I Blame Us, Part 1: The Collapse
Most American Christians are currently experiencing cultural whiplash. We thought we lived in the best country on earth, one with a long history of Christian influence, and that we were necessarily better than a lot of other places. Better than atheist Europe, better than pagan Africa, better than Catholic Latin America, and better than the tyrannical Far East. Obviously we’re better than the Islamic Middle East. And Canada, too – everyone knows we’re better than Canada. We’re America. We pledge allegiance to the American flag and to a recently-invented Christian flag right next to each other. Piety and Patriotism are twin brothers in our land. We’re the Christian nation, the home of the free, the defenders of liberty.
Then, in one month’s time, we discover that actually, the constitutional republic our civics classes taught us about simply no longer exists. Instead, a panel of elite lawyers make up the constitution as they go, while an even smaller number of elite bureaucrats set policies according to their whims. Consider:
An American system which has long tolerated and for a while celebrated sexual perversion has now institutionalized the same. Unnatural relations are now sanctified by the name “marriage.” Moreover, citizens are to be required to celebrate the new marriages. Divergence of opinion on an institution only imagined in the last three decades of human history – a recorded history running back at least five thousand years – is now criminal. You may not disagree with the elite lawyers.
The United States has abandoned overnight the decades old policy of non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The idea that these weapons should remain only in the hands of those states which already have them – established states usually not governed by lunatics, and which therefore presumably have self-serving reasons not to use the weapons rashly – is now passé. In the new America, if a lunatic who expresses a desire to wipe entire nations off the map wants to build the weapons with which to do it, who are we to judge?
Conclusive evidence has been unearthed that our nation, which easily leads the world in the practice of slaughtering our own babies, has for decades subsidized an organization which has not only killed 900 healthy babies a day for years, but which has profited by that holocaust by selling off baby parts to the highest bidder. The American government is deeply concerned about the manner in which this evidence has been obtained, and is threatening an investigation into the whistle-blowers.
Perhaps what most unifies these three stories is the entire absence of any moral sense in the nation. Defenders of gay marriage speak of the “law of the land” as though legal victory has settled the question. The debate over handing nuclear weapons to Iran has centered around whether or not the State Department had legal authority to conclude the treaty. Planned Parenthood has defended itself by insisting that its actions were legal – as though killing babies to sell their organs is OK as long as you don’t violate any regulations. We are now dealing with a culture which has no morality. Not a culture that is immoral, which is as old as Adam, but instead a culture which cannot recognize the category of “morality.”
What happened? Many theories abound, and blame has been placed on many sides. I fear, though, that it is very difficult to place the blame anywhere but on ourselves. Is it that we’re losing at politics? We have one party whose entire platform is theft without consequences, adultery without consequences, and now murder without consequences. The other party’s platform is to squeal loudly about all three and then prevent anyone from doing anything about it. There is no moral party for which to vote. Do you want to blame class? Race? Gender? Our moral vacuity crosses all boundaries. The problem is American. It is us; we are a debased and worthless people.
As I reflect on that biblically, I have come to this conclusion: the real culprit is the church. American Christianity is responsible for this mess. I don’t even mean those who have abandoned the central tenets of the faith to accommodate culture; I mean that the believing, orthodox Christians of America are more to blame than any other group. This disaster is ours, and for a very simple reason: we, who were supposed to live as salt and light in the world, have abandoned the concept of morality.
I’m going to close today by presenting standard Christian ethics from a bygone era. The words are in the language of the 1689 Baptist Confession, but the theology was held by Anglicans, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and the Continental Reformed as well as the Baptists. In other words, with the peripheral exceptions of the Quakers and perhaps a few of the Anabaptists, this doctrine was universally taught in every branch of Christianity which to some degree or other gave birth to American evangelicalism. Yet most evangelicals – and maybe even most of my readers – will reject it out of hand.
2nd LONDON BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH (1689); Chapter 19: Of the Law of God
God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it. ( Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10, 12 )
The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man. ( Romans 2:14, 15; Deuteronomy 10:4 )
Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth divers instructions of moral duties, all which ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away. ( Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Colossians 2:14, 16, 17; Ephesians 2:14, 16 )
To them also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use. ( 1 Corinthians 9:8-10 )
The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation. ( Romans 13:8-10; James 2:8, 10-12; James 2:10, 11; Matthew 5:17-19; Romans 3:31 )
Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man’s doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace. ( Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16; Romans 8:1; Romans 10:4; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7, etc; Romans 6:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8-13 )
Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done. ( Galatians 3:21; Ezekiel 36:27 )
Tom Chantry blogs at CHANTRY NOTES. This appeared on August 3, 2015.