08 December 2011

The Delusion of Autonomy

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones made an observation 60 years ago regarding 'the suppression of truth in unrighteousness' (Romans 1:18) of the modern man. He noticed the rampant 'worship of the creature rather than Creator' (Romans 1:25) that existed and pointed to the continued relevance of the first chapter in Paul's epistle to the Romans. Lloyd-Jones identified the downward spiral of society due to the efforts of the 'natural man' (1 Corinthians 2:14) to esteem himself more highly than he ought. Ironically, the pursuit of human autonomy cultivates the exact opposite effect that it sets out to obtain; namely societal downgrade. He offers a comparison of the self-deceptive anthropocentric social climate of the early 20th century with a nobler time in which the fear of God was more prevalent in daily life.

In light of our observation of the dependence of societal quality on the centrality of God in civilization, Lloyd-Jones explains:

"the same thing is seen if we look at the way in which men spend their time, and contrast it with what was true when men believed in God and worshiped Him. Apart from the enormity of sin, I hate it and protest against it because of the way in which it insults man and debases all his powers and especially his highest powers. While men believed in God, they spent their time in a manner that was ennobling and uplifting. They were out to improve their minds. They read the best books they could find, and their conversation had reference to theology, politics, and other matters which called for the exercise of intelligence... Is there anything which is more tragic than to compare and to contrast the average man of, say, fifty years ago and the corresponding man of today?"

We might ask the same question. When comparing our time with that of Lloyd-Jones' (60 years ago), have we as a society made progress or have we continued further down the anthropocentric spiral of idolatry?

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