Category Archives: America & Christianity

If the Foundations Be Destroyed: What Can the Righteous Do?

If the Foundations Be Destroyed: What Can the Righteous Do?If America’s foundations of God, Truth, and Morality are not re-laid, our society will be lost.

by Bill Lockwood

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). The foundations of which David speaks are those of truth, virtue, and morality.

In the wake of terrible tragedies such as occurred in Parkland, Florida last week, it is helpful, though painful, to examine our entire cultural malaise. America has aborted more living babies just this morning through Planned Parenthood than lives have been taken by mass shootings at High Schools. The message: Life is meaningless.

Our entire educational outlook regarding the origin of man is humanistic and evolutionary. We came from rocks and dirt and human life is of no more value than an animal in your backyard. Violence has become the common fare in movies and music entertainment. Pornography continues to feed upon children as erotic material is readily available to anyone who has access to the internet.

Young people in mass are violating marijuana laws in a culture in which, it has become so commonplace that it is difficult to find a student who has not at least once smoked weed. This, in spite of laws banning weed. Respect for law and order, the Christian foundation for orderly society, has evaporated.

Unwed mothers and illicit sexual behavior is becoming standard. The state has encouraged this by its financial assistance. Civil government is replacing the father in the home as that basic civil institution is unraveling before our eyes.

Psalm 11:3

David of the Old Testament, later to be king of Israel, decried a similar situation—perhaps not to the same alarming degree as we are experiencing– in his day. Saul was currently king when David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, composed the poem of Psalm 11. The maladministration of Saul’s court actually punished the upright in Israel (Psalm 11:2).

David wondered, If the very administration of government–which is designed to punish the wrong, protect the good—is up-ended, what is our recourse? The civil state was unhinged and out of course (Psalm 75:3; 82:5). If these foundations are eroded, there is nothing that remains but a turning to God.

If America’s foundations of God, Truth, and Morality are not re-laid, our society will be lost.

In 1889, John Fiske, who himself was not a Christian, wrote The Beginnings of New England. Pertaining to our founding as a nation he observed, “To keep the sacred flame of liberty alive required such a rare and wonderful concurrence of conditions that, … had it not been for the Puritans, political liberty would probably have disappeared from the world.” Political liberty in America is based upon religious concepts that derive from Christianity. But it is Christianity that we continue to ban as readily as many wish to ban weapons.

Henry Campbell Black, in his Handbook of American Historical Law (1927) shows us the place of Christianity in the fundamental laws of our land.

that Christianity is a part of the law of the land is true in this sense, that many of our best civil and social institutions, and the most important to be preserved in a free and civilized state, are founded upon the Christian religion, or upheld and strengthened by its observance; that the whole purpose and policy of the law assume that we are a nation of Christians, and while tolerance is the principle in religious matters, the laws recognize that the existence of that system of faith, and our institutions are based upon that assumption.

Again,

The prevalence of sound morality among the people is essential to the preservation of their liberties and the permanence of their institutions, and to the success and prosperity of government, and the morality which is to be fostered and encouraged by the state is Christian morality, and not such as might exist in the suppositions ‘statute of nature’ or in a pagan country… that which lies within the jural sphere, and which is enforced by positive law, is Christian morality.

Perhaps it is time to restructure our foundations. The encouragement by the state of Christian morality. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Loss of Civility in America

Loss of Civility in America “It is another to revile or abuse a person with words

by Bill Lockwood

People have always and will always disagree with one another. Unanimity of opinion is unrealistic where God’s free-will creatures are concerned. What is blatantly evident however, in modern America, is the increasing loss of civility in dialogue. This sad result is predictable in a society where godlessness has become the norm.

The apostle Peter, in his Second Letter (2 Peter), describes the current situation that unfortunately prevails in the streets, in the halls of Congress, in the collegiate and public school classroom, and in the marketplace. His remarks are deadly accurate.

2 Peter 2

Beginning in verse 10, the apostle explains what it is to “walk after the flesh”—a biblical phrase denoting pleasing our own base desires. Those who do so are libertines—who by lack of training and correction throughout their development—are devoid of moral or sexual restraints. They spurn normal behavior while putting a premium on on physical pleasures. The phrase “after the flesh,” taken in connection with “their foul lust” in the connecting sentence suggests sodomy (Green, TNTC, 103).

Regarding these libertines: Peter explains, “they despise authority.” Rejecting authoritative statements from God and man, they are “Brazen ones, and self-willed” (v. 10). Brazen means unashamed. The description of these individuals the apostle goes on to explain “they fear not to rail at dignitaries.”

It is one thing to disagree with another and even press one’s opinion. For the free expression of ideas and principles and concepts the First Amendment was composed–that open discussion on the issues would never be curtailed in America. “To rail at dignitaries” however, carries a completely different idea. The word “rail” is literally “blaspheme.” It means to “defame” a person. It means to slander or to crudely disparage another.

To put a fine point on this, Peter carries us to the court in heaven where good angels brought accusation against evil angels before the Almighty at some point in history. But even these angels refrained from bringing a reviling judgment against them. It is one thing to make accusation. It is another to revile or abuse a person with words. They abstain from no affront (Bigg, ICC, 280).

Almost as if describing the current malaise of civility among moderns, Peter continues his diatribe in v. 12 that “these are creatures without reason, born mere animals to be taken and destroyed; railing in matters wherein they are ignorant; shall in their destroying surely be destroyed” (ASV).

A “creature without reason” literally is an irrational person. Sensible discussion or thoughtful disagreement is beyond them.  One has observed that “they preen themselves on their knowledge (a palpable dig at their pretensions to superior gnosis)” while in fact they have no more knowledge than does a brute beast (Kelly, BNTC, 339). Peter strengthens this description with the statement that these “have been born as mere animals that are caught and killed.” The idea is of a person whose only reaction is one of physical instinct—not thoughtful or respectful dialogue. A graphic picture this of individuals who live for themselves and their own desires.

What an … indictment of the effect on a man of living like a beast! First he gets captured and then he gets destroyed by his passions. As Barclay points out, sensuality is self-destructive. ‘the aim of the man who gives himself to such fleshly things is pleasure; and his tragedy is that in the end he loses even the pleasure. … for a while he may enjoy what he calls pleasure, but in the end he ruins his health, wrecks his constitution, destroys his mind and character and begins his experience of hell while he is still on earth.’” (Green, Ibid.)

In just a few short verses Peter shows what we are witnessing with increasing regularity in our nation. Is it possible to disagree without becoming ugly and uncivil? Must one “take to the streets” with boiling anger to make a change? Is it no longer possible to debate the issues while refraining from toilet talk and cursing? Must people literally “howl at the moon” to demonstrate disagreement? Must people show rage to show a different view? Have we lost all civility?

The only answer to this morass of ugliness, of course, is a turning to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. May our nation bow its knee to God this holiday season.

NOTES

Bigg, Charles. International Critical Commentary, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the   Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude.

Green, Michael: Tyndale NT Commentary, The Second Epistle of Peter and the Epistle of Jude.

Kelly, J.N.D.: Black’s NT Commentary, The Epistles of Peter and Jude.

The Constitution, Christianity, and Patriotism

The Constitution, Christianity, and Patriotism “…The Constitution is the civil Bible of Americans…

by Bill Lockwood

Some suggest that biblical commands never enjoin one to be “patriotic” regarding America. Patriotism, it is supposed, is not commended in scripture; therefore, Christians need emphasize Americanism less.

This demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of America and Americanism; specifically, the God-inspired freedoms which form our core. It is true that most peoples love their own country, the place of their nativity. And if that was all that is involved in American patriotism–love of the fatherland–then the criticism might be well-founded. But America is different. It is unique in the history of the world. And it is not simply that it is unique that ought to cause Christians to be patriotic—but due to the substance of that uniqueness. This substance makes it superior.

John Adams, the second president of the United States, gives us a clue to the singular character of our nation. America is the first time in history, he noted, since even the time of Adam and Eve, that humanity might be able to enjoy, by the framework of governing principles, the freedoms which come from God. He was reflecting upon the sad fact that all governments and nations throughout history curtail the liberty which can only come from God since these governments do not begin with the fundamental premise of the sacredness of human life.

More to the point, a statement drafted first in 1922 by the Committee for Constitutional Government and signed by such dignitaries as Herbert Hoover, Alfred E. Smith, Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Mrs. William H. Taft and others, recommended a study of the Constitution on the following grounds.

Menaced by collectivist trends, we must seek revival of our strength in the spiritual foundations which are the bedrock of our republic. Democracy is the outgrowth of the religious conviction of the sacredness of every human life. On the religious side, its highest embodiment is the Bible; on the political, the Constitution. As has been said so well, ‘The Constitution is the civil Bible of Americans.’ Next to the Bible, the best book on the Constitution should be in every home, school, library and parish hall.

Our republic is the direct outgrowth of Christianity. The founding generation understood exactly what they were doing. For the first time in recorded history biblical values were enshrined as the basis of a limited government called a republic in which individual freedom was based upon individual worth.

This is why founder Noah Webster admonished, “Our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion … and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.” For the same reason Patrick Henry, a long time preacher, insisted that our nation was actually founded upon Jesus Christ. Strange sounds for modern ears.

Practically every founder which wrote on the subject agreed with Henry. Alexander Hamilton observed, for example, that “The law … dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity if contrary to this.”

Another signer of the Constitution, Rufus King, stated, “The … law established by the Creator … extends over the whole globe, is everywhere and at all times binding upon mankind….This is the law of God by which he makes his way known to man and is paramount to all human control.”

None of the above is to say that pulpits ought to draw their texts from particular Articles of the Constitution upon which to preach; for they are to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).  But it is to say that a failure to recognize Christianity as the bulwark of our nation’s charter betrays a very limited understanding of America as well as the Bible. 

The very concepts of the sacredness of life, liberty, and private property—which the entire construct of the Constitution is designed to protect–are biblical in nature and are not traceable to any other source. The “transcendent values of Biblical natural law were the foundation of the American republic,” summarizes constitutionalist David Barton (Original Intent).

For this cause, Abraham Lincoln advised regarding the Constitution:

Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges, let it be written in primers, in spelling books and in almanacs, let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation, and, in particular, a reverence for the Constitution.

Again, it is education in the principles behind our founding charter which Lincoln was encouraging. The same is true for western culture as a whole. It is superior to other cultures precisely because of the undergirding concepts upon which it is based. As Herbert Schlossberg put it in Idols for Destruction,

Cultures are equal in value only if there is no standard against which to judge them. The culture of the West, infused as it is with Christian values, is superior to any other, and all the valid charges against the West are indications that it has betrayed its own heritage. It is not superior because it is wealthy; it is wealthy because it is superior, because it believes that work is a calling, that matter is important, that reason is a gift of God. This culture, God’s gift, transmits its material blessings along with its interpretation of reality.

America’s greatness is only assessed by the eternal standard of God’s Word. Alexis de Tocqueville is credited with this famous passage in which the Frenchman searched for the greatness of America. His answer was, “Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” (Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties).

It is not commendable that many modern pulpits cannot seem to recognize that when they preach on the sacredness of an individual life they are preaching God-given values which, because of the Bible, became the foundation of Americanism—a unique event in world history. Is this not worthy of Christian homage?

Or, when preachers “invite” sinners to obey the gospel (1 Pet. 4:17) they are celebrating the concept of liberty and free choice protected by our wise founders.  Does this protection not call forth our reverence? Or, when pleading for donations they are assuming that God has invested people with private property which they can dispose of at their own volition; and because the founders believed in these biblical principles they constructed a lawful system of protection to guard that property. Should we not pay homage to this system?

Patriotism runs much deeper than love of my birthplace or attachment to the language I speak. It glories in God’s grace that enabled our founders to infuse the ideals of God into the framework of society. No other nation has ever attempted such a project. American patriotism is in reality a loyal adhesion to Christian principles which were grafted into a governing system.

The red, white, and blue therefore, evoke deep feelings not merely because I was born here—but due to the fact that these colors represent the fundamental godly doctrines which my forefathers died to protect. Not all of them lived in accordance with these values—to be sure– but they believed in them.   

America is not merely exceptional. This means “better than average; not normal.” It is that. But it is also unique in that it is unequalled. It is superior. And this distinction lies in its reliance upon Christianity by which our nation was forged.