Posts Tagged ‘Ayn Rand’

I was a reluctant Rush fan.

There were kids like Johnny Atkins in our school, sporting the 2112 and Moving Pictures t shirts. But most of them seemed to be among the pot heads. I heard Rush on the radio but like Erica Goldberg, I just didn’t get it. Yet.

John Graves (aka Jolly) prevailed upon me about the time Signals came out. Many of the songs were about things I thought about or expressed the longings and frustrations of my suburban teen heart. I was hooked.

Rush onstageI went as far back as Permanent Waves in terms of my enjoyment of their music. 2112 was just not my bag. Grace Under Pressure, despite the rather muddy mix, was also filled with great songs. I listened to them quite a bit. I began to appreciate their musicianship.

My favorite drummer remained (and remains) Ian Paice of Deep Purple fame. But Neil Peart was one of the great drummers. He was one of the first with the massive sets and he made great use of it. He was perfect for a power trio. He continued to learn and grow as a drummer, picking up new styles to incorporate into the music even within the last decade.

He wasn’t just the drummer but the chief lyricist. I didn’t get into his mythological beginnings. When he started to address contemporary views I was engaged. It was intelligent progressive rock.

Somehow Jolly and I never saw Rush live. I’m not sure why. I guess they didn’t tour in our senior year when we saw Rainbow, Yes, Van Halen, and the Moody Blues. I never saw them live, which I regret.

After I became a Christian, Peart’s lyrics began to reflect his own atheism and not just Ayn Rand’s philosophy. I began to be turned off to Rush’s music around time of Roll the Bones.

Two things happened.

First, I got robbed. My entire CD collection with the exception of what was in the CD changer was gone.

Then CavWife and I decided to adopt. My vinyl collection was offered up to raise funds. I no longer had my stereo equipment anyway.

This meant I didn’t have any Rush music left.

About 5 years ago I saw Moving Pictures as a Black Friday special on Amazon. Such an incredible album. Then I started picking up live albums on iTunes. I love working out to Rush live. YYZ is just a tour de force. The Grace Under Pressure live album in particular brings back plenty of memories of home and growing up. I remember old friends that I miss and times we had together.

I considered going to see them during the last few tours. But when you have 4 kids, it can be tough to justify that ticket price.

Now the reality sinks in, they are done and I’ll never get to see them live. A man’s life is over. He was a man who brought joy to many with his incredible musical skills and his intelligent lyrics. Yet, some of those lyrics, in my opinion, were the product of a darkened understanding filled with futile thinking of a man led astray leading others astray. And so I feel sad for him, not just for his fans.


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As I previously mentioned, I would be going through John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Christian Life in accordance with the sections of the book. The second section of the book is an examination of Non-Christian Ethics. This section of the book is extremely helpful for understanding politics, not just ethics, since politics is often a large scale expression of ethics.

As one should expect, Frame utilizes both his understanding of Lordship attributes and triperspectivalism to analyze the numerous ways that non-Christians have done ethics. He starts with the biblical tension between transcendence and immanence. The biblical concept of transcendence includes God’s control and authority. Immanence focuses on God’s presence. Since God is Lord, he is present, in control and has full authority.

Non-Christians (and some poor theologians), obviously, in rejecting the testimony of Scripture separate them and emphasize one over the other. Or completely ignore one. Deism, for instance, rejects the immanence of God. He is not present in creation but set it in motion. Rabbi Kushner embraces God’s presence but rejects his control and authority. Shirley McClaine is even more radical in stressing God’s immanence by thinking she is part of God.

Politically, an unbiblical transcendence makes the State god who determines right and wrong as well as dispensing rights (as well as taking them away according to who is in power). An unbiblical immanence places all the power in the self and gives rise to forms of libertarianism that reject external authority, like Ayn Rand.

Frame does the same thing with irrationalism and rationalism. We are rational beings, being made in the image of God. Yet, being finite, our knowing is not autonomous. We admit that there are things we cannot understand as a result of our finitude and our sinfulness. We see our irrationalism as a function of the Creator-Creature distinction.


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Ayn Rand has become popular in some circles recently. I can understand that. She pushed back against socialism as an expression of “altruism”. We see similar “altruism” expressed by one political party, and members of the other pushing back with Rand’s ideas- rational individualism, or objectivism. Her philosophy is foundational to the Libertarian Party. Some in the Tea Party have been influenced by it as well.

I did a class on worldviews while pastor of Cornerstone Community Church. I’m plundering it for this post. The books I used included The Universe Next Door by James Sire, Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics by Steve Wilkens and Worldviews in Conflict by Ron Nash (as well as ideas taught in his class on apologetics). While some of what she taught can be attractive to Christians, I believe it is a faulty worldview. In other words, there may be overlap with a Christian worldview but it should not be confused with one. This is an offer to Christians enamored with Rand’s thought to consider how this opposed to Christianity, even though we agree about personal responsibility. The same goes for altruism, which encourages charity but undermines personal responsibility.

Elements in Modernism: Individualism

“Look Out For #1”                      “Every Man for Himself”

Individualism as a system of thought is based upon the thought of Ayn Rand.  It is an extension of some of Epicurus’ ideas.  She rejects altruism, which seeks the good of others.  It sounds much like justified selfishness.  She does take the long-range approach so we must be concerned primarily with our broad-based and life-long interests.  I might forsake something I want now in order to achieve a better long term goal.  She focused on rational individualism- seeing this as what made America great.  She left Russia in the 1920’s distraught over what ‘altruism’ had done to that nation.


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Lately there has been no shortage of books about the “radical” Christian lifestyle.  Often those books try to make the gospel into law or focus on very subjective things.  Biblical sanity needed a booster shot.  The release of an updated version of Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving is just such a booster shot.

Randy’s book is radical.  He argues for radical generosity, and does so on (largely) biblical grounds (the tithe as a starting point).  He offers 7 treasure principles which are not like 7 steps.  But these are applications of the teaching of Scripture.  For instance: “God owns everything.  I’m His money manager.”


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After considering the idea of justice, Tim Keller moves to the topic of Justice and the Old Testament in his 2nd chapter of Generous Justice.  This chapter is about how to interpret the Old Testament law with justice as the example.  I think that best summarizes it.  Keller does this to answer the question of whether or not the laws of the Old Testament are binding on Christians today.

This is a thorny issue, and your answer reflects your method of interpretation.  Dispensationalists, Covenant, and New Covenant theology answer this question differently.  Keller comes from a Covenant Theology perspective.  He recognizes the differences between moral, ceremonial and case/civil law in the Old Testament.  The New Testament is pretty clear that Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law in a way that means it is not binding on us any more.  We are ceremonially clean in Christ, and He is our Sacrifice which brings pardon and fellowship.

“So the coming of Christ changes the way in which Christians exhibit their holiness and offer their sacrifices, yet the basic principles remain valid.”

Keller brings a concept from Craig Bloomberg into the mix.  “Every command reflects principles at some level that are binding on Christians.”  So, Christians need to be ceremonially clean, have a sacrifice for sin etc.  The Christian looks to Christ for all this and more, however.  The need still exists, but the reality is in Christ.  Romans 12 teaches us that additionally we offer our whole lives in view of this great mercy.  We offer the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews), not the blood of animals or food offerings.


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