Commentary: Mightier Than the Sword (Part Six)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 27-Jun-15; 10 minutes
The messages on the Sabbath two weeks ago, including Mike Ford’s sermonette ["The Lord's Supper"], Kim Myers’ sermon ["The Cunning of Satan"], Mark Schindler’s sermon ["Rock of Salvation or of Offense?"], and my commentary, all emphasized to us the power of words. The overall title of my present series of commentaries is, "Mightier Than the Sword."
A BBC broadcast on Jan 9, 2015, said that statement appears first in a novel authored by one Edward Bulwer-Lytton, published in 1839. However, that program also stated that evidence has been found that many authors all the way back to the Greek and Roman poets have made statements parallel to Bulwer-Lytton’s.
The saying essentially means that over the long haul of time and experience, men have discovered that, by comparison, a war affects very few citizen and accomplishes very little real progress. War only changes the faces of those in power.
God knew this right from the beginning—that words are far, far more effective toward accomplishing good or evil. Jesus states in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” "Spirit" is the word both Greeks and Hebrews used to indicate an invisible, immaterial influence on the mind, or the heart, as the Bible may say.
Words, of course, can be seen in print and they can be heard when uttered, but above all, when they enter one’s mind with some level of understanding, they motivate action. The motivation may be to start an action, stop an action, or continue the action you are presently involved in.
Words motivate feelings. They increase joy, they depress, they calm or stir one, they cause anger or they educate. They explain and clarify, they inform, or they confuse. Word helped create the first sins, and 6,000 years later, we are still having to deal with them.
Words have the power to influence long, long after becoming aware of them. When originally heard they lodge in one’s mind, but it isn’t until circumstances are right that they came to mind again. Then they motivated us to do something. Words are power! Words are latent power, waiting in your mind, in your heart, to motivate you to do something.
I am giving this series of very abbreviated commentaries to acquaint us with one fact: That we are living in a period of time that, because of the operations of God on the one hand and Satan and his demons on the other, has taken centuries to develop. In one sense, this development of times had to wait until God would permit the invention of the Gutenberg press to supply a foundation of knowledge He wanted us to be aware of so it was ready for our use in this period of time just prior to Jesus Christ’s return.
I am doing a little more than merely mentioning those men who had truly serious impact on the beliefs, conduct, and ways of life in the Western world. Their words remain to this day, though they lived centuries ago. They are still helping form the mindset of Western leadership.
It is interesting to note which segment of the public each philosopher seems to have had the greatest impact upon. Thomas Aquinas seemed to have great influence on university educators; Descartes on philosophers themselves. John Locke’s ideas seemed to impact on theologians.
Then there is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose ideas stirred those attracted to politics and the military. He more or less became the champion philosopher of revolutionaries. Ideas sometimes have great consequences. Though he died just before the French Revolution began, it was Rousseau’s ideas that stirred the ambitions of the revolutionaries that inspired the guillotine, the forced redistribution of wealth in France, and 40,000 dead bodies. In just a matter of months.
The bloody horror didn’t stop when the French Revolution ended because the concepts of government that churned from Rousseau’s mind spread to move Marx, Lenin, Castro, and Mao Tse-Tung.
As I mentioned in the previous commentary, those attracted to a certain line of thinking the philosopher champions then expand upon his theories and mold them into what they believe are workable and manageable plans and programs for their agenda.
Rousseau might be called the father of modern statism. He was certainly not the first person to champion these concepts, but his timing was right on and he persuasively stated his case better than any who previously wrote on this subject.
Statism is the root name for the concept, the idea, or practice of giving a centralized government virtual complete control over a nation’s economic planning and the policies necessary for implementing and managing it.
Today we call the mildest form of this concept "socialism." In it some individual liberties are retained by individual citizens. But the carnal, self-centered way of the individual dominates entire statist governments, too. And so if the government is not this way from the beginning, socialism soon morphs into communism and fascism. Those governments become enslaving and sometimes quite vicious to their own citizens in their efforts to maintain control.
Jesus taught us to look at the fruits of a person life if we want to understand and thus judge their teachings accordingly. Rousseau’s philosophy was truly honed from his life experiences. There is no doubt he was unusually intelligent but at the same time he was about as self-centered as one can get, highly narcissistic, and a sociopath besides.
Actually, he was born into a fairly stable family. He was the grandson of a Calvinist preacher. But tragedy struck almost from the beginning. His mother died when he was 9 days old. His father tried to keep things together but when Jean-Jacques was 10 he gave up and placed him in a state orphanage.
At age 15, he ran from the orphanage, and from that day forward he was completely on his own as rootless as a dead leaf in a windstorm. At 16, he began a life serial fornication. He never married; he did not like the stability. He fathered five children, but within hours of their births, he abandoned each of them on the steps of the nearest orphanage. That is just the beginning on this man.