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America's legacy

Welcome to the Center for the Babylonian Experiment

America's legacy

(Krieg Barrie)

The Center for the American Experiment is my favorite think-tank name. I like it because America really has been an experiment: Could we become a melting pot, with many becoming one? Could we emphasize both liberty and virtue, or would we fall into lascivious license? Could we extend rights to different religions, groups of immigrants, ethnicities, and races, without forgetting the principles that formed our base? 

The American Experiment has had a great run. For two centuries we proclaimed liberty throughout the land to more and more of the inhabitants thereof. But now that our leaders have decided that the American Experiment has no limits, its continued success seems unlikely. Liberty for all religious faiths, yes. Hospitality for immigrants, yes. Racial equality, yes. But virtually absolute freedom for baby killers, adulterers, thieves, and liars goes too far. 

Now, it’s hard for Christians to have confidence in either political party. Republicans cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Democrats can be trusted almost always to do the wrong thing. We learn about the character of our leaders largely through television reportage, which means we don’t learn about it—or we see only what propagandists want us to see. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby nearly a century ago told us about the danger of trying to create our own reality, but the Supreme Court’s swing vote, Anthony Kennedy, has in essence declared our right to do just that. 

Crazy though that is, it makes sense for a country that’s gone to the extreme in democracy by fantasy. America’s founders created a system where we would vote for people we knew. We’d vote for state representatives we knew who would select a senator they knew. We’d vote for members of an Electoral College we knew who would select a president they knew. We’d vote directly for members of the House of Representatives, but the districts would be small enough so we’d have some personal interaction with our reps, who would live among us most of the year and often serve only one term. 

Now that our leaders have decided that the American Experiment has no limits, its continued success seems unlikely.

America’s founders hoped the president would function like a temporary monarch on a short leash, so he could not become a dictator. Senators would function as a meritocracy, short-leashed so they would not become feudal lords. The House would provide democratic representation, and other branches would keep it from becoming a mobocracy. If all governmental organs failed, a free press would tell the truth.

Sadly, the power of the presidency has grown decade by decade since the 1930s. Now a president who cares little for the rule of law can have outsized influence—if he is unscrupulous enough to press his advantage, and if influential press organs ignore their function. That’s the situation we’ve been in since 2009: Barack Obama may be no more willing to lie than Richard Nixon or other predecessors, but he’s generally been able to get away with it.

So the best name for a think tank now could be the Center for the Babylonian Experiment. In the last issue I wrote about Chapters 1-3 of Daniel, a book written by the Israelite taken from his homeland and educated in Babylonian culture, alongside other outstanding teenagers from all over the Middle East. Babylonia was an e pluribus unum experiment where dozens of ethnic groups could live as they saw fit and worship their own gods as long as their leaders bowed to a 90-foot-high golden idol representing kingly power. 

Chapters 4-5 of Daniel show why the Babylonian Experiment failed. Kings with great power start thinking of themselves as gods, and Nebuchadnezzar was no exception: When he bragged about “the glory of my majesty,” the True King condemned him to seven years of insanity. When a later king, Belshazzar, mocked God and with his lords, wives, and concubines praised “gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone,” he died that very night. The conquering Persian army ended the Babylonian Experiment.

Once, American leaders were modest: Now, ours brag about dreams and drones. In response, some Christians are giving up, but Abraham Kuyper’s declaration is still true: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”



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  • Judy Farrington
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:37 am


  • Missionary RN
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:37 am

    Excellent insights.

  •  Paul B. Taylor's picture
    Paul B. Taylor
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:37 am

    As America's heritage continues to fade, so does our liberty.  The great experiment of America, as a Christian nation, is beginning to give way to tyranny.  This is because, as the three branches of our government have lost there original function of checks and balances and power is given to the executive branch beyond what is prescribed in the Constitution, we are seeing an attack on Christianity.  The problem is that the American electorate are ignorant of the workings of the socialist agenda.  They are plotting against us, and our president is leading the way.

  • hawaiicharles
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:37 am

    This jumped out at me:  "Barack Obama may be no more willing to lie than Richard Nixon or other predecessors, but he's generally been able to get away with it."The question is why?  And I think the obvious answer is: the mainstream press.  You have rightly pointed out before that the press is supposed to serve as a check against government shenanigans.  But somehow, the press has become ideologically driven in such an overwhelming sense, that they now cover up the very wrong-doing they are supposed to expose.  (I could cite numerous egregious examples, but World readers are probably already familiar with all of them.)  I'm thankful for World's work in getting more Christian journalists out into society, but I fear it's a small drop in a large bucket.  Short of a miracle, I don't know what else can bring about the necessary change.

  •  William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:37 am

    Hmmmm. Wish I at least had my cup of coffee before reading this . . . If there is no square inch in which Christ doesn't claim, then we should be invading the political realm, no ?

  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 11:37 am

    I am reading Plato's "Republic" (man, I wish I knew how to underline and italicize while commenting!) for a class, and I am seeing so many ways I know our Founders were familiar with this book.  They tried, they really did.  Brilliant, they were. But the democracy we insisted on has destroyed it, not the least because our children have been educated for at least 100 years in the cave, looking at only the reflections of images the "experts" have deemed important.Joel Belz recently spoke about the importance of education.  If we want this country to ever come back to its intent, it will need to be with proper, classical education.  Of course, it may take 100 years, and perhaps the Lord will come to save His own before then.