Chambers on God and Culture

Whittaker Chambers

Whittaker Chambers

I’ve been commenting on the fact of God’s existence and that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. These are basic truths upon which all of our thinking should rest.

Those who have perused my website cannot have missed that one of the subjects I have been researching is Whittaker Chambers, a man who found the truth of God’s existence, but only after experiencing the failed god of communism.

Reflecting on God, man, and history in his seminal work Witness, Chambers commented on man’s rejection of God, and put his thoughts into words that have stayed with me ever since I first read them more than twenty years ago.

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.

May America never be indifferent to God. Indifference is tantamount to rejection. If we reject God, He will reject us.

Lest We Forget . . .

Principle: I Am Who I Am

As noted in the previous post, a foundational principle is that God actually exists. At one point, in Hebrew history, a man named Moses, a shepherd without any real status in society, saw a most unusual sight: a bush that burned but wasn’t consumed. Out of the midst of the bush, he heard the voice of God telling him to embark on a mission to free his people from Egypt. When Moses asks the name of the voice, he is told,

I Am who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I Am has sent me to you.”

When Jesus later spoke to the Pharisees, and they demanded to know who He claimed to be, He responded, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am.” The connection was clear–so clear that they immediately tried to stone Him to death. They understood He was claiming to be God.

Not only does God actually exist, but He has made Himself known.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This is another foundational principle, the truth that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. It is a truth denied by most of the world, but only through this truth do we find out what life is really all about. And it is a truth that needs to permeate our culture.

Principle: The God Who Is There

Christian Apologist Francis Schaeffer
Christian Apologist Francis Schaeffer

A few postings ago, I started writing about principles and how they should be the basis for everything we do. Principles are general truths, and they come from God.

And that should be the first principle we consider: the fact of God’s very being. One of the most influential writers in the Christian world, who speaks to us even after his death, was Francis Schaeffer. I’m reminded of the title of one of his books–The God Who Is There. Schaeffer stressed that God was a distinct being to whom we are all accountable, and in his books he continually argued that there is such a thing as objective truth, which has its origin in the being of God.

The Psalmist has told us, “The fool says in his heart there is no God.” The Apostle Paul, in the book of Romans, spends a considerable amount of time in the first two chapters setting out this one salient fact: we all know He exists; we are all accountable to Him, yet we try to suppress the evidence; we have no excuse for our disobedience. His words are strong:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

No matter how many doctorates one may possess, no matter how many books and articles one has written, no matter how many appearance on TV programs as an “expert,” if any person denies the existence of God, he or she is a fool. God’s existence is one of those general truths; it is foundational for comprehending the meaning of the world in which we live.

Why Should We Be Surprised?

The media jumped on any rumor to attack Sarah Palin. They were embarrassed (or should have been) by the result. The next attempt, which is already beginning, will be to “reveal” her church as an extremist organization, far from the mainstream of American life.

Now, how should Christians respond? While it is understandable to be outraged by the accusations, we need to keep in mind that false accusations against the faith have abounded throughout the ages. The apostle Peter reminds us,

Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. . . . If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

In America, we have been so accustomed to being in the majority historically that we are sometimes shocked when we are targeted in this way. Perhaps we have forgotten Jesus’ own words:

Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

Jesus Reminds Nicodemus that Men Hate the Light

Jesus Reminds Nicodemus that Men Hate the Light

I think we need to get used to this type of treatment, while we remember that this is hardly the ultimate sacrifice. As another Scripture notes, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

Rather than be outraged by false accusations, we should turn these occasions into opportunities to speak the truth. If the world sees us respond in a good spirit, patiently explaining the truth in the midst of false accusations, their falseness will become more evident.

Above all, God is more concerned that we take on the character of Christ than that we seek a redress of grievances. If we do exhibit appropriate Christian character, some of those grievances will naturally be redressed.

Palin, McCain, and Prayer

Palin Speaking at the Republican Convention

On Wednesday evening, those who watched Sarah Palin speak at the Republican convention saw something quite amazing. The media who attacked her for five days prior to her speech still aren’t sure what to make of it.

She wasn’t supposed to be so at ease. She wasn’t supposed to be so effective in introducing herself to the American people. And above all, she wasn’t supposed to actually know anything about how government works and be able to offer sensible and rational prescriptions for the future. Instead, she was supposed to be beaten down, timid, and lost in the bright lights of public scrutiny.

It didn’t turn out that way and I, for one, am delighted.

I don’t want to repeat the many accolades she has received since the speech; neither do I want to dwell on the attitudes and smears that have passed for news this past week. Others have commented quite perceptively on both.

What can I, as a Christian, offer that is different?

First, I want to appeal to all who are Christians to pray specifically for her. The more I have read about Sarah Palin, the clearer it becomes that she is a committed follower of Jesus Christ. I, and all Christians, have a responsibility before God to lift her up in prayer. She will need the strengthening that can come only from the Holy Spirit in the next two months.

Second, we are to pray for the future of this nation. We really are at a critical juncture. I seem to say that every four years, and I keep hoping I won’t have to say it the next time a presidential election comes along. However, each election does impress me as more significant than the last one.

John McCain was not my first choice for the Republican nomination. Yet I am convinced he is a man who has learned a couple of valuable lessons along the way. His speech last night made clear one of those lessons: you must live for something greater than yourself. And when he recounted his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, he did so in a very personal way. He did not call himself a hero. In fact, he rather astonished the media by admitting that he broke under the torture. It was others, he said, who gave him the courage to continue. There was a humility in his remarks that was unmistakeable.

God will always bless genuine humility. We need to pray for McCain as well.

I posted earlier that I consider myself a Christian first and an adherent to a political party only to the extent that the party advocates Biblical principles. Today I am more convinced than ever that, as a Christian, I must support the Republican nominees.

John McCain Giving His Acceptance Speech

John McCain Giving His Acceptance Speech

Principles Are the Foundation

Noah Webster: Father of Early American Education

Noah Webster: Father of Early American Education

Noah Webster defined “principle” in this way: the source or origin of anything; a general truth from which one can deduce many subordinate truths.

Christians need to make sure that whatever they do in society is based on God’s principles–His general truths–and not simply on whatever is expedient. When we discover God’s general truths, we can then identify other truths that flow from the general ones. Those subordinate truths will help us understand the types of policies that must be put into effect to ensure that a society operates the way God intended.

American society today is not very principled. We are more concerned with what “works.” The major problem with that approach is that we all have different definitions of “works.” Rather, we need to have God’s perspective on all things. When we start with His basic principles, we will have truth first, but also something that “works,” as He defines that term.

What I want to do systematically in this blog is to talk about those general truths, God’s principles, that should be the foundation of everything we do. I will continue to address current events, particularly in this political season, but will intersperse comments on principles along the way. I hope you will find this thread illuminating. Focusing on God’s truths has a way of providing the illumination we need. His Word is a light for our path.