commentary: Mightier Than the Sword (Part Twelve)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 22-Aug-15; Sermon #1282c; 13 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, reminding us that Transcendentalism (a tributary of Pantheism, championed by William Wordsworth) flourished and died out the second half of the Nineteenth Century, attributes the popularity of Transcendentalism to Ralph Waldo Emerson. In one of his early writings, Emerson reacts with anger, adamantly rejecting any force, custom, or tradition which threatened to put his intellect in chains, declaring himself free to shape his own destiny. To his emerging Pantheistic concept, the entirety of the material universe is a manifestation of God. Transcendentalism (Pantheism) is a worship of nature and is surprisingly a precursor of Darwinism. The cardinal doctrine of Transcendentalism is that people are at their best when they are self-reliant, independent, and totally unencumbered by religion or the traditions of society. Many of these views on self-reliance and rugged individualism, derived from the influence of Transcendentalism, are regarded as sacrosanct by many Americans. Jerome Bradley suggests that the principles of Transcendentalism are active in Jurisprudence in the 21st Century. Believing in one's own genius ( as prescribed by Emerson) has significant limitations, especially when one assesses the genius of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, or Mao Tse Tung, Nebuchadnezzar, the Pharaoh of Egypt, or Nimrod. One could say that President Bill Clinton's serpentine equivocation with the word 'is' (during the Monica Lewinsky affair) reflected a strain of Transcendentalism. Trusting in the genius of self apparently obviates the need for a sovereign Creator and a steadfast relationship with Him. To do what comes natural to us often militates against our God-ordained best interests.