Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"A Republic, If You Can Keep It"

When Benjamin Franklin emerged from the The Constitutional Convention that convened from May 25 to September 17, 1787 to address the problems facing the post Revolutionary War America he was asked by a passerby what was the outcome of the assembly. Franklin responded, “it’s a Republic, if you can keep it.”

The great American government created by those men in 1787 was not anything akin to the current or past governments of the world. It was not just a democracy, it was a republic, and there in lies an important distinction.

The best source on the meaning of the Constitution and the authority on the government created by the Founders is a collection of essays written in 1787 to the average American, posted in the newspapers of the day. These essays were written under the pseudonym of Publius by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.

The essays were written in explanatory defense of the newly drafted Constitution because a group of people, known as anti-Federalist, opposed the creation of a centralized government were giving speeches and writing articles which caused the Federalists to compose and publish the essays in defense of the Constitution. The Constitution required ratification by the States. Therefore the Federalists essays were an apologetic, a defense for this Constitutional Republic form of Government. Today these documents are compiled into one book entitled The Federalist Papers.

It is very clear in the Federalist Papers that the American government was designed not to mirror the Democracy of the Greeks. They had great concern that such a government would be detrimental to America. Moreover, they discuss with brevity the various nations using the term “Republic” or “Democracy” with ill regard to the actual meaning of the terms. They illustrate that no government exists which accurately exemplifies what they have in mind to create for America. While the Greeks were a pattern of democracy and England a form of a representative government, neither nation truly modeled a real Republic.

For the rest of this article follow this link to Helium by clicking HERE.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Christian History of the West

Europe has been far removed from her cultural Christian mooring for a long time. To the best of my knowledge, one could not in any sense of the word consider the European culture a Bible culture. The days of the prominence of Christianity have disappeared into her history.

America had Christian prominence in her heritage that does continue to this day. However, while there is a huge presence of Christian churches in America, there is currently little to no affect upon culture at large. Christianity has become a private faith with a few leaders championing public issues from a Christian perspective, but by and large it is not the denominate public worldview of the nation today.

Just the same, both Europe and America have in their history a Christian heritage that did influence much of the progress of the West. In America specifically, our Republic was fashioned by men who had a strong Christian worldview. They built the Constitution upon the principals that man was created to be free and from that freedom we can choose to elect representatives that we permit to govern us. The need for checks and balances of those representatives into an Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branch was because the Founders believed in the fallen nature of man. They believed that people ought not to be permitted to rise up to be long time rulers of the people for the propensity of power to corrupt is in the hearts of man.

Alexis De Tocqueville, a Frenchman, visited America to learn about the strength and prosperity of a post Revolutionary War America. He found that America’s strength was not where he expected to find it, but in her churches, in her citizens who labored to self-govern themselves to protect the freedom of future generations.

There are a myriad of quotes by the Founders of the importance of the people to adhere to Biblical morality in effort to protect the Republic form of government for this government can only work for a people who are intent upon self governing themselves without the need of overbearing laws which restrict citizens due to the numbers of people who do not practice self-governance.

The reason we look at the past today with eyes that cannot see the Christian heritage, is that it so ingrained in our culture without the education of how it came to be that it appears to be common sense rather than a way of life influence by a revelatory book. In fact, Jefferson’s wording of “self-evident” in the Declaration is rather in correct, because these principals were not ones they devised, but ones they accepted from Scripture. The reason for the “self-evident” wording was that the prominent philosophy of the day said that things that were true were self-evidently known, so that word was used to emphasize the truth of the principals rather than how they were derived.

The way to see the stark difference between the principals accepted as “self-evident” in the West and the rest of the world is to observe the non-Western cultures. In India, equality is not self-evident—there is a cast system that does not value equality. In China, the retiring head of state in 2002, Jiang Zemin, was asked what he wanted to see for the future of China. He responded, “I would like for my country to become a Christian nation.” He could see that the West was Christianized and he wanted the results we have.

I, however, think our results, while good as America is the nation of hope to many nations, can be better. I think the Church in America is not very involved in helping her become strong again in a way that is full of love and not full of moralizing rebuke. In a way that provides viable solutions to the problems of this nation rather than just being focused on a few moral issues such as abortion. If we really believe we are in relationship with the living God and have Him living through us we ought to be more relevant to our current economic and national problems than we are. We ought to be able to come up with answers that really make a difference and help stabilize the nation without any hidden agenda—just as a gift—and not as a method of evangelism.

Secularization will not stabilize the Western culture. The Kingdom of God can do this, but there is not much reason to say it if the Church can’t show it and show it in a way that is respectful to the other cultures in this nation and to the government of this nation. We need to come along side the people who are in power and ask how we can help, instead of throwing stones from the safe distance of our homes via our facebooks and blogs. We have to be willing to help at all levels starting with the neighbor next door and working our way up to serve Washington in an honorable and helpful manner.

A shift in this direction is already sweeping through the Church in this post-Christian era that has great potential to become a healing balm to the nations. A Church is mobilization to not just aid the American nation, but to be for all nations to come into the freedom and equality that is available in the Kingdom of God. This won’t be a movement of the “religious right” but one marked by honor and love like never before. What a different world this can be when people express the love and honor of the Father without reservation.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Justness of the Judgment of God

The question of how God judges those who do not know Christ has been on my mind for quiet a while as it has been repeatedly requested of me to provide just reason for the basis of His judgment.

I realize that not knowing Christ is not the same as rejecting Him, because if a person does not know there is a real Jesus to know, they cannot be justly judged for not knowing Him. However, the judgment that comes from God is based on our own moral standard that we hold others to, which we ourselves have failed to uphold. While His standard is higher than our own, He judges the one who does not know Him based on the laws that person holds to be the moral standard.

So let’s say a person’s value system says that intolerance is wrong and makes judgments against people who are intolerant. Then that same person is intolerant in some way, they will be held accountable to God for breaking their own moral standard.

Romans 2: 1-6 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done."

Thus God’s judgment is not based on holding someone accountable to some standard they didn’t know existed, but by holding them accountable to their own standard that they practice as true. This is affirmed in Revelation when it is talking about that ultimate Day of Judgment.

Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”

The judgment then justly comes based on what is justly deserved according to what is known. The wording of “the dead” refers to those who are not in the life of Christ. The good news though, is that none of us have to pay that debt to sin. None of us have to come under judgment. We can instead be justified—having Christ death be substituted for our death—joining with Him in His Resurrection, being fully made whole without any debt to sin. We do not have to earn that redemption; we simply take hold of His hand that is extended out towards us. It’s like reaching up with an empty hand, knowing you have nothing to offer, but receiving Him forevermore.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Conforming to the Real

Man wants truth to bend to him, instead of him bending to truth. We want truth to be as we create it to be, rather than we being created by it. We want it to conform to us, instead of us conforming to it. However, truth is not an “it” that we can create, but a Him who created us.

We cannot have the world where truth is sacrificed on an altar of tolerance. That world will always be a false unattainable distortion rather than a true reality from which we can live. The true reality is exclusive of that which is not truth.

Francis Schaeffer writes, “There is that which is true God, and there is that which is no god. God is there as against His not being there. That’s the big antithesis.” Ultimate reality is an antithesis rather than a synthesis. God is not all things. There are things He is not and things that are separated from His good nature, hence the things that are not good.

For anyone to deviate from the goodness that is God, a separation has been caused in the very fabric of ones being setting one apart from God. We are to be set apart unto God, not from Him. Yet we enter this world separated from God and in need of a rejoining with Him.

That which is good can only be that which reflects or is aligned with His Truth as presented in the Person of Jesus.

All else is a distortion of that true reality and therefore false. Bill Johnson aptly stated “The devil is not the opposite of God! He's the opposite of Michael, God has no opposite!" The devil has no power to create truth; he can only distort the truth God created causing an untruth rather than a competing truth. He distorts something causing that path to lead away from God, not toward God.

We want that path to be the same as the path to God. We want to head whatever direction we choose and still be okay with God. If we cannot have our cake eat it too, we blame God for not doing His due diligence to accept our way instead of the way that is true.

We put God on trial instead of realizing we sit before the Judge. He takes off His robe and becomes our defense paying our debt to sin for us. We can receive that payment by receiving Him who is the payment. We can only bear what is true if the Truth is first born into us by Him who is Truth. This is the nature of the rebirth of the person into our new identity as Sons and Daughters of God fully adopted as heirs with Christ to the heavenly Kingdom of God.

It is key to understand that salvation is not something Jesus gives us, but something Jesus is. This is why it is not based on something we earn, but something we are given by being given Jesus Himself. He infuses us with Himself; therefore we gain His eternal life.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Final Authority and National Identity

In a court of law the legal counsel will present a case often based on precedent. This means that the attorney will consult prior cases where the same or similar facts of the case were dealt with and ruled upon. The attorney will present that prior ruling, or a collection of prior rulings, as a justification for the plea he is making before the court. Similarly the opposing counsel will seek to find prior rulings to support his position in the matter.

At the Supreme Court level this presentation of established precedent is also the common method used to win a case. However, something has changed in the worldview of this culture that does not presume the past ruling to be justification for a present matter. It simply does not matter to the Court if the Justices of old ruled a certain way and interpreted the Constitution a certain way. What matters is how they see the matter today and what they decide today is an appropriate ruling. The wealth of history is often sacrificed to modern ideology.

I began to consider this situation. On one hand the abandonment of the authority of history seems like a dangerous thing. It is like building a house on sand with no sturdy underpinnings leaving the power of the justices to be a matter of political position. However, on the other hand, if the past were blindly accepted as always accurate authority then errors of the past would continually be perpetuated to future generations with no hope of course correction.

Thus it would seem that precedent alone should not be sufficient justification for the Justices to decide a matter. Just the same, their own opinions are not satisfactory to making such important decisions that affect a nation.

How then should they rule? On what basis should their rulings be made? If historical precedent has no ultimate authority, then on what authority is their authority based upon? If none, why should their authority matter?

If there is no final authority, no place for the buck to stop, how can any court of justice actually do justice?

There was a day when it was commonly acknowledged that the final authority was God and that any justice we employ in this nation ought to be aligned with the Justice of heaven or else the ruling was not worth the paper it was written upon.

This is why this nation has a National Day of Prayer. It is a day of commemorating the subservient position of our nation to our God. Of course, this ought to be lived out all year through, but it is still good to have a day set aside where we remember our national identity in light of His Sovereign Identity.

It is precisely because of our subservience to God that we enjoy the freedom and equal value of life that we do in this nation. This is why this Day is so very important to America and why it ought not to be taken lightly. Nor should its purpose be overlooked in light of the current controversy. Moreover, let our observance of it not be undertaken in such a way that we trample on the freedom of others who do not wish to participate. Let us not get caught up in whose to blame for the current disregard for this holiday, but let us exercise our freedom to pray for our country to the only One who can restore our heritage and renew our nation.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: The Philosophy of Jesus by Peter Kreeft

The Philosophy of Jesus by Peter Kreeft is an outstanding and unique book. Peter Kreeft being an astute Philosophy Professor at Boston College adeptly demonstrates how Jesus ought to be considered amongst the great philosophers. Moreover, he illustrates how Jesus is not just a philosopher, but the key to all philosophy, being Himself the person of Truth.

Philosophers study metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, anthropology, and ethics. Yet few philosophers look to Jesus as the metaphysician, true being, true knower, anthropos, and being of righteousness. Kreeft leads his reader through a new consideration of Jesus. He looks at the worldview Jesus gives us and the answers to philosopher’s greatest questions that He provides.

For the rest of the article written for Helium click here.