Archive for the ‘ Biblical Principles ’ Category

Chambers: Death of a Nation?

Those who have read this blog long enough know my affinity for Whittaker Chambers, a man I consider one of the true heroes in American history. He had joined the Communist Party in the 1920s, thinking it was the answer to all the world’s crises. Only later did he come to grips with his error, but when he did, a whole new understanding opened to him.

As he notes in his masterful autobiography Witness, his mind had to be renewed completely:

What I had been fell from me like dirty rags. The rags that fell from me were not only Communism. What fell was the whole web of the materialist modern mind—the luminous shroud which it has spun about the spirit of man, paralyzing in the name of rationalism the instinct of his soul for God, denying in the name of knowledge the reality of the soul and its birthright in that mystery on which mere knowledge falters and shatters at every step.

As he stepped out into his new reality, he found faith in God, and that gave him insight that is well worth sharing with our generation:

External freedom is only an aspect of interior freedom. Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom the soul dies. Without the soul there is no justification for freedom. … Hence every sincere break with Communism is a religious experience.

There has never been a society or a nation without God. But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that became indifferent to God, and died.

That last line is haunting. How indifferent are we as a nation right now? How close are we to death?

The Weight of Glory

Yesterday, I employed a few choice quotes from C. S. Lewis. Today, I’d like to extend his remarks. This is a longer passage found at the end of a talk he gave entitled “The Weight of Glory.” I think it is sublime as it redirects our thoughts to how God would like us to view the potential He has placed within each person.

I urge you to read this passage all the way through and allow it to renew your mind:

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, the turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. 

Finney, Government, & Politics

Charles Finney, one of the greatest of the nineteenth-century evangelists, penned a systematic theology that has too long been neglected by the church as a whole. Some people consider parts of his theology to be controversial; I say he is refreshing and bold in his explanation of the Biblical message.

Since he was primarily an evangelist, even those who are aware of his theology are in the dark on his views of politics and government. Finney lived in an era when slavery was a crucial issue, and he argued for its extinction. He also had some pertinent commentary on the role of government and Christian involvement in politics. For instance, he sees government as ordained by God and accountable to Him:

As the great law of benevolence, or universal good willing, demands the existence of human governments, all men are under a perpetual and unalterable moral obligation to aid in their establishment and support. In popular or elective governments, every man having a right to vote, every human being who has moral influence, is bound to exert that influence in the promotion of virtue and happiness. And as human governments are plainly indispensable to the highest good of man, they are bound to exert their influence to secure a legislation that is in accordance with the law of God. The obligation of human beings to support and obey human governments, while they legislate upon the principles of the moral law, is an unalterable as the moral law itself.

Finney never would have understood the modern mania for “separation of church and state,” as evidenced by these words:

In a popular government, politics are an important part of religion. No man can possibly be benevolent or religious, to the full extent of his obligations, without concerning himself, to a greater or less extent, with the affairs of human government. It is true, that Christians have something else to do than to go with a party to do evil, or to meddle with politics in a selfish or ungodly manner. But they are bound to meddle with politics in popular governments, because they are bound to seek the universal good of all men; and this is one department of human interests materially affecting all their higher interests.

In other words, Christians are under an obligation to be involved since government makes an impact on all of life. For those who would argue that Christians should abstain from lawmaking, Finney retorts,

It is admitted that selfish men need, and must feel the restraints of law; but yet it is contended that Christians should have no part in restraining them by law. But suppose the wicked should agree among themselves to have no law, and therefore should not attempt to restrain themselves, nor each other by law; would it be neither the right nor the duty of Christians to attempt their restraint, through the influence of wholesome government? It would be strange that selfish men should need the restraints of law, and yet that Christians should have no right to meet this necessity by supporting governments that will restrain them. It is right and best that there should be law. It is even absolutely necessary that there should be law. Universal benevolence demands it; can it then be wrong in Christians to have anything to do with it?

Government also has an obligation—to act in accordance with God’s moral law:

It follows that no government is lawful or innocent that does not recognize the moral law as the only universal law, and God as the Supreme Lawgiver and Judge, to whom nations in their national capacity, as well as individuals, are amenable. The moral law of God is the only law of individuals and of nations, and nothing can be rightful government but such as is established and administered with a view to its support.

So what would Finney think about overturning “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? You don’t even need to ask; he has already told us.

Unrenewed Minds

I don’t stun easily anymore. Yet, last Friday, while attending the commencement ceremony at my university, one of my faculty colleagues did stun me with a bit of information. We were talking about the current generation and the influences on their lives. He noted that in his classes, he asks students what they consider their main source for learning about politics and the issues of the day. He reported that the majority answered—Comedy Central.

In other words, this generation looks to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as its fount of knowledge regarding current affairs.

This means that at my evangelical Christian university, students are getting their information from two individuals who have little or no regard for the faith they [the students] claim is the cornerstone of their lives.

It’s revelations such as this that have the power to keep me from going back to sleep in the middle of the night [which is when I’m writing this].

Is this the new Lost Christian Generation? Is this generation going to help shape the culture, or is it the other way around?

Speaking of generational shifts, on Saturday, the Senate passed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The House already had done so. It now goes to the president’s desk where he will rejoice at this blow against “discrimination” as he signs it into law. The vote in the Senate was 65-31.

One of the Republican senators who voted in favor of the repeal was Richard Burr of North Carolina. Burr is normally considered a solid conservative vote. When asked why he decided to vote in favor of repeal, his answer was most revealing. He said “this is a policy that generationally is right.” What does that mean? He elaborated:

A majority of Americans have grown up at a time [when] they don’t think exclusion is the right thing for the United States to do. It’s not the accepted practice anywhere else in our society, and it only makes sense.

Look carefully at that explanation. On what basis did Burr make his decision? He voted as he did simply because a new generation now believes differently about homosexuality. He has adopted the new groupthink that those who oppose homosexuality are unjustly excluding a segment of our society from their rightful place at the table, so to speak. He looks around and sees homosexuality becoming increasingly acceptable and determines to go with the flow.

There were 31 Republicans who voted against repeal, but I’m not aware that any of them showed any backbone with respect to the moral issue involved. Their arguments against repeal were primarily tactical/practical. No one apparently wanted to cross that line into a discussion of basic right and wrong. While I still maintain there is a qualitative difference between Republicans and Democrats on philosophy of government and foundational moral values, I do fear that portion of the Republican Party that just wants to go along to get along.

The culture, in general, has made its peace with the sin of homosexuality. Sin? Why do I use such loaded terminology? I do so because I continue to stand by Biblical truth. The book of Romans in the New Testament clearly lays out the case. If you haven’t read it recently, here’s what it says:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them … [and] they are without excuse.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools …

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. …

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper … and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

This is the passage that President Obama, while running for the office, demeaned as “obscure.” There’s nothing obscure about it. Will the new generation, particularly those who claim to be Christians, stand up for Biblical principles? The future hangs on that generational decision.

Let me close with another admonition from the book of Romans:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 1:16-22

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish  heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.

Obama's Homosexual Appointees

An Associated Press article provides the impetus for today’s commentary. Once again, I enter a minefield with what I am going to say, but I do so willingly, with eyes open.

Obama Speaking to the Human Rights Campaign, a Homosexual Advocacy Organization

The title of the piece is “Obama Appoints Record Number of Gay Officials.” Even though the president is less than halfway through his first term, the article notes, he has appointed more openly homosexual government officials than the previous record-setting president, Bill Clinton.

The article then highlights how the culture has changed since the Clinton years:

In a sign of how times have changed, few of the appointees–about two dozen required Senate confirmation–have stirred much controversy. It’s a far cry from the 1993 furor surrounding Clinton’s nomination of then-San Francisco Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg as assistant secretary for Housing and Urban Development.

Achtenberg was the first openly gay official to serve at such a senior level, and she won confirmation despite contentious hearings and Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., who denounced her as a “militant extremist.”

Homosexual activists are still awaiting the first homosexual to be appointed to a cabinet post, yet …

Obama did appoint the highest-ranking gay official ever when he named John Berry as director of the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the nation’s 1.9 million federal workers. Other prominent names include Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Fred Hochberg, chairman of the Export-Import Bank. Obama also named Amanda Simpson, the first openly transgender appointee, as a senior technical adviser in the Commerce Department.

Obama Appointee Jennings

Further, a White House spokesman says Obama “is proud that his appointments reflect the diversity of the American public.” The only controversy over a homosexual appointment has been Kevin Jennings, who was a founder of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Network. He now oversees the Education Department’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

More than 50 House Republicans asked Obama to remove Jennings from the post after reports surfaced about advice he gave more than 20 years earlier after learning a gay student had sex with an older man.Jennings conceded that he should have consulted medical or legal authorities instead of telling the 15-year-old boy that he hoped he had used a condom. The Obama administration defended Jennings and declined to remove him.

What this all amounts to is a sea change in the public’s perception of the acceptance of homosexuality. It’s not hard to understand how this has occurred. All one has to do is watch television. Homosexual characters, portrayed sympathetically, are everywhere. There is no real discussion anymore on the nature of homosexuality; it is politically incorrect even to offer an opinion that one’s sexuality is a matter of choice, not genetics—despite the fact that no genetic evidence for homosexuality exists.

It used to be an axiom that homosexuality was a sin. American society, built on a Biblical worldview, acknowledged that Scriptural doctrine, but the relentless attack on Biblical principles has undermined that view, to the extent that many who call themselves Christians no longer believe it. As for political conservatives, they shy away from any controversy about it so that they won’t lose votes or appear to be “backward.”

A recent poll showed that 44% of Americans continue to believe homosexuality is sinful. I’m sure that’s a much lower percentage than in the past, and that the number will decrease even more. However, I can’t base my beliefs on American public opinion; neither can I base them on any trend in the churches away from the Biblical view. I must stand on what the Scriptures teach. Only by recognizing homosexuality for what it is—a sin—can a person ever be freed from its grasp. Recognition of sin precedes repentance for that sin; after repentance comes faith in the crucified Christ for forgiveness of sin. Only then will a person have a clean conscience before God and man—and that is the goal.

Therefore, I will remain politically incorrect, which is to say, acceptable in the eyes of God. As the apostles told the authorities when they were told not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus, “We must obey God rather than men.”

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.