Friday, April 30, 2010

Language, Law, Church, State- Loving Across the Divide

Earlier this week I posted gubernatorial Tim James commercial on facebook and predicted (as with everyone else) that it would stir the pot nationally. Indeed, James was on O'Reilly last night getting grilled by Juan Williams.

It generated an amazing outpouring of comments on my facebook page as well. Even prompting a mini-debate in the process. Hard to present point/counterpoint in a Reply bubble.

It points to an interesting list that I sometimes refer to. There are buzz terms that we react to in a negative way, but in the end actually help support the Christian World View. Even as I am about to write a few of these, I can already feel the visceral reaction and prepare for the objections.

"Big Bang"- we rail against the idea and think that it is counter to Genesis 1 when in actuality the discovery by Edwin Hubble (and actually noticed by Einstein in his theory but he backed away from it) showed that the universe was not static and supported a beginning and not eternal matter of a cosmos that is just 'here'.
"Evolution"- we bash this observation of the mechanism of change as the environment changes, but actually this beautiful, genetic wonder aids the Genesis account of a worldwide flood and the awesome variety of life as we now encounter it.

and there are others.

But let me shift to another one- 'separation of church and state'. Now hold on... I am not saying that recent Supreme Court actions against prayer and 10 commandments is justified (in fact I think our Government has promoted a 'religion' of secular humanism), what I am saying is that most denominations do see value in separating the ministry and work of the church.

My denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America, makes it clear many times in the Book of Church Order that 'No religious constitution should be supported by the civil power further than may be necessary for protection and security equal and common  to all others' (BCO Preliminary Principles). In his commentary on this issue, Morton Smith writes, "This principle reflects the American scene, where the civil authority is not to be exercised over the church, other than in provision and security." (Commentary on the BCO, pg 20).

So, our government has a responsibility and duty and our churches have a responsibility and duties. The Church builds and expands the Kingdom of Christ, while the state seeks to 'form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourseves and our posterity'.

What does this have to do with the Tim James debate?

We are not a unified country. The polarization of right and left, fueled by strong and influential 'shaping' sources has us as divided and weak as we have ever been. The fragmentation of American culture has put us close to Lincoln's famous Biblical allusion- "A house divided against itself cannot stand".

My personal belief is that this is because we made one major change in our thought process. We have made "Liberty" our god and forsaken God as god. Liberty without a common set of core values is lawlessness.

That is why our leaders, no matter the political persuasion, point to the 'rule of law' as vital. The point of freedom of expression and freedom to vote is to debate, disagree, decide, and then do.

I also believe the current grass roots anger is actually a frustration that 'the people' have no real representation. The cultural elites seem to be saying, we actually know better what you need so back away be quiet and obey.

This is where I will get very controversial. Our only hope of unity is to proclaim a world-view and a language- and be willing to be who we are, no matter the difficulty.

There should be no restriction for our Gov't to say that our laws come from a tradition of Judeo-Christian thought. We believe in a Creator, we believe in absolute truth, and that compels us to defend the constitution including all of the Bill of Rights. A vacuum of truth creates a world view. Liberty comes from God and is held in check by His standards.

America without this framework cannot stand. Even capitalism must be held in check by Biblical teaching.

The Gov't only takes what is necessary to do its limited role. And it does NOT run a deficit.

I also think there is nothing wrong with adopting an official language. We welcome all- but we write our documents in English. It is just common sense.

We allow all kinds of language to be written, spoken, used in the arts, studied, taught. But we do official transactions in English. A wise businessman seeks to reach out to other nations in their native tongue, but we assimilate under American values and an American language.

This does not mean everyone must be a Christian or Jew. We must protect the rights of people to believe or disbelieve- but our framework is Biblical- mainly because whether Deist or not our Founders worked and lived in this framework.

The church then recognizes where She must serve. She feeds the poor, speaks the gospel in all types of tongues, cares for the widow and orphan, goes into all the world. Christianity is not American, but America at her best is Christian.

The biggest loser in all of this is the next generation- we have trained them in our own schools that God is compartmentalized and liberty is King.

I have to run..... more on this later.

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