A glance at the output of contemporary philosophy departments justifies this sardonic assessment: 20th century philosophy suffered so many hernias from pushing Kant against the wall, that the first decade of the next century has proved too short a time to calculate the damage, identify the lost trajectory, or get back to business. Publishing houses long regarded as belonging to the first rank, now promote philosophical tomes insisting that the real world and make-believe worlds share the same reality.
It gets better (worse?). In fact, philosophy has fallen so far off the curb, it has become for the profession less a question of which way is up, as whether “up” has any meaning. If it is suggested by some rapscallion that it does, you may expect another Rabelaisian to immediately publish his thesis in which he “proves” that, if “up” does actually exist, it evidently bears no relation to “down.” Rab and Rap then join forces in securing a Federal grant which enables them to construct a team of scholars ready to demonstrate… something.
This nearly chaotic condition afflicting Socrates’ child offers the raw materials for a splendid, even a riotous, evening. All you need to do is, 1) secure the most recent Oxford University Press catalog of philosophical offerings; 2) buy two or three bottles of fine Merlot; 3) gather several adults for an after-dinner fellowship; and 4) have each take turns reading aloud the titles, subtitles and blurbs. You cannot go wrong; you will not be disappointed. You’ll create a memory. Consider the following thrilling volumes, each alleged to own real estate on the cutting-edge of mankind’s intellect-in-action:
· Moral Machines, “The first book to address the problem of creating ethical robots…”
· Philosophers Without Gods, which appears to be a sort of devotional for God-haters. The subtitle says it’s Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life, which I take to be a claim that it will aid readers in thinking deeply about what isn’t. Come to think of it, this book might explain a lot—about the authors. They’re missing something for sure.
· Drugs and Justice, Oxford says, addresses “the central issues in drug policy: the lack of a coherent conceptual structure for thinking about drugs.” This is clear proof that the authors have not yet taken enough drugs to qualify to write such a book.
· Worlds and Individuals, Possible and Otherwise, explains how you can get a terminal degree while believing “that non-actual possible worlds and individuals are as real as the actual world and individuals.”
· Value, Reality, and Desire -Oh man, I treasure this book. Really. I want it.
All together, these portend the imminent self-immolation of the Enlightenment Project. Safe bet that the altar flames will be carried first from the Philosophy Department to the rest of the campus. Listen—I didn’t even mention the book which argues for the moral superiority of non-existence. (Stay tuned.) That’s right. For this optimist, to be or not to be is not the question. “Not to be” is his aggressive preference, for everyone, as a norm. Leave it to a philosopher, well-practiced in his atheistic devotions, to tell us a better use for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Consider this: if, as some have suggested, Nietzsche’s Superman paved a highway for Hitler, what do you suppose awaits us when some leader-to-come operates on the presupposition that bringing everyone into non-existence is to do them a favor?
Here, surely, is the terminus of man’s autonomous reason: exactly as Scripture says—death. And not as a dreaded, hated thing, an intrusion. And not, as the Word calls it, an enemy. No. This is to gaze upon it as a lover. To prefer never having been to life everlasting is to have allied one’s self with Satan at an earlier, an even more primitive point of departure than that taken by our First Parents. Their devotion to Satan was so strong that to rescue them God first had to place enmity where their allegiance had been. Just so, all who begin the knowledge enterprise apart from the fear of the Lord, do not engage as neutral players, but as lovers of death (Proverbs 8:28). This love may be dormant; it is easily disguised.
But when, in an age of epistemological self-consciousness—when the darkness covers every landscape beyond Goshen’s borders—that fetid love feels safely hidden. As light causes the plant of pure love to grow, to blossom, so it is when surrounded by darkness that the darnel dares lift up its head. Having neither light to see in nor eyes to see with, still it boasts, it swaggers, it beats against the wheat and calls out to it, “Come! Join me. For behold, my dearest companion has arrived and bids us feast with him. How I have longed for his appearing! And now he is here. Come meet him. Come meet my only friend, the End.”
Yes, this is the truth of knowledge falsely so called. Yet, by God’s common grace, we must acknowledge that this century of philosophy past was not entirely worthless. For example, even a casual survey would reveal that the futility of unbelieving philosophy, has, in several sub-departments, made itself known, if not yet felt. And, skipping past other, brighter spots, there was important progress made in appreciating the inseparability of Word and Being. More narrowly, work of inestimable importance was done demonstrating how language does more than influence, does more than shape our perception of reality. To a very large extent, it determines it.
Not being one to start a celebration while there’s a perfectly good funeral to go to, I must report that the inextricable connection which enables language to define reality has not gone entirely unnoticed. That’s right. It’s been noted, and put to work, by feminists and sodomites and by numerous other entitlement groups. Yet, despite this exploitation having taken place in full view of the Church, Christians have—even with a Bible in hand that disclosed, even on its first page!, the Word/Reality relation millennia before Wittgenstein was a gleam in his daddy’s eye—Christians somehow (one is tempted to say miraculously, but it’s too painful, precisely because it is too true) managed to remain oblivious to the progress noted above, and altogether unaware of its value.
Which brings me to the provocation which prompted this lament—it was a brochure publicizing the Annual Conference of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors. “Wait a minute!,” you say. “Aren’t they the good guys?” Indeed they are. They are the people who are “pursuing excellence in Biblical Counseling.” And therein lies the tragedy. Even those among us who have the proven discipline and skill to win skirmishes, somehow manage to show themselves ever more skillful at losing entire wars.
“Why? What are you talking about, Schlissel?” I’m talking about something that appears on the inside front cover of the brochure. “What? What? What could it be?”
Please don’t be offended if I say, I fear you may not yet share with me the sort of alarm-value indicated by the word I read. But I won’t keep you in suspense. It was the simple, casual, hardly noticeable identification of one of their principal people as “Chairperson” of a certain department.
“Chairperson?! You get this worked up about the use of ‘chairperson?’ How sad!” The writing on the wall, however, is the fact that so very, very few do get worked up by this. For, first of all, the man in question is no such thing. He is the chairman. Of course those determined to turn God’s order upside down would buck and chafe at reminders of His sovereignty, and His ordained order, but those who find God’s will irresistibly sweet must surely embrace the use of reality-impacting language that speaks reflectively in accordance with God’s will.
You see, feminists began their work in good communist fashion, by unjoining that which God had joined together. In order for them to set men and women at odds with each other, in order for them to effectively initiate policies that would destroy families, they had to cast life as lived, not by families, but by “individuals.” In this way, specialized segmentation could take on a life of nearly infinite adaptations. Order is not to be found in that which well serves families, but rather in that which serves individuals, abstractly defined after being first abstracted from families.
If families had one vote each, cast by the head of the family, it was twisted to appear not as “one family-one vote,” but as one vote for a man, and a vote denied to a woman. Never mind that God had declared these two one. When political purposes demand the redefinition of an entity, unbelievers are always quick to make it. The news, however, used to be in how quickly believers joined them. But it isn’t news anymore.
The reason this instance was so very distressing is because I’ve been compelled to witness the demasculization of language as the style-czars cemented it into place as policy governing the printed works of every secular publisher. Then, one by one, it has mowed down (nearly) every evangelical publisher, with hymn-publishers reckoned among the earliest casualties. Thus, I reason, if we can’t speak like God would have us speak when we write for others, at least we can use covenantally inclusive language1 when we write for ourselves. But no! The rot has infested so deeply, so thoroughly, the wall is so horribly mildewed that any priest worth his salt knows it’s his sad duty to tell the dwellers, their abode must be torn down. It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God. When those who advertise themselves as the most faithful among us start using the rhetoric of the Revolution (i.e., as van Prinsterer defined it, viz., raw, anti-Christian unbelief), that time of judgment has arrived.
Why do we prove ourselves ready to censor or alter any word which might remind anyone that God made man to be a covenant head? When Christians self-publish, any willingness shown by them to adopt the rhetoric of anti-Christianity should be met by severe disapproval. Why deliberately reinforce a distortion of reality and a falsehood?
Although the world has waged war on male headship, it seems necessary to remind my fellow Christians that, this war, whose chief weapons are nouveau-speech, redefinition and censorship, is doomed to fail. Why do Christians insist on being distinguished as the folks who walk in the same direction as revolutionaries, only a few yards to the rear? You’ve heard that “slow obedience is no obedience.” But understand this: slow disobedience is still disobedience! Every time a self-described Christian organization adopts the egalitarian style book, they betray their God, His created order, and they give aid and comfort to His enemies.
All my life I witnessed men and women speak and write about men—chairmen, postmen, handymen and mankind—with no offense given or taken. It was only when feminists decided to exploit the one area of philosophical progress of the 20th century that women were made to feel as if they should be offended. But it was—and is—all as phony as a three dollar bill. There is no offense to any God-created reality—not for His own children!
As long as men are taller, and as long as women insist on marrying taller men-and as long as the first floor of Department Stores are devoted to cosmetics—feminism confesses itself a fraud. Jesus is the Truth. His church is its pillar and foundation—presenting and representing His truth in this world. It’s time for women of both genders to get used to Christian writers and publishers using language which accords not with a fantasy world, but with the one real world which God has made, the same one He pronounced good.
NANC—repent. Seeing how central gender is to identity, if you can’t honor gender differences (even in language), and the callings respective to each of the two genders, why would anyone trust you to help them become more integrated in terms of who they “really” are? There are rules—and exceptions. That language is legitimate which reflects God-imposed rules. Language which subverts those rules is illegitimate. It is language in service to a revolt against His ordinances.
NANC: Repent. Please. Rewrite. Today.
- He/she, or the recent s/he is, contrary to a self-conferred description, not inclusive but exclusive language. The use of “man” so as to include men, women and children is actual, genuine inclusive language. But make no mistake, the double pronouns and strained possessive cases are temporary. Already the burden has led many publishers to abandon s/he and its cognates in favor of straight up “she,” “her” and more. It seems it wasn’t power that was offensive. It was power that recognized and served the family above abstracted individuals—that power was offensive—or so fools were made to think. In consequence of such thinking, they allowed themselves to be set to war against their own interests, for the profit of parties other than the fool combatants.