If you want to know why there can be no common ground in the culture wars, and why Christian faith matters so much in election years, look no further than Europe in the Age of Enlightenment. One man in particular has done more to destroy Christianity than anyone since Nero.
About the time Alexis de Tocqueville’s crowning piece “Democracy in America” was published, the Opus Magnus of another thinker was gaining much attention: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s flawed and humanistic system of philosophy.
To Hegel, and just about everyone in power today follows his model, the notion of absolute truth is crazy talk. Just think about that and its implications for Christians in the public square for a moment.
Hegel proposed (among other things) that truth is arrived at by a process of presenting a thesis, which is countered by an anti-thesis, with both combining to form a synthesis—which is then accepted as truth. The “Hegelian dialectic” as it’s known is one of the worst ideas ever invented by man. In fact, it elevates what we think about the world over observable truth, forever dismissing objective reasoning in favor of contrivances of the mind.
Dialectic thinking removes the possibility of absolute truth, and therefore eliminates the existence of a universal law—which extends to a universal law-giver. No amount of human observation or evidence, in Hegel’s world, can prove the existence of something, unless it’s first thought about and a synthesis arrived at. In short: there goes God out the window.
The horrible consequences of this philosophy in history are self-evident. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels used it as the underpinning of their theory of communism. The Third Reich relied on Hegel in its particular brand of statism.
“…the State ‘has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State… for the right of the world spirit is above all special privileges.'” Author/historian William Shirer, quoting Georg Hegel in his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1959, page 144)
You see, without an objective, absolute source of truth, truth must be contrived as a social construct, elevating society above any individual. In other words, if you are outside the “Zeitgeist” (the spirit of the age), you are, by definition, wrong. The term “Zeitgeist” itself arrives through Hegel’s dialectic philosophy, and informs every liberal idea of progressive thought today.
Gay marriage, transsexualism, man-made climate change, population control, one-world government—all these things spring from Zeitgeist and Hegel. The popular progressive phrase “third way” is a soft term for “synthesis” where we all agree on truth, and everyone outside truth is cast away. And believing Christians will always be outside the truth in a Hegelian dialectic.
Judaism and Christianity rely on the authority of the Bible and God as the primary source of truth. God doesn’t change, and therefore truth is absolute in Biblical terms. This has always been the primary thesis in the western dialectic. Logic dictates that two mutually exclusive truth claims cannot both be true, so the antithesis of God must be everything outside the Bible—in fact, any claim inconsistent with God.
And the antithetical claims have moved further and further from God’s single point of truth, in every social, economic, ontological (the nature of being), and political sense. Every time the moral rubber band is stretched, it moves the synthesis further and further away from Biblical truth. To the modern philosopher, synthesis is the only truth. This is what they teach kids in school.
Christians think the argument “everybody else believes you’re wrong” is irrelevant, but our kids are taught that it means “you’re lying.” If you can’t be part of the synthesis, you’re outside the truth, and therefore are a liar, to be dismissed and cast out. We teach our kids that compromise is the essence of politics, but they are being fed, from the earliest age, another thread that synthesis is the essence of truth.
This is why uncompromising politicians like Ted Cruz are painted as nutcases. In the Zeitgeist, if you hold to an absolute truth, you’re worse than a liar: You’re insane, disbelieving logic itself. It’s why senators like John McCain call Cruz a “wacko bird.” When they say you’re working against “getting things done,” it means you’re elevating absolute truth over compromise. Absolute truth? That’s crazy talk.
I’d hold my nose and vote for Rand Paul, or Ben Carson, or even Jeb Bush over others because they agree on one central issue: the nature of truth.
It really isn’t about positions on immigration, defense, ISIS, or the economy anymore. Because in a world ruled by the tyranny of Hegel, those things are just temporal. Christians can disagree on them, but we must not disagree on the nature of truth. I’d rather see a president in office who holds to the Bible and God as the source of absolute truth, but disagrees with me on most policy issues, than one with whom I agree on every policy except truth.
If you think that’s crazy talk, you might be a Hegelian.