Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau

Three of Satan's Stooges

Neil Girrard
Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Dan. 7:14; 2nd π Mt. 5:3 π Mt. 5:10 π Mt. 6:24 π Mt. 10:38-39 π Mt. 23:13 π Mk. 4:11 π Lk. 22:25-26 π Jn. 3:3 π Jn. 3:5 π Jn. 4:24 π Jn. 8:44 π Jn. 13:14-15 π Jn. 13:34 π Jn. 15:5 π Jn. 16:13 π Acts 2:17 π Acts 2:38-39 π Acts 2:44-45 π Rom. 2:8 π Rom. 2:11 π Rom. 7:18; 2nd π Rom. 12:2 π 1 Cor. 1:18-25 π 1 Cor. 1:29-31 π 1 Cor. 2:10-11 π 1 Cor. 2:14 π 1 Cor. 3:3-4 π 1 Cor. 5:4-5 π 1 Cor. 12:18 π 1 Cor. 12:24-25 π 1 Cor. 15:26 π 1 Cor. 15:54-57 π 2 Cor. 5:15 π Gal. 2:20 π Gal. 5:22-23; 2nd π Eph. 2:2 π Eph. 4:13 π Eph. 4:22-24 π Phlp. 4:13 π Col. 1:13 π Col. 1:18 π Col. 2:8-10 π 1 Ths. 4:11 π 1 Ths. 4:11-12 π 1 Ths. 5:3 π 2 Ths. 2:4 π 2 Ths. 3:10-12 π 2 Tim. 3:1-5 π Heb. 2:14-15 π Heb. 12:26-27 π Jas. 3:1 π 1 Pet. 1:11 π 1 Pet. 2:21 π 2 Pet. 1:3-4 π 1 Jn. 5:19 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 16:11 π Rev. 19:15 π Rev. 20:2-3

The U.S. can rightly be viewed as little more than the acting out of the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and John Locke (1632-1704) in confrontation with the criticisms Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) raised against their philosophies. "Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau all found that one way or another, nature [men's natural tendencies] led men to war, and that civil society's purpose was not to cooperate with a natural tendency in man toward perfection but to make peace where nature's imperfection causes war. [Thus they concluded that] prudence points not toward regimes dedicated to the cultivation of rare and difficult, if not impossible virtues, but toward a good police force to protect men from one another and allow them to preserve themselves as well as possible." (Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, 1987, p. 163) This insight alone goes a long way toward explaining our current downward spirit toward authoritarianism as men seek to control through law the ever-deepening chasm of evil that lurks in every man's heart.

These philosophies are also a very different foundation from Christ's kingdom in which He commands all of His followers to love one another as He loved His followers ( Jn. 13:34 ), a love expressed in His selfless service ( Jn. 13:14-15 ) and His death and suffering on our behalf. ( 1 Pet. 2:21 ) Christ's kingdom is thus not founded on any supposed goodness of man (which certainly does not exist except in shattered, incomplete reflection of the goodness of man's Creator, God) or any other human resource but rather and only upon His ability to enable His followers to overcome their lower human nature (flesh). ( Phlp. 4:13 , Gal. 5:22-23; top )

Given the wide spectrum of beliefs and practice that abound among men and the brutal nature in which men force their ways and views upon others, these Enlightenment thinkers, acting as they are apart from Christ, have reached a humanly understandable conclusion. But their conclusion is based on the underlying premise that man is alone in his universe and, because this premise is flawed, the conclusion and its attending practices will always produce skewed and unpredicted (though, spiritually speaking, quite predictable) results. The premise that there is no natural tendency in man toward perfection is certainly an accurate observation. Paul wrote, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." ( Rom. 7:18; top ) Though men can be coerced, manipulated, disciplined or trained in outward actions that allow for a functional interactive society, only Christ can perform the inner heart change that brings the individual into harmony with the Spirit of love, truth, wisdom and purity that is God.

Hobbes

Hobbes' lynch pin was feeling. "In particular you should imagine how you feel when another man holds a gun to your temple and threatens to shoot you. That concentrates all of the self in a single point, tells us what counts. At that moment one is a real self, not a false consciousness, not alienated by opinions of the church, the state or the public." (Bloom, p. 174) It is true that one discovers the real nature of one's self or soul in such a moment. And each man will respond with his own curious mixture of all that his Creator endowed him with and the habit patterns he has ingrained upon the substance of his being. But note also that there is not even one hint of the notion that every man could be led into all truth by the Spirit of truth ( Jn. 16:13; top ) - this idea that there might even be such a possibility would today be dismissed as only one more "false consciousness" just as God Himself is often dismissed as an "imaginary playmate" of the mind. This Biblical truth, however, of the role and Spirit of truth - rarely preached by even the "church" after the Reformation - is the only one that makes any truly Christian society even a remote possibility. Hobbes' conclusions only demonstrate how the "church" has historically failed to present, obey and practice the whole counsel of God.

Bloom also writes, "The fear of death on which Hobbes relied, and which is also decisive for Locke, insists on the negative experience of nature and obliterates the positive experience presupposed by it... Hobbes was surely right to look for the most powerful sentiments in man. But fear of death, however powerful it may be and however useful it may be as a motive for seeking peace and, hence, law with teeth in it, cannot be the fundamental experience. It presupposes an even more fundamental one: that life is good. The deepest experience is the pleasant sentiment of existence." (Bloom, p. 169 - emphasis in original) In other words, the mere fear of death cannot propel us into a good life worth living. Nor can it show us any of the values found in the eternal, transcendent God.

It is also here that we can perhaps best see the root of antichrist and anti-Christian philosophy embedded in Hobbes' thinking - "anti" meaning both "against" and "in the place of." Paul, in a section devoted to "the basics" of Christ's gospel tells us, "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death." ( 1 Cor. 15:26 ) He concludes his section on gospel "basics" by writing, "So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortality has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?' The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." ( 1 Cor. 15:54-57; top )

The writer of Hebrews picks up on a similar thread when he writes, "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." ( Heb. 2:14-15; top )

Hobbes' philosophy is a direct return to the very power base that Christ destroyed at the cross! Hobbes saw the apparent failure of the "Christian" institutional "church" with its most often corrupt bishops and priests (even following the Reformation corruption has always been rampant in the leadership of all denominations and has often helped promote the creation of yet more denominations) and looked around for a more "realistic" motivation for all men and concluded that the fear of death (more so than the church's fear of a "mythical" hell) resided in all men and was therefore a better fulcrum from which to leverage conformity to civil society than was obedience to Christ. Men were certainly to be free to follow Christ (or not - Hobbes himself was a "closet atheist" who barely escaped prosecution under anti-heresy laws) so long as their religion did not interfere with the running of society. Since there is no reason to make laws against the goodness which is the fruit of God's Spirit ( Gal. 5:22-23; top ), Hobbes' philosophy, though tainted with demonic underpinnings (which the spiritual ignorance perpetuated on the masses by most "churches" kept from being understood by every man in Christ), left much room and freedom for the genuine follower of Christ. The real trap would be sprung much later.

Locke

Locke's starting point is enlightened and unfettered reason and he relied on self-interest to bring men to work together to overcome the scarcity of what nature, both in the world and in human nature, provided. The various "myths" that had previously defined man (especially Christianity) had to be dispensed with. By getting rid of such "myths," man could be viewed as having been removed from the influence and control of the kingdom of darkness and brought under the light of rational science. Under such rational critical examination - available to any man so schooled and guided by the Enlightenment philosophers, of course - any element which cannot be proven by rational reason but instead required spiritual faith and discernment was viewed as false or the mere imaginations of men. Quite convenient for the real kingdom of darkness!

Bloom writes, "Once the world has been purged of ghosts or spirits, it reveals to us that the critical problem is scarcity. Nature is a stepmother who has left us unprovided for. But this means we need have no gratitude. When we revered nature, we were poor. Since there was not enough, we had to take from one another; and as a result of this competition, there was inevitably war, the greatest threat to life. But if, instead of fighting one another, we band together and make war on our stepmother, who keeps her riches from us, we can at the same time provide for ourselves and end our strife. The conquest of nature, which is made possible by the insight of science and by the power it produces, is the key to the political. The old commandment that we love our brothers made impossible demands on us, demands against nature, while doing nothing to provide for real needs. What is required is not brotherly love or faith, hope and charity, but self-interested rational labor." (Bloom, p. 165)

One must recall that the Enlightenment occurred against a backdrop of idle, bickering, nosy busybodies who called themselves priests or bishops, who gained their living from the "tithes and offerings" given to the "church." The fact that the New Testament itself condemns such things (see 1 Ths. 4:11-12 , 2 Ths. 3:10-12 , etc.) is never mentioned. Nor is it mentioned that the devil, who is said to be a spirit who now works in those who are disobedient to Christ and God (who are also Spirit - Eph. 2:2 , Jn. 4:24 , 1 Pet. 1:11 , etc.) is greatly aided in his fight to remain alive when men naively believe there are no spirits and that good and evil are the mere contrivances and conventions of men seeking to wield power over other men. It should be noted that Locke's philosophy, once all spirits have been purportedly purged out of existence, by focusing on scarcity, delivers men directly into the hands of one of the spirits Jesus said was particularly antithetical to God - Mammon. ( Mt. 6:24; top ) And note well also how the new "enlightened" philosophy "coincidentally" cancels out the "old" (but primary and fundamental) command of Christ to love our brothers. Man, being deceived by demonic spirits, has just given himself a sophisticated way to excuse his simple disobedience to God!

It should also be noted that in the books of Acts, the freshly outpoured Spirit of truth, holiness and life led men in such a way that "all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need." ( Acts 2:44-45 ) Had the "church," instead of concocting a layer of idle and relatively useless clergy, focused on the real gospel that everyman was to be led by the Lord Himself so as to lead a quiet life, minding one's own business and working with one's own hands ( 1 Ths. 4:11 ) and that those who were to be teachers, preachers, elders, etc. were to be supported at the Lord's leading and not by some generic law of tithing (which cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament!) nor based on the man's ability to fit into an organized religious hierarchy or to attract followers after himself, history would be very different than it is. The only reason man needed a new philosophy was, first, because man routinely and almost always wants to be independent of God and, second, because the "church" had long since departed from the original gospel and had recast it into the likeness of worldly authority structures when, beginning in the second and third centuries, men who called themselves bishops began standing in the place of Christ in the local assemblies of believers. The Enlightenment is nothing less than a political coup that stripped the "church" of its political power and authority (which it was never supposed to have had - Lk. 22:25-26; top ) and placed it in the hands of "secular" rulers who were more favorable to reasoning philosophers.

Rousseau

Bloom writes, "Rousseau begins his critique from fundament agreements with Locke, whom he greatly admired, about the animal man. Man is by nature a solitary being, concerned only with his preservation and his comfort. Rousseau, moreover, agrees that man makes civil society by contract, for the sake of his preservation. He disagrees with Locke that self-interest, however understood, is in any automatic harmony with what civil society needs and demands. If Rousseau is right, man's reason, calculating his best interest, will not lead him to wish to be a good citizen, a law-abiding citizen. He will either be himself, or he will be a citizen, or he will try to be both and be neither. In other words, enlightenment is not enough to establish society, and even tends to dissolve it." (Bloom, p. 168)

Rousseau, in his own words, had written, "Natural man is entirely for himself. He is numerical unity, the absolute whole which is relative only to itself or its kind. Civil man is only a fractional unity dependent on the denominator; his value is determined by his relation to the whole, which is the social body..." (Emile, as translated and quoted by Bloom, p. 167-168)

Let's make sure we understand this point for it is the basis of one of the deepest conflicts of our own day - the discussion of which we will return to in a moment. Rousseau is saying that the natural man (what the Bible views as fallen man apart from God - see 1 Cor. 2:14 , etc.; top) could be expressed as the mathematical formula 1/1 whereas man in a civil society such as a town, state or nation would be expressed as 1/1,000, 1/500,000 or 1/4 million respectively. We will return to this idea.

Rousseau continues, "He who in the civil order wants to preserve the primacy of the sentiments of nature does not know what he wants. Always in contradiction with himself, always floating between his inclinations and his duties, he will never be either man or citizen. He will be good neither for himself nor for others. He will be one of these men of our days: a Frenchman, an Englishman, a bourgeois. He will be nothing." (Emile, as translated and quoted by Bloom, p. 168)

The "sentiments of nature" is Locke's "self-interest." Any man who steps into civil society yet who retains his own self-interest as his primary driving force and impetus is a man pulled in two directions simultaneously. Quite "coincidentally" we are right back at Paul's dilemma in Romans 7:18 ! As Bloom said, he will either be himself - that is, a naturally self-centered individual - or he will be a citizen - that is, devoted to the interests and well-being of the others around him - or he will try to be both and will succeed in being neither. The bourgeois, created by the artifice (deceptions, the handiwork and "native language" of the devil - Jn. 8:44; top ) of civil society based on selfish interest, is "a being who no longer knows what he is, who is so absorbed with existing that he has forgotten his reason for existing, who in the event of actually attaining full security and perfect comfort has no notion of what to do." (Bloom, p. 168-169)

This word "bourgeois" needs some clarification. According to Bloom, Rousseau coined the term in its modern sense and it "originally meant a diminished, egotistical, materialistic being without grandeur or beauty of soul...the worst and most contemptible failure of modernity, which must at all costs be overcome." (Bloom, p. 157) The French and American revolutions placed this class securely in positions of power, virtually displacing and absorbing both the Right (the nobility or aristocracy) and the Left (the liberal or "progressive") into one Center. This is a major reason why today there are not very many real and fundamental differences between the Democratic and Republican parties. As both the nobility and the progressive factions have now withdrawn their power and influence into what some have termed "the invisible government" that creates the situations and manufactures the "leaders" and "choices" for the voting Center to make and follow, the bourgeois man is left "secure" and "protected" in his stale, lifeless, petty role of isolated, individual pursuits in a sea of similar bourgeois individuals. "Peace and safety" are the currency upon which "the invisible government" banks and trades. (see 1 Ths. 5:3; top )

Let us return to the formulas we derived from Rousseau's theory for they represent clearly the difference between individualism and socialism. Indeed, the differences between the outcomes of the French and American revolution (the former resulted in greater violence and bloodshed while the latter resulted in greater domestic order and peace) can be largely explained by these terms. Socialism, at its most basic definition, is that the wealth, the means to produce it and the right to distribute it all belong to the society and not to the individual. America's revolution produced greater domestic order, stability and peace because the rights of the individual were given equal or even greater weight than the rights of the society. The individual was especially protected from the rights and powers of the government which throughout all human history has demonstrated a tendency toward tyranny and oppression. It was America's severe restraints upon society and government that differed from France's flirtations with various factions that resulted in little more than mob rule.

These formulas and theories are the basis of our current national crisis - the rights and duties of the individuals contrasted with the powers and rights of the society and government. In a well-ordered society under the rule of impartial law, this balancing act is easily handled in the law courts. In a deteriorating democracy that is progressively placing more power in the hands of appointed bureaucrats and officials (supposed experts) and taking it out of the hands of the elected officials (who at least in theory could be voted out of office for corruption, negligence, ineptness, etc.), the imbalance will increase and become a disaster of immense proportions, measurable in quantity by the size of the government in question. As lawyering too devolves into mere word-spinning and influence peddling, the courts will be avoided even as the making of laws increases exponentially. The downward spiral of regression toward "discrete" feudalism and the intellectual dark ages is well on its way and is now virtually unstoppable. All is progressing just as was prophesied of in the Bible.

Rousseau's Ideal Regime

Though Nietzsche is now well known for his proclamation that God was dead, few seem to recognize that he also proclaimed the Enlightenment a failure as well. The philosopher Max Weber, the philosopher who most exposed America to European (especially Nietzsche's) criticisms of Western, liberal democracy, wrote, "Finally, although a na´ve optimism may have celebrated science - that is, the technique of the master of life found on science - as the path which would lead to happiness, I believe I can leave this entire question aside in light of annihilating critique which Nietzsche has made of 'the last men' who 'have discovered happiness.' Who, then, still believes in this [na´ve optimism], with the exception of a few big babies in university chairs or in editorial offices?" (Science as a Vocation, 1919, as quoted by Bloom, p. 194) Weber, hard on the heels of Nietzsche, is not saying that "the last man" is unhappy but rather that what constitutes his happiness is disgusting and contemptible to real, whole men. Like Rousseau's bourgeois who, caught between their selfish interest and their duties to society, will be unable to become either, these can only be stunted and blighted parodies of the whole human existence. In other words, the whole world is now geared to produce a large quantity of mal-formed, poorly grown, self-centered pseudo-humans (in terms of being all that the Creator designed man to be - exactly as prophesied by Paul in 2 Tim. 3:1-5; top ).

It is fascinating to see how Rousseau's thoughts regarding what would be required to establish the best possible form of government so closely parallels, yet simultaneously and subtly undermines, what Christ established among His people. Bloom writes, "Rousseau directed men's attention back to the ancient polis [the ancient Greek city-state] as a corrective to the Enlightenment teaching... [Rousseau] was hardheadedly political and saw statesmen's deeds as central to the life of a people... The founder of a regime must first make a people to which the regime will belong. A people will not automatically result from individual men's enlightenment about their self-interest." (Bloom, p. 189) Bloom then goes on to quote Rousseau, "[The legislator must] so to speak change human nature, transform each individual, who by himself is a perfect and solitary whole, into a part of a greater whole from which that individual as it were gets his life and his being; weaken man's constitution to strengthen it; substitute a partial and moral existence for the physicals and independent existence which we have all received from nature. He must, in a word, take man's own forces away from him in order to give him forces which are foreign to him and which he cannot use without the help of others. The more the natural forces are dead and annihilated, the greater and more lasting the acquired ones, thus the founding is solider and more perfect; such that if each citizen is nothing, except by all the others, and the force acquired by the whole is equal or superior to the sum of the natural forces of all the individuals, one can say that the legislation is at the highest point of perfection it can attain." (The Social Contract, II, 7, as quoted by Bloom, p. 189)

Let us note well Rousseau's outstanding criticism of the flawed Enlightenment - that individual men's enlightenment will never result in a people - and that his ideal model is the ancient Greek city-state (from the realms of which also "coincidentally" comes the word most often used in the New Testament to label the people of Christ - "ekklesia," the people called out of this world's darkness to attend to the affairs of Christ's kingdom of light - Col. 1:13 , 18; top ). Let us examine each point in this description and see how each point was incorporated into Christ's people and how and where that is undermined or counterfeited by Rousseau's ideal society.

Should one wonder how Rousseau's ideal regime could so closely parallel Christ's kingdom yet diverge from it at precisely the very points that deliver men's souls into the hands of the kingdom of darkness, one should know that "Although a very great reasoner, [Rousseau's] preferred means of learning about himself were the reverie, the dream, the old memory, a stream of associations unhampered by rational control." (Bloom, p. 179) In the systematic study of demonics, passivity of any kind is the classic pre-condition for demonic deception or enslavement. An idle, passive mind - no matter how brilliant, gifted, talented or trained - is still the devil and the demonic's workshop.

Two Kings

The Bible tells us there are two kings about to enter the stage. The first one, Paul calls "the man of lawlessness," a term that means he will be the epitome of one who does what is right in his own eyes. He will have no standard of behavior apart from his natural self. This man "opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." ( 2 Ths. 2:4; top ) The current philosophies of this world are so strikingly similar to this that one can begin to wonder whether "the man of lawlessness" is a description of the one king or a general description of mankind at that time. But the Greek in this difficult portion is sufficiently clear that one man is in view even if he is but the leader of like-minded men. Thankfully this man will not remain on the scene for very long (relatively speaking).

The second King, John tells us, will return and demolish the rule of this first pretender and rule with a rod of iron for a thousand years while Satan, the pretender's god and master - himself a pretender for God's throne - is imprisoned. ( Rev. 19:15 , 20:2-3 ) After this, Satan is released, there will be a relatively minor uprising yet once more but the second King's rule will not be seriously disrupted as His is still the only eternal kingdom. ( Dan. 7:14; top )

Man is thus always and in every time frame presented with the decision of which king he will serve, follow and obey. Paul, long before Hobbes and Locke envisioned enlightened self-interest as a ration means to found a society, warned that, when God impartially judges all men for what they've done in this life, those who disobeyed the truth by being self-seeking would experience God's indignation and wrath. ( Rom. 2:8 , 11 ) And Jesus still warns those who would follow Him that they must routinely deny themselves or they are not worthy to be His disciples. ( Mt. 10:38-39 ) John warns us though that even in the face of outpoured judgments upon the whole earth, men will still blaspheme God and refuse to repent of their wicked deeds. ( Rev. 16:11; top )

Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau have each earned their place as three of Satan's stooges. That is, their thinking and philosophies have succeeded most in only setting the stage for Satan's man of lawlessness - both the king as well as all his like-minded followers. This is not to say that they were stupid or second-rate thinkers. What the outcome of their philosophies show clearly is just how transcendent God's wisdom is.

Paul wrote, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.' Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." ( 1 Cor. 1:18-25; top )

Paul also wrote, "Beware lest anyone cheat you though philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you [who believe] are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." ( Col. 2:8-10; top )

These instructions and warnings stood long before there ever was a Hobbes, Locke or Rousseau. These men failed to heed these warnings and made themselves tools in the hands of the hater of both God and mankind. As time ticks ever closer to its appointed end, God has promised that everything that can be shaken will be shaken so that only Christ's unshakeable kingdom will remain. ( Heb. 12:26-27; top ) As the philosophies and traditions of men and the schemes of the devil are shown to be the foolishness that they really are, let no one lose heart and let go of the cross of our crucified, risen and exalted Lord. Though men's philosophies and traditions are but a sea of shifting sands of relativism and deceptive terminology, Christ is still the only Rock to whom men can cling to for the salvation of their souls and His is the only kingdom that will remain - no matter what men (or demons!) say or do.

Let he who has ears hear.


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