- Which is more important:
- the rights of the individual, or
the safety, security, and
prosperity of the entire society?
- Which is more important:
- unity or
This is a question which philosophers and political scientists have
been arguing about for centuries. It is called the problem of "the
one and the many" (see a few titles in the box on the right).
Western philosophy has struggled from the beginning with the problem
of unity and diversity. Greek philosophy failed in its attempt to
explain the relationship between the one and the many. The Greeks
attempted to explain the two by means of a dualism — a permanent
dialectical tension — between form (Idea) and matter. To explain
existence either in terms of the static One (Parmenides) or the chaotic
Many (Heraclitus) is to fail to understand reality. But later Greek
philosophers could not explain how the two are related. Either static,
monistic, undifferentiated order swallows up the particulars of life, or
else chaotic, formless, atomistic, and equally undifferentiated change
swallows up order.
Christianity has the only answer, and it is the foundation for both
liberty and social order. All other religions or philosophies ultimately
lead to individualist chaos or tyranny.
The reason Christianity has the answer is that unity and diversity
are equally ultimate in God, who is both One and Many. The one God
exists in three Persons. God's Law in the Bible is a blueprint for human
social order, and it perfectly balances individuality and social unity.
- Failure to answer this problem correctly leads to poverty and mass
- • It leads to fascism, socialism, communism and other forms of
• or it leads to "survivalism," the
breakdown of the
division of labor, social fragmentation, riots, and chaos.
- The social pendulum often swings back and forth between these two
extremes, as totalitarianism often produces revolution and a
breakdown of social order, and then social fragmentation opens the
door to some political messiah who is given dictatorial powers to
bring order (salvation) out of chaos.
Back and forth history swings, because fallen man prefers autonomy
over Theonomy (man's law over God's Law).
For further study:
We believe one of the most important books of the 20th century is The
One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy by
Rousas John Rushdoony.
Thomas Jefferson had a tremendous influence on America. His greatest
influence probably has been after his death, as his words have been
twisted by the U.S. Supreme Court and the ACLU to secularize America.
Jefferson denied the doctrine of the Trinity. He believed the Bible had
been altered by corrupt clergy and the doctrine of the Trinity was added
to the otherwise-unitarian words of Jesus. If Jefferson had been able to
see the brutal panorama of 20th century history, the chaos and the
tyranny, and if he had been able to read Rushdoony's survey of the
problem of the One and the Many from ancient Greece to the modern era,
and the answer to that problem in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity,
Jefferson would have seriously reconsidered his opposition to
Jefferson also would have reconsidered his unitarianism if he had
been able to see how unitarianism has led to socialism and fascism. The
states where unitarianism flourished have been the states where
federalism and collectivism have dominated.
Finally, Jefferson was a victim of Enlightenment "higher
criticism," which has since been exposed as a hoax. Jefferson's
view of the Bible is not supported by historical
America became the most prosperous and admired nation in history
because it was built on the foundation of Trinitarianism as revealed by
God in the blueprints of the Bible. We need
to return to that foundation in order to protect liberty and social
How Does Christianity Resolve the One-and-Many Problem?
Individual rights are balanced by market demands. An individual who
ignores the "collective" (the market; consumers) suffers
poverty. "The Division of Labor" divides the collective
("labor") into individual expressions, and the net wealth of
the market is greater than the net wealth of self-sufficient producers.
For a description of the "division of labor" in action, please
see our essay, "The
Invisible Hand: Capitalism, Predestination, and The Division of Labor."
The "invisible hand" is nothing less than the Trinitarian God
of the Bible orchestrating the market for His own glory.