A Salient Point

Peter Kreeft writes in How to Win the Culture War (IVP 2002), “America’s founding fathers…repudiated an unfree state based primarily on “outer cops.” They explicitly said that the free democracy they were designing was designed only for a moral people. The foundation stones for a democracy are consciences” (p. 48). Kreeft explains that when a community has a conscience (“inner cops”) the need for “outer cops” is not as great. Conversely, when there is a lack of conscience within a community, the need for “outer cops” (more restrictions on freedom0 is needed to keep chaos at bay. A free democracy that loses its conscience is easily turned into a totalitarian state. Amazingly, that is what seems to be happening.

This struck me as I read it because I wonder why our so-called “democracy” isn’t working when at one time it did seem to work. And Kreeft helped me see why. This kind of government works well in a moral society. But when morality gets flushed down the toilet, when the community loses its conscience, its ability to determine right from wrong, or at least, its ability to call a thing wrong (which we seem to be experiencing), we leave the door open for less freedom. Maybe this is not a profound revelation, but it certainly caught my attention today.


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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4 Responses to A Salient Point

  1. John Adams:

    We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.

    Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts (11 October 1798)

  2. Chad Myers says:

    I’ve heard the old adage “You can’t legislate morality” and it rings a clear today as it ever has. Simply put, society can’t function with ever-changing and unpinned morality (moral relativism).

    @Dan: Nice quote. Very chilling.

    @Rev. Paul: On another note, it’s nice to see you read Kreeft — one of my favorite authors!

  3. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Thanks Chad. I enjoy Kreeft’s work on ethics and morality. Not sure I agree with him on everything, particularly his views towards Islam, but he has a lot of good things to say.

  4. Brockman says:

    A good read from a Syrian, former Muslim woman is A God Who Hates, Wafa Sultan
    A good movie from the time after the fall of the Shah of Iran is The Stoning of Soraya M.
    Read. Watch. Powerful.

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