I have to admit, this started out to be a very different blog than it ended up. Like many, I was discouraged at the results of the election. Yes, I know that God is in control and uses even government for His purposes but sometimes those purposes are to punish His people or the nations in which His people dwell and they suffer as well. To be perfectly honest I am not a big fan of suffering.
I know that politics is messy business and corruption abounds in the hallowed halls of Congress and the White House. Special interest groups are working hard to persuade the Federal Government to use the club of legislation to beat down the opposition. But that is how government works in a Democratic Republic. We vote for candidates that most closely align with our worldview and values and trust they will at the very least protect us from those who have a different view.
I was disappointed to read that 2,186,986 committed to vote for Jesus as a write in Presidential candidate. I don’t know that anyone asked Him if He was really interested in abdicating His thrown to take the lesser position of President of the United States but somehow I doubt it. This simple act was helpful in the election outcome. Others wouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon and in some cases border lined calling it a sin for a Christian to vote for Romney. Better, I suppose to have a member of the Cult of Black Liberation Theology as President, at least he is not a Mormon. Whew, dodged that bullet.
The issues involved are difficult to resolve for we live in a divided nation. But, in truth, we have always lived in a divided nation. The Revolutionary war was fought by divided citizens. Some were loyal to England while others were for seceding from England while yet others were not committed to either side but mostly wanted to be left alone. The Civil War was fought by a divided nation. The South, mostly Democrat, thought that owning humans was perfectly fine. The President, a Republican, was more in favor of human rights for all humans, the South decided to secede and a Civil War was fought. Some pro-slavery, some anti-slavery and others mostly just wanted to be left alone.
The early 1900s saw the rise of “Progressives,” an umbrella term for Marxist, communist and socialist groups in the U.S. As their views were becoming more commonly accepted the Conservative Intellectual Movement of 1945 which made a strong case for Capitalism against Progressives began in response. The 1949 Poem Ode to the Welfare State is a stark reminder that as a nation, we have been here before. A lightening rod in the person of William F. Buckley, Jr. made his appearance with the publication of his book God and Man at Yale . He was publically calling the institution to task for raising their funding from Capitalists while teachings against Capitalism in the hallowed halls of academia. He insisted that it was fine if they wanted to teach the Marxist/Communist/Socialist ideas but that they should be honest about what they are doing with their supporters. His book raised quite a furor across the nation.
We are again at a cross roads as a nation. About 1/3 are in the Progressive camp, some more committed than others but the idea that the Federal Government knows better how we should spend our money, what sort of food we should eat and all other personal decisions are better left in the hands of the all-knowing all-seeing Federal Government. Individuals have no personal responsibility but are little more than wards of the State.
About another 1/3 are in the Conservative camp. Again, some are more committed to the ideas of Conservatism than others but they tend to view personal freedom and personal responsibility as the order of the day. In this view the Federal Government should be limited to the 18 enumerated powers outlined in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. If the Federal Government would restrict themselves to these articles issues like defining marriage would be left in the States hands as they have historically been.
The last 1/3 are largely uncommitted. Some will vote but wait until just before going into the polling booth to make a decision. Mostly this group just wants to be left alone. They don’t want to bring about radical changes, they don’t want to force or legislate their worldview on other, if they even have a thought out worldview. They simply want to work at their jobs, save for vacation, retirement and getting their kids through college.
No, the make-up of the citizens of this nation hasn’t really changed a whole lot over its history but what has changed is the national worldview and personality of the Federal Government. The personality of any organization mirrors the leadership of the organization. Currently those in power hold a decidedly minority view but are well supported by Progressive media (ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, etc.) and great marketing.
They have become very good at persuading through story-telling and images. Even though the story line and images are false without any background they are effective at selling an idea.
The past few elections were really about one central question. The question wasn’t stated but the issues nearly all point to it. Who gets to set the moral compass for the nation and its citizens. For Conservatives the answer is simple. God has already done that and we have individual responsibility to choose to live out what we claim to believe or suffer the consequences of our failures. For Progressives the answer is the Federal Government and the moral values for Progressives is altogether different. The highest moral value is a life without consequences. Adultery, even in the Oval Office, is fine as long as the occupant is a Progressive. It is just a little sex on the side. Homosexuality (Barney Franks, Gay marriage) is to be treasured and promoted, no consequences please. The taking of a human life in abortion eliminates the consequences which created the child to begin with. Not paying income taxes (Timothy Geitner, Charles Rangel) and even insider trading (Nancy Pelosi and others including Republicans) are not wrong in any moral or legal sense for Progressives. There are no consequences to their actions.
On the Progressive’s side, the idea is that it is the Federal Government’s job to set the moral agenda and perform the requisite social engineering to accomplish the implementation of the new legally binding morality. While dismembering children in the womb is morally fine, being overweight is a sin. A woman has a right over her own body as long as it involves killing another human but not if she weighs more than the Federal Government allows. Making too much money is a sin to be punished by the Federal Government but cheating the tax-payer funded entitlements if of little consequence.
The Church has largely lost having a credible voice on the national stage. The Roman Catholic Church has been mired in a pedophilia priest scandal for decades now. Evangelicals too have been fodder for the media with sex scandal, think Jimmy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Ted Haggard and many others. The most prominent public voices focus on as a way to fulfill our selfish desires. T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and others who proclaim that Jesus died to make us financially well off if we but name it and claim it. Or there is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which shapes and informs the theology of the much of the seeker driven/seek sensitive church. There ends up being little difference here and very well behaved unbelievers whose focus is self-esteem and “self-actualization.”
The answer for believers is actually fairly simple and basic. What did the first century church do and how do we return to that? They lived under a government that was hostile to their beliefs and claims but were successful and speaking to the culture, one person at a time. They had articulate spokespersons that could articulate the faith in the public square and even at the seat of government (the Apostle Paul, Justin Martyr and others). What all of this really means is that the church in general has to return the ministry of the church, teaching, discipling, training in apologetics and critical thinking) to the main church meetings and prepare its people to carry out the mission of the church, reaching the lost, outside the church where non-believers actually live. Well trained believers need to move into roles which shape public opinion in the public square. It may be that unbelievers are not opposed to the faith but that they have been too little exposed to a sound articulate explanation and examples of the true faith which is able to withstand the scrutiny and attacks by Progressives.