The Deadliest Monster by J. F. Baldwin PDF Print E-mail
In the Library

 

the deadliest monsterTwo years ago, I purchased this book from Gary DeMar’s table at our conference because of George Grant’s recommendation, which was displayed on the back cover. He begins by saying: “Literate, witty, incisive and provocative, The Deadliest Monster is a remarkable book.” Now this alone, coming from a remarkable author himself, convinced me that we needed this book by Baldwin. But as is my habit, I finished what I had begun and so continued to read, “Part worldview handbook, part theological primer, and part introduction to belles letters, it is a genuine delight to both heart and soul. I can’t think of a better book for homeschoolers, Sunday School teachers, youth pastors, or Christian educators to use to understand all the implications of the biblical view of the nature of man. Jeff Baldwin has done us all a great service.”     

     However, I must share with you that if I had started this book in my traditional manner, from the beginning, I probably would not have continued. Let me explain. Even though monster movies were in vogue during my adolescence, I never acquiesced in watching one because the idea of something as unrealistic as Frankenstein, the Mummy, King Kong, and the Werewolf were just not my cup of tea, neither was anything scary. God knew this, of course, and how this book’s beginning would have kept me from continuing, so He directed me to open it up one evening right in the middle of the book. I never do this unless I am perusing a book that is under consideration for acquisition, but I did that night and liked what I read. So when I actually began this book, which opens with the story about two mad scientists, Dr. Henry Jekyll and Dr. Victor Frankenstein, I felt relatively at peace that this author had something better and more important to impart to me than goose bumps. [Did I also mention that I have never watched a science fiction movie, nor have any intention of watching one in the near future?] Well, I must confess that this author’s selection of characters, even though they were monsters, was perfect for accurately revealing the only two worldviews of human nature that we can possess. So, the book asks, “What kind of monster are you?” Now this may sound funny, but in reality your commitment to either monster is foundational to everything you think and to every action you make, for it is the basis of your worldview and your religion; there are no other possibilities. The lives of these monsters parallel the spiritual state of everyone.      

     Could you answer that question right now? Well, I could not because I would not have known the storyline of either monster. Apparently, Frankenstein was totally innocent when created, so excused his sins by blaming them on the evil world in which he lived, which became quite evident in his following comment. “Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me?” This perspective is exactly what I was taught to believe while in college: the one that nauseated me every time my professors and required reading shoved it down my throat. Do you realize that my training for completing my teacher’s certification was inundated with this false worldview? They tried to make us believe that once children were removed from their homes, sent to our well-funded institutions, and made to feel good about themselves, all would be made right with the world. For after all, children are just products of their environment, and once that environment is controlled by us, we can and will change the world!     

     Dr. Jekyll, on the other hand, understood his fallen nature so well. Although born into an environment that should have produced nothing but good behavior, he still, at times, chose to do evil. This struggle within him caused him to separate his evil side from his good side, so that he could be evil some of the time and good some of the time. Unfortunately, he still could not achieve a perfectly good side, and once unleashed to do evil, the evil side of him eventually took over.      

C. S. Lewis describes each of us so well when he states: “The natural life in each of us is something self-centered, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe. And especially it wants to be left to itself; to keep well away from anything better or stronger or higher than it, anything that might make it feel small. It’s afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world, just as people who’ve been brought up to be dirty are afraid of a bath. And in a sense it’s quite right. It knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centeredness and self-will are going to be killed, and it’s ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that.”     

     Frankenstein represents secular man’s conviction that every man is basically good, and given the right circumstances, will ultimately choose good, while Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde represents fallen man’s true nature, which is completely depraved and totally incapable of choosing good of itself, so therefore in need of a Savior. The world believes that they are good and that their goodness will merit reward, while true believers truly believe that they are hopelessly evil, in great need of unmerited grace by a merciful and all powerful God. And the fact is, what you believe about God and about yourself, and all men in general, absolutely affects everything else you believe and ultimately determines who you worship—either God or yourself.      

      Sadly, in an attempt to grow their churches, many pastors have disposed of the bitter pill of the whole counsel of God that reveals the total depravity of our natures and replaced it with the delightfully palatable and intoxicating chocolate liquor of self-esteem: God wants us to be happy, which comes from feeling good about ourselves, right? And unfortunately, like Pascal says, “Unless we know ourselves to be full of pride, ambition, concupiscence, weakness, wretchedness and unrighteousness, we are truly blind.” Most churches today epitomize the blind leading the blind. It’s the story of the Pharisee and the publican in a nutshell. The blind Pharisee prides himself in his goodness, while the man who has been given sight sees his rotten nature and mourns. However, it is the bitter pill that cures the deadly disease we all possess, for until we mourn and grieve over our sinfulness, we cannot be healed.      

     When I was young, I remember older men lament that the older they became, the more wicked they were. “How utterly ironic,” I thought, “that the longer they lived, the more wicked they became.” Quite obviously, I wasn’t where they were spiritually at the time because now I realize that with each passing year, the closer I walk with God, the more evident my sinful nature appears to me, causing me to be more deeply grateful for His saving mercy for such a wretched sinner as myself.     

     C. S. Lewis states, “The Christian has a great advantage over other men, not by being less fallen than they, nor less doomed to live in a fallen world, but by knowing that he is a fallen man in a fallen world…” We either realize that we are deserving of death and thus repent to live eternally with our Savior, or we pride ourselves in the fact that our choices and deeds will merit heaven (which of course would not be the same without us) and live eternally with the other savior—ourselves—apart from the true Savior.     

      Moms, I know that most of you, like ourselves, desire to protect your children from the ills of the world. However, this should not include protecting them from parts of the Bible or parts of history. Be faithful to God by faithfully sharing His Word and His Story with your children. As Chesterton so accurately states, “Original sin is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” Americans have a hard time comprehending that the 20th century was the bloodiest in history because we live in such a protected environment, but do not think for one moment that this bubble we live in could not burst at any moment. Where would the well being of your children be then? It is a wicked thing to lead our children to think that man is inherently good, and practically speaking, this sets our children up for continuous disappointment, fear, and failure in this fallen, corrupt world.     

     “Kilpatrick explains, ‘That is why G. K. Chesterton could say that the doctrine of original sin was the most cheerful idea he knew of. If one takes the Christian view and accepts sin, failure, and shortcoming as the common lot of a fallen race rather than a personal inadequacy, the burden of guilt becomes more bearable and understandable.’” Only by the unmerited grace of God are we free indeed—free from ourselves and free from other men! Remember, Christ told us, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world!” Praise God!!!      

     And as Baldwin so rightly points out, “On faith, the Frankenstein crowd sweeps all the horrors and bloodshed of the 20th century (and all the centuries before) under the rug, and expects better luck next time. Trusting in their own abilities, they expect that their future will look wildly better than the past or the present ever have. Those who refuse to learn from history are, as the cliché goes, doomed to repeat it—and they are also bound to be disappointed.” Everyone will disappoint us except Christ, for no one is trustworthy except Christ.      

     This is never more clearly displayed than in the profound differences between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. “Bonhoeffer writes, ‘The American Revolution was almost contemporary with the French one, and politically the two were not unconnected; yet they were profoundly different in character. The American democracy is not founded upon the emancipated man, but quite on the contrary, upon the kingdom of God and the limitation of all earthly powers by the sovereignty of God. It is indeed significant when, in contrast to the Declaration of the Rights of Man, American historians can say that the federal constitution was written by men who were conscious of original sin, and of the wickedness of the human heart.’” “Russel Kirk agrees: ‘A principal difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution was this: the American revolutionaries in general held a biblical view of man and his bent toward sin, while the French Revolutionaries in general attempted to substitute for the biblical understanding an optimistic doctrine of human goodness advanced by the philosophies of the rationalistic Enlightenment. The American view led to the Constitution of 1787; the French view, to the Terror and to a new autocracy.’” Baldwin goes on to say, “While French revolutionaries believed that they could create the proper society by overthrowing the privileged class, thereby allowing man to behave in accord with his basic goodness all the time, American revolutionaries generally assumed that man was inherently sinful, and that the best form of government would take this sinfulness into account…The French optimism led to the gross injustice of the guillotine, where victims were executed simply to please a bloodthirsty mob. The American ‘pessimism’ led to liberty and justice—not a perfect society, but one in which power is not easily abused.”     

      “Bonhoeffer states, ‘An underlying law of history, namely that the demand for absolute liberty brings men to the depths of slavery. The master of the machine becomes its slave…The emancipation of the masses leads to the reign of terror and the guillotine…the liberation of man as an absolute ideal leads only to man’s self-destruction.’ As C. S. Lewis warns, ‘Mercy detached from Justice, grows unmerciful.’” But we should have known that, for God tells us that the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.    

     Baldwin thoroughly describes each of the religious groups of people that Frankenstein created—their blind faith, their thinking, their ethics, their selfishness, their vision and goals for saving the world, their intolerance, and the futility of their foundation. In contrast, he describes Christians—their faith, their thinking, their ethics, their selflessness, their vision, their goals, their hope, and duty to share it.      

     This book is not only an absolute must for your library but is imperative to the well being of your entire family, for it is our duty to show our children the total depravity of their natures and share with them the hope that is within us, that they, too, realize their need for a Savior. Don’t delay in purchasing this book any longer. Baldwin’s thorough coverage of these two worldviews will greatly bless all of you!