Sunday, October 26, 2008

America the Good

Pastor John Piper has written a couple of reminders that Christians are not of this world:

One is from a few years ago:
Taking the Swagger out of Christian Cultural Influence.

While conceding the truth of what he says, I want to add that Piper is perhaps a bit hard on us Christian lovers of America. He's right of course that there should be no swagger or triumphalism or crankiness or self-righteousness in any of our doings. The world is fallen and we are to be conforming ourselves to another model. But surely overall we admire America for the right reasons.

We often do feel that America belongs to us, and ultimately we have to let go of that. We can quote the Christian underpinnings of our institutions, the Christian sentiments of our founders and leaders down the years, Christian practices of our government, besides the predominantly Christian identity of American citizens until recently at least. Even if the founders and many leaders were not Christian per se, the culture of America, the laws of America, were founded on culture developed over centuries of Christian influence in Europe and then brought to fine expression in the American concept. We were raised to be patriotic citizens most of us and the anti-patriotism of the Marxist Leftists who started attacking the country in earnest in the 60s is like a blow to ourselves.

Yes, of course Piper is right that ultimately it is not about left versus right; the right has no better claim to righteousness than the left, because we're all sinners. But I think it needs to be recognized that the fact that we're all sinners is exactly what the American concept was brilliantly designed to manage to the best possible outcome. In a fallen world the American concept is the best possible form of government, allowing the most freedom to its citizens while at the same time establishing the strongest protections against the corruption of that freedom and the tyranny of fallen rulers.

It wasn't perfect though (of course). It required a vigilance and a citizenry educated in the true purposes of its Constitution beyond the capacity of a nation of sinners, and was in the end vulnerable to determined forces of evil. Although of course Piper is right that neither Left and Right has a special claim to righteousness, it really does have to be acknowledged that it has been the Left's concerted attacks on the foundations of America over the last few decades that have been bringing the nation down. The Left is aggressive in their repudiation of everything God requires of us. Ultimately the Constitution itself has been made to serve purposes the opposite to its original conception. The Left has redefined its concept of freedom to be a freedom for sin and even for crime, calling evil good and good evil. Calling abortion a "right," calling the publication of pornography a "right," flirting with calling capital punishment for crime an evil, redefining marriage against God's own definition of the making of one flesh out of male and female, treating marriage as not a God-defined institution but a matter of human contracts that are easily broken, calling God's Word and God's Law "hate speech" -- These are all projects of the Left since it went Marxist in the 60s, some not yet completely installed in the legal machinery but getting there. These are not the projects of the Right, even if some on the Right have capitulated to them.

But as things are progressing perhaps it's getting clearer that it's only because most Christians have gathered on the Right that it maintains any semblance of righteousness over the Left. In the end of course there will be no political party at all where Christians can find a home. Then we will surely know that our citizenship is not of this world at all and will be weaned from our emotional attachment to America.

We should always have held that attachment lightly as Christians of course, but I felt that a good word does have to be put in for this nation as a great blessing from God and as a great protector of His mercies toward the fallen human race.

I also want to put in a word here about the conspiracy thinking that seems to find no good whatever in this nation, finds it established on the Masonic satanic mysteries rather than the true God, for instance, finds all its leaders to be corrupted by evil designs and hidden evil motives, and so on. These conspiracy thinkers are lacking in judgment of what this nation has actually accomplished in this world in the way of freedom for the worship of the true God and the fulfillment of His purposes throughout the world as a result. We should be thanking God for this nation despite its flaws, because overall it has been a great blessing, to its citizens and to the world. This isn't to say that there aren't evil forces hovering in the background, and even now coming into their day, but the cynical sardonic tone of denunciation of America that is found in those discussions is undeserved, and it unfortunately sounds more like the false Marxist slams of America as "imperialist" and so on that rang throughout the sixties -- anything to call good evil. The Marxist goal was to bring down America because they recognized it as good, as a promoter of human worth, even as the instrument of the true God, and they could not bear that. They wanted the One World Order that will be America's downfall. Well, they're going to get it. Soon I'm afraid. Meanwhile, the conspiracy people need to recognize that in a world of good AND evil very little is completely one or the other and they are giving a false judgment of America.

Meanwhile, yes, Christians should hold all our loves in this world lightly, even the best loves, the most righteous loves, because our citizenship and our greater love is in heaven, but let's not call bad what has been in fact a great good, while remembering that no good in this world is going to last, but the Kingdom of God is forever.

Another from Piper:
Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting.

I think I can say I did that. I voted what I thought was the best vote under the circumstances, even considering that as a Christian I'd rather not have had to vote for McCain whose record isn't quite what it should be, and I did it without a lot of stake in the outcome. I really think Obama is going to win. I had to vote against him no matter what. Whatever the outcome my citizenship is in heaven and I want to vote as salt to an increasingly rotting world.

I agree with Piper overall so I believe we must ask the Lord to wean us off our attachment to America, which is part of the world we are to be in but not of. And I can add now because it has become reality for me recently, that we may be more easily aided in this effort by an appreciation of how far down the road to ruin the nation has gone in a short time, with its anti-God laws and now God's judgment in the economic collapse among other disasters of recent years.

The more I see the degeneration of the nation and the world the more I long for the Kingdom of God, the more fervently I pray His Kingdom come, His will be done. Maranatha, Lord Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

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