The Decay of False Ideas

The Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. That’s a positive progression from God’s perspective. He intends human beings to develop the natural resources He put in the creation. When we do, hungry people are fed, the sick receive care, the naked are clothed, children grow, families prosper, nations thrive. And God receives glory.

Darrow Miller will elaborate on this in a forthcoming book.

Until the Protestant Reformation, all the nations of the world were poor. While the small ruling class was wealthy, all others were indentured servants and slaves. Work was seen as a curse. The Reformation changed all that. German sociologist and political economic philosopher Max Weber (1864-1920), exploring why some nations were rich and some poor, concluded that the difference was the protestant work ethic. Weber saw the root of poverty in moral vision and mindset and articulated that it was an ethic of work–work as man’s dignity–proclaimed from the pulpits of the Reformation churches, that sparked the economic revolution that lifted nations from poverty.

When man embraces God’s truth and lives under His law of freedom, the result is progress. On the other hand, to abandon God’s truth is to suffer consequences. The prophet Isaiah calls it a “covenant with death.” Those who reject the law of the Lord will have “roots that decay.”

I thought of this when I read Two Californias by Victor David Hanson. He writes about the backward direction of some communities in southern California, where public employees are “ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral …”

Photo by Nikolay at

“Feral” is the term for domesticated dogs gone wild. It denotes a sense of backward direction. A feral animal is “one that has reverted from the domesticated state to a stable condition more or less resembling the wild.”

Hanson’s article comprises a sobering observation. It evokes the unprecedented (in America) regression in suburban Detroit where abandoned and now worthless homes are being bulldozed and returned to farmland … from the city to the garden.

If the Protestant Reformation “sparked the economic revolution that lifted nations from poverty,” what worldview is at work in the decay Hanson observed?

However that worldview might be designated, Jesus, in a single sentence, identified the source … as well as the glorious alternative: Himself.

– Gary Brumbelow

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Equipping the Church to transform the world
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