A Russian friend of mine who volunteered some time ago to translate Reformed articles into Russian wrote me and said, “I have a problem. I don’t know how to translate rule of law in Russian.”
I replied, “Sure there should be a way. Both words have analogs in Russian.”
“It’s not that,” he said. “The very phrase, in the Russian context, means something different than what it means in the Western context. In the West, it means law as a separate authority to which all must be subject, individuals and institutions. In Russia, ‘law’ means the government and its decisions; and therefore rule of law means rule of bureaucracy. I can translate it directly but the readers won’t grasp the true meaning. The same idea means different things.”
Faith has consequences.
I know, you all have heard a different phrase: Ideas have consequences. But that is wrong. Ideas are consequences themselves. They are not original causes. We give ideas a little too much credit for shaping our world. Ideas, as concepts, or products of our mental activity, are not creative; they are creatures themselves of something greater… That’s why I said, faith has consequences.
Every culture, of course, is based on faith. And every culture is exactly the product of what we can call the “official” faith, the faith that is taken for granted by the culture, and then every other faith is compared to it and declared “mainstream” or “heretical.” Even when a culture is officially based on rituals, or on scientific laws, or on ideological construct, it is still based on faith in the ultimate nature of God, man, law, history, and the future. The faith of the pagan societies is rather vague, lurking in the background of the unconscious, behind the thick veil of myths, legends, liturgical rituals, superstitions, philosophical mesh of sophistry and positivism. Pagans do not always realize how much their ideas are shaped by what they have chosen to believe. But whether they realize it or not, whether they admit it or not, they are still based on faith.
Christianity laid the foundation for a new kind of culture, a culture in which everything was self-consciously based on faith: thought, speech, and action.
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