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Machiavelli might be right, but...

Some of our Upper Schoolers are reading Machiavelli's The Prince. If you aren't familiar with this work then either grab a copy of your own, dig through the trash at school after this term is over and find an Upper Schooler's discarded edition, or Google it. Without getting too deep into what the book is about, suffice it to say, it is one of the most pragmatic, utilitarian political works this side of Das Kapital. In short, Machiavelli tells us what works when it comes to gaining and maintaining political power. What is disturbing about it is that he is at once so right and yet so wrong. From a purely worldly perspective what he says makes sense and he has the case studies to back up his theories. From a Christian worldview much of what Machiavelli writes is horrifying. It seems to be the ultimate in "the ends justify the means" political philosophy. 

In our afternoon narration in Upper School on Thursday we were recapping what we had discussed in class and Dr. Phillips put it extremely concisely, "Just because it works, doesn't mean we should do it." This is one of the discussions we always seem to come back to - the difference between the "can" and the "ought." If there is nothing else that we communicate to our students as they make their way through our program and out into  the world it is this idea - "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." This may be the practical, rubber-meets-the-road outworking of wisdom and virtue. Knowledge can tell us whether something is possible or not, wisdom should tell us if it is something we should do.

I don't have to tell you that this skill is desperately needed in our world today. Science and technology, which are wonderful tools by the way, have given us capabilities that are truly mind boggling. We have split the atom, travelled to the moon and back, looked into the deepest reaches of space, plumbed the depths of the ocean, and created AI that is freaky scary. However, it takes a real, live human being with real morals and ethics to tell us how to use these tools and in what ways they are appropriate within the framework of God's law and design. This, among a great many other things, is what we are preparing our students for. My hope is that they walk out into the world and can rightly interpret and understand the times so that they can bring the full weight of a biblical worldview to bear on whatever world situation, or personal situation they find themselves in. As our culture implodes in conflagration of moral depravity, it is these kinds of people, the truly wise, that will be able to rise from the ashes and right the ship.  

Soli Deo Gloria,

Christian Herring

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