In Part 1 of this little series, we considered a specific example, one that involves the failure of our leaders to protect the lives of the people of this country. What we did not consider is what motivates our leaders to neglect their duty, particularly when their duty is so glaringly obvious. Here we will try to do that.
What Is Replacing What We Had?
If we allow current trends to continue, Secularism will become America’s dominant ideology. What has happened to Christian belief in America since the founding of our nation?
- Even though many people think they know what is in it, relatively few people have actually read the Bible. Moreover, we rarely consider how strange that is. Jesus is the most famous and important man in the history of the world, and Bible tells about Him.
- We do not study the ideas and concepts the Founders used to establish this nation. We do not read the writings of Aristotle, John Locke, Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, and so many others. Instead of studying what great men and women wrote in the past, we read text books approved by politicians and government bureaucrats, and those books are often quite boring and wrong.
- Secularism grows as more U.S. Christians turn ‘churchless’, and the secularists are often hostile to Christianity.
Why would anyone be hostile to the Bible? Why would we choose to ignore the accomplishments and the beliefs of our nation’s founders? Some people believe truth is relative, that we must judge each situation according to its own rules. The Bible, on the other hand, claims there are certain principles, irrefutable truths, absolute truths, that in obedience to our Creator we must acknowledge and obey.
One view says that there are no absolutes that define reality. Those who hold this view believe everything is relative to something else, and thus there can be no actual reality. Because of that, there are ultimately no moral absolutes, no authority for deciding if an action is positive or negative, right or wrong. This view leads to “situational ethics,” the belief that what is right or wrong is relative to the situation. There is no right or wrong; therefore, whatever feels or seems right at the time and in that situation is right. Of course, situational ethics leads to a subjective, “whatever feels good” mentality and lifestyle, which has a devastating effect on society and individuals. This is postmodernism, creating a society that regards all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims as equally valid.
The other view holds that there are indeed absolute realities and standards that define what is true and what is not. Therefore, actions can be determined to be either right or wrong by how they measure up to those absolute standards. If there are no absolutes, no reality, chaos ensues. Take the law of gravity, for instance. If it were not an absolute, we could not be certain we could stand or sit in one place until we decided to move. Or if two plus two did not always equal four, the effects on civilization would be disastrous. Laws of science and physics would be irrelevant, and commerce would be impossible. What a mess that would be! Thankfully, two plus two does equal four. There is absolute truth, and it can be found and understood. (from here)
Why would we want to believe truth is relative (to the situation)?
Unfortunately, more and more people are not able to distinguish between absolute truths and relative truths; and they put their feelings and preferences above absolutes to make them more palatable. A typical example is when someone would say that “It is true for you that Jesus is the only way to God; but to a Muslim, Mohammed would be the only way.” Such statements ignore the logical possibilities of having two “only-ways” to God. (from here)
Why would we put our feelings and preferences ahead of the truth, reality? We have big egos. We want the world our way, not as our Creator made it.
What is wrong with putting our feelings and preferences ahead of the truth? When we put our feelings and preferences ahead of the truth, we don’t attempt to see things as they are. That is insanity. Does that sound like an overstatement? Well, considere our nation’s reaction to the Ebola virus. With an ego soaring into the stratosphere, our president sees no problems with leaving our borders unprotected or bringing victims of the virus here. In fact, he calls that scientific.
That’s not enough? Then consider some more examples.
- Most Americans now think that most people are basically good. Why? Based upon what? The Bible specifically says no man is good, but we don’t read it. So we delude ourselves. Perhaps that is why modern Americans trust politicians with more power than the founders would have considered wise. With the Federal deficit approaching $18 Trillion, we could be broke before we wise up.
- Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer has his own list. Here it is: Krauthammer on Democrats and midterms: ‘They can’t shoot straight on anything’ (www.foxnews.com).
- We recently let our Federal court system legalize same-sex “marriage.” Yet by any rational standard same-sex “marriage” is an oxymoron.
- To turn out the vote in 2014, some of leaders would divide us by race. Here are same examples: The 2014 Race Card (online.wsj.com) and Doubling-Down on ‘War on Women’ Strategy May Bust Democrats (www.newsmax.com).
In 3 Definitions of “Secular” and Why They Matter for Our Mission (www.thegospelcoalition.org), the author reviews a book and three definitions of “secular.” I hope my readers will find it worthwhile to consider the three definitions and how they affect the Christian mission to spread the Gospel.
What Are We Are Losing?
When colonists from northern Europe came to the land we now call the United States, they brought with them the Christian theology. Travel time and distance from Europe gave those colonists the opportunity to practice the virtues that make Christianity distinctive with relatively little government interference.
What are those virtues? G. K. Chesterton decribed them in Chapter XII ( Paganism and Mr. Lowes Dickinson) of Heretics (H/T to Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance; see ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PAGANISM AND CHRISTIANITY). They are Faith, Hope, Charity, and Humility.
- Those who seek Christian Humility must admit that God is our rightful master and that we exist to serve Him. To learn how we might please Him, such humility requires us to change our world view from own limited view to God’s infinite view. Can we see the universe as God sees it? No, but we can admit our ignorance. The Bible puts it this way.
Proverbs 11:2 New King James Version (NKJV)
2 When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.
Therefore, the Christian is more likely to believe the humble politician, the one who admits too much government is a problem, not a solution.
- Faith gives us the courage to act upon what we know is true.
Ephesians 2:8-10 New King James Version (NKJV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
To the world, the teachings of Christianity seem like nonsense. Who wants to believe that without the grace of God, we would have nothing. In our pride, don’t we want to believe in ourselves, but faith in God gives us a realistic perspective of ourselves and others. When we put our trust in Him, we are so easily fooled or buffaloed by the pumped up promises of haughty politicians.
- Hope allows us to persevere. Such is the perseverance Jeremiah wrote of in Lamentations after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans.
Lamentations 3:22-24 Good News Translation (GNT)
22 The Lord‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue,
23 Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.
24 The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.
With Hope we can endure the personal sacrifices and trials necessary to make ourselves useful servants in the communities in which we live.
- As a virtue, Charity involves more than just sharing our earthly goods with others. When we strive for the virtue of Charity, we strive to love as God loves. We strive to love God more than we love ourselves. We seek to be obedient to Him and His commands. Then, instead of preying upon our neighbors, we love them as we love ourselves.
Admittedly, there has never been a perfectly Christ-like community. Until the Second Coming, we will not see such a community.
Admittedly, the beliefs of the American colonials, at least in their own eyes, varied considerably. So they argued incessantly and occasionally with some violence. So how did the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, Charity, and Humility make a difference in America? The American colonials found a way to resolve their religious differences.
- They acknowledged that we each have God-given rights (see the Declaration of Independence). Because God judges us individually, they agreed that each of us — each individual — must make his or her own choices. We each have duty to spread the Gospel, but none us can save another’s soul. Only God does that, and He sometimes does that by allowing us to suffer the consequences of our choices (see The Parable of the Lost Son).
- They formed a republic and separated into different communities. Each of the 13 colonies, even the cities and towns within the colonies, became laboratories. In pursuit of their own vision of happiness and within their own communities, people voluntarily joined together with others of like mind, and their fellow countrymen conceded their right to do so. Even when their fellow countrymen did not agree with their neighbor’s vision of happiness, rather than interfere with what they might deem as foolishness, their fellow countrymen thought it wiser to protect the rights of their family, friends, and neighbors.
Thus, the nation the colonials created was not perfect. Slavery, for example, remained. And not all the colonials all appreciated what the others had created. After the American Revolution, some, preferring British rule, abandoned the United States. Nevertheless, America’s then strange way of governance allowed the American people live as a uniquely free people and to prosper, so much so that those Americans thought themselves uniquely blessed by the providence of God.