Gary’s interview on Focus4 continues addressing where our American rights come from. Gary uses the biblical model to explain a Christian perspective of liberty in society. Gary deals with this and more in today’s episode of The Gary DeMar Show.
There are numerous Christians who believe that a personal, private faith is all the gospel requires. Os Guinness described this as “The Private-Zoo Factor,” a religion that is caged so that it loses its wildness. When true Christianity is applied to any part of the world, it blossoms far more fully and colorfully than any other worldview. Contrary successful worldviews must borrow from the Christian worldview in order for them to work. When pagans stopped believing that they lived in “an enchanted forest” and that “glens and groves, rocks and streams are alive with spirits, sprites, demons” and “nature teems with sun gods, river goddesses, [and] astral deities,” at that moment the world and everything in it changed. Everything seemed possible within the boundaries of God’s Providence and law. A Christian worldview made science possible and civil government ministerial rather than messianic. Stanley Jaki, the author of numerous books on the relationship between Christianity and science, comments . . .
“It can’t happen here!” How many times have we heard this claim? But it can happen here. Many will tell you that it is happening here. It seems that almost on a daily basis we are losing our God-given rights. Some even make the case that there is a direct assault on the Christian religion because it is the only belief system that puts limits on governments. To grow the State means that biblical law must be reinterpreted or made to disappear altogether. Relegating God to a distant corner of the universe or redefining and remaking Him in the image of the politically empowered emboldens governments to “do what they will" without any regard to any fixed moral foundation.
“Calvinism is back,” so says David Van Biema in the March 22, 2009 issue of Time magazine. Calvinism is listed as one of “10 ideas changing the world Right now.” It’s third on the list. When most people hear the word “Calvinism,” they bite down only on the gristle of predestination and then spit out the whole piece of meat. There is much more to Calvinism that is obscured by the misapplied aversion to particular redemption. As a student at Reformed Theological Seminary in the 1970s, I was taught that certain cultural applications flowed from a consistent application of Calvinism. Calvinism is synonymous with a comprehensive biblical world-and-life view. Simply put, I was told that the Bible applies to every area of life. To be a Calvinist is to make biblical application to issues beyond personal salvation (Heb. 5:11-14).
In the February issue of Christianity Today, Lisa Graham McMinn wrote a thought-provoking review of a recent book by Phil Zuckerman. Zuckerman’s book, Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment, is basically an indictment of what he believes is the hypocrisy of "Christian" America. Zuckerman’s point is that Americans, whom he describes as being very "religious," actually display less compassion and love toward other people than the mostly irreligious citizens of Scandinavia.
McMinn’s review doesn’t bring up this point, but I always find it quite convenient that skeptics and atheists want to define America as a "Christian" nation only when it suits their statistics. Even though this country has a rich Christian heritage and Bible verses are literally chiseled into our government and state buildings, skeptics will usually deny this empirical evidence in their attempt to erase Christianity from America’s long religious tradition. However, when they want to accuse the American religious community of being less than faithful to their stated beliefs, the story becomes something else entirely. For atheists and agnostics, America is only a Christian nation when it can be used as a club against Christianity itself.
One of McMinn’s most important observations comes about midway through her review. While Zuckerman’s comparisons of Scandinavia and the United States depend on an "apples to apples" relationship, McMinn points out that it is not this simple.
The world is in a mess, and Christians know it. Too many of us believe that we have not been called to change the world. What if centuries ago Christians had taken a similar position? What would the world be like today? John Newton (1725-1807) was an infamous slave trader. The church knows him best as the author of such well-known hymns as “Amazing Grace” and “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” Even while Newton was a Christian, he was also a captain of a slave ship. “Newton penned the beloved hymn ‘How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds in a Believer’s Ear’ during the leisure time afforded by a voyage from Africa to the West Indies.”1 Keep in mind the often repeated claim that Christians are not called to change the world. Following this line of logic, Newton could have remained a slave trader and a good Christian.
In time, however, Newton confessed “shame” for “the misery and mischief to which [he had], formerly, been [an] accessory.” He eventually denounced his former occupation with the publication of Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade (1788), “a stinging attack upon slavery that makes scenes from Alex Haley’s Roots seem mild by comparison.”2 Newton believed, prior to his denunciation of the slave trade, that he could be a good Christian and do nothing to fix social evils. “By 1788 Newton considered it ‘criminal’ to remain silent and not inveigh with evangelical fervor against the entire slave system. This conviction did not arise automatically upon his conversion, but from ethical deliberations that [William] Wilberforce set in motion.”3
England’s abolition movement was almost entirely led by the evangelical wing of the church. At the pleading of Lady Middleton and Bishop Porteus, James Ramsay wrote a long Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies (1784). Ramsay was “convinced that men will not respond to lessons of eternal redemption from those who enslave them on earth, or about heaven when kept in hell. . . . He proposed steps to total Emancipation, and suggested that free labour would yield more profit to plantation owners.”4
You may have read that “the latest American Religious Identification Survey shows that the number of those who believe in no religion at all has almost doubled in the last 18 years, rising from 8 percent to 15 percent since 1990.” Then there’s the article that appeared on the Christian Science Monitor site by Michael Spencer about a coming “evangelical collapse.” Spencer opens the article with these dire conclusions:
Today’s preoccupation with eschatology has led some to advocate a wholesale abandonment of this age, stating that there is no relationship between the temporal kingdom and the eternal kingdom.
As we continue our discussion of culture and the Christian response, I wanted to stop for a moment and make sure that a point is particularly clear. Last week, I referenced the 2007 film, Bee Movie, as an example of how culture not only reflects, but projects.
Two opinions vie for our attention in current Christian thinking regarding the legitimacy of social involvement and kingdom demonstration this side of heaven.The escapist view proposes that gospel proclamation is the church’s singular duty and no more. Concern for this world is a distraction. The pilgrim view holds that gospel proclamation is the biblical priority, but there are further societal obligations which enhance gospel proclamation.
Radio, print, and TV news sources continue to reflect the fact that the moral fabric of U.S. society is unraveling at a disturbing pace. (Think of the recent shooting deaths in Omaha and Colorado, more Christian than non-Christian divorces, radical homosexual activism, rampant teen despair, etc.)
I just received a book notice from Moody Press for a new commentary on Revelation by John MacArthur with the title Because the Time is Near.
A prominent end-time advocate writes that “the church is not in the business of taking anything away from Satan but the souls of men.” This person also believes that working to change culture and society is outside of God’s redemptive plan, believing that Satan has control of this world until Jesus returns and vanquishes him.