Do Secularists Have It Wrong?

In doing research for my next book, I’ve been reading some post-modernist views of society. While they have many differences of opinion, one thing they all seem to agree on is a society needs to be moral to succeed. Morality is defined simply as righteous behavior. There is one very large problem with a society’s need for morality and the secularism inherent in post-modernism, God is the only source of morality. Secular societies never work as within them man turns toward himself and away from God. It doesn’t matter whether the secularist denies God outright or in some way elevates man to a point where he can justify doing whatever he wishes, the result is the same.


Many holding post-modern views base their arguments on the works of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Kant, Nietzsche, and others who extended those author’s works. However, each one of the above authors has built their philosophical houses on foundations of sand. They present frameworks in search of support.


Consider, Christion principles include the following:


  • We are to become good - as God is the good (man’s purpose)

  • Becoming good requires acquiring virtues (how our purpose is achieved)

  • Man is not born with virtue, but is uniquely adapted for developing them (man’s nature)

  • Developing virtues requires both learning and doing. First, an education in both reason and faith is necessary to learn models of virtue and anti-virtue (vice), reason alone is insufficient. Second, the need to practice what is learned for virtue to develop, to learn to live a moral life.

  • While we all have the same purpose, we each have been given different gifts in the way of skills, abilities, talents, etc. As our abilities differ, we will each obtain that common end differentlybased upon whatever abilities we were granted and can develop.

  • There are different categories of virtues:

    • Peaceful - those which are seldom, if ever, not used. Some examples are listed with the Cardinal and Social virtues below.

    • Martial - those needed when someone behaves in an unvirtuous manner, either toward you or a fellow human being. Some examples include courage, perseverance, and fortitude.

    • Cardinal - The virtues of faith, hope, and love (charity) which orient man toward God.

    • Social - Virtues that orient man’s behaviors toward his fellow man. Some examples include justice, mercy, benevolence, hospitality, and piety.


There is no difference between the virtues mentioned as important by our Founders and those just alluded to above. They all have to do with voluntarily taking righteous actions that end in acts of charity, and they all matter. Period. Our Founders were merely looking toward those virtues that were relatively more important and relevant in creating and sustaining a society oriented towards self-governance. They realized a society oriented toward learning and acquiring virtue was the best means of preserving our natural rights and liberty. Even though we are unlikely to ever completely attain that goal as a society, we are more apt to get closer by trying than turning elsewhere.


Consider further, there was a small event during the 1730’s and 1740’s called the First Great Awakening. This event occurred in both Europe and the American Colonies. The proof in what I’ve just said can be found in any of the sermons by those such as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Cotton Mather, Josiah Smith, or Gilbert Tennent. The same principles underlying virtue and morality can also be found in the early church-fathers writings such as Clement of Alexandria (2nd century), Augustine (5th century) and Thomas Aquinas (13th century)—among many others. These early church fathers all used the classics for comparison to draw distinctions between Greek philosophy and Christian beliefs.


We are not a Christian nation, but rather one founded upon Christian principles. Within such a society there are two spheres of power—the Church and the State. Both separate, equal, with different areas of responsibility. Both spheres founded upon Old Testament Jewish society, based upon the division of power between Moses (as judge/justice) and his brother Aaron (as priest/worship). Both the Church and State were to be oriented toward God as their king and both were to instill virtue within the people through knowledge (education) and doing (acting righteously). Judgement was only required when someone acted unrighteously. Even then the judgement was to be rendered by judges coming from within the people and elected by the people. Only the most difficult cases came to Moses.


Our Founder’s sought to build a society incorporating those basic principles and structures. However, one not just oriented around outward actions alone as under Old Testament Law, but incorporating one’s inward motivations as well as contained within the New Law of the Gospels on which the Christian religion is based. In this way they sought to: (1) govern by consent, (2) secure the people’s individual rights, and (3) balancing governing the people against government controlling itself through a diffusion of power. Such a society will only be successful if its people are moral, and a people will only be moral if they are turned toward God.


Those who would assert otherwise are simply denying the facts, either because they do not know them or do not want to believe them.


“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1

Posted in: Governance


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About Dan Wolf

Dan WolfMy goal is that my writing will help you to get started on your own journey of discovery, or help you along the way on a journey you may have already begun. Our Founders considered education, religion, morality, and virtue to be the cornerstones for any successful society. Being successful requires understanding both the languages of reason and faith; reason alone is insufficient.