I am neither a Dennis Prager fan, nor am I a hater. He's a sharp guy, but there are only so many uses of the first-person singular pronoun that can be borne in any 5-10 minutes span, and Prager easily exceeds that limit every time I happen across his show or writings.
Yet Prager isolates and nails something very important in his recent essay, Nothing Sacred. His focus is political, but the point he makes is far broader, as he himself alludes. Prager is diagnosing and describing the mental malady of liberalism. Prager begins by quoting prominent liberals who were alarmed at the reading of the US Constitution in the House of Representatives, and he asks what it was that was so troubling to them.
The answer is that for leftism — though not necessarily for every individual who considers himself a leftist — there are no sacred texts. The two major examples are the Constitution and the Bible. One cannot understand the Left without understanding this. The demotion of the sacred in general and of sacred texts specifically is at the center of leftist thinking.Prager brings in the Bible, and we're going to leave politics (except as illustrative) and focus on the mindset of liberalism in its stance towards God's verbal self-revelation.
Prager absolutely correctly observes that "elevating any standard, any religion, any text to the level of the sacred means that it is above any individual," and thus is authoritative to that individual. Whether a politician being told he must rein in his cravings for power under the authority of the Constitution, or a man or woman being told that he is under the external, objective judgment of God's Word, the issue is at root the same.
And so, Prager says that to a leftist, "what is right and wrong is determined by every individual’s feelings, not by anything above the individual." Then Prager says that
This is a major reason why the Left, since Karl Marx, has been so opposed to Judeo-Christian religion. For Judaism and Christianity, God and the Bible are above the self. Indeed, Western civilization was built on the idea that the individual and society are morally accountable to God and to the moral demands of that book. That was the view, incidentally, of every one of the Founders, including deists such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.Moreover,
Morality is then no longer a God-given objective fact; it becomes a human-created subjective opinion. And one no longer needs to consult an external source to know right and wrong, only one’s heart. We are then no longer accountable to God for transgressions, only to ourselves.We could go on; it actually is a very thoughtful and well-written article. Also, we're blessed with so many sharp readers that I doubt you much need me to make the application you're all already making (and the ironies you're noting) in your own mind.
But hey, if I'm going to put my byline on it, I'd better write something beyond "what he said!", hadn't I? So here it is.
Prager's analysis is delightfully sharp and on-target, yet it falls short in ways that literally make all the difference in the world. Prager is himself an apostate Jew, by which I mean that he — while often and sincerely expressing admiration and affection for Christianity — is still among those who have rejected the Prophet like Moses, who came and spoke Yahweh's words. Prager is still among those whose stance toward Messiah is "We do not want this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14).
And as I developed at greater length elsewhere, this means that Prager has had to deal loosely with Scripture himself. He could in no way be said to be under the authority of the Torah, as God spoke it; but rather Prager is in some fashion under the rules and traditions of men (cf. Mark 7:1-13). The objective text of the Torah, in all its edgy and offensive power, is not Prager's philosophical nor moral pou sto.
Here is what the Torah would add to Prager's analysis. All of this started in the Garden, and we as a race are still stuck in exactly the same place. God had presented His worldview. It was comprehensive, exhaustive, and utterly authoritative. Everything Adam and Eve needed to know was included.
Yet Eve found herself in the one place in all the universe where she had no business being, listening to the one entity in all the universe to whom she had no business listening (Genesis 3:1ff.). Satan's fundamental proposition to Eve was a simple one: God's word is not necessarily binding on you; you must decide for yourself what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. Thus you shall be as gods — or, possible, as God.
And so "God's ape" perverted God's design in a literally hellacious manner. Of course God's design from the start was that mankind be "as God," in a spiritual and moral resemblance knowable only through the holy and whole submission of faith. This was a pervert's likeness, a likeness that attempts (insanely!) to wrestle God's Godhood from Him, and claim it as my own.
And so each of us is at heart a "liberal" or a "leftist," in Prager's sense, in that each of us is born with a hot hatred for any external authority that challenges our own. That is why
God looks down from heavenThat is why the thoughts of man's heart are naturally only wicked all day (Genesis 6:5). That is why all of us naturally do what is right in our own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25). That is why we all suppress God's truth (Romans 1:18). That is why we have all gone aside, we do not seek God, we are bereft of that necessary foundation for all knowledge: the fear of God (Romans 3:9-18).
on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
3 They have all fallen away;
together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one. (Psalm 53:2-3).
That all just scratches the surface. Sin has vitiated the way each of us looks at the universe. Prager's prescription doesn't go nearly far enough, because his diagnosis doesn't go nearly far enough — and because he leaves himself out. We don't need merely to be more respectful of the Constitution (though I think that would be good), or of the Bible.
What we need is a complete overhaul. We need a complete paradigm shift.
We need what the rejected "Prophet like Moses" tells Dennis Prager and you and me that we all need: we need
- to repent (Matthew 4:17); and
- to be born again (John 3:1ff.)