Archive for the ‘ Christians & Culture ’ Category

Conservative Snobbery–Part II

No pictures this time. Just some ponderings.

I mentioned at the end of my last post that politically conservative Christians need to beware of falling into the snobbery trap. I have witnessed some classic examples, but will name no names.

There is the temptation, once a person has achieved a certain status either within the conservative movement or within government itself to let that achievement change his/her character. The perks of notoriety or position are hard to resist. Everyone needs to wait upon you and do whatever you say. It feels good to, in essence, snap your fingers and watch people move. After a while, if one is not careful, the attitude becomes that of entitlement: I deserve to have all my needs met by my underlings.

When this happens, one no longer is a witness for Christ. The world now revolves around this “special” person who is God’s mighty instrument of the hour. Pride dominates, and God becomes a means to a particular end–the advancement of the “special” person.

Watching this happen made me rather cynical for a short period. Even while I was teaching students for the purpose of placing them in public policy positions, I began to doubt the wisdom of doing so. Would they change? Would they become self-important and lose the vision that God had originally given them? I shook off this feeling eventually when the Lord reminded me that not everyone succumbs to the temptation, and that much good can be done through those who keep their motives right.

We all need to remember these words of wisdom:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. (I Cor. 1:26-29)

Conservative Snobbery–Part I

I call myself a conservative, both politically and socially. Yet, as I’ve emphasized in previous posts, my conservatism does not stand alone. I am a conservative only because I am first and foremost a Christian. The principles I believe in, which are truths based on God’s Word, are my foundation. These principles then give rise to my political and social beliefs.

There are others, however, who are conservative but do not base their conservatism squarely on Biblical concepts. They may be churchgoers, they may even consider themselves Christians, but they are really more traditional than they are fervent disciples of Christ.

Christopher Buckley: Conservative for Obama

Christopher Buckley: Conservative for Obama

Without the firm Biblical foundation, conservatism can go astray. We are seeing some of that in this election. For instance, Christopher Buckley, the son of the guiding light of modern American conservatism, William F. Buckley, recently announced he was voting for Obama. Why? As you read his rationale, it comes down to a couple of issues. First, he was disappointed with McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin for his VP. Palin, according to Buckley, was not up to speed intellectually. Second, he seemed to feel he had more in common with Obama on the intellectual level. Forget for a moment that he supposedly disagrees with Obama on all policies; he nevertheless decided to vote for him because they are both comfortable in the same intellectual and social circles. This, in my view, is an example of conservative snobbery.

Conservatives like Buckley are at home in the DC-New York City crowd, regardless of political affiliation. They are estranged from what might be called the “down-home” conservatism of what many deem “flyover country,” also known as “the rest of America that doesn’t live in NYC, DC, or Los Angeles.” They disdain someone like Palin because she does not meet their expectations. She didn’t go to “their” schools. She hasn’t traveled in “their” entourages.

Gov. Mike Huckabee: Looked Down Upon

Gov. Mike Huckabee: Looked Down Upon

Mike Huckabee, when he ran for president in the primaries, received the same treatment. It was rare to find any positive comments about him in the blogs at National Review Online or Townhall.com. It’s almost as if his very name was a personal affront. Some tried to paint him as the second coming of Karl Marx. Again, he was a type of conservative who didn’t fit their preconceived ideas.

Currently, Huckabee has a program of his own on Fox News Channel (weekends at 8:00 p.m.). I have watched each one and found him to be witty, conversational, respectful of guests, yet committed to a Biblical concept of morality, government, and the economy. I have waited to see if any of the bloggers at National Review or Townhall will comment on his program. Thus far, it’s as if this program, which is furthering the conservative cause, doesn’t exist.

Sadly, I believe we are seeing a type of snobbery at work. It’s up to the Christian conservatives to provide the right type of leadership for this movement, all the while praying that we don’t fall into the same trap. More on that in the next post.

What the Political Pundits Don't Know

I read political commentary every day. This election season, naturally, brings out every pundit, and they try to win you over with their wisdom. Sometimes, they succeed, but even when they provide good insights, there is usually one insight–the most significant insight–omitted.

Reagan's "Evil Empire" Speech

Reagan's "Evil Empire" Speech

Ronald Reagan understood. Speaking to the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983, he zeroed in on that most significant insight. His topic was the threat of the Soviet Union, but the insight applies to every threat that the United States faces. Reagan commented:

While America’s military strength is important, let me add here that I’ve always maintained that the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.

Reagan also believed that the U.S. was up to facing the crisis because he believed in a God who would provide what was needed. He continued:

I believe we shall rise to the challenge. I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man. For in the words of Isaiah: “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increased strength. . . . But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary. . . .”

Today, we face other crises. While people talk about what is to be done with the economy and terrorism, we omit the most serious crisis of all–the loss of Christian faith. It is the decline of real Christian faith–the muscular kind that stands up to evil–that has led us to the brink of disaster.

I don’t want to sound too melodramatic, but I honestly believe that this presidential election, along with the congressional elections, could be a point of no return for the country. It seems that we are about to turn the control of the government over to the most ideologically driven man and party in our history. They hold to an ideology that denies the sanctity of human life, that is poised to redefine marriage, that wants to revive the decaying corpse of materialistic Marxism, and that has little or no understanding of the evil of Islamic terrorism.

We are at the precipice. What will keep us from plunging to our death culturally, socially, and politically?

We must grasp the nature of the enemy and then see clearly the only One who can reverse this plunge. We must realize that the enemy is not flesh and blood, but behind that perceived enemy is the real one–the enemy who rebelled against God long before this world was made. We do not fight against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces.

Most pundits laugh at such an analysis, but if you really do believe in God, you need to believe that a spiritual enemy exists as well. What will overcome his schemes? Faith in God revealed in our prayers. We need a lot of earnest praying between now and election day. I urge all who think I am right about this to rededicate yourself to that task over the next 10 days. We ARE on the precipice.

This video link is an excellent short summary. index.php

American Self-Government: Example #1

They were called Separatists in their native England. They got this name because they couldn’t abide being part of a state church where the government controlled the worship and doctrine. So they set up their own churches based on their understanding of how God wanted His church to work, following what they perceived to be the model in the New Testament.

When they set up these churches, they had to start from scratch with church government. Consequently, they relied on covenants, where each member voluntarily joined together with others to agree on the rules by which they would be governed. No authority from above told them what to do; they simply did it.

They were persecuted and had to leave their homeland. Holland allowed them to worship as they pleased, but they longed for a country of their own. That’s when the decided to sail for the New World.

They were blown off course and were unable to land where the charter under which they sailed had authority. That led some of the hired men to talk of the “liberty” they would have once they got off the ship. The covenanted settlers knew they would have a problem on their hands with a group of people who were eager to be in a place without established government. That is why they wrote up their own covenant for civil government.

Drawing Up the Mayflower Compact

Drawing Up the Mayflower Compact

We now call those early settlers “The Pilgrims.” The document they wrote is the Mayflower Compact. It’s not a long document. It merely says that they will obey whatever government is set up. But that was enough. It was the beginning of true self-government in America, from people who already were used to governing themselves in their churches. We continue to look back on that model of self-government today (at least where anything about the Pilgrims may still be taught). A group of dedicated Christians showed the way.

How are we handling self-government in our day? Do we really believe in it anymore? When we look to Washington, DC, to provide for us and to take care of all our problems, what is left of the spirit of self-government?

I hope it’s not too late to revive this principle.

The Greatest of All Self-Government Quotes

 

Grotius: Father of the Law of Nations
Grotius: Father of the Law of Nations

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) was a Dutch Christian who became famous for his writings on how nations should relate to one another. There is a quote attributed to him that spells out how self-government works better than any other explanation I have ever read. Now, I haven’t been able to document when or where Grotius said this; that’s why I stated only that it is attributed to him. However, as I tell my students, if I ever find out for sure that he didn’t say it, I will continue to use it because it is such a wonderful quote, and then claim it for myself. Here’s that very insightful statement:

 He knows not how to rule a kingdom that cannot manage a province; nor can he wield a province that cannot order a city; nor he order a city that knows not how to regulate a village; nor he a village that cannot guide a family; nor can that man govern well a family that knows not how to govern himself; neither can any govern himself unless his reason be lord, will and appetite her vassals; nor can reason rule unless herself be ruled by God, and be obedient to Him.

 Read through that carefully again. How might this nation function if we took this to heart? If we never gave anyone civil authority until he or she has shown the ability to handle smaller responsibilities first? If we checked to find out if that person is first of all obedient to God? What a difference it could make.

Principle: Self-Government

In an age when we look to Washington, DC, for everything we need, we have forgotten one basic Biblical principle that was part of the foundation of this country. It is a principle simply called self-government.

It’s not hard to explain. God has created each of us with the ability to make decisions. That is part of His image that He placed within us. Government, by definition, is “control and direction.” Whenever anything is governed, that means it is controlled and directed. The issue comes down to who or what is doing the controlling and directing.

Self-government begins with the individual. We are to learn how to control and direct our own lives under God. This is not meant to be an old 1960s refrain–“do your own thing.” Rather, it is a growth in maturity as we come to understand more and more just what God wants us to do–and then we do it. We don’t do it because someone is standing over us making us do it; instead, we do it because we acknowledge that it is the right thing to do and we make that decision ourselves.

We used to teach this to our children. We sought to help them grow up and make wise decisions based on eternal standards of right and wrong. Nowadays, we tell them to make their own decisions but we disconnect that decisionmaking from God’s standards. That’s when it becomes a purely personal preference unrelated to what is right.

So each individual is govern himself. But there are other applications. Each family is to be self-governing, each church, each voluntary organization, each locality, each state, each nation.

One more application: you should never give a higher level of responsibilty to anyone who has not shown the proper self-government of a lesser responsibilty. The apostle Paul was following this principle when he cautioned his disciple Timothy on the procedure for choosing elders and deacons in the church. They had to be proven at a lower level before being elevated in rank or responsibility.

I’ll continue with this concept in my next post.

I Didn't Really Want to Mention This, But . . .

The devotion to Obama seems to have few boundaries. Perhaps you have seen some of the videos making the rounds on YouTube: children singing his praises; teens marching and spouting off on how Obama has given them new hope and has inspired them to succeed in life. Some would say, “What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that a positive thing?”

What’s wrong can be summarized in one word: idolatry.

Many have mentioned the cult that has arisen around this presumed political savior. Some, I fear, have taken it even further. It is rather chilling to view the raptured faces whenever he speaks. This is why some have referred to him critically as the “Obamessiah.”

Personally, I am distressed by the lack of rational thinking on the part of his adoring fans. I have noted a number of interviews with Obama supporters being asked “Just what has he accomplished as a senator?” They have trouble coming up with anything. This is a cult of personality with no substance.

Well, maybe that’s not exactly true. There is substance there, only hidden: Marxist roots; liberation theology; close associations with radicals out to change the very nature of American society. But you would never know that from the reports of the mainstream media.

It is very possible that we may wake up the day after the election to an Obama victory. That will be only the beginning of our national woes.

False Messiah?
False Messiah?

My mind keeps returning to a warning straight from the mouth of Jesus:

Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many…. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance.

We haven’t seen any “signs and wonders” yet, but I am concerned that some of my brothers and sisters in the Lord are being deceived. For the sake of the church and the nation, I urge any of you who are contemplating voting for Obama to reconsider. Please check out the concerns I have raised here and in previous posts.