Archive for the ‘ Christians & Culture ’ Category

America's Suicide Attempt?

Noted British historian Paul Johnson titled one of his chapters in his book Modern Times “America’s Suicide Atempt.” Johnson was talking about the 1960s and 1970s.

Assassinations (John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King), the Vietnam War, race riots in the cities and student riots on campuses, the entire Watergate fiasco, and the miserable economy of the 1970s were his targets. We can add Roe v. Wade to that list. It was as if America had lost its mind.

Today is election day. Will we lose our collective mind again? Will this day usher in a transformed America? Not all transformation is good.

The 1960s and 1970s were followed by a recovery of sanity in the 1980s. Reagan was the human cornerstone for that recovery, but ultimately we need, as a society, to acknowledge the true source of all blessings for a recovery to take place. No matter what occurs today, a spiritual recovery will remain the crying need of the times.

Politics is only one part of a society. Government is not our savior. Yet both politics and government will heavily influence what our society will become. If they are going in an ungodly direction, the only thing that will hold this society together is the Christians’ commitment to real discipleship. If we are what God wants us to be, He can still do great things.

Let’s move forward in His Spirit.

Palin in Lakeland

My wife, Jan, and I attended the Sarah Palin rally held near our home in Lakeland this past Saturday. We also attended one in nearby Kissimmee the previous weekend. Normally, I don’t get too excited about going to political rallies. I’m one of those people who prefers to stay at home and avoid large crowds. But I am glad I went to these two events.

First, it was an encouragement to see so many people with the same concerns and desires that I have with respect to the upcoming election. My spirit, I have to admit, was lifted.

Second, the Lord used these events to help me concentrate even more on His purposes. What is He attempting to do with this nation? How does Sarah Palin fit into His plans? (The following pictures are from the Lakeland rally, courtesy of one of my students.)

While I don’t want to let emotions rule, it was truly an emotional time when she came out to speak. There is a love for her that flows from the people in a way I have not experienced since Ronald Reagan.

Now, rallies such as these are never times for candidates to say new things. This was her second of the day, to be followed, I understand, by three more. You can’t come up with new messages each time. Yet what amazes me is how fresh she seemed, speaking with real conviction on each point.

When she finished speaking, she stayed around for quite some time, talking with people and signing autographs. Yes, I know this is typical for all politicians. But in my spirit I sense that she is the real thing–the genuine Christian who is trying to do God’s will.

As I said more than two months ago when she was first chosen by McCain, she needs our prayers. And we need to pray that no matter what happens in this election, that God will use her to help turn this nation around. While we’re at it, we should pray for the Lord to raise up more like her. The tide can be turned if God’s people humble themselves, pray, and obey His Word.

Willful Blindness

This political cartoon pretty much summarizes the problem we are facing with the media this election year.

This is a willful blindness caused by an ideology that has rejected the Biblical worldview. We still have a few more days to pray.

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.