During the Reformation Geneva
served as a model city for the world of its day. Reformers like John Knox
studied the model, comparing it with scriptural precepts, and then used what
they learned in
leading other nations like Scotland. It seems the Romanists are attempting their own version of a model city - in the US today! Here is information about the city, excerpted from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2058771,00.html :
"the first town in America to be run
according to strict Catholic principles...Abortions, pornography and
contraceptives will be banned in the new Florida town of Ave Maria, which has
begun to take
shape on former vegetable farms 90 miles northwest of Miami... The town will be centred around a 100ft tall oratory and the first Catholic university to be built in America for 40 years. The
university's president, Nicholas J Healy, has said future students should "help rebuild the city of God" in a country suffering from "catastrophic cultural collapse"... The land on the western edge of the Everglades swamp will eventually house up to 30,000 people, with 5,000 students living on the university campus. Florida officials have declared the project a development bonanza for a depressed area, and Governor Jeb Bush attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new university earlier this month... Monaghan, 68, sold his takeaway chain in 1998 for an estimated $1 billion (£573m). A devout Catholic who has ploughed millions into religious projects — including radio stations, primary schools and a Catholic law faculty in Michigan — Monaghan has bought about 5,000 acres previously used by migrant farmers. The land on the western edge of the Everglades swamp will eventually house up to 30,000 people…"
Here are some thoughts about the town of Ave Maria:
· Let’s give credit where credit is due. These Catholics are doing many things right, that few if any Protestants are doing or even considering. They are creating a model community, which will serve as an example to others. They are not creating a multi-denominational, incoherent political entity, but a uni-denominational one with effectively one established church (i.e., a true implementation of the establishment principle). They are rightly forbidding sins like abortion, pornography and even contraception. They are rightly placing the educational system under the church, so the church can make sure that which is being taught is consistent with its confessional principles. In other words, they are doing many things right, which brings to mind this verse: “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Luke 16:8). Reformed Protestants should be ashamed that Catholics, Judaists and Muslims are creating model cities of their faith, while we sit around as mere spectators, completely dismissing any such venture on our part.
· Secularism, though still the dominant world culture (thanks in no small part to the world superpower- the secularist US federal government), is on the decline. It is only a matter of time before secularism falls. Now it is not only being challenged by Islamic states like Iran and the Hamas-led Palestine Authority, but even by Catholic experiments like the town of Ave Maria. My guess is that the next world superpower will be Romish, while secularism and Islam fight it out to their mutual enervation.
· However much we may applaud the positive aspects of this town of Ave Maria, we should not ignore this fundamental error: it is built on false religion and false worship, and so must ultimately fail. A true city of God is based on true religion and true worship. It holds to the Bible alone, grace alone, and faith alone. It upholds the Ten Commandments as a whole, and does not cherry pick.
· The Western world will to some extent tolerate a Romish model, but we should be quite doubtful it would accept a truly Protestant one. It certainly helps that men like Governor Jeb Bush, brother of President Bush, is a Knight of Columbus, and that a majority of the Supreme Court is now Roman Catholic (with many even conservative Roman Catholics). But true Protestantism would have no such friends in high places. A more likely venue for a Protestant model may be somewhere in southern Africa, like Zambia. Officials there may eventually allow such a community to be created within their borders.