Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Another view of ancient Athens

In an earlier post, I looked at Athens in the book of Acts and noted Luke's characterization of the place as a location where people just sat around, ears peeled for the latest trendy thing. (And yes, it's a bit like us who are following Web 2.0 thingies.)

But I recently read a more positive view of Athens, in this case the more ancient Athens of Pericles. True Discernment quotes from Financial Sense:

In the fifth century B.C. Athens had become the most powerful city in the Greek world, energized by a new form of liberty. Every great power makes enemies, and Athens made plenty. Her wealth was envied. Her policy of freedom and shared power for male citizens was feared by conservative leaders in Corinth, Thebes and Sparta....

In Athens there was a remarkable politician named Pericles. His famous “funeral oration,” honoring fallen Athenian heroes, sounds almost American in its logic: “We have a form of government … which, because in the administration it hath respect not to a few but to the multitude, is called a democracy. Wherein … there be an equality amongst all men in point of law for their private controversies…. And we live not only free in the administration of the state but also one with another void of jealousy touching each other’s daily course of life, not offended at any man for following his own humor…. So that conversing one with another … without offense, we stand chiefly in fear to transgress against the public and are obedient always to those that govern and to the laws, and principally to such laws as are written for protection against injury….”

According to Pericles the Athenians were the greatest people in the world. They were first in war, first in freedom, first to discover new ideas. The Athenians had discovered a new way to govern themselves. It was a better way of life, they believed. The people of other cities, of other nations, might enjoy this better way of life. For many Greek cities, however, the Athenians appeared arrogant. Their empire posed a threat.

A parallel is drawn to modern times:

The United States has enjoyed ascendancy for about the same length of time that Athens enjoyed its ascendency. The United States, like Athens, believes that its way of life holds the key to prosperity and liberty for other nations. And the United States, like Athens, is hated for its power. It is debatable whether the Americans have acted as unjustly and brutally as the Athenians. But one thing is certain, given the march of time: The people of the United States have lost their moral center and are in danger of falling into a kind of chaos. This chaos appears in our economic behavior – in our indebtedness and failure to observe the traditional rules of economy. We have also ignored the warnings of our forefathers about foreign entanglements. And we have lost our common sense in matters of family and personal behavior.

There is one difference between Athens and America that we must not forget. The enemies of Athens were merciful and reasonable. They did not seek to overturn the existing social order. Rather than being revolutionaries, they were reactionaries who believed in the wisdom of the past. Therefore, when Athens was defeated at the end of the Peloponnesian War, Sparta did not exterminate the Athenians or destroy the city itself. In the case of America, however, the enemy is revolutionary and nihilistic. The revolutionary socialists and Islamists are eager to kill, persecute and destroy.

So the United States of America may someday fail.

Which is, if I may state this, a good thing.

So many people subscribe to the "God and country" view that they have convinced themselves in their minds that the entire United States of America will ascend up to God, and there reside in eternity with liberty and justice for all.

But these people forget that nothing - and that means nothing - should get in the way of our relationship with God.

With the current law of the land, every Christian should be guilty of sedition, and every Christian should believe in and be working for the overthrow of the United States government. Matthew 24 says it best:

atthew 24:35 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

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