"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
[The idea for this article was given to me some twenty years ago by one of my closest and dearest friends, DOUG KRIEGER. It stems from a conversation we had in 1981 in the tiny, very remote seaport town of Coos Bay, Oregon where his family and mine had "holed up" for a year or so to take refuge from the aftermath of the collapse of the "Jesus Revolution" (please see our article, "The Jesus Revolution And The Search For Community").]
"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." (Rev. 13:15)
In Part 1 of our present series on apostasy, "APOSTASY: Christianity In The Service Of A 'Religio-Political-Corporate-Terrorist' State," we said,
"The apostasy that the Bible says will occur in the "end of days" is not something that is going to take place OUTSIDE the church; rather it is something that is going to take place INSIDE it. But how? - that's the question. To understand the dynamic at work here we must put what is happening to the church in a larger context. Too many people try to understand "last things" from only the perspective of RELIGION. But that's not possible ... There are other dynamics at work - political, economic and military dynamics - and all of them one way or another impinge on the church and the apostasy that is at work within it, transforming what we know as the ORGANIZED church into the monster the Scriptures say it will become ...
"One of these dynamics is the increasing speed at which REAL democracy is disappearing in the world today - contrary to what one hears being trumpeted from the mainline press. The fact is, the world is not becoming more democratic, but less - and it is being driven forward in this process by the ever quickening pace of globalization and the inexorable division of the world into a small elite of wealthy "worthies" and a huge population of indigent "worker-serfs" - a division that follows in the wake of the globalization process as surely as water flows downhill ... And it is important to note here that the division of the earth's population in this fashion is occurring not only in the so-called "Developing World," but in the so-called "Developed World" as well
"OBVIOUSLY, UNDER THE IMPRESS OF THIS KIND OF MALIGNANT DYNAMIC, DEMOCRACY IS NOT WORKABLE. Why? - because in societies where people are ground into the dirt by the crush of the powerful, those responsible cannot then expect those they have beaten down to endorse what they have done through the so-called "democratic process."
"In other words, when the elites force the poor into what are for all practical purposes 'slave-labor camps' in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, El Salvador, Haiti, etc. - and when they lock the gates to keep the workers in - forcing them to make Armani shirts for 80 cents a day at the rate of more than 100 shirts an hour in twelve hour shifts that run seven days a week, they cannot then expect these workers to endorse this kind of brutality through the ballot box. Democracy - REAL democracy - is not something the elites would want to endorse in this kind of situation.
"If the elites, then, are unable to derive their legitimacy as a result of a REAL appeal to the "will of the people," how then can they derive it? After all, ALL authority must be legitimized ... IT IS PRECISELY HERE THAT RELIGION PRESENTS ITSELF AS A USEFUL TOOL IN THE HANDS OF THE RICH!! In those societies where an appeal to the "will of the people" is not possible on any kind of meaningful basis, religion gives sanction to the rule of the privileged minority over and against the oppressed majority ... The truth is, until the relatively recent advent of broad based democratic institutions and their concomitant appeal to "the people" as a basis of legitimacy, religion formed the foundation for most social and state authority - and this was as true for the nations of Western Civilization as it was for the civilizations of Asia, Africa, the Near East and Central and South America. As a result, the state has historically been bound up with religion either explicitly or implicitly ... RELIGION LEGITIMIZES STATE POWER IN SOCIETIES THAT ARE ESSENTIALLY UNDEMOCRATIC AND CANNOT, AS A RESULT, RELY ON THE "WILL OF THE PEOPLE" AS THE SOURCE OF THEIR LEGITIMACY. And it should be remarked here that religion is important to the state in INVERSE proportion to the state's brutality. The more brutal the state, the greater the need for its rulers to undergird it by a resort to religion.
"Historically, then, religion has operated as an INSTRUMENT OF OPPRESSION - A MEANS THROUGH WHICH THE RICH CAN OPPRESS THE POOR. Religion, when it operates in this capacity, has NOTHING TO DO WITH COMPASSION, TENDERNESS AND MERCY, AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE EXERCISE OF BRUTE POWER - and this is why the poor and the dispossessed have always hated STATE-sanctioned religion. When Christianity operates in this capacity; when it serves the interests of the elites of this world, when it becomes the servant of the state; when it becomes an instrument of the rich to oppress the poor - IT HAS BECOME APOSTATE. That is what apostasy is all about! That's where it begins! The false doctrine that inevitably follows this condition of things - i.e., apostasy - is made necessary to mold the church to its new reality as a servant to the rich rather than to the poor; as a servant to the elites rather than to the downtrodden; as a servant to the state rather than to the kingdom of heaven."
Our purpose in this article is to take up the story where we left off in the above article, "APOSTASY: Christianity In The Service Of A 'Religio-Political-Corporate-Terrorist' State." We begin by asking a simple, but very profound question; specifically:
"Do you know what is the greatest difference between now and a hundred years ago?"
And the strange, rather enigmatic answer that we give to that question goes a long way in laying bare a lot of truth concerning the apostasy of the "end of days;" the answer is that someone can tell you -
That wasn't possible in this country for the great majority of the people - nearly 80 percent of them - who still lived on a farm a century ago and engaged in what was for all practical purposes "subsistence farming." If you owned your own farm - which most people did at the turn of the last century (1899 to 1900) - nobody could walk up to you and say, "you're fired." Such a phrase would have been meaningless. "Fired from what?" You grew your own food, you had built your own house, you made most of your own clothing, and you crafted most of your own furniture. The little you did buy, you bought in a small town - and you got the money for it by producing a "cash crop" - usually wheat, or corn or whatever - which you then sold to a local "broker" or "middle-man" in town; and you didn't get much for it.
And that was that! That's the way most people lived - maybe not in the cities (i.e., in Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Chicago, etc.), but only 20 percent of the country's population lived in the city in 1899. And that was true not just in America, but throughout the whole world. As strange as it might sound now, there wasn't much of a difference between the way people lived in Mexico or Argentina or wherever and the way people lived in the United States a hundred years ago. The great majority of people throughout the world were "subsistence farmers." In other words, while they lived in conditions most of us today would find very difficult to tolerate, they had no "bosses" that could fire them and, thus, strip them of their livelihoods.
So, I repeat, the greatest difference between now and a hundred years ago is that someone can tell you, "YOU'RE FIRED." That's it! It's not the airplane, it's not our soaring skyscrapers, it's not the computer, not rocket ships to the moon, not all of our wonderful technology put together! It's the fact that with those two words, someone can - in the twinkling of an eye - deprive you of your job (your way of making a living), and by doing so set in motion a process that could very well rob you of your income, then - if the process is not checked - your home, your car, and eventually all your worldly possessions. Moreover, if the process continues for a prolonged period of time, it can eventually strip you of your family and even your own identity - after all, most people in today's society identify themselves to others in terms of their jobs, whether a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a writer, a computer analyst, a plumber, a carpenter, a mechanic - whatever. Finally, it can deprive you of life itself.
And, again, whether you realize it or not, this is a brand new phenomenon in the history of mankind. This is what the capitalist system has wrought: the creation of a UNIFIED economic "SYSTEM" that has the irreversible tendency of reducing people to "cogs in a machine" and encourages absolute financial dependence by the individual on that "SYSTEM."
There is, moreover, a pathology behind the words, "You're fired," and it doesn't take long - even insofar as the well-to-do are concerned - for this process to take hold and to economically (and even psychologically) ruin its victim. Take what happened to one well-off "middle-management" employee of Cigna Corporation - and this is a true story. He had been a dedicated employee for 24 years, working his way up the corporate ladder the hard way, rung by rung. Then a few years ago, he was given his pink slip just two days before Christmas, and his "fall from grace" began - despite good outplacement help, intense networking, dozens of interviews, and hundreds of resumes mailed. By the time his "fall" was finished, he had lost his friends (after all, most of them had been fellow Cigna employees), his marriage of 14 years had ended, his home had been foreclosed on, and he was working in the stockroom of Marshalls Inc., a discount store, for a few dollars above minimum wage.
Today he lives as a broken man on Social Security disability. He has no medical insurance, he lives in a seedy hotel, and he slinks around downtown Hartford praying to God that he doesn't run into any of his old friends or his wife who has remarried and lives - together with his children - in the suburbs. Not only that, he no longer attends the church where he had been a member-in-good-standing for over 14 years, and where he had acted as a well-respected member of the Board of Deacons and as Sunday-School Superintendent. The fact is, six months after he lost his job with Cigna, the Board of Deacons asked him to resign as Sunday-School Superintendent; two months after that, he was quietly removed from the Board of Deacons - all this accompanied with the usual platitudes that these actions were being taken "for his own good" so that he would have more time to "get his life back in order." It was after these embarrassing indignities that he quit attending church there.
Sadly, no one seemed to miss him - but it wasn't as though the church had kicked him out; it's just that he began to feel uncomfortable there, in a place where financial success is - in a quiet, under-the-table way - equated with "good Christian living." "I have lost the fight to stay ahead in todays economy," he says. "I was determined to find work, but as the months and years wore on, depression set in. You can only be rejected so many times; then you start questioning your own self-worth." Today, he has given up on life - and two words were all it took: "YOU'RE FIRED!"
Again, I repeat, this kind of tragedy is a BRAND NEW phenomenon in the history of mankind - and it has created a regime of UTTER and even CRAVEN dependence on the SYSTEM. LOSE YOUR PLACE IN THE SYSTEM, AND YOU LOSE YOUR LIFE!!
Now it's not our purpose here to harangue you concerning the capitalist system. Capitalism (or as defenders of capitalism prefer to call it, the "Free Enterprise System") is itself a relatively new phenomenon in the history of mankind, a phenomenon that has existed for only about the last four hundred years (and which really took hold on the world just in the last one hundred years or so). And there can be no doubt that capitalism has brought with it many wonderful "things," "things" that people in the past could never imagine: trains, cars, airplanes, computers, washing machines, televisions, telephones, mass-produced housing, pharmaceuticals of every kind, etc.
It has created for us everything that is "mass produced" and/or made in factories or on assembly lines (or in so-called "white collar industries" associated with the production of "things," for instance, insurance, the financial services industry, advertising, sales, etc.) where work is "rationalized" on the basis of a "division of labor" where each individual fits into a SYSTEM of production based on his or her own unique skill. Can you imagine building a car outside such a system? One man building a corvette from the ground up? Or a washing machine? Or a television? - of course not! None of the "things" of modern life would be available outside the capitalist system.
The ability of capitalism to produce "things" is unsurpassed. Never before have so many "things" been so readily available to average people - and life for most of us would be unthinkable without these "things." Indeed, life itself outside the capitalist system is unimaginable to modern man - especially those who live in the so-called "First World."
But there has been a terrible price that we have paid for all these "things," for all these so-called "conveniences." And that is, we have become PRISONERS OF A SYSTEM OF LIVING that we have very little or no power over; a SYSTEM that controls our every waking hour, when we sleep, when we go to work, when we take our vacations, what days we can rest, what clothes are "appropriate" for us to wear. [I say a "System of Living" because the capitalist system we are involved with today is much more than a system of economics; it is a system of life.] The SYSTEM controls the food we can eat, the water we can drink, the air we can breathe, the medicines that are available to us, the schools we can attend, the information that we are permitted to see - there is no escaping from its all-encompassing hold on our lives. The SYSTEM controls everything we do, and for most of us it has made life an endless routine. You just take your Prozac every day, limp along dyspeptic and neurotic, and figure that's all there is.
Sadly, we have become nothing more than a small part of some giant process which is totally impersonal and lies completely outside our immediate control. I don't want to make it seem that I'm advocating turning people into islands unto themselves with no dependence on other people. That's not what I am talking about here! I am talking about being forced to depend on IMPERSONAL economic and ancillary social forces over which average people have little or no influence.
Tick, tick, tick - identical seconds, identical people, identical chores repeated over and over again - all for the purpose of creating things, things that many who work in the SYSTEM (especially in its lower tiers) don't even get to use, such as the factory worker in Indonesia producing Nike shoes at 60 cents a day for sale in the United States for $120. Or the Ford worker working on the Lincoln assembly line producing Lincoln SUVs that he will never have the money to buy. In Enemy of the State, John Zerzan writes,
"I read accounts of the lives some people have - for example, miners who are underground from dawn to dusk day after day - and I wonder how they survive ... We only get one life, and what the hell are you gonna do spending it breaking your back in the mines? Or what about us causing others to break their backs? I was having a discussion about our technological society with a few friends, and some of them were saying, 'Well, we've got to have phones. We can't do away with them'. And another friend responded, "Are YOU going to go down into the mines? Are you going to do that?' BECAUSE OUR WHOLE LIFESTYLE IS PREDICATED ON SOMEONE HAVING TO SLAVE HIS OR HER LIFE AWAY, or rather millions and millions of someones."
So we "intellectually subsidize" an economic SYSTEM that forces others to go down into the mines to do the dirty work for us. And God forbid that we should pay these people what the job is really worth, because that would send the price of the coal that produces the electricity we use through the roof. The same thing insofar as our food is concerned: use illegals and non-unionized workers to work in the fields in order to keep prices low. The same with our clothing - after all, if the truth were known, there is probably not a woman alive in this country that doesn't know where and how her clothes are made - but all she cares about is that the clothes are inexpensive and well-made, and "... don't bother me about how they were produced. I don't want to know. It makes me uncomfortable."
And so the SYSTEM goes - tick, tick, tick - be at work at 8:00 in the morning; take your place on the assembly line; keep it moving - tick, tick, tick. Take a break at 10:30, then back on the line, or whatever. And if your job is making deliveries, doing pest control, standing all day at a checkout stand, sitting at a desk - it's all the same - tick, tick, tick. The routine; the endless, monotonous routine! You are nothing more than a "cog in a machine;" a ratchet, a sprocket, a bolt - and nothing more.
Finally, insofar as most ordinary folks are concerned, there is no joyful "present" in the SYSTEM. Instead, the system holds out the promise of a glowing future and induces people to sacrifice the moment they live in for the hope of happiness in that future. But that future never seems to come - it's a future that is always just a little bit beyond the grasp of average people. And when some people - some very few of them - do manage to grab hold of it, it never turns out to be quite how they imagined it; never quite what the SYSTEM had advertised it to be. And at the end of their lives, as they look back at the years that have so casually flown by, they are compelled to see them as nothing more than a series of sad and very poignant "missed opportunities" - opportunities to spend the "present" (a "present" which has now become irretrievably lost in the "past") with their children (who are now grown and moved away), with their parents (who are now dead), with their loved ones and so on - and all this because they lived for a future that the SYSTEM never delivered on. WHAT A DECEIT!
AND IF THIS SYSTEM EVER DECIDES TO REJECT YOU, LIFE SIMPLY CEASES - AT LEAST LIFE AS YOU HAD COME TO KNOW IT. You end up as "SURPLUS POPULATION" in an underclass neighborhood being harassed by the "terrorist police" of the SYSTEM. You are now a "THROW-AWAY." You've been discarded - and more and more people who used to be former members of the SYSTEM'S white middle-class are finding out how easy it is to be REJECTED. They're finding out that poverty is not a racial "thing," but an economic "thing."
Some of us, of course, think that we do have power over this SYSTEM - that since we live in a "democracy," we do have some say about how the SYSTEM works. But think about that for a minute. Even if one were to concede that we live in a perfect democracy - where the electoral process really works (an assumption that today is very, very naive) - how much real control do we actually have over the SYSTEM? Not much!
Why? - because it's not so much the government (which is that part of the SYSTEM that average citizens are supposed to have some say over) that controls our lives - it's the various businesses, corporations, and companies involved in making the "things" of the SYSTEM that control our lives. EVERYBODY IS LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACE!! They're looking at "government" rather than "Big Business" - but in today's world, IT'S NOT SO MUCH "BIG BUSINESS" THAT IS THE SERVANT OF "GOVERNMENT" AS IT IS "GOVERNMENT" THAT IS THE SERVANT OF "BIG BUSINESS."
Indeed, if the truth were known, our lives are compelled and constrained much more by Corporate America than they are by the state. The fact is, one would not be too far off in believing that the state has become in recent years nothing more than an extension of Corporate America, and so much so that today it is very difficult any longer to tell where the state begins and Corporate America leaves off. The two have essentially melded into one, with the same clique of personalities shuttling back and forth between the "world of government" and the "world of business." For example, take Dick Cheney who moved from Bechtel Corp. to Defense Secretary, back again to Haliburton Oil, and then back to government as Vice President - and this is as true for the Democrats as it is for the Republicans.
Christians are, therefore, making a big mistake in looking for the bugaboos of the "end of days" merely in the world of government or in some hidden conspiracy of Illuminists; there is nothing particularly mysterious or hidden about who's really in charge in today's world. They are out in the open, and proud to be there! They are the "movers" and "shakers" of today's corporate world - i.e., the CEOs of today's giant multinationals. These are the people who "buy and sell" governments today, not only in the so-called banana republics of the "Third World," but in Europe, in Japan - and most especially in the United States!
And one needs to be clear about the corporate world - THERE IS NOTHING DEMOCRATIC ABOUT IT!! It's a world characterized by an unremitting despotism that has attached to it an aura of indescribable ruthlessness and malevolence - the kind that can easily justify forcing young teenage girls into work in Banjaran, Indonesia in a Feng Tay factory making shoes for Nike at 60 cents a day in sixteen hour shifts with no holidays off - not even Christmas and Easter.
And it's not just in the so-called Third World where this kind of malevolence is practiced. Just ask the GM employees who were suddenly and very cruelly thrown out of work when, in the middle of the night on a holiday weekend, GM brought trucks into the plant where they worked and removed the factory's equipment and machinery so that it could be shipped to Mexico where GM was planning to set up a factory to build the same cars there with workers that were to be paid less than one-twelfth the amount of money the workers were being paid in Flint - a Mexican town where GM could pollute the environment till the cows came home. Now that's power! That's cold-hearted, ruthless power - more power than any feudal Baron ever possessed. Yes! - medieval tyrants, but people who, nonetheless, felt a modicum of noblise oblige for their worker-serfs.
Not GM though! They considered their workers - many of whom had worked loyally for General Motors for more than twenty years and had families to support - to be nothing more than out-dated machinery that needed to be replaced. No sentimentality there!! And all this in the twinkling of an eye - in the middle of the night on a holiday weekend. The workers showed up for work the following Monday, and they were all handed pink-slips, and that was that!
The truth of the matter is, the CEO of General Electric, or Ford Motor Company, or Viacom, or AT&T, or Proctor and Gamble, or DuPont, or Standard Oil, or Cargill, or Edison, or Disney has more ABSOLUTE power today over the companies and employees he controls than any feudal king or eastern potentate ever wielded - except insofar as he lacks the power to arrest and execute people. But in a way - and by virtue of the fact that he can control whether a person can earn a decent living or not - he does hold the power of life and death.
These are the new "Robber Barons" of today's corporate world - people like Jack Welch of General Electric, Michael Eisner of Disney, William B. Harrison, Jr. (and the Rockefellers) of Chase, David Koch of Koch Industries, Charles Schwab of Charles Schwab and Company, George Sores and Stanley Druckenmiller of the Sores Fund, G. Richard Wagoner, Jr. of General Motors, William Ford of Ford Motor Co., Riley Bechtel of the giant Bechtel Corporation, Lee Raymond of Exxon and so forth - all people who, despite their manicured nails, coiffeured hair, thousand dollar suits, and refined demeanor - are more savage and hard-hearted than Attila the Hun ever thought of being.
The cold-hearted utilization of ruthless, absolute power! - this is the way things are done in today's corporate world, a world that is year by year tending towards ever greater centralization, and which is concomitantly seizing control of more and more of our lives - and so much so that today, for example, four companies - General Motors, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and Toyota control 80 percent of the manufacture of all automobiles and trucks in the world; where eight companies - Cargill, Continental, ConAgra, Louis Drefus, Bunge, Carnac, Mitsui/Cook, and Archer Daniels Midland - control 85 percent of the world's food production; where two companies - Boeing-Douglas and Airbus - control 70 percent of the world's commercial airplane production; where five companies - the Disney Corporation, AOL / Time Warner / CNN, Viacom, Seagrams, and Murdoch - control most of the mass media in the world; and where the oil and gas industry is controlled by seven companies; where five companies control most of the world's pharmaceuticals, and on and on and on. INDEED, IF THE MERGER MANIA KEEPS ON FOR VERY MUCH LONGER, WE WILL SOMEDAY BE LEFT WITH ONLY ONE GIANT, VERTICALLY INTEGRATED CORPORATION.
Corporations organize themselves into hierarchies, which is the application of "order" and "discipline" on people in a top to bottom flow of authority through a sequence of intermediaries. It is a "lord to minion" type of arrangement in which prestige and power are measured by how high up one is in the hierarchy. Conceptually, the whole arrangement approximates in appearance a PYRAMID in which authority flows downward (and prestige flows upward), and as it (authority) passes to the base, it expands over time and space.
There is, however, a terrible price to be paid for this kind of control; and it relates to the kind of organization that is ultimately produced: one which is extremely rigid, indifferent, impersonal, and uncaring of those who work for it; and more, one which is characterized throughout by jealousy and envy. And why is that? - because, as we just indicated, a hierarchy is a regime in which prestige and power are measured by how high up one is in the hierarchy. There is, therefore, inherent in any SYSTEM of hierarchy a never-ending scramble up the corporate ladder, and hang all those who are unable to keep up and drop by the wayside.
This scramble is intensified by the fact that one's prestige and power in an hierarchy is NOT extended to people on a personal basis, but on an institutional basis; the power and prestige does not become inherent in the person to whom it is given; it's inherent in the POSITION the person occupies within the institution in which he or she is a member. The fact is, in today's corporate world, one borrows the prestige and power one holds from the institution one is a member of. If one is separated from that position, one loses the power and prestige one holds - and this goes a long way in explaining the coercive power that institutions have over those people who have become involved with them.
There is nothing particularly "friendly" or "informal" or "family-like" about life in a corporate hierarchy. It is a never-ending, "Hobbesian," "King of the Hill" struggle "by all against all" as people try to claw their way up the PYRAMID - and the road up is littered with broken friendships, heartache, and the bodies of those who have fallen by the wayside or who have been "stabbed in the back" by erstwhile "friends." Needless to say, it's a world filled with intrigue, back-biting, jealousy, and envy - staffed by people who, by training and position, slavishly and fawningly defer to those above them, and who in turn rule over those below them with a ruthlessness that is oftentimes hard to imagine.
This is the kind of world that capitalism has produced, a world which by now has subsumed most of the earth, and irretrievably entangled the great majority of its inhabitants in its horror and dismay. And it should be noted here that one does not have to work directly for one of today's "super-corporations" to be involved in the bitterness and ill-will these corporations generate. So all-encompassing has their influence become that there is hardly a place on this earth that has by now not been affected. And it is getting worse day by day.
In this brave new world of the "super-corporation," the anonymity of "bigness" gives license to malevolence. The loyalty of those who have sold themselves to a corporation (or to the values of the corporate world) becomes over time a loyalty only to themselves and to their own personal enrichment; their methodology is co-optation - i.e., the process of ingratiating themselves (usually as a sycophant or flunky) to those above them in the corporate hierarchy in order to get ahead; the process of "fitting into the mold;" of saying the right things and "brown-nosing" the right people; of appearing to be what one is not. Concerning the life of a "corporate flunky" in this kind of world, Professor C. Wright Mills of Columbia University writes:
"As we trace the career of ... (those who are trying to claw their way up the corporate pyramid), we are also tracing the history of his loyalties, for the first and overshadowing fact about ... (such people), from the standpoint of what it takes to succeed within ... (a corporate hierarchy), is that ... (success is) based upon self co-optation ... (The ways of virtue and high-mindedness) have given way to 'the most important single factor, the effective personality', 'which commands attention by charm', and 'radiates self-confidence'. In this 'new way of life', one must smile often and be a good listener, talk in terms of the other man's interests and make the other person feel important - and one must do all this sincerely. Personal relations, in short, have become part of 'public relations', a sacrifice of ... (one's personhood and private convictions) on a personality market, to the sole end of individual success in the corporate way of life. Being justified not by superior merit and hard work, but being founded on co-optation by a clique, often on quite other grounds, the corporate careerist must continually persuade others and himself as well that he is the opposite of what he actually is."
The fact is, the very nature of these institutions has been so structured as to practically guarantee that the very worst in people will eventually manifest itself. A shark-like atmosphere has been created in which only the treacherous and vicious can survive and prosper; an atmosphere where, as Mills says, "... men easily become morally ruthless in the pursuit of ... their career goals ..." and the scramble up the pyramid. The truth is, no one can have the kind of organized "deference group" below him and possess such powers of command as is possible in today's elite-controlled corporate pyramids without also acquiring the inner corruption of character which usually accompanies the kind of cringing adulation that inevitably attaches itself to "organized deference." Indeed, today's elite-controlled corporation is a place where one is able to take the full measure of Jeremiah 17:9:
"The heart (of man) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
And it is precisely here - in this malignant and utterly depraved SYSTEM - that most of us find ourselves trapped today either directly or indirectly; it is an ethically savage system of pure tyranny that wrecks lives and leads ultimately and surely to the degeneration of one's soul. And we are - most of us - prisoners of it; SHACKLED TO IT MORE SURELY THAN ANY PRISONER WAS EVER CHAINED TO THE WALL OF HIS PRISON CELL, AND HELD FAST BY HIS BONDS.
The use of such hierarchical arrangements is, of course, carnal and worldly in the worst sense of those words. It has NOTHING to do with God, although most Christians would hardly know that, so deceived are they by their religious leaders who have themselves become nothing more than slavish flunkies to the SYSTEM themselves. Instead, what they (i.e., the leaders of today's Christianity) do is to make an idol out of the SYSTEM, introduce it into their own churches under the guise of the rule of the "Prophets and Apostles" (or some such other spiritual sounding name)," and teach men to bow down to it, telling them that in doing so they are honoring God! But it is all a lie.
And why is that? The reason lies in the fact that God has no need for such hierarchies; He is infinite in time and space, while man (and, for that matter, all of creation - both the angelic and the demonic) is finite; which is to say, man is limited by time and space. Man can only be in one place at one time. And not only that, he has the capacity to carry on simultaneous relationships with only a few people at any one given time. He is, therefore, limited in terms which are not only intellectual, but which are epochal.
God, however, has no need to "contact" His universe (His creation) by means of intermediaries (i.e., bureaucracies and hierarchies); He is capable of being everywhere at once. Indeed, the fact of the matter is, there is no where in the universe where He is not present - and more, there is no where in time where His Being is not there. God transcends both time and space. The Bible says of God:
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting (i.e., from "eternity past" to "eternity future"), thou art God.
"For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." (Ps. 90:2,4)
"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
"If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
"Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
"If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
"Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
"For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
"My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
"Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
"How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
"If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee." (Psalms 139:7-18)
But of man, the Bible says:
"... what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!
"Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away." (Ps. 144:3-4)
"Thou carriest them (i.e., men) away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
"In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." (Ps. 90:5-6, 10)
Now this is very important for us to grasp (i.e., the difference between the finite and the infinite; between the creation and the Creator)! It produces for us the possibility of easily verifying whether an institution is of God or of Satan - for, after all, Satan is nothing more than a creature himself. He possesses neither omniscience nor omnipresence. He too - like man - can only be in one place at one time, and must, therefore - LIKE A CEO OF ANY BUSINESS CORPORATION - rely on a hierarchy to extend his control over time and space.
And this is the test! - WHEREVER YOU SEE HIERARCHY, EVEN IN THE CHURCH YOU ATTEND - BE SURE THAT SATAN IS CLOSE BY!! It is the fingerprint of Satan; it's the essence of his DNA. In the light of this test, then, ask yourself honestly, Does your church rely on hierarchy to rule over its parishioners? Is it structured in such a way that there is inherent in it a kind of pyramid-like arrangement where the Senior Pastor sits atop the PYRAMID like some eastern potentate - or like a CEO of some man-made business institution - with his associate pastors surrounding him, who in turn have helpers surrounding them and so on down the "chain-of-command?" Does there exist within your church a system of "accountability" where people are made "accountable" to those placed over them, who in turn are accountable" to people who are placed over them and so forth up and down the chain-of-command" ad nauseum? If this is the case, then SATAN IS CLOSE BY!!
This is not the way God works; such control is completely foreign to His kingdom. Jesus said:
"... Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
"BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (i.e., servant);
"And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (i.e., slave):
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:25-30)
How totally foreign is all this to the thinking of this world where those in authority exalt themselves above those who surround them, and mercilessly and even ruthlessly "lord it over" those upon whom they exercise authority. "BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU!"
Listen to me, brothers and sisters! - Jesus lives within you, and He lives in each and every one of us who call upon His name - and He can do so because He is INFINITE! As a result - He has no need of an intermediary to instruct you in the path that you should go, like some CEO in a business institution who desires to make his wishes known to subalterns twenty or thirty rungs down the corporate ladder (or "chain-of-command") from where he sits.
Jesus dwells in you! This is what the Bible says! Jesus said:
"... I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOR EVER;
"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; FOR HE DWELLETH WITH YOU, AND SHALL BE IN YOU.
"I will not leave you comfortless: I WILL COME TO YOU.
"Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
"At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I IN YOU. (John 14:16-20)
This is REVOLUTIONARY! Paul calls it the "MYSTERY WHICH HATH BEEN HID FROM AGES AND FROM GENERATIONS!" -
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, the HOPE OF GLORY ..." (Col. 1:25-27)
I repeat, there are no intermediaries between the Christian believer and God. No one is permitted to stand between you and Christ! - not your pastor, nor your deacon, nor your bishop, nor your archbishop - NO ONE! To illustrate this point, Jesus likened His relationship with us to the relationship a vine has with its branches. He said:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
"ABIDE IN ME AND I IN YOU. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
"I AM THE VINE, YE ARE THE BRANCHES: HE THAT ABIDETH IN ME, AND I IN HIM, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:1-8)
Now it's no accident that Jesus chose to liken His relationship with us to the relationship a vine has with its branches. THE VINE IS UNLIKE EVERY OTHER PLANT IN THAT ITS BRANCHES ARE ITS LEAVES, and all the leaves of this plant are attached DIRECTLY to the vine. There are no intervening branches - a leaf attached to a branch which in turn is attached to another larger branch, which in turn is attached to a still larger branch and so on until the trunk of the tree is finally reached. No! - that's not the case with a vine. The branches are the leaves, and they are attached DIRECTLY to the vine. In like manner, we also are attached DIRECTLY to Christ. There are no intervening branches that stand in the way.
It's in this way that Christianity is unlike any other religion known to man! In all other religions, there stand intermediaries between God and man (i.e., "channelers," "holy men," "exalted masters," mullahs, Imams, etc.) But in Christianity, there is (or should be) NO intervening caste of "holy men" standing between God and man, and this is why Jesus could say:
"These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, HE SHALL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:25-26)
Where is there any need here for a hierarchy? There is none! God is present in the Person of the Holy Spirit! - and if He dwells in you, "... ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7)
This brings us at last to a great difference between the "kingdom of this world" and the "kingdom of God;" and that difference pertains to each kingdom's contrasting views on the utility of FORCE in maintaining each kingdom's coherence.
The "kingdom of this world" - THE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND ARE A PART OF; the world that has made us its prisoners and can destroy us with those two small words, "YOU'RE FIRED!" - is held together by the use of FORCE or the threat of FORCE. FORCE is what constrains man in this world to be ACCOUNTABLE to "the SYSTEM," i.e., to the "kingdom of this world." Moreover, it is a force that is concerned only with OUTWARD performance. In the business world, this "performance" is measured by a person's "productivity." In the religious world, one's performance is measured by one's "conformity" to the system. Productivity and conformity! - productivity insofar as the business world is concerned, and conformity insofar as the religious world is concerned: this is what FORCE in the SYSTEM is aiming at.
And one needs to bear in mind that the "performance" that this FORCE is seeking to compel is exclusively related to OUTWARD performance. It is not concerned with a person's private life or inner convictions; it is not concerned with how virtuous or - contrawise - how immoral a person is, though it must constantly make a PRETENSE of being concerned about such things.
Nonetheless, when everything is said and done, it's OUTWARD performance that counts; in the business world: Who can produce the most product in the least possible time and at the least possible price; and in the religious world: "Who looks the part," who appears to be the most "spiritual," who has the greatest oratorical skills, etc. This is what "performance" is concerned with in this world. There is no real concern - beyond a modicum of lip service - for a person's inner virtues, except to say that one must at least make an effort to hide his character flaws and make an appropriate attempt at being what he is not.
PRETENSE! That's what both the business world and the religious world foster in the "kingdom of this world." PRETENSE! - that's what undergirds success in the SYSTEM.
The corporate world engages in pretense because, after all, there still is a belief in this world - however superficial and frivolous - that business "productivity" is contrived by men of good character. But it is nothing more than a shallow SIMULATION on the business community's part - one that stems from what's left over of the "Protestant Ethic" in the corporate world; a pretense that the corporate world must continue to foster if only to placate its Christian allies in the Religious Right; and a pretense that the business community likes to believe in if only to justify its obscene accumulation of wealth and still feel good about itself.
Virtue leads to wealth! - what a convenient thing for the rich to believe in - at least in this life. This is, however, NOT what the New Testament suggests. Quite the contrary! For example, Jesus said:
"... I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a RICH man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:24)
And insofar as the religious community is concerned, PRETENSE is engaged in because - like the business world - all the religious world cares about is OUTWARD performance. And the man who can put on the "best performance" is the man the people will follow.
The one that performs the "flashiest miracles," produces the most "spirit-filled" music, appears to be the "most saintly," has the biggest church, etc. - these are the people who are esteemed in today's Christian world. But what has any of that to do with God? - after all, Egypt's magicians duplicated almost all of Moses' miracles; Wagner, a paleo-Nazi, produced some of the most "spiritual" music ever created; Ghandi, a Hindu, was more saintly appearing than any Christian I have ever met; and the biggest church in the world is in Rome, the seat of Roman Catholicism, which has very little or nothing at all to do with real Christianity.
This kind of effort - the kind that values OUTWARD performance above all else - leads invariably to HYPOCRISY - a pretense at virtue; a pretense at piety, the kind that Jesus condemned in Matthew 23:25-28:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, HYPOCRITES! for ye make CLEAN THE OUTSIDE of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
Thou blind Pharisee, CLEANSE FIRST THAT WHICH IS WITHIN the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful OUTWARD, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
Even so ye also OUTWARDLY appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. (Matt. 23:25-28)
God is not interested in "outward performance." He is interested in "inner reality." Christianity values what is written on our heart, and puts little store on how we appear outwardly. Isn't this what Jesus was saying when he condemned the Pharisees for -
"... OUTWARDLY appearing righteous unto men, but within being full of hypocrisy and iniquity" ?
Of course it is! The Bible says that Jesus is a "... discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart ..." (Heb. 4:12) It's the heart that counts with Jesus; it's the "inner man" that matters. It's here that we must be strengthened. This is what Paul prayed for when He asked that God would grant us -
"... according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the INNER MAN;
"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
"May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19)
And this is why Paul could say -
"For which cause we faint not; but though our OUTWARD MAN perish, yet the INWARD MAN is renewed day by day.
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory ..." (2 Cor. 4:16-17)
Again, I say, it's the "inward man" that counts, not the "outward man" - AND FORCE IS OF NO USE INSOFAR AS THE "INWARD MAN" IS CONCERNED. Coercion can play no part here. Coercion is a useful tool only insofar as the "outward man" is concerned. But Christianity has nothing to do with the "outward man." As a result, force has no place in real Christianity. And "rules and regulations" meant to make us ACCOUNTABLE to other people (even other Christians) and outside groups (even Christian groups) is - in the end - a vain effort, for ultimately this kind of ACCOUNTABILITY is nothing more than pressure aimed at OUTWARD performance - and that is NOT what Christianity is aiming at!
Real virtue - real piety - in the Christian life flows from an inner reality, and the Bible tells us how this is accomplished! It occurs when we -
"... with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor. 3:18)
Goodness and integrity in the Christian life emanate out of a prayerful "beholding" of the Lord, which then results in our being changed INWARDLY "from glory to glory;" and eventually - over time - this inward reality results in an outward change in our lives. But the INNER reality must come first. This is what Jesus meant when He said,
"Cleanse FIRST that which is WITHIN the cup and the platter, that the OUTSIDE of them may be clean also." (Matt. 23:26)
First the INSIDE; then the OUTSIDE will follow as naturally as the day follows the night. Change that occurs in any other way is - in the end - a PRETENSE, and it can only be maintained by FORCE and must be IMPOSED from the OUTSIDE."
I repeat, hierarchies are only necessary in organizations involving FINITE creatures that operate OUTSIDE the presence of God - creatures that, because they are creatures, lack the quality of omniscience and omnipresence. It's the only way such institutions can link the institution's head to all members of that institution so that order can be maintained. It's the only way order can be imposed on a man-made institution. Remove the hierarchy and you will have chaos and confusion because there will be no longer any way for the institution to receive direction from its head.
But insofar as all this is concerned, I must again somberly and earnestly warn you, THE PRESENCE OF HIERARCHIES IN AN INSTITUTION - EVEN A CHURCH - IS A SURE SIGN THAT GOD IS NOT THERE!! Again, this is why Jesus said,
"... Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
"BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be (Matt. 20:25-26)
Jesus, thus, forbade the imposition of hierarchical control on the church! - though today, when one contemplates the organizational structures of our churches with their complicated and intricate "chain-of-command" configurations, one would hardly know! And if that's the case, who is really in charge of these institutions? - man or God? Or should I say, Satan or God?
I repeat! God's rule has nothing to do with hierarchical control. Even insofar as Israel was concerned - in the Old Testament - before the Holy Spirit was given, God recoiled from this kind of rule. Instead, what he instituted in Israel was the rule of the "Judges," which consisted of a very informal and rather loose group of judges who had no fixed place of residence, no hierarchy under them, and whose rule over Israel was so mild that the people of Israel felt that God had "cheated" them. They wanted a king (and the hierarchical control that comes with all kings and potentates). The story is recounted in I Samuel 8:4-22:
"Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him ... now make us a king to judge us like all the (other) nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us.
"And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: FOR THEY HAVE NOT REJECTED THEE, BUT THEY HAVE REJECTED ME, THAT I SHOULD NOT RULE OVER THEM. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
"Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet PROTEST SOLEMNLY UNTO THEM, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties [in other words, the king would create an hierarchy - editor]; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
"And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants [this in addition to the tithe that all Israelis were mandated to give to the Levites - editor].
"And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. AND YE SHALL CRY OUT IN THAT DAY BECAUSE OF YOUR KING WHICH YE SHALL HAVE CHOSEN ... and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
"Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, NAY, BUT WE WILL HAVE A KING OVER US, THAT WE ALSO MAY BE LIKE ALL THE (OTHER) NATIONS; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king ..."
GOD HATES HIERARCHIES, and by crying out for that kind of a rule - which they were doing in demanding a king - the people of Israel REJECTED God. Isn't that what the Bible says:
"And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, BUT THEY HAVE REJECTED ME, that I should not reign over them." (1 Sam. 8:7) ?
Surely it is! I repeat - GOD HATES HIERARCHIES - and He despises all those who would impose them on His creation, and by doing so, would - if it were possible - separate Him from His universe.
The rule that Christ has in mind for His church and, indeed, for all His creation, is the rule of a loving Father for his children - the kind that made Christ, so to speak, our "servant." Isn't this what the Bible says? -
"... but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (i.e., servant); And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (i.e., slave): EVEN AS THE SON OF MAN CAME NOT TO BE MINISTERED UNTO, BUT TO MINISTER ..." (Matt. 20:29-30).
To rule in God's kingdom is to become a servant! - NOT A BOSS!! It is CHRIST DWELLING IN US that does the work, as we yield to Him - DIRECTLY to Him - in humble obedience. Christ is working in us DIRECTLY (not through some intermediary) to affect His own good will and pleasure.
But this is most certainly not the case with man or Satan. Here we see the brute use of intermediaries - each a little tyrant unto himself, each a little god unto himself - AND IT IS PRECISELY HERE THAT WE RUN INTO THE FINGERPRINT OF SATAN - THE EVIDENCE THAT "SATAN WAS HERE." For wherever Satan is, there will be evidence of His rule - and that evidence has to do with the nature of his rule - which is the unmerciful, despotic use of HIERARCHY. And so we see in Satan's rule rank upon rank of his intermediaries - each a little god unto himself - and each submitting fawningly and slavishly to the one above him, and ruling with an unmerciful and cruel hand those under him. On it goes - ever upward, higher and higher until at last the apex of the PYRAMID is reached, where Satan is.
This is EXACTLY the nature of the SYSTEM that characterizes today's corporate world - a world that Professor Mills of Columbia can say, "... men easily become morally ruthless in the pursuit of ... their career goals ..." A place where one is able to take the full measure of Jeremiah 17:9:
"The heart (of man) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
So what do we have here? What does all this tell us? It says that a pathology which is leading to greater and greater centralization and consolidation in the world's commercial institutions has taken hold on the world, and has actually been accelerating over the last few years. And it is extremely important to note here that - contrary to what most in the evangelical community would tell you - this process is not so much centered in the "world of government" as it is in the "world of business." And why is that? - because in this new system - this "brave new world" - IT'S NOT SO MUCH "BIG BUSINESS" THAT IS THE SERVANT OF "GOVERNMENT" AS IT IS "GOVERNMENT" THAT IS THE SERVANT OF "BIG BUSINESS."
Again, I repeat, this is principally a business-led process or pathology, and it is important to take cognizance of the fact that, with the single exception of the United Nations - which has become (again, contrary to what most evangelicals have been led to believe) nothing more than a "bit player" in this process - most of the new international associations that have been created in recent years to hurry the process along are in reality the creations of the business world - institutions and agencies like the European Economic Community (EEC), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Free Trade Association of the Americas (FTAA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and so forth and so on ad nauseum.
The speed at which this pathology has taken hold is truly dizzying. From 1946 to 1960 it engulfed the United States, Western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Beginning in the early 1960s it took hold on Japan and moved out from there to inundate most of South East Asia (with the single exception of Vietnam, which was added in 1994 at the instigation of the Carter Administration). Then in the 1980s it submerged Central and South America, and finally, in the 1990s it swallowed up the nations of the former "Eastern Bloc" including Russia and China. The system is now engaged in a "mopping up" action insofar as the desperately poor nations of the so-called "Third World" are concerned - nations like Haiti, Angola, Mozambique, Botswana, Bangladesh, etc. All that's left now is to "fine-tune" the new economic SYSTEM, refine it, and harmonize it. That's what the WTO is all about.
In the process of establishing itself, this new economic SYSTEM has reduced most people in the world to little more than cogs in a giant economic machine, one that is totally impersonal and lies COMPLETELY outside their immediate control, making them PRISONERS to it and shackling them to its peculiar universe more tightly than any prisoner was ever chained to the walls of his prison cell. "Subsistence farming," which most people throughout the earth had been engaged in until the turn of the last century (1899-1900), and which - though it provided only a meager existence compared to what capitalism can provide, had at least provided a certain amount of economic independence - has gone the way of the "Do-Do Bird." It has become extinct! Economic independence, even in "Third World" countries, is a thing of the past.
The words, "You're fired" have taken on a terrifying and ghastly meaning they NEVER had before. To those millions and millions of workers in the First World - and most particularly in the United States - who have lost their jobs to the "cheap labor" factories the SYSTEM has set up in the "Third World," it means the system has REJECTED them. They have now become "SURPLUS POPULATION!" "THROW-AWAYS!" And for people in the Third World, those words can mean starvation and death, especially as First World agri-businesses like Carnac, Mitsui/Cook, and Cargill move in and "buy up" the land that "subsistence farmers" had used over the years to earn a living - forcing them off the land and into the teeming slums of Lagos in Nigeria, Cairo in Egypt, and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Moreover, back in the United States (the center of this pathology), one should not make the mistake in thinking that this is merely a Republican "thing." The Democrats are as much a part of the SYSTEM as most of the Republicans are - after all, it was under a Democratic Administration that NAFTA and the WTO were pushed through - giving an impetus to the pathology it never had before, and imbuing America's multinational corporations with unheard of power to accelerate the process even further. But, of course, it's the Republicans that are the real devotees of the SYSTEM, particularly the Republican Party's "Establishment Wing" - the same people that the Religious Right has made "common cause" with to "return the nation to Christ." If such thinking wasn't so tragic, it would be laughable. Think about it! - the Religious Right (and evangelicals in general_ - have allied themselves with the very people that have dedicated themselves to the creation of the "One-World System" Christians so that they fear so much!
And, make no mistake about it, these people are the devoted followers of Corporate America. They are its "True Believers," - zealots to the SYSTEM. Indeed, in an interview in the Financial Times last week, President Bush's Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, called for the total elimination of all taxes on all corporations, to be replaced by higher taxes on individuals. Can you imagine? O'Neill also called for an end to the federal commitment to Social Security and Medicare, calling them a "drag" on the profits of Corporate America. Now that's what I call a "true zealot" in the service of the "Corporate Machine." And all it takes for people like O'Neill and Bush to get support for their policies is to publish their "testimonies" and pledge feigned loyalty to Christ and say they are against abortion. If they do that, the Religious Right will support them till the cows come home. In the meantime, they can continue building their one-world system right under the noses of evangelical Christians, and with their enthusiastic support.
And so the process continues - with its mega-mergers, with its "restructuring" - both vertically and horizontally, crossing national boundaries and gobbling up foreign companies, ad infinitum - until the whole world is subsumed. Corporations piled on other corporations, which are piled on still others, and on and on and on it goes with no end in sight. Up and up the corporate pyramid goes - ever upward - higher and higher until at last the apex of the PYRAMID is reached, where the world's real CEO - the "Prince of this World" (John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11) - is finally reached - SATAN. And there are the Christians - right there in the pyramid, part and parcel of what's going on - people like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, Charles Stanley, etc. holding hands with business "big wigs" who are totally dedicated to the concept of the new one-world economic system - people like Jack Welch, Michael Eisner, William B. Harrison, Jr., David Koch, Charles Schwab, George Sores, G. Richard Wagoner, William Ford, Riley Bechtel, Lee Raymond, and so forth.
And, thus, the SYSTEM is completed - a SYSTEM which mirrors in all its malevolence and horror the IMAGE OF THE BEAST. And so at last we begin to understand the meaning behind Rev. 13:13-18:
"And he ... causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
"And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, THAT THEY SHOULD MAKE AN IMAGE TO THE BEAST, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
"And that NO MAN MIGHT BUY OR SELL, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
"Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Rev. 13:13-18)
Now consider just for a moment what the salient feature of this passage of Scripture is. This passage concerns itself principally with MONEY - specifically, THE ABILITY TO "BUY AND SELL;" THE ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM, an economic system that bears the "IMAGE OF THE BEAST."
Now stop for a moment and think about all that we have been describing here: a SYSTEM that is cold and indifferent to the suffering it causes - one that thinks nothing of working children to death in sweat shops in the Third World for wages that don't even pay enough to buy a sufficient amount of food to tide a person over for the day, let alone put a roof over his head, and all that after working seven days a week for 16 hours a day. One that terrorizes all those that opposes it, and maintains itself in power through the use of Death Squads. I would say that this pretty much mirrors Satan's image, wouldn't you!
What then is the "image of the Beast?" WE ARE THAT IMAGE!, or more specifically, all those who have become trapped in this system ARE THAT IMAGE. And the very real fact of the matter is, the longer we stay trapped in this SYSTEM, the more we take on the "image of the Beast!" The more we become like him! The more we take on his character -
"Being filled with all unrighteousness ... wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
"Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things ...
"Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful ... (Rom. 1:29-31)
"... lovers of their own selves ... blasphemers ... unthankful, unholy,
"... trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
"... heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
"HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS, but denying the power thereof ..." (2 Tim. 3:2-5)
The fact is, the very nature of this SYSTEM has been so structured as to practically guarantee that the very worst in people will eventually manifest itself. The SYSTEM has created a shark-like atmosphere in which only the treacherous and vicious can survive and prosper - an atmosphere where, as Mills says,
"... men easily become morally ruthless ..."
So now, the question that fairly begs to be answered is, Where do YOU stand insofar as all this is concerned. Are you involved in this SYSTEM? Be honest! And don't simply concern yourself with your commercial and business activities. What about the church you attend? There is, as we indicated early on in this article, an easy test if you really want to find out. How is your church structured? Is it structured in such a way that there is inherent in it a kind of pyramid-like arrangement where the Senior Pastor sits atop the PYRAMID like some eastern potentate - or like a CEO of some man-made business institution - with his associate pastors surrounding him, who in turn have helpers surrounding them and so on down the "chain-of-command?" Does there exist within your church a system of "accountability" where people are made "accountable" to those placed over them, who in turn are accountable" to people who are placed over them and so forth up and down the chain-of-command" ad nauseum? If this is the case, then SATAN IS CLOSE BY!! And your church has taken on the "IMAGE OF THE BEAST." This is not the way God works; such control is completely foreign to His kingdom. Jesus said:
"... IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU ... (Matt. 20:26)
Obviously, then, churches that have taken on themselves the IMAGE OF THE BEAST, have become apostate - and it is from this starting point that false doctrine developes. Believe me when I say that the Scriptures are not all that difficult to understand. The truth is, they have been written in such a way as to make them easily understood by those who give themselves over to them with an honest and forthright heart. No! - there is something much deeper "afoot" in the pathology of apostasy than a simple misunderstanding of the Scriptures.
Until then, God bless you all!
S. R. Shearer
PS Have the courage of your convictions! Contribute to the ministry by making out a check to "Antipas Ministries" and sending it to -