The Continental Divide, Tommy Nelson – Sunday, October 23, 2016
The Continental Divide
It’s October. On 8 November, we will have an election. One of the most defining for our future. One of the most controversial in our history. One in which evangelical leaders are divided who have always been united.
I have never spoken on this in 40 years, but we need to get a Christian perspective on what’s about to happen.
So . . . let’s talk politics, biblically. Is that possible? Yes it is.
One of the leading questions of early Christianity was, “How can one be a citizen of heaven and a citizen of Rome?” The New Testament answers this repeatedly.
• Jesus said “render to Caesar…” Pay your taxes.
• Paul said, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.”
• He said to Titus, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, ready for every good deed, to malign no one…to be uncontentious…to be gentle” The Christian is to be a model citizen.
• Peter said, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake” “For the Lord’s sake,” Not because government deserves it but because you revere God.
• Paul wrote to Timothy, “First of all, pray for kings and all who are in authority.”
• Paul took this from Jeremiah 29:7 as to how Israel was to conduct itself in the Babylonian exile. “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will have welfare.”
• Joseph influenced Egypt for the good.
• As Daniel influenced Babylon for the good.
• As Nehemiah, Mordecai and Esther influenced Persia for the good.
The people of God are to be a blessing to their cultures.
Not removed from, nor hostile to their cultures.
So, until the government asks us to do what God forbids, we are to be the best of citizens. But our influence in this country can be greater.
We are historically rare. We can be directly involved. We can “vote.” We have a say. We have what virtually none have had throughout history. Until 1776, no one had a say in their rule.
But . . . From 1776 to 1848, in just 70 years, most monarchies were gone. America had started something! France will follow. We were an idea whose time had come, as throughout the world men had had a gutful of the irresponsible authority of kings. Of authority bestowed through birth not merited through character.
And in the place of monarchies there arose constitutions. Official obligations and restraints set forth in writing through theologically informed reason, an absolute law, outside of man, by which he must be ruled, and to which rulers were accountable. A constitution – the incarnation of just rule in paper and ink
− administered through representative leaders
− placed there through an informed majority
− who voted for those they believed the wisest and best of men, whose job was to follow this law.
− Or as Mr. Lincoln said, “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
− A leadership bestowed through character not conception. Would it work?
No one knew. It had never been done.
It was “The Grand Experiment.”
A government not flawless but CORRECTABLE; through elections and persuasion and amendments, rather than coups and revolts. People putting people in charge. It was called a representative democracy.
And a new vocabulary arose. Politicians, politicking, Political parties, candidates, campaigns, primaries, speeches, debates, voters and mudslinging and corruption.
The system has problems, but I prefer it to monarchies because we don’t have bloodlettings. With the exception of our Civil War where half our country killed the other half over a breach of the Constitution concerning inalienable rights. And I am amazed at our constitution’s invention in Philadelphia in 1787.
A group of 55 men replaced millennia of kings with a constitution in just 112 days and it has lasted for 229 years. And it had never been done before. It is said that as Ben Franklin sat and observed the carving of the sun on the horizon on the headrest of George Washington’s chair, he wondered, “Is that sun rising or setting? Will this be a new day in history or a disaster?” No one was sure. That’s why only 39 of the 55 delegates at Philadelphia signed the Constitution. Sixteen weren’t sure it would work.
The best way to govern? Through Jesus Christ, “righteousness incarnate,” “wisdom incarnate”. He will not be elected. But until He returns a representative democracy is a good way. But two problems present themselves in electing leaders. One is the need of getting elected and staying elected. For this a politician needs “popularity.” The majority must like him. But wise rulers cannot always be popular, thus an “elected official” feels a tension between leadership and job security. Between doing right and preserving a career. This is why some said it would not work, as it would devolve into a popularity contest.
But another problem, just as dangerous, is that proper elected leaders demand an informed and wise voting public.
A proper standard must be present throughout the culture. If not, an ignorant population will get what they deserve. 51% can be as terrible as a tyrant when they are misinformed.
So potentially, “universal suffrage” is dangerous. That is why public mandatory education and universal suffrage emerged at the same time in our country. The Horace Mann Common School movement began just after the Constitution. Every young person – future voters – had to be educated in basic reading and writing, in morals, citizenship and yes, the Bible as only a morally responsible people could select proper leaders. A people and a culture are reflected in their elected leaders.
But, this is the political system, that we have all been born into. And, like it or not, we have the responsibility to be informed and vote. Because the cause of death of a representative democracy is not just ignorance of truth, but also apathy. A-pathos: “don’t care.” An apathy arising from discouragement that says, “I’m just one person,” or “the candidates are flawed,” or “I’ve got other things to worry about.”
But the Book of Proverbs says…
“If you are faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small.
Deliver those who are led away to death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”
Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?
He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?” (Prov. 24:10-12 NKJV)
Meaning, it is in the difficult day that you must be strong. When evil has gained control, that is when you must stand. You must be a hero when heroes must be. And you can’t use the excuse of ignorance.
God knows that you know because God watches over you and cares for you. And you will be accountable for your silence.
And this is where we are in 2016. Two candidates. Both flawed. Seriously. Both children of the 60s. My people. One five years older than me. One just three. Both “true nature’s child. They were born, born to be wild.” One an activist. One a capitalist.
Is it a meaningless election? Will we lose either way? An election called “The Clump.”
No. This election will be enormous in our history. As the Republican and Democratic platforms are headed in polar opposite directions. Not just politically, but theologically and morally. Half of our country will be elated on Nov. 8. Half outraged.
Because an enormous disparity of worldviews has finally surfaced in our country. One that has been brewing beneath the surface for 100 years, ever since our move from modernism to post-modernism in the 50s and 60s. “Modernism” is seeking truth, not through the Bible but through man’s reason. Modernism believes there is truth but it’s up to man to find it. Modernism failed. Because of the prevailing question of “Says who?” There was no final, eternal, infinite, outside of man, divine authority.
“Post-modernism” followed. Post modernism is inventing your own truth. You play God. It’s called Moral Relativity or Existentialism. It is the abandonment of final truth and it has dominated the latter half of the 20th century.
Some have resisted and stayed theistic knowing post modernism won’t work. Like us. Conservatives. Holding to the Bible, a standard outside of man; to biblical right and wrong, moral and immoral.
But post-modernism has affected everything: sexuality, the arts, the family, gender, education, the military, sports, entertainment. Post-modernism laundered sin. And political parties have polarized into the two worldviews. Theistic and Post-Modern.
Republican – Democratic Absolute – Relativistic Traditional -Modern biblically informed – humanly reasoned. God centered laws – man centered freedom. Pro Life – Pro Choice
In a broad sense Christian and non-Christian.
Is there final truth? Is there revealed truth? Biblical, divine truth? Or does man get to make the rules? Is “truth” just a word?
This is the elephant in the room. And I don’t mean the Republican elephant. The elephant that all are aware of but no one speaks of. Is abortion wrong? Is same sex wrong? Is ANYTHING wrong? Why? And how do we know? The elephant in the room is God.
Can we say no? In matters of marriage, sexuality, gender, abortion, or the loss of religious freedom? IS it possible to say , “No, that is wrong?”
Can they enforce compliance to their rejection like France did in 1789? As Communism did in 1917 . . . as Nazism did in the 1930s. Is homosexuality a civil right that one cannot resist for fear of retribution? Can a politician or court set aside a Biblical mandate? Can they determine a human in the womb is not a human? Can they take your gun? Can they redefine marriage? Can they redefine gender? Can they play God?
Make no mistake, this did not start with the Democrats. The furnace consuming us, we as a country have stoked for a hundred years. We are being beaten with our own stick. Reaping our bitter sowing. This didn’t just happen. It was cultivated by our own cultural ideas and the silence of the sentries, the Church.
This election will slow the post-modern trajectory if there is a Republican victory, or accelerate the post- modern trajectory if a Democrat victory. A direction that this present administration has promoted zealously and unashamedly for eight years. A direction with no foreseeable stops. No logical stops.
Because whoever is elected will have a number of Supreme Court appointments that will weight Supreme Court decisions one way or the other and affect this country for 30 years. This is the most powerful aspect of the President; Commander in Chief of the military and appointer of the Supreme Court. Most of what the president does moves like a barge, this is a jet ski. This election will put world views in stone. Scalia is gone. Three more are going. The next president is in control as few have been. Three Supreme Court decisions of late went 5-4 in favor of Conservatives: the Hobby Lobby right to religious freedom in business, the Heller Case, the right of the individual to own a firearm, and of government property having the right to exhibit a cross. Again . . . 5-4! Our historic freedoms were one vote from extinction… That balance will tip with this election…one way or the other.
Because, when you vote as an American you vote not just for a candidate but for a party platform. What it believes. And it is no longer merely a political perspective on economics, defense or foreign policy, but a theological one. What is right? Wrong? And why?
Abortion; homosexual marriage treated as traditional marriage; “gender neutral” These have never been considered right until recent.
Why? Because something changed. Because we have changed! We now believe differently. Our lenses have altered. Our worldview shifted from God to man. Theistic to Modern to Post Modern. Our previous assumptions of 200 years have vanished. Will that be good and liberating? The Democrats say, “yes.” The Republicans say, “no.” Will it be wrong and corrupting? The Republican says, “yes.” The Democrat says, “no.”
So you vote for what you believe will be a party’s consequences, direction. A party’s trajectory. You don’t just vote for a candidate.
How will it affect my kids? Grand-kids? Our future as a people? Our future hangs in the balance as never before.
Because there are three points of conscience that this election deals with. By that, I mean points that are not essentially political. Not the economy, foreign policy, the national defense or even health care – but points of the national violation of the Bible’s teaching. They are abortion, the sanctioning of sodomy or gay marriage, and the religious liberty to resist without reprisal or prosecution.
These are the legitimate fears of the Christian concerning the Democratic platform. Things not perceived as bad politics but historically as evils. Things that the Christian believes, that I believe, will corrupt us and will incur God’s wrath. Bad politics are irritants, these are self destructive.
First, the Democratic platform wants abortion on demand. Over the counter. The Republican platform wants the repeal of Roe v. Wade, or at least the continuance of stipulations and restraints that Christians have fought for since 1973: parental consent, sonograms, waiting period and the like.
Also, the Democratic platform wants gay rights treated as civil rights. Meaning the illegality of opposing and of refusing to participate in anything of same sex. Just as one does not have a right to oppose service because of race so one now cannot oppose and refuse a service because of homosexuality. In other words the removal of the Christian freedom to obey God and His Bible. Ben Carson recognized the fallacy of this “apples to apples” equating when he said to the gay community, “Do not regard your sin as my skin.” If I were black, I like Carson would be enraged at such an equating. The Republican platform wants homosexuality to remain as it has always been. A freedom and a personal right but not a law of civil compliance. And the freedom to say, “I will have no part in such actions.” I will not provide flowers for your gay wedding, a cake for your gay wedding or t-shirts or pizza for your same sex rally. Or “You can’t make me facilitate what my faith condemns.”
All of these will make or break upon Supreme Court rulings:
• As Roe v. Wade in ’73 concerning abortion.
• As Engle v. Vitale in ’62 prayer in schools.
• And as of last July concerning same sex marriage regarded as a civil law.
Supreme Court law forms trajectory . . . as 60 million dead since ’73 would agree if they could speak. Or generations of public school kids who have never heard a prayer in school. Or as Christians who have now lost businesses over the loss of religious freedom. Or as the state of North Carolina understands in saying, “No,” to the Supreme Court on gender neutral restrooms and are now being punished by the NCAA. That’s why they’re called “Tarheels.” Or Christian teachers who are now quitting rather than submitting to a requirement to not refer to boys and girls as “he or she” but by a gender neutral term. The Supreme Court has created a world gone mad.
Why do you think Christian and private schooling and home schooling have exploded in the last 40 years? To escape the inferiority, enforcement, and encroachments of secularism.
And I will make a prediction – 2 of them. If Hillary wins and the madness grows and the irrational spreads, private and Christian and charter education and home schools are going to explode… and the government will begin to inhibit.
And mind you the Democratic agenda is not a conspiratorial thing or behind the scenes. The Democrats generally are proud and open concerning their progressiveness, their tolerance and open mindedness. They are proud of their intolerance of Christian morality and of you!
When Michelle Obama speaks as she did at the Democratic National Convention four years ago of woman’s freedom to do what they will with their own bodies and the freedom to “love who you will love and marry whom you will marry” – the response was and is an ovation. They glory in their shame. As Jeremiah said, “They have lost the ability to blush.”
One of our female staff read the Democratic platform and said it was “sin in writing.” That is the Christian perception of the Democratic platform.
The Republican candidate is flawed partly because he has never been a politician so has seen no need to cover things up. He is a 60’s pagan.
• He’s had bad marriages
• And a bad demeanor . . . like a hard pragmatic businessman. I think that’s why he’s popular.
Because, he’s not a politician and can tend to hold politics in contempt. He’s one of us in that we are tired of politicians, of political correctness, of playing to the media, and weakness in leaders. But he has rough edges. Each week brings new surprises, because he just does not care! Things that make you good in business can make you bad in politics. Ten years ago he was immoral and employed filthy, unguarded and suggestive language. But then bad language did not kill 60 million babies, enforce sodomy, take your firearm or take your religious freedom.
He is as unpopular for his directness and assertiveness as the Democratic hopeful for her liberality.
But if elected, Trump has submitted 11 possibles for Supreme Court nominations that have been called by fundamentalist theologian Wayne Grudem “a conservative dream team”. And he has chosen as a running mate, Michael Pence, the poster boy for conservative Christian values.
• He has plans for Islamic immigration and illegal immigration so decisive that they have drawn criticism. And some of his references, his generalizations, have been offensive to the Hispanic community. He does not weigh his words.
• He plans to create jobs by freeing up businesses to expand by lessening taxation. Our government punishes successful businessmen . . . to the tune of 40%. We have the highest taxation of business in the world. Government need not create jobs. I know that much. Business does, but they won’t when they are continually punished for succeeding. Like communism, our government stifles ambition. Government should protect business.
• He also plans to get the government out of the church’s business and to restore religious freedom and to protect the 2nd amendment.
• And to halt the Democratic trajectory on abortion and same-sex marriage which demands Supreme Court decisions.
Pence has been quoted as saying,
1. “Let me assure you, the Trump-Pence administration will stand for sanctity of life and defend the unborn from the first day we take office.”
2. “We will end late term abortions nationwide. As my running mate said not so long ago, ‘We should not be one of the few countries that allow elective abortion after 20 weeks.’”
3. “The days of public funding for Planned Parenthood are over when the Trump-Pence Administration arrives in D.C.”
The issues of abortion and same sex are not political. They are spiritual; revealed in scripture. When violated they summon God’s wrath. And I believe they have done so already in our society full of perversion, racial unrest, and violence within as well as ISIS and terrorism without. We have been, as Paul said, “given over to a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper.”
We are now a reflection of the book of Judges, Israel’s Dark Ages, where “every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Existentialism
Because without a theological base we have no moral base, thus people are either helpless or out of control. Thus government must now not just govern us but parent us . . .
To a Christian, all other political issues must be subservient to these. Meaning no matter how he may disagree on immigration, welfare, the military, or foreign policy, taxes, or the economy, he must not fail to resist infanticide, sodomy, the destruction of traditional marriage, and the loss of Christian freedom.
If Trump is successful . . . for eight years . . . his VP would be the logical follow up. That could possibly be 16 years of halting the direction of an administration that has made the most radical rulings since Roe v. Wade and the Fugitive Slave Law that forbid the resisting of slavery and helped foster the Civil War.
How can this happen? It is easy. The sleeping giant must awake. Twenty five million evangelicals did not vote in the last election. We lost by 4 million. We are the largest demographic in our country. If Christians, our sentries, the conscience of our country, step up, if they vote and vote wisely, not for Utopia but for that candidate that will support through Supreme Court appointments the historic Christian and American values, the rights and wrongs we were built on, we will win and regain a sense of control. We can slow the madness for 30 years. We can’t stop it because the madness is not political.
It’s from man’s rebellion against the Almighty God. A madness of the soul.
A problem arises:
“Both are flawed, so I will not vote.” OR
“ I’m voting for a write-in candidate with no chance of winning as an act of conscience
an expression of Christian indignation – a political sitdown.
You say, “I can’t support Trump.”
Can you endure Hillary and the Democratic platform, and an imbalance in the Supreme Court for 30 years? The loss of your Constitutional freedoms? Can you endure that?
Because, when all three branches, Executive, Judicial and Legislative, swing one way, “it is Vegas.” It is a trifecta. It is total takeover. There is no checks and no balances. Not in just politics but this time in outlawing traditional freedoms, Constitutional freedoms.
One that will curse your children and curse your grandchildren long after you’re gone.
Does that bother your conscience? You don’t fight the enemy by firing into the air.
Francis Schaeffer said 30 years ago, “If we as Christians do not speak out as authoritarian governments grow, eventually we or our children will be the enemy of society and the state. No truly authoritarian government can tolerate those who have real absolutes by which to judge its arbitrary absolutes.” George Orwell saw this before his 1984.
In Presidential elections you vote for the better of the two. You vote for a platform; for possibilities. In 2012, I voted for Mitt Romney, a Mormon. We have idolized John and Bobby Kennedy both of whom held marriage in contempt. All leaders are flawed to some extent.
It must be said that probably few of us had Donald Trump as our first choice. He wasn’t mine. I was Cruz, Rubio, then Carson because they were open Christians. Most of us said, “What would you do if it came down to Trump?” Well it did, because the Republicans Party chose Donald Trump and entrusted him with their platform. We all recognize that he’s somewhat unlikeable. We also recognize that it’s somewhat scary to have a fellow as hard-nosed as he is to be in discussions with foreign leaders who can be on the edge. And we recognize that he is untested in politics and we could all have egg on our faces in the coming years. I assure you I will be praying earnestly for Michael Pence to guide him in the civility of politics. But those things “might be”, as indeed in all elections there is a “might be” involved in all leaders. But the Democratic platform is not a “might be”. It’s a “gonna be”. A “will be “. Donald Trump is scary because of the unknown. Hillary is scary because of the fear of the known. Maybe I was just raised different than some current evangelical leaders. I was taught not to lie down. I will vote to oppose the loss of our freedom and the loss of life and the loss of the traditional family.
If the Democratic platform is enacted which their candidate supports with zealous passion, the country we had will be no more. Secularism will have eaten into our viscera. Political analyst, Eric Metaxas, in the Wall Street Journal wrote, “If Hillary Clinton is elected the country’s chance to have a Supreme Court that values the Constitution – and the genuine liberty and self- government for which millions have died – is gone. Not for 4 years or eight but forever. Many say Mr. Trump can’t be trusted to deliver on this score but Mrs. Clinton can be trusted in the opposite direction. For our kids and grandkids are we not obliged to take our best shot at this? Shall we sit on our hands and refuse to choose?”
Christian . . . Your freedoms are seen by this party as bigotry. Your beliefs are seen as bigotry. Your rights as wrongs, and the Democratic Party wants to legally remove them by unconstitutional judicial activism – to accelerate the erosion that has been creeping onward in our post-modern culture for 50 years. The river has eaten away at the bank and it’s about to collapse. They will not stand your standing. If Hillary wins, this election can be called “The Empire Strikes Back” as 60s radicalism, underground since the 70s, will live again. “I have fought for children all my life,” Hillary says, “and I will fight for them until the end.” Ovation!! “How about, let’s don’t kill them in the womb. How’s about let’s don’t invade their safety in a restroom. Let’s don’t confuse their sense of gender, or allow children to decide what they are, or forbid the 10 Commandments and moral law to be spoken in their classroom, or forbid the name of God and Christ. How’s about let’s insure a normal set of parents, or not assault their souls with perversion on the internet. Then tell me you fight for our children.”
If the Democratic ideology wins, the echoes of Philadelphia will fade to silence to the delight of these people. Who say, “Speak to us no more of the Holy One of Jacob.”
My fear is two-fold: First that we are outnumbered. They may now be too many.
Democrats are easily and naturally produced. Any who wish to cast off the restraints of divine laws can be Democrats and the arts, entertainment, the media, the colleges, and the culture surrounds and nurtures them. I fear we may be as the English at Dunkirk about to be pushed into the sea by sheer numbers. I also fear it may be too late. The blood of a generation of the murdered cries out. The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah has reached the ears of heaven and God has come down to see. Winter may have descended upon Narnia. The last 100 years may have come due. And as Habakkuk said, “I must wait quietly for the day of distress. For the people to arise who will invade us.” Thomas Jefferson said, “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” God may want Hillary Clinton in the Presidency as the rod of His chastisement, even as Jezebel in the days of Israel’s sin. She is the embodiment of the thinking of the last 70 years.
Basically Christians in this country have found themselves at the Red Sea with no rational way of escape. All we can do is all we can do, and then, as a people, cry out for God’s might from outside our logic and limitations. God must intervene sovereignly in great might and open a way where there is none.
Christian, the barbarians are at the gate. It is an ancient conflict beginning in the Garden of Eden. “I will put enmity”, o devil, “between your children and the seed of the woman.”
Vote. Vote your conscience. And vote your brain. There is one person who I think of and am pressured by when I vote. A little fellow I can’t see. [PUT UP SONOGRAM] A little fellow who just wants a chance. A chance to breathe on his own. Who doesn’t ask for much. Just for tomorrow. And who would appreciate the adults around him to not invade his sanctuary and obliterate his right to life. It was not his doing that put him here.
I think of him. And of standing between him and those who seek his life because he’s inconvenient. To do that I am left with one choice.
And I think of those little guys he will grow up into. [MY GRANDKIDS PICTURE] Like these guys. Do they look familiar? They’re my grandkids. I would like them to have the freedoms and the protection that I had. A semblance of a country that I knew as a boy. This election is a symptom of our nation’s ills. Meaning:
− water does not rise higher than its source
− effects are not greater than their causes and you do not gather grapes from a thorn bush.
− You will not find peace and the right from a theological and moral vacuum. Our fountain has run dry.
Do you know this hymn?
“My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.”