Archive for the ‘ Biblical Principles ’ Category

Moral Choices

More insight from C. S. Lewis:

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, “If you keep a lot of rules, I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.”

I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.

I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.

And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself.

To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness.

Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

To the Evangelical Left: Please Rethink Your Principles

The presence of the Sojourners organization at the so-called One Nation rally last Saturday is disturbing to me. Sojourners says it is an evangelical organization, yet it found common cause with communists, socialists, homosexuals activists, and assorted other radicals at this rally.

The leader of Sojourners, Jim Wallis, claims to want to bring civility back into the political debate. Is that what took place last Saturday? Civility? Not by any definition of the term with which I’m familiar.

While Wallis is saying he is a voice of reason against the extremes of both sides, it turns out he is taking money from one of the most extreme players out there.

George Soros is one of the wealthiest men in the world. He’s also an atheist and confirmed leftist. He uses his money to bankroll a variety of radical organizations and causes. Sojourners is one of the groups to which he has donated money, apparently in excess of $300,000. An evangelical organization allied with George Soros the atheist? What kind of evangelicalism is that?

Marvin Olasky, the editor of World magazine, asked Wallis to come clean and just admit that he is on the extreme Left of the political spectrum. Just be honest about it, Olasky said, and acknowledge the connection to Soros.

Wallis’s response was to call Olasky a liar. His exact words were, “It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.”

Unfortunately for Wallis, the proof of the funding was found on the Internet, although it took some searching after Sojourners scrubbed its site of all evidence of the connection. Wallis was forced to apologize for his earlier statements.

I cannot look into the hearts of those who call themselves Christians yet have no problem working with those diametrically opposed to the Christian faith. I believe I know why they are pulled in that direction: first, they are overwhelmed by the needs of the poor and want to see a resolution; second, they think that government money and programs are the solution. I understand their desire to help, but they have little or no comprehension of the proper Biblical sphere for civil government. As a result, they join hands with very unsavory characters with philosophies contradictory to Biblical truth.

I urge self-described evangelicals on the Left side of the political spectrum to reevaluate their positions. Raising government to the level of man’s provider is to replace God. That was the approach taken in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, and other communist nations.

This is going to sound self-serving, but I have spent some time thinking about the proper role of government in society. I have written a book that goes through basic Biblical principles and their application to an understanding of the purposes and limitations of civil government. Don’t worry—I will never get rich selling this book, but I do commend it to you if you have an open mind and heart, and I would be happy to dialogue with you about this issue if you first take the time to read it. You can find it on Amazon.

The apostle Paul wrote,

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. … Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

By Their Fruit . . .

When the Restoring Honor rally on August 28th came to an end, one of the more remarkable features noted by those who witnessed it was the cleanliness of the grounds. Even though approximately 500,000 people had filled the spaces between the Lincoln Memorial and the WWII Memorial, the entire area was practically spotless.

Not so with the late, unlamented One Nation rally. Here is one sample of what this crowd left behind:

And another . . .

And another . . .

These pictures actually aren’t the worst of the mess. I saw a video one person took of the WWII Memorial. Participants in this rally transformed this revered site into a huge garbage pit. That says a lot about the worldview of those who attended—they have no respect for those who gave their lives to combat totalitarian fascism.

I thought these were the people who are so environmentally conscious and who want to save the planet. It looks like they are the ones from whom the planet needs to be saved.

Why did they trash our nation’s capital? I believe I have the answer:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

In my view, the leaders of this latest rally were false prophets. They spoke of peace and jobs, but they were inspired more by socialist and communist philosophies and moral perversions[see my post from Monday]. Their fruit is evident, and it is time we call them out for what they really are.

C. S. Lewis on Morality

There is a story about a schoolboy who was asked what he thought God was like. He replied that, as far as he could make out, God was “The sort of person who is always snooping round to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it.” And I’m afraid that is the sort of idea that the word Morality raises in a good many people’s minds: something that interferes, something that stops you having a good time.

In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine. Every moral rule is there to prevent a breakdown, or a strain, or a friction, in the running of that machine. That is why these rules at first seem to be constantly interfering with our natural inclinations.

When you are being taught how to use any machine, the instructor keeps on saying, “No, don’t do it like that,” because, of course, there are all sorts of things that look all right and seem to you the natural way of treating the machine, but do not really work.

Polls, the Presidency, and Prayer

I’ve always been critical of polls. Yet we are a poll-driven society now; there’s no escaping them. There are many polling agencies, and it seems that election season puts them into overdrive.

Yes, I know they have value, and they can point to trends. Just like anyone else, I rejoice when a poll shows my views or candidates looking strong. I also take comfort in polls that reveal weakness on the other side of the political/cultural divide.

For instance, President Obama’s job approval numbers continue to drop. Is this a trend that will continue, or will he rebound in the public eye? As long as he keeps living in his fantasy world, I doubt the latter will occur.

He’s particularly vulnerable, of course, on the economy. Yet confidence in his leadership is shaky across the board as we head into the November elections. How can we tell? It becomes pretty obvious:

It’s far too early to conclude he will be a one-term president.

Much as I would like his presidency to be limited to one term, the political winds are fickle. I wish I had more assurance that enough voters are being educated in basic Biblical principles of government rather than simply reacting angrily to the current state of affairs. I do believe there has been an upswing in understanding principles, but are those people in the majority yet?

When I say pray for these elections and the future of this nation, that’s not just a pious phrase without real meaning. Our faithfulness in prayer could be the difference.

God, Government, and Eternity

I do a lot of political commentary in this blog. I also write a lot about the role of civil government. As I do, my goal has always been to point to the Biblical principles that undergird my thinking. After all, the name of this blog is Pondering Principles: Reflections on God, Man, and Life. Therefore, I try to offer my comments within that context.

This makes my ponderings different than the typical political commentator. And I know some of you read these musings without the background of a Biblical framework for thinking and/or no personal relationship with the One who made us all. I welcome your readership. Yet you must keep in mind that my starting place for reflecting on politics and government will be distinctly Christian. I actually believe the Bible is the Word of God, that it contains truth that is applicable not only to a personal knowledge of God, but also to every aspect of His creation.

Government is one of His creations.

I’m currently reading a book by Randy Alcorn with a very simple title: Heaven. Yes, I do believe there is a literal heaven, and I agree with Alcorn’s concept that there will be a renewed earth—the New Earth—after Christ returns, and that those who have linked themselves to Him will rule and reign in an eternal sphere.

As Alcorn discusses the nature of this New Earth, he highlights principles that apply on the Old Earth as well, particularly in the area of governance. Stay with me as I share some of his comments that I found especially insightful:

We’ve been conditioned to associate governing with self-promoting arrogance, corruption, inequality, and inefficiency. But these are perversions, not inherent properties of leadership. Ruling involves responsibility—perhaps that’s why some people don’t look forward to it. Some people live in anticipation of retirement, when responsibilities will be removed. Why would they want to take on an eternal task of governing?

He then wants us to refashion our concept of taking on governing responsibilities:

Imagine responsibility, service, and leadership that’s pure joy. The responsibility that God will entrust to us as a reward can only be good for us, and we’ll find delight in it. To rule on the New Earth will be to enable, equip, and guide, offering wisdom and encouragement to those under our authority. We’ve so often seen leadership twisted that we’ve lost a biblical view of what ruling, or exercising dominion, really means. God, ruler of the universe, is living proof that ruling can and should be good.

And what of this concept of leadership? What kind of leader is God seeking, whether here on earth or in eternity?

Some of the most qualified people to lead in Heaven will be those who don’t want to lead now. Some who are natural leaders here but have not been faithful will not be leaders in Heaven. Remember, it’s not the proud and confident who will inherit the earth and rule it; it’s the meek. And even the meek will be stripped of their wrong motives and the temptation to exploit others. We’ll have no more skepticism and disillusionment about government. Why? Because we’ll be governed by Christlike rulers, and all of us will be under the grand and gracious government of Christ himself.

So what does this mean about politics on the earth on which we currently reside?

Some Christians err by demeaning and ignoring politics, thereby failing to exercise their God-given stewardship. Others put too much confidence in politics, failing to understand God’s insistence the he alone will establish a perfect government on Earth. … Meanwhile, God calls us to cultural reform and development. Christians should be involved in the political process, and we can do much good, but we should never forget that the only government that will succeed in global reform is Christ’s government.

These comments explain my perspective also. God wants us to work diligently to set up as good a government as possible, yet always with the recognition that perfection will not be achieved in this world at this time. We are to make this world as much a reflection of its Creator as we can, while simultaneously acknowledging that there will be limitations on our efforts. Our endeavors now are just the first steps toward what will become reality in eternity.

My interest in politics and government springs from the basic belief that God is interested in them, too. Everything I say or do in this realm should be an attempt to bring a little more of His life and character into political practices and government policy.

That’s what inspires me to keep writing and teaching.

The Restoring Honor Rally: A Reflection

I wasn’t able to attend the Restoring Honor Rally in D.C. last Saturday, but I know a couple of people who did. They were deeply impressed by what they experienced. The crowd easily exceeded expectations, with estimates running as low as 300,000 [how’s that for a “low”?] up to more than 500,000. The central stage was the Lincoln Memorial.

In this picture, you get only some idea of the size of the crowd. A bird’s-eye view provides a better perspective:

That’s the Lincoln Memorial in the distance. Up close is the WWII Memorial. The crowd filled the entire space between the two, and even went further back than this picture shows, all the way to the Washington Monument.

Impressive, to say the least.

What inspired people to make this journey? Well, there certainly were some attractions. For one, Sarah Palin was a key speaker, and undoubtedly a drawing card for many. She, and all the other speakers, set aside partisan politics for the day and spoke instead about honoring those who have served in the military, remembering another speech at this spot in 1963—“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King—and calling for a return to faith in God.

Of course, the main organizer for this rally, Glenn Beck, was on hand as well. His stated goal was to bring together people of all faiths for a common purpose, what he and others termed a spiritual revival.

This is where it gets controversial. Before going any further, let me say that I am in complete agreement that a spiritual revival is essential to bring this country back from the brink of an untold disaster. I understand Beck’s desire and support him in that quest. The real question is whether there can be a genuine spiritual renewal if Jesus Christ is not central to it.

I have watched Beck’s television program on a consistent basis. I applaud most of what I see. He has provided a valuable service in exposing the roots of progressivism, in upholding the authority of the Constitution and the rule of law, and in telling people that faith in God is the most significant factor for any restoration of the Founding principles. Building a coalition of groups who have that same vision is a good thing. Therefore, I do support the intent of the rally and I know that it was a force for good in the country.

The key, though, is whether this movement, as it goes forward, is going to be a Christian-based endeavor. Beck is a Mormon. I have some knowledge of Mormon theology, and it is decidedly not Christian. I know it is politically incorrect to say such a thing. I can never now run for office. That’s okay—I never planned to do so. The Mormon concept of the nature of God and Jesus is not compatible with orthodox Christianity. The theology of salvation for Mormons is not the same as the Christian explanation.

Now, as I’ve listened to Beck, I’ve wondered just how much he really understands Mormonism because his words, at least as he explains his view of salvation, sound as orthodox as any Christian’s. I can safely let God be the judge of his heart. However, a clear line does need to be drawn between what is definitively, uniquely Christian and that which is not.

In the political world, as I’ve noted, coalitions need to be formed. I can unite with Mormons, Jews, and anyone else who wants to see the same political result as I do. But a government is not the church. Salvation will never emanate from any government. The message of individual salvation remains in the Christian faith, which proclaims that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life.

I’ve read some critiques of the rally that have been rather censorious of it due to its mixed leadership—the attempt to meld all religious beliefs into one. I understand that. However, we should keep in mind that the movement, such as it is, does promote basic Biblical attitudes and principles, even if some in the movement are not personally Christian. Anything that nudges us closer to the truth is welcome.

When I teach about the American Founding, I make it clear that not everyone was a Christian at that time, yet nearly everyone operated on a consensus that was formed from the Biblical worldview. We could be seeing that same development today.

I think it is highly likely that the majority of those who attended the Restoring Honor Rally did so as proponents of the Biblical worldview. If the rank and file is made up of that type, there is hope for our future. We certainly could do worse than return to the status of the Founding, where even those who were not Christians still understood the world through the Christian prism.

Therefore, I urge my Christian brethren not to be too critical at this point. Let’s see where this leads. God works through His people, but He also works through those who don’t always realize He is doing so.