don’t want to be challenged as you say, at the core, which is what Christ did, because they’re into the power religion and when you’re in the power religion, the only conversation you can have is a power conversation, right? And so, where does the power conversation go? I think Rush[dooney], in one of his pieces on the ungodly world and salvation, talks about well, if you’re playing the power game, what’s… and Julius Caesar is the power broker and you’re Brutus, how do you get out of the power game? What’s your answer to environmental engineering? Well, you’re gonna wipe him out, right? So, and what’s the answer if Brutus is a problem? So, there’s this chain where it’s ultimately as Van Til always said, epistemologically self-conscious, if you’re a good power politician, you kill the other guy because that’s where it all goes at some point, right?
Martin Selbrede: I think it’s significant that you’re talking about power religion and power politics. The phrase has been used about this, called “real politicks,” right? With a “k” at the end, and it has the connotation that they’re keeping it real, this is the area where the rubber really touches the road. This is where all these conflicts occur, etc., etc. and this is the domain where men have to engage and become diplomats, etc., etc. And our contention, of course, is that they’re bypassing the entire problem and therefore can never come to a solution that is going to last. It’s going to be confounded because the Lord God’s blessings and curses will overtake the nation’s premise on their behavior, according to the law of God.
Building on this issue of power politics, Rushdooney did an exceptional job dealing with the episode in which Elisha and Joash have their confrontation. And at that point the question was, should Israel go ahead and move in terms of an attack on Syria? And the prophet basically instructed the king, okay, take the quivered arrows and shoot them into the ground. And of course Joash knew full well that each shot of the arrow into the ground reflected the victory over Syria. Did he shoot all the arrows that he had? No. He shot two or three, making the prophet extremely angry and saying, “You should have shot four or five or six. What are you shooting two or three for?” The answer is very simple—he did not want the victory that God was giving him over Syria because he was using Syria as a buffer state between Israel Assyria, who he feared even more.
So oftentimes, in power politics, you play the game where support an enemy and keep them alive and well because they have a value to you, even as an enemy. So again, there is no moral conduct involved in this situation. Rushdooney spent a lot of time talking about the interesting ways over the centuries that Turkey was supported under various guises and various governments, including even into the 20th century. Why? Because Turkey could be trusted when they, that they regarded say as an evil entity, they can always be trusted to be bought and paid off. So power politics continues to, sort of, rhapsodize if you will, evil because it can be used. It’s a pragmatic, utilitarian purpose. This is contrary, entirely, to the Christian purpose.
Bill Heid: You also have the same thing today. I didn’t mean to cut you off, you also, I mean, that is our policy today. That is, that’s the, that was the Bush/Cheney policy, that was policy before them, now that’s the Obama policy. If you look at the Middle East today, I wouldn’t call any of these allies friendly, I’m not even sure Israel is friendly in that sense, right? I mean, aren’t we just doing, I mean, we keep people alive as cards to play, in a sense. There’s no morality to this at all. It’s strict pragmatism.
Martin Selbrede: Correct. Because if the problem is the environment and people are part of the environment, then whatever is necessary to solve that problem is on the table. In other words, they’ll say there are no options that are off the table, and this includes supporting or subsidizing regimes that are dangerous and deadly to us. I think it’s not without some small wonder that we read in the New Testament that there was an agreement between Pontius Pilate and Herod regarding the disposition of Jesus at his trial. They were on good terms because the one point that they could agree on was that this was a dangerous man and needs to go.
Bill Heid: So, we’ve had a good discussion about power politics. Now I want to discuss another aspect of sort of, salvation and this is another one that Rush[dooney] did a great job of discussing, because I think there’s a great segue into our culture, because our culture has sort of a, it’s a mutant state of these two. But, Martin, the other thing that Rush[dooney] talked about, I think, so wonderfully, was sort of the escapist concept, so when he looked at the Greek word “soteria,” he saw that… and I’ll read just a little bit of it: “‘Soteria’ means deliverance, preservation, victory and health, in and of itself”… not a bad thing… temporal deliverance even, “this could be personal, national, and even eternal,”… and that goes back to the justification side. But then he quickly goes in and starts talking about the Iliad, he starts talking about Menelaus and that scene where Paris and Menelaus are going at and Paris gets taken out of that scene, right? Before he gets an angry husband’s sword through his heart, he gets taken out of the scene. And where does he end up? In Helen’s bedroom, right? And you know that’s sort of the Greek, the escapist side, that’s the Greek side. So there’s another side of salvation, another aberrant side of thinking about “how can I get saved?” Now I’m sort of released from something, I’ve escaped from something, and talk about that, because that has the same, some of the same motifs as in our first segment about salvation, but it’s a little different angle on it.
Martin Selbrede: Sure. I think you can put it into two words—avoiding consequences. I think that’s what we look to in political leaders. “Hey, we have this enormous national debt. How do we avoid the consequences of our prior riotous living and taxing our future and destroying it?” People want to have deliverance from all these things so that they can have their cake and eat it. But, Rushdooney has been very smart on this one point, he says there is no easy way out. Newsflash! There is no easy way out! But there is a way out, it’s a biblical way out. But people have no interest in that because they don’t want to acknowledge that their own sin is at the heart of the problem. I think this is telling because he wrote a book, originally titled “The Roots of Inflation,” about monetary inflation. It was retitled, “Larceny in the Heart,” a phrase that he used in one of the chapters and titled one of the chapters, because he points out there’d be no interest in all the debt structures if in fact we weren’t encouraged to be part of the process by which people are defrauded. If I have an inflating currency that’s dropping in value, then when I borrow $100 from you, Bill, and I pay you back in a year, you might only get $94 back because the value has decreased. In other words, the government has helped put some money in my pocket at your expense and as Rushdooney points out, we like that. We want to avoid the consequences of a theft-based system, but we want to keep the theft that is at the core of the system. Same too with monetized debt and all the systems that we have in economics that are destroying us today. We want to avoid the consequences but oftentimes, the consequences are the route to saving us. I think that it’s not without reason that Dr. Gary North pointed out that a depression is the recovery phase of an economy in the same way that withdrawal is the recovery phase for a heroin addict. You have to go through it to get clean and off the needle, and in this case the needle is economic stimulation that’s destroying you.
So two, the whole notion of salvation is the avoiding of consequences. It might be the consequences of just being a material being. People want to say well, man’s problem is that he is in a material body and that’s where all those temptations are coming from, therefore, proper notion of salvation is to be released from the body and become a disembodied soul and integrate back into the void. I think we see a lot of this in mystical notions of Christendom that are floated around and have become very popular. The discounting of the material realm and an unhealthy focus, if you will, on spiritualism to the, at the expense of the rest of the world that we’re in. Now we need to have both. We need to have a spiritual outlook and we also need to be responsible for the world that God set us in. The world is not evil. We’re evil and we reverse this around, we’ve again called for a statist solution because in essence, we’ve rejected the biblical position that our moral conduct is the reason that the world is the way it is, that when sin entered the world, death followed.
Bill Heid: Now also, early into the period of time, into this period of time when our Lord was born, there was a Roman doctrine of salvation, Rush[dooney] called it the Roman imperial doctrine of salvation, and that’s an interesting concept to put off against Christianity too, because I think in addition to power politics, this coincides I think they both, you need them both to exist this escapism. Talk a little bit about how you had the, how serfdom began and how the Roman state… and again, I think Rush[dooney] makes the point that it wasn’t in Caesar’s mind at the beginning to use this, it was more larceny in the heart of the average guy in the street that created the Roman imperialist concept. But do you want to articulate that a little bit?
Martin Selbrede: I think Rushdooney makes an interesting point in his book “The One and the Many” where there is an emphasis to revisit the notion of the tower of Babel, to have a unity of the polis, of the people under one arching doctrine, if you will, one overarching authority, and that all meaning and power and significance comes from this. Therefore, the notion of a barbarian, as Rushdooney says, is a man without a state, a man who lives outside of government structures. Such a person is a barbarian, really a man without a state, a stateless man, and such a person has no meaning. He’s less than a man, whereas your fullness is in terms of being a civilian or a citizen if you will, of Rome. That term actually came in very handy for Paul at one point, St. Paul, when he pointed out he was a Roman citizen and was being abused in a way that was contrary to the laws, but it also worked against him. By the same token, it ended up putting him right in front of Caesar and in the way of Caesar’s sword.
Nonetheless, there’s a part to play strategically when we are members of these entities, but we should also recognize all these structures are eventually doomed to be grounded to chaff and driven away by the wind, which is very clear from Daniel 2, that we’re going to see such a situation arise where there will be a one-world kingdom, but it will be Christ’s and it’ll be transnational and it’ll be transcendental. But men are working their tails off to avoid that, to cut Christ off at knees in any way that they can, and they do it how, Bill? They use the legal structures. I think that’s why Christians should glom onto that Psalm 94:20, “The wicked frame mischief using law.” Rushdooney spoke to this many times, that the legal structure is the mechanism by which wicked men frame mischief and nonsense in the culture, and by framing it, it becomes the foundation for that culture. And then we are growing up inside, within that foundation, and to us it’s like water to a fish, we assume as the status quo and we don’t know anything but the statist way to look at things, the statist way to solve problems. Therefore we need to have that new wine of Christendom flowing into us, so that we become an effectual doctrine to true solution of the problems. And those do have political ramifications but they first have moral ramifications.
Needless to say, if you want to avoid consequences and don’t want anyone to feel that they’re under a moral order of any kind, you need to do things like throwing the Ten Commandments out of the public school rooms. And I’m not going to talk about public school rooms in a favorable way in the first place, I don’t believe they should exist. But nonetheless, it makes sense from the other side point of view to no longer make the students feel guilty that they are obligated to keep a moral code, one laid down by the God who created everything. That makes you uncomfortable and the first thing we’re to be safe from is the discomfort of our moral behaviors.
I think that’s what Sigmund Freud was all about, was saying, “Well, I want to help you process your guilt and there is no objective basis for your guilt. You just need to get over it. It’s not real because there is no moral code by which you need live by.” So, Rushdooney spent a lot of time on that aspect of salvation, the salvation aspect offered by psychoanalysis and psychiatry, pointing out that we’re in a world of hurt and these are all false answers being peddled to us by practitioners who are not willing to confront the reality of our guilt. Because within each of us as Roman 2 says, the work of the law is written on our hearts, that is, we have a conscience. Because we’re made in God’s image, we’re aware of the fact that we’re breaking his law. We just have to suppress it. We want to avoid the consequences, we want to avoid the guilt or the feelings and modern psychiatry is there, along with evolutionary theory and everything else under the sun, to tell us that we are free and clear of the bands of the Lord. That is burst his bonds asunder and cast his cords from us, as Psalm 2 puts it, and all this, God laughs at it because he has set his Kingdom on his holy hill, that’s why Christ came in the form of a babe in the manger. That was the coming of the King, the King of Kings, to whom all other kings are to cast their crowns or themselves be crushed as [00:36:59 inaudible]… kingdom, ruling from heaven.
Bill Heid: So, salvation offered in this sense, in this public school sense, or even in Rome at this time is really a form of salvation from your obligations and requirements to God, right? Isn’t that an interesting thing, Martin, that there is two views to salvation, so this… God sent his son, and so that’s a view of salvation, to get right with God. That’s the gospel, that’s why we enjoy Christmas so much, Martin, and this time of year. It’s a lot of fun for us, is because of that. There’s an atonement issue. You’re not freed from God in that sense. God gives you, Christ gives you, sort of, freedom from your sins and so you don’t have that Ten Commandments problem. But what Cicero offers, what Freud offers, what the public school system offers is freedom from even thinking about that. It’s escapism from thinking about what God might require of you.
Martin Selbrede: Because when you speak about God, you realize you’re speaking about consequences because we’re created in his image and we’re doing things that our own hearts and consciences are telling us are wrong. There are inherent consequences and we know them deep in our hearts. What we are to be delivered from and political salvation does for us, assuming we are foolish enough to buy this mess of pottage, is deliverance from that guilt, deliverance from anything that makes us uncomfortable or says we’re anything other than the best that we can be. Therefore mankind is to be delivered from all these horrible things that encroach on our freedom to be free from all restrictions, of all obligations, of all moral imperative, if you will. There is no “ought” except that you ought to be happy and even if we have to kill a lot of people to make sure they’re happy, so be it.
Bill Heid: Martin, if you could get on… I want to segue for just a second… but I was thinking about this world that we live in where it’s all, it’s really kind of, it’s hard to penetrate the truth, it’s difficult for the truth to penetrate, but let’s say you could get on Bill O’Reilly and he said, “Martin, you got two minutes. Tell me about Christmas on the no-spin zone.” What would you say to him? He’s gonna want to do exactly the same thing. I’m sure Bill has his view of Christmas, I’m sure it’s a fun time for their family, but he’s not gonna see it as this thing that you and I see, as the most essential change in history, and in all of history since day one. It is the biggest thing that ever happened and it has political effects, but he’s not gonna want to see that. He’s gonna try to spin you out of that. What do you… how’s your left-right jab gonna go?
Martin Selbrede: [laugh] I think I’m going to have him jab with Isaiah 9:6-7. The scripture is very clear about the coming of the Son, who’s given unto us, that the government shall be upon his shoulders, and the increase of that government and of peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David to establish it even henceforth forever, that the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall perform this. I think this is very, very profound because he’s not arguing, and cannot argue, that the government of Christ is increasing because he is continually putting the government on the shoulder of men, gullible men, men who have already written off Christ in every way, shape, and form, except nominally. Consequently, when we proclaim the Christ of scripture, we say he is the King of kings and all earthly dominions must bow the knee to him or be leveled in the dust because God will leave them behind. It’s that simple. So the government is upon Christ’s shoulders now, he rules above all power and authority in heaven and he’s going to bring everything in submission under his feet. We don’t yet see it all, but we see him seated at the right hand of heaven, waiting until all his enemies are made his footstool. And you need to be found on the side of Christ’s friends and not his enemies if you wish to stand in the last days, Mr. O’Reilly.
Bill Heid: [laugh] We’ll send him this and see if he listens. It’ll probably be as close as we get but… back to that period of time, Martin, you could become, and I kind of wanted to sort of bring out a little bit of, an element of the last election and this period of time where the emperors could be worshipped for the genius of the emperor. There was a period of time in Rome, and this was during the period of time of our Lord’s birth, that you could, sort of, join the emperor, get on his farm, join the imperial… what was it called… the imperial estate… live on the imperial estates for free, sign off your freedom. And so Rush[dooney] always made the point that the beginning of serfdom started with the Roman imperial estates doctrine and not through medieval feudalism, but serfdom started here where you had the opportunity, you could go be loyal to the emperor, leave all the troubles of the world, leave bills that you’ve got, leave all the pressing problems… and Romans had problems just like we do… and go live on the Roman imperial estates and sign away your liberty for security, right?
Martin Selbrede: Mmm hmmm.
Bill Heid: So that was something… now think about that, now think about the last election. My view of the last election is it was just and entitlements election and that people that thought they had a lot to lose, if the faucet got turned off by socialists of a different stripe, even just a little bit of a quarter turn Romney promised, so here’s a another environment engineer, Romney running against this engineer using the language that we’re using today, and more people voted for the engineer who promises the most stuff, right? Just basically…
Martin Selbrede: The most social change…
Bill Heid: The most social change and actually, just stuff, like, you know, can I have a cell phone? Yes, yes, Martin, you can have the cell phone. You know, whatever it is that people want, they get, including social change, so that’s part of it too. But this is so much like that concept of the Roman imperial estates where you worship the genius of the emperor. I think there’s a cult of personality issue with President Obama the same way there was the genius of the emperor. Have you ever given that any thought at all?
Martin Selbrede: I think we’re coming into that bread and circuses mindset nowadays because every effort is made to throw a minimum amount of light on the actual nature of our problems. We always talk about inflation in terms of price inflation, never monetary inflation, and so whenever we hear Bernanke going up against the House in Congress and being questioned, we rarely get the full picture and most of it is filtered by the media, in terms of the media’s own notions of what the problem is, which again, is environmental. So they went to the make believe money because the problem is say, we don’t have enough money here or enough money there, so we’ve printed up or monetized enough debt to solve the problem. But the political answer is all that false, compounded, phony money needs to be, needs to disappear. We need to push everything back to the actual true levels and tie it say, to a specie metal, which would be a very constitutional thing if nothing else do. That’s the way the Bible speaks about it.
But no one wants to confront the notion that, particularly in regard to this monetary matter, that in the scriptures regards the Federal Reserve note, the things we call U.S. dollars in our pocket, as abominations. Thou shalt not have diverse weights and measures even on your person, because they’re an abomination to God. Yet we circulate them, and we buy and sell through the kingdom with these units. So until we’re ready to confront the fact that we are already far gone in this era, we’re going to avoid responsibility. I think this is exactly what everyone wants.
I think Rushdooney correctly labeled the title of the book of his, “Revolt Against Maturity,” because when you can revolt against maturity, you can eject all responsibility, particularly past responsibilities. Now, of course, you’re responsible to your new king, in terms of that Roman estate you’re working for, but that might be preferable. You might be willing to exchange one set of obligations for another. The problem is that the one obligation that is never going to be zeroed out for you is the one to God. And if Christ is not the one settling your account, you’re in a world of hurt.
And if your culture is based on the premise that everyone can be irresponsible, everyone can be saved by alleging that the problem is not about moral conduct, but rather some environmental factor outside us, that there is some other that needs to be dealt with to solve our problems or we’re never going to solve the problems, because the problems are fundamentally moral and until you deal with the problems at the core, everything else is purely symptomatic relief. And not even that. That’s the funniest thing, that people imagine that this shell game is solving problems when in fact it’s postponing the inevitable and making a worsening crisis appear on the horizon of our contemplation.
Bill Heid: That’s a good point, because I think that there’s a lot of degree of anxiety that doesn’t get measured or tracked. When you kick the can down the road, as they say, that assumes that there’s no psychological damage associated with doing that, but I think that’s a crazy assumption. I think whether that psychological anxiety is personal, whether you’re kicking your own financial can down the line, or if it’s at your company, or if it’s at a national level, there’s a price to be paid there, Martin.
Martin Selbrede: I remember Dr. Rushdooney commenting on that bumper sticker that says, “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” He pointed out, of course, that this is a past-oriented thinking because you’re not investing in the future, which is your children, by the way, under the biblical model. You’re not investing in your great-grandchildren, etc. You are focused rather on your own pleasures and of course, that means that you’re forsaking the future and you have no plans for the future. I think only among serious Christians do we see there a renaissance, if you will, or rebirth of the importance of inheritance in our families because that becomes, if you will, the room from which a lot of the hewning can extend into our culture, if only you would take a strong grip on that whole matter, become responsible. As St. Paul says, “Understanding, be men and move to maturity.” And I think too many Christians, even today, are sitting on the [00:49:37 inaudible]… you know, they might have been in church for 30 years and reading the Bible through several times, and they’re… you cannot tell they’re not a babe in Christ because they have no mature, politically informed views on anything. Consequently, they do not offer solutions. They cannot say what Paul said when he proclaimed, “I’m guiltless of the blood of no man because I have not shunned to proclaim unto you the whole counsel of God.” Right now, Christians are not proclaiming the whole counsel of God, primarily one, because they don’t understand it, therefore they don’t even understand the basics of Christmas and the significance of the coming of Christ, why there was a star in heaven to proclaim his birth. They don’t even know where to go with the next step beyond that, and therefore they do not offer anything but warmed over statist solutions with the veneer of spirituality smeared on top of it to make it sound pious. And those kind of clichés are not going to cut it when we’re on the kind of edge that we are, crisis-wise, today.
And these crises have a solution, but there are no easy ways out, and you’re not going to solve them in the ballot box. I think that’s something that we have to get across, that “cursed is the man who trusts in man, who makes flesh his arm.” The only way out is justice…justice as it’s conceived of biblically. “Justice, justice …” Deuteronomy 16:20 tells us. Everything else is an evasion of responsibility. I think this is exactly what people are fleeing from, justice. That’s why there’s a disdain for the Ten Commandments today, because they reflect God’s justice. And the last thing we seem to want is to have a just society, and that’s going to condemn us to an evil society instead.
Bill Heid: And I think into world, I mean that world that Christ was born into… as I said, this is a Christmas episode. I hope that people can take the Christmas context from this because the impact of Christ’s birth, that incarnation has an effect on our world and it needs to be worked out in all of our lives, in our government, and in our pocketbooks, and all the various aspects of the way we think. But, Martin, you had a world that this Savior came into, a world that played power politics, and a world that actually used this escapist politics to play power politics. And you have this same world, again, today… into that world, this baby came… so we have to say our world’s very much the same way that that Roman world was, just a very corrupt world, a world in avoidance of justice, and in comes this baby into that world to offer freedom to people. And not just political freedom… that’s just a byproduct. You talked about symptoms, Martin, that’s a by-product of this other kind of freedom. So, I guess we have a couple of minutes to close. Any other statements on the concept of… people are gonna say, well what’s that baby being born got to do with political freedom? Again… a lot, right?
Martin Selbrede: Yeah. Right up to that, you read in Daniel 2, that a rock cut without hands strikes a huge, four-fold statue that represents four massive empires, including imperial Rome and that rock that struck them, it says it basically destroyed the entire entity and those kingdoms became like the dust and like the chaff of the summer threshing floors that the wind drove away, which by the way is an interesting solution, if you will, to Psalm one, right? It says that the wicked are not sober, like the chaff of the summer threshing floors that the wind driveth away. And more interestingly, Bill, Daniel says “…and no place was found for them.” In other words, all these kingdoms that have this notion of a dream of a one-world government, says it’s all demolished by the coming of Christ in that first century and that rock grows until it becomes a mountain that fills the entire earth. That’s the process by which this world will be remade. That’s why there’s a big distinction between those who hold that we’re in the last days era versus those who believe that we’re actually living in the era of the primitive church still. So we have a lot of work still to do, that the sands of time have not yet run out because the coming of Christ, that the rock without hands is still growing, and I think it’s so significant that when St. John looked out on Asia Minor over at the Roman Empire as he saw it in late 90s A.D., he says, “the darkness is passing away.” That’s a remarkably powerful statement to make considering that heaping darkness was amassed, everything was based on a notion of political salvation, but he says it’s an actual process of passing away because the true light is shining already. And that’s what we celebrate at Christmas, the true light is shining already, it’s driving the darkness away, we Christians need to rally around the Light, and be agents of the Light, be the city on a hill, be the means by which every thought is taken captive to the [00:54:53 inaudible] of Christ so that the darkness passes away even more quickly on our watch.
Bill Heid: So the question becomes, what are you going to do, the victory’s already been proclaimed, what are you going to do in this, in this mopping up process, in this battle, as it were. The Pilgrims saw this thing as a battle, that’s why they could look at their fallen ones, their sons and daughters that died, they looked at them and said, you know, in a battle, soldiers die, and they still cried, but their main emphasis was on God’s kingdom, Martin, and that’s why, that’s what gave them that fierce tenacity, that’s what gave the Puritan’s that fierce tenacity, and if we’re going to build anything up today, it’s, we need to build up the tenacity that those groups had. Not very many points of this in history that you can go and draw from, but clearly, those two points in history had that kind of spirit that we need today, where people said, you know what, I’m just a humble person. And Herod didn’t think anything of Bethlehem at the beginning, Caesar never thought of anything of Bethlehem… [end of recording].