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Cal Thomas is at it again. I will explain in a moment. Since you are reading this column, I am going to assume you have some understanding that there is a cultural war going in America. On one side are people who believe in the Christian view of man. We believe there is absolute truth and fixed standards of morality that have been given to us by the God of the Holy Bible. Examples of these fixed standards are found in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. On the other side are people who believe the exact opposite of what I have just described. They are mostly secularists or humanists (sometimes called secular humanists) and they believe morality is relative. They do not believe in words like "good" or "evil." They detest Christianity (particularly the evangelical brand) because of its claims of exclusivity. They like to scare the public into believing that evangelical Christians want to force our religious doctrines on the rest of America by using the law to do it. These are the two sides at war in our country today.
What's at stake here is whose definition of right and wrong will prevail when it comes to social mores and public policy and where that leaves us—and leads us—as a people and what it means to our future. This is the war for the soul of America, if you will.
You know, it is really frustrating when fellow Christians use the same false arguments of the secular left to criticize the conservative Christian/pro-family movement. The movement made up of leaders like Don Wildmon, James Dobson, James Kennedy, Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, Richard Land, Jerry Falwell and others. Ironically, Cal Thomas sometimes joins the liberal attackers.
Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist. He also has his own show on the Fox News Channel each weekend. In a recent column he went after conservative Christians—again. I am not sure what Cal claims to be today, perhaps a moderate. I know he once worked for Dr. Falwell and the Moral Majority back in the early 80s. But he talks about conservative Christians today as if he is not one, even though he often writes as if he is. In the book he co-wrote with Ed Dobson (no relation to James Dobson) titled Blinded by Might, he wrongly attributed ill motives to James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, saying they were doing what they were doing because they enjoy flexing their political muscles. Basically, he said, these two were on ego trips and that they were trying to bring about spiritual and moral change in America through the force of government, advising that they should instead focus their time, energies and resources on activities promoting the gospel. This is a frequent argument used by liberals to try and thwart the efforts of conservative Christian leaders.
"You Christians need to clothe the poor and feed the hungry and quit trying to force your morals on everyone else with politics," is the line often used against us.
As if Christians can't care for the poor and stand for public policies that reflect biblical righteousness at the same time.
What was interesting about Thomas's criticisms of Dobson and Falwell in that book is that these two gentlemen and their respective ministries have spent the vast majority of their time and money over the years helping families and marriages and spreading the gospel message, while perhaps spending five percent of their time trying to influence politics and/or government. And when they do get involved in political issues, they are always also moral issues that the scripture speaks to. So, again, it was a strawman Thomas put up, just like liberals do.
Now in his latest jab, Thomas is doing the same thing again. In a recent column (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/thomas062105.asp) he lauded the comments of former United States Senator John Danforth who wrote critically of conservative Christians in the New York Times (June 17) in a column titled "Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers." Wrote Danforth: "Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental actions." (Incidently, in that same column Danforth writes that he is a Christian who is for human embryonic stem-cell research and against a constitutional amendment to protect marriage because it would "humiliate homosexuals." Don't ask me how he can give readers his view on moral issues while using the column to go after conservatives for doing precisely the same thing.) With some qualification, Thomas agreed with Danforth's statement criticizing conservatives and then added, "Christians are limited in what government can do for them and for an earthly agenda."
Now, there's a revelation. Thomas writes this as if conservative Christian leaders (who he pejoratively calls "self appointed"—just as the liberals do) just don't understand it.
As a conservative Christian, I say yes to Danforth and Thomas, we can know for certain where God stands on issues of life, marriage, homosexuality, etc., and that we should stand up for biblical righteousness when and where we can, especially when it comes to public policy and the law. By doing so does not mean we believe government can "save us" in any kind of spiritual way. How ridiculous! Yet Thomas beats this drum over and over and over as if it a serious problem among conservative Christians. I have worked in this movement for nearly 20 years and have not met one conservative Christian leader who believes the government has the answers for problems of the soul. That is a ludicrous idea.
Further, Thomas writes, "Wouldn't these conservative Christians have greater moral power if they put their own houses in order before trying to cure the disorder in other houses? Isn't that the principle behind Jesus' story about noticing a speck in the other fellow's eye, while ignoring the beam in one's own eye?"
Well, no, it isn't Cal. This principle is meant to promote humility and the recognition of weakness in the believer while also engendering sympathy towards those who do stumble and sin. It doesn't mean you are to wait until there is a sin-free church before the church has a right to speak out on moral issues. You see what Thomas does here? Just like liberals, he misapplies scripture.
The striking irony here is that Thomas lives in the Washington, DC, area and makes his living writing a lot about politics and government and it how it can work better and do more good.
My bottom line is this. It would be great if American Christians were a perfect, consistent witness. However, conservative Christians should keep standing for biblical truth on a personal level, a church level, and a governmental level. That we may fail from time to time at any of these levels does not negate the truth of God's Word or make it any less legitimate or vital that we stand up and proclaim that truth, even when it involves politics and government.