The Christian Virus
Next Pentecost

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November 14, 2007 Radio

A Christian Failure.

“Last fall, the University of Delaware required 7000 Students living in dormitories to attend training sessions, floor meetings and ‘one on one discussions’ about the universities approved views on politics, race, sexuality, diversity, and environmentalism.” Footnote


          This statement astonished me. Since when are universities, centers of learning, scholarship, “training” students on the “universities approved views.”


          Does this mean that views the university doesn’t approve are not welcome?


          What if I am working on a degree in architecture? Why do I have to hear the universities views on sexuality?

What is going on there (I should say it was going on, because the University abandoned the program after it came to be a focus of considerable dissent and bad publicity—it was a truly bad idea)


What was going on is the inevitable result of the loss of any objective moral standards of right conduct.

            Christians may hold views on these issues that are consonant with their belief system.

            But when you take away any basis for morality, you have to replace it with something.


So what begins to happen is that an ersatz religion moves in to take its place.

It was a long time ago when I first read George Will speaking about our “Civil Religion.”


          It was a new idea to me at the time, but I am coming to understand it more as it emerges into the light of day.


          The civil religion is, quite naturally, in competition with Christianity which it sees as a rival.


                      Judaism and Christianity had this sort of rivalry at different times in their history, but Christians and Jews in this country have reached something of an understanding.


                      Islam and Christianity have this rivalry big time.

                      And as Christianity is systematically driven from the university and the public square, it is leaving a vacuum which has to be filled by a different faith, a different “ism.”


          The name being attached to this new civil religion is secularism.


                      And it is nowhere near so tolerant as Christianity.


          Christians, believing fervently in liberty, are quite willing for people to believe or disbelieve.


                      But secularism is showing an intolerant streak which, I think, was unsuspected by many.

Intellectuals, who naturally infest universities, are now casting about for ways to restore some set of values for students.


          The problem is, they have little objective basis for these values.


          At least Christians have the Bible which they see as a revelation from God of right and wrong values and conduct.


          Intellectual secularists seem to have as a primary value that there is no God and no need to take account of his instructions.


                      Never mind that the Bible has a long history of human experience behind it, whatever you may think about Divine revelation.

While I was pondering all this, I came across an op-ed piece by John Leo—Splitting Society, not Hairs. Footnote


          It was four years old, and I now have had time to evaluate what he had to say.


          At the time John Leo wrote this piece, a lot of people were still in denial about the deep rift that was developing in society at large.


The more polarized American society becomes, the more we see intellectuals explaining that this polarization isn't real -- it's just the swordplay of media and political elites. Each new bundle of evidence saying "We're deeply divided" is closely followed by some prominent commentator saying, "No, we're not." Last month, the Pew Research Center released a major survey of today's political landscape. The title of the study said it all: "Evenly Divided and Increasingly Polarized." Andrew Kohut, director of Pew, told me the anger level is so high that if the demonstrators of 1968 had felt like this, "there would have been gunfire in the streets."

On the other hand:


Not so, wrote Robert Samuelson, one of our best and most balanced columnists. He thinks the polarization of the 1960s was much worse, while stridency today is in large part an attention- grabbing strategy adopted by commentators, academics and advocates. This would not seem to account for the upsurge of bitterness and angry rhetoric, though the appearance of two polarizing presidents in succession is clearly a factor.


          Ah yes, Clinton and Bush, polarizing presidents.


                      I don’t think so. I think Samuelson is confusing cause and effect.


                      Both presidents were as accommodating as you will ever find.


                                  Clinton tried triangulation, moving to the center, to get things done.


                                  Bush worked well with Democrats in Texas. And it was long after Leo wrote this piece that Bush vetoed his first bill.


                      The polarization was in the country. What we saw with Clinton and Bush was merely a manifestation of the divisions.

John Leo continued:

      Behind the smoke and fire, Samuelson thinks, most Americans are tolerant,

      moderate and in broad agreement on many issues. That was the conclusion of

      the chief spokesman for the no-polarization argument, sociologist Alan

      Wolfe of Boston College. After a broad study of middle-class Americans,

      recounted in his influential 1998 book, One Nation, After All, Wolfe

      concluded that the culture war is "being fought primarily by


John Leo was not convinced, even then:

            Is this really so? If polarization is essentially confined to a small

      numbers of actors clashing swords in front of klieg lights, why do polls

      show that the number of centrists and swing votes are dwindling?

Even then, the political center in this country was getting narrower and narrower.


          Today, the center is like a balance beam. One misstep and you are on the floor.


          Leo goes on to point out the...


growing polarization that pits secularists against religious people. In the 2000 senate race in New York, two-thirds of secularists voted for Hillary Clinton and two thirds of religious people voted for Rick Lazio. This kind of split showed up in House races around the country in 2000, says Louis Bolce, an associate professor of political science at Baruch College in New York City. The Pew study shows that the most religious states vote Republican, the least religious go Democratic.


          [And the wealthiest. Look at the Blue state Red state maps. The blue states are those with the highest incomes.]


          Don’t confuse cause and effect here. The Democratic Party isn’t causing secularism any more than the Republican party is causing religion.


          Something else is going on.


More and more, religiously committed people tend to vote Republican, largely because of "the increased prominence of secularists within the Democratic party and the party's resulting antagonism toward traditional values." That's the judgment of Bolce and his Baruch colleague, Gerald De Maio, in "Our Secularist Democratic Party," an article in the conservative intellectual journal,The Public Interest.


          I thought that was interesting in view of a remark by Thomas Sowell: “In reality, Democrats are the only good reason to vote republican.”


          Among my Christian friends, their political alliance is beginning to be ABD: “Anything but Democrat.”


                      They aren’t that happy with Republicans, but far left Democrats are beginning to scare them.

To illustrate, Leo makes this observation:


The gap started opening at the 1972 Democratic convention that nominated George McGovern: a third of the white delegates were secular, compared with 5 percent of the general population. By 1992, the year the culture war is said to have broken into the open, 60 percent of first-time white delegates to the Democratic convention were secularists or nominally religious people who said they attend services five times year or less.


the Republicans became the traditionalist party almost by default -- it had less to do with Republican efforts than the impact of secular progressives on the Democratic party. Many secularists in the Republican party are leaving to vote Democratic. The most intensely religious Democrats are heading the other way.


          I don’t know if John Leo understood at the time some of the implications of what he was writing.


          To me, looking back four years, it seems apparent to me that the significant cause of the polarization in the country is the developing attempt of secular progressives to convert the country to their faith.


          Christians, being by religious bent more tolerant, have found themselves being crowded out of the public square.


          Some are beginning to wake up and realize that we also have an obligation to convert the country to our faith.

So don’t look for the national divide to be healed by any new leader we elect.


          What a Christian has to look for is a leader with backbone.


          Accommodation is not really an option in this brave new world.


          It is a shame it took President Bush so long to realize this.

None of this is new. It has emerged in societies before ours, and the results have not been encouraging.


          Paul saw this pattern in Roman society, as the rot was becoming more apparent.


(Romans 1:18-32 NIV) The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, {19} since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. {20} 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. {21} 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. {22} Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools {23} and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. {24} Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. {25} They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. {26} Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. {27} In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. {28} Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. {29} They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, {30} slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; {31} they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. {32} Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.


(Hosea 4:6-7 KJV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. {7} As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.


          I will tell you what worries me about Christians at a time like this.


          I think some of us have compromised ourselves by abandoning the law of God.




          If you aren’t aware, not a few protestant denominations teach freely that the Old Testament is no longer operative.


          Others teach that the Law has been abolished.


          What some don’t seem to understand is that the New Testament presumes the law of the Old Testament.


          And in dismissing the law of God, those Christian teachers find themselves in the same bind as the Universities.


                      They end up inventing standards of conduct on a subjective basis like, “What would Jesus do?”


          The Christian faith was built on an objective basis of right and wrong.


                      It was firmly founded on revealed law.


                      It was the objective realization of sin that the need for a savior became apparent.


                      Men aren’t convicted of sin on the basis of human standards of conduct.


          If you want to know what I think about biblical law, you can read the book Law and Covenant. You can get it from Amazon.com or from our offices.


(Ezekiel 22:23-30 NIV) Again the word of the LORD came to me: {24} "Son of man, say to the land, 'You are a land that has had no rain or showers in the day of wrath.' {25} There is a conspiracy of her princes within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her. {26} Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. {27} Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. {28} Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says'--when the LORD has not spoken. {29} The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. {30} "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.


          I can’t tell you how these words haunt me.


          Think about the Governor of Georgia who decided to lead a prayer vigil.


ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- As Georgia descends deeper into drought, Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered water restrictions, launched a legal battle and asked President Bush for help. On Tuesday, the governor called on a higher power. Gov. Sonny Perdue has several times mentioned the need for prayer as the crisis has worsened. He joined lawmakers and ministers on the steps of the state Capitol to pray for rain.


The loudest opposition to Perdue's move came from the Atlanta Freethought Society, a secular group that planned to protest at the vigil. “The governor can pray when he wants to," said Ed Buckner, who was organizing the protest. "What he can't do is lead prayers in the name of the people of Georgia."

Governor Perdue has decided to stand in the gap. Now he gets to suffer slings, arrows, and ridicule. One bloggette titled her piece, “Rain dances for Jesus.”


(Isaiah 59 NIV) Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. {2} But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. {3} For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. {4} No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. {5} They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider's web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. {6} Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. {7} Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways. {8} The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace. {9} So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. {10} Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. {11} We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. {12} For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: {13} rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. {14} So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. {15} Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. {16} He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. {17} He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. {18} According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due. {19} From the west, men will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along. {20} "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins," declares the LORD. {21} "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the LORD.


          We are not as far down this road as Israel was when Isaiah wrote these words.


          But this is the road we are on.


          And even though there are still a few standing in the gap, fewer and fewer people are listening.


          And not nearly enough Christian folk are standing up to be counted.


          Not nearly enough of us are equipping ourselves with the tools of persuasion to change hearts and turn them back to God.


          Can we still win? Well, it’s what we are here for.

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