This morning we consider this dream of Nebuchadnezzar, its fulfillment, and its result and we do so in light of seeing in it the worldview of Humanism that continues to this day.
Daniel 4 starts as a retrospective. Nebuchadnezzar has come through his ordeal and now he writes stating what he has learned as a result of God’s chastisements. As we will learn he comes out of this madness tamed and now God-centered in his thinking… the direct opposite disposition as he portrayed going into this period of insanity.
Chapter 4 recounts Nebuchadnezzar’s great dream of the mighty tree in the midst of the earth that was visible to the whole globe and was the source of nutrition for all the known world and provided sanctuary to all the beasts of the field. In the dream Nebuchadnezzar sees a Holy Watcher (Angel) descend and pronounce judgment upon this arboreal wonder commanding that it be cut down w/ its stump bound by iron and bronze till the judgment time is fulfilled. The purpose of this humbling was
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’
The purpose of this dream pulls back the curtain on the meaning that Daniel will give. If the purpose of these prophesied events is to communicate that God rules and is sovereign over who rises and falls in terms of the kingdoms of men then it is a pretty good guess that what Nebuchadnezzar is seeing in his vision of the magnificent arboreal is the Kingdom of Babylon with himself as the incarnation of Babylon ruling mightily over the affairs of men.
Given the grandeur of it all, it is easy to see what is going on in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is a re-instantiation of the Genesis 11 Babel project. In Gen. 11 we have a ziggurat reaching into the heavens and here we have a tree reaching into the heavens. Daniel identifies this cosmic tree as Nebuchadnezzar – the center and pivotal point of the universe. In the ancient world, pagan kings were the state and the state was represented in the pagan king. Again, this is all very Babel-like in its description. You have this great society, in this dream, that is ruling the world without any recourse to the God who is. As we will see Nebuchadnezzar understands that he indeed is the center of all this glory.
Here we have the humanist state and humanism once again perfectly defined. Man sees himself as the center of his own reality. There is no God to parley with. No divinity to consider for man as god to reckon with.
Nebuchadnezzar could have said along with Invictus author Wm. Earnest Henley
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
However, Nebuchadnezzar is given an opportunity to repent after he is tetched with madness.
Seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. (25)
At the end of his insanity, Nebuchadnezzar will give up his humanism and acknowledge the supremacy of God.
Apparently, Nebuchadnezzar missed Daniel’s warning, refused the offer to repent (27), and continued on in his anthropocentric reality. He saw all reality in terms of the glory of his majesty (30).
Friends, Babylon would have been something to behold. Her walls for defense were wide enough to allow for four chariots abreast pulled each by four horses to pass one another on the walls. Numerous ornate Temples speckled the city. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the famous hanging gardens – that Nebuchadnezzar built for one of his wives was there. All the wealth of the known world flowed into Babylon.
All of this Nebuchadnezzar chalked up to his mighty power without a thought of the God of the Bible.
There is another pointer in this text to the humanism that was pursued in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar as a world and life view in this text and that is where Daniel says in offering repentance,
27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
This appeal to repentance implies that there were moral standards outside of Nebuchadnezzar that Nebuchadnezzar was to conform to. In other words, there was objective right and wrong that Nebuchadnezzar was responsible to. There was a moral authority above His authority that Nebuchadnezzar was to bow to. Implied here is that Nebuchadnezzar is acting as his own standard quite apart from considering God’s law-word. Again, this is humanism.
Doubtless morality and truth then, like today, were the consequence of process philosophy where truth evolves over time so that one can only speak of truth as a temporary phenomenon. And for Nebuchadnezzar, the process philosophy of his time found its high point in Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian Empire. Truth was Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuchadnezzar was truth.
So, for Nebuchadnezzar, there were no absolute absolutes – only process — no absolute law, no absolute justice, no absolute truth beyond himself. This was his humanist faith when he confronted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and he declared, “Who is that God who is able to deliver you out of my hand?
He could say that because in his humanist faith he was God. Who do these lowly Hebrews think they are? What kind of myth do they believe in? Don’t they know I am the high point of history, the high point of process, and there is no greater power than I?
So, we see Nebuchadnezzar’s humanism in his self-aggrandizement, in his “man the measure morality,” in his self-centeredness. Nebuchadnezzar viewed himself as god.
Epistemologically he was the source of his own truth. There was no appeal beyond him.
Axiologically he was his own highest value. There was nothing to seek beyond him.
Teleologically his Kingdom was the ultimate end. History had found its completion in Neb.
Ontologically he viewed himself as god. And as god he could dictate any reality he like.
This is humanism and we see it just as clearly now in the 21st century as Nebuchadnezzar embraced it in the ancient world and as Babel incarnated in Genesis 11. Man the measure of all things. Man the center of all things.
We pause here to spend some time examining some of the basic convictions of humanism that is always a part of all humanism when you stumble across it.
1.) Man is basically good. And man will decide what good is.
Man left to himself, apart from evil influence, will choose what is good.
Of course this is contrary to Scripture which teaches that man is fallen and so sinful. Evangelism requires that we communicate to fallen men that they are fallen and are not basically good. The religion of humanism must be punctured and man must see that he is fallen and that all his actions stem from a sinful nature.
2.) Man’s environment accounts for evil.
Humanism, believing man is basically good must account for the presence of evil somewhere and so humanists insist that it is man’s environment that accounts for evil and so if evil is to be finally conquered then man’s environment must be turned into a Utopia. As such social engineering is pursued in order to make men conform to a redemptive environment.
3.) From this belief that man’s environment accounts for evil arises the myth of the noble savage.
If man is evil because of an evil artificial civilization environment then the man who is noblest is found where civilization has left man untouched and so walking in terms of his inbred goodness and “innocence.” And so we get the Romanticist nonsense about men untouched by the evil influence of civilization.
The Noble savage myth continues to this day as we are bombarded with the evils of the civilized Christian white man.
“Whiteness and white racialized identity refer to the way that white people, their customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups are compared. “
This is humanism on parade under the auspices of the Noble savage. What the complaint here is actually is a complaint against is Christianity. The noble savages have not been afflicted with the customs, culture, and beliefs of Christian white people, and because they have not been afflicted with the Christianity of white people therefore they can arise to accuse the Christian white man as being the heart of all that is evil.
You see this noble savage humanism is not so much attacking Christian white people as it is attacking the beliefs and the God who made the Christian white man what the Christian white man is. This is a humanist attack on Jesus Christ… a backdoor humanism attempt to roll him off his throne.
4.) The agency whereby man discovers his goodness is Church & State
The church in Revolutionary Humanism is the government school as controlled by the State. Of course over the course of time as the “Christian” church begins to reflect the Government schools as Government school graduates bring their humanism into the Church. Church and State teach basically good man that it is his role to use any means necessary to change the environment in order to serve the “good.”
5.) The abstraction of mathematical equality is applied to men in their social relations. Humanism leads to egalitarianism and egalitarianism here is defined in such a way so that no man is allowed to excel above another. All men being equal results in “all men being the same.” So, whether it is 700 million Chinese wearing the Maoist suit or whether it is men and women sharing public bathrooms, equality is now the order of the day. This is humanism. As all men together are god no god-man can be allowed to rise above another god-man. All of this is merely the logical outworking of man the center.
6.) Man, being absolutized, is his own God
And man being God there is a movement towards Social Order uniformitarianism. All gods have unity in the godhood and so as collective man is god collective man builds social order where there is very little margin for differentiation among the particular men.
7.) All other mediating Institutions (Family, Church, School, Guild, etc.) are eliminated.
Humanism does not allow for pluralistic jurisdictions (See #5). Everything is for the State and nothing is outside the State. We are seeing this increasingly in our culture. Teachers have long been agents for the State. Soon Doctors will be agents for the State with Obamacare. Ministers are often Defacto ministers of the State.
“The demand of humanism (and of its child, socialism) is for a universal ethics. In universal ethics, we are told that, even as the family gave way to the tribe, and the tribe to the nation, so the nation must give way to a one-world order. All men must treat all other men equally. Partiality to our family, nation, or race, represents a lower morality, we are told, and must be replaced by a ‘higher’ morality of a universal ethics.”
Rousas John Rushdoony
8.) Man as God, thus can be assured of the inevitability of progress
Since God can not fail, Man as God calls whatever is “progress.”
All of this you would have found in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. You would have found it in Babel society in Genesis 11. You find all of it in the French Revolution. The Revolutions of 1848. The Socialist experimental communities in America from John Humphrey Noyes Oneida community to Robert Owen’s New Harmony Indiana Utopia community to Mother Anne Lee’s Shaker community, to Joseph Smith’s original Mormonism. From Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution to Mao’s Cultural Revolution to the ongoing work here now to level all of us in the humanist Utopian gulag.
All of these expressions of humanism find the above characteristics and they are all singed by hell’s fire and they all smell of sulfur and their all adherents – whether clergy or laymen – need to repent and be warned if they will not repent of this self-centered Christ-attacking humanism they will eternally die.
Only faith in Jesus Christ …. only the embrace of Biblical Christianity can overturn all of this. Only by the overturning of humanism that Nebuchadnezzar experienced accompanying by a humble bowing before God and His truth can deliver us from this death spiral we are in called humanism. Only by ceasing to exalt ourselves at the expense of everyone else and turning to exalt the triune God can we be rescued. Only by living by every law-word of God can we be delivered from the enchanting death word of fallen man.
If Nebuchadnezzar was in need of repentance as warned by Daniel Western man is in need of a repentance of sackcloth and ashes. Only the triune God can rescue us out of the depths of the wormhole of Humanism that we find ourselves down.
Note here that it is the Christianity of our the Bible and our Reformed Fathers alone which can provide deliverance. Away with the Christianities of Pentecostalism, Holiness, Lutheran, and Baptist. Only a Christianity that is totalistic in its belief armament can overturn the armaments of humanism. As Van Til used to say,
“The Christian faith as a whole, as a unit, must be set over against the non-Christian faith as a whole. Piecemeal apologetics is inadequate, especially for our time. A Christian totality picture requires a Christian view of the methodology of science and philosophy, as well as a Christian view of theology.”
The humanism we face is a humanism that can only be met by a totalistic worldview Christianity. Nebuchadnezzar will not be overthrown without a Calvinism that reaches beyond what is today called “Calvinism,” back to when Calvinism filled men with testosterone and women with grit.
We learn in this passage that Nebuchadnezzar was healed of his humanism.
Nebuchadnezzar tells us that, after a long period of insanity, when he lifted up his eyes unto Heaven, he says, “Mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most high and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion and his kingdom is from generation to generation.”
Nebuchadnezzar who had earlier declared his own presumption of godhood, and who taken himself as the Archimedian leverage point of all reality – that is as god walking on the earth, and who had declared that there was no higher point in all of creation than himself, now acknowledges the dominion and the sovereignty of God, and declares that “all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand or say unto him, ‘What doest thou?’”
Nebuchadnezzar, in order to understand any country he was waging war against, studied their religion, and so it is not unreasonable to believe that before this event that Daniel 4 tells of, years before, he had read the scriptures. It is not unreasonable to assume that Nebuchadnezzar learned some of the Hebrews Scriptures from his Hebrew captives including Daniel and his friends. We say it is not unreasonable because the words falling out of Nebuchadnezzar’s mouth here echoes other passages in Scripture.
I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
Listen to other Scripture for an echo effect,
Psalm 145:13, “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth through all generations.”
Isaiah 40:17, “All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.”
Isaiah 43:13, “Yea, before the day while I am he and there is none that can deliver out of my hand, I will work and who shall let it?”
Isaiah 43:21, “This people have I formed for myself. They shall show forth my praise.”
Nebuchadnezzar thus echoes scripture as he has come to the end of himself as all humanists must and commit himself to the sovereignty of God.
Nebuchadnezzar concludes, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
This is a very telling confession and a very profound one because here Nebuchadnezzar is confessing a creator God that transcends man the creature. Nebuchadnezzar is confessing the righteousness of all God’s works. Nebuchadnezzar is confessing that
Luke 1:52 God brings down the mighty from their thrones
land exalts those of humble estate;
In all this Nebuchadnezzar strikes out at that which is the heart of humanism in every age, in which the existentialist and pomo philosophers in our time have formulated as their faith. Nebuchadnezzar declares of God that all his works are truth because God is truth, and his ways, justice.
At this point, Nebuchadnezzar has left behind his humanism and now sounds very much like a God-fearing King.
Humanism is awash in the Church
CRT in the Church is humanism
We are learning in the evening service in our reading that Christianity is being reinterpreted through the lens of CRT.
R2K is public square humanism inasmuch as it denies that the Church has the responsibility to articulate a “thus saith the Lord” for public square social order issue. When it denies a thus saith the Lord it creates a public square religious vacuum that will be filled by some form of humanism.
We would do well to repent now so we are chastised by 7 years of animal madness.