How to Be Really Evil
“All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
The new atheists believe Christianity is a wet paper bag, and they are intent on punching their way out of it. They don’t understand that Christianity is the source of blessing, and that through their unbelief they are its bastard (or mutant) children. They are unlike the old atheists. Their moral outrages are not at all consistent with their nihilistic beliefs.
The truly evil are the ones who do understand the integrating, empowering, culture-building force of Christianity, and shamelessly steal it for their own ends. Satan knows the Scriptures. His policy isn’t scorched earth. His desire is a thorny crop of his own, and for that he must imitate Covenant hierarchy – a totus Diabolus. An authority structure has the potential for far more carnage than anarchy does, especially one with a dictatorial “Covenant succession” built-in.
It is a strange fact that many tinpot dictators, many terrorists, many proponents of promising but destructive modern philosophies, were products of a Western education. Or is it so strange? Counterfeiters invest a lot of time in studying the real tender before they manufacture their own currency, otherwise their plans will fail. The finished product is identical but for two things: the source of authority (Head); and the end result on the community (Body). Gary North writes:
“Satan needs a chain of command in order to exercise power. Thus, in order to create the greatest havoc for the church, Satan and his followers need to imitate the church. Like the child who needs to sit on his father’s lap in order to slap him, so does the rebel need a crude imitation of God’s dominion theology in order to exercise power. A child who rejects the idea of his father’s lap cannot seriously hope to slap him. The anti-Christian has officially adopted an “anti-lap” theory of existence. He admits no cause-and-effect relationship between lap and slap. To the extent that he acts consistently with this view, he becomes impotent to attack God’s people.
This means that with an increase in epistemological self-consciousness, the ethical aspects of the separation become more and more fundamental. Not logic but ethics is primary. Reprobation is by ethics, not logic. Thus, the increasing epistemological self-consciousness on the part of the power-seeking unbeliever does not lead him to apply Satan’s philosophy of ultimate meaninglessness and chaos; it leads, him instead to apply Satan’s counterfeit of dominion religion, the religion of power. He can achieve power only by refusing to become fully consistent with Satan’s religion of chaos. He needs organization and capital — God’s gifts of common grace — in order to produce maximum destruction. Like the Soviet Union, which has always had to import or steal the bulk of its technology from the West in order to build up an arsenal to destroy the West, so does the satanist have to import Christian intellectual and moral capital in order to wage an effective campaign against the church.
This is the key point in my argument against Van Til’s view of common grace. First, the Christian exercises dominion by becoming epistemologically self-conscious, meaning morally and logically consistent with the new man within him, and therefore by adhering ever more closely to God’s law. Biblical law is the covenant-keeper’s fully self-consistent tool of dominion.
Second, the covenant-breaker exercises power by becoming inconsistent with his ultimate philosophy of randomness. He can commit effective crimes only by stealing the worldview of Christians. The bigger the crimes he wishes to commit (the ethical impulse of evil), the more carefully he must plan (the epistemological impulse of righteousness: counting the costs [Luke 14:28-30]). The Christian can work to fulfill the dominion covenant through a life of’ consistent thought and action; the anti-Christian can achieve an offensive, destructive campaign against the Christians – as contrasted to a self-destructive life of drugs and debauchery – only by stealing the biblical worldview and twisting it to evil purposes.
In short, to become really evil you need to become pretty good.“
Gary North, Dominion and Common Grace: The Biblical Basis of Progress, p. 130-132