Category Archives: Responsibility

Why Conservative, Christian?

Is America a Christian Nation?

Among those brothers and sisters who claim the name of Christ as their redeemer and Lord there are as many social ideas and political persuasions as there are sequins on a glam rockers vest. Or more.

Anybody who thinks all professed Christians believe a certain way about nearly any subject, even many subjects central to the faith, is misinformed or worse. They may be correct in believe that professing Christians ought to believe certain ways, but they are sadly mistaken if they think they actually do.

Especially in recent years, as traditionally more professedly secular ideologies have come to recognize the power and persuasion of faith-based arguments, no one political party or social movement or cultural idea can claim to be leading most Christians in it’s way.

However, there are many social ideas and political ideologies that Christians ought to agree on, and at least basically agree on their importance in the grand scheme of ideas.

First, we must agree that all aspects of life are related. That words mean things, that ideas have consequences, that actions are the outward manifestations of inward ideas, though they can be easily controlled and manipulated to give a wrong impression, positive or negative. We must agree that out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. We must agree that what one does in private is the truer measure of who they are than what they claim in public. We must accept that dishonesty in one part of a life will mean that person cannot be trusted in other ways either. This doesn’t mean we only accept perfection. It means, more than anything else, that we only trust God for those things that are rightfully His to do.

Second we must agree that there are standards of right and wrong, and they are not situationally or culturally defined. When Jesus said He was the only way to the Father, He wasn’t leaving options open. If you don’t believe Jesus is the only way, you’re very welcome to call yourself anything you please, except a Christian. We use labels to mean things and allow useful and necessary classification in order to function as a normal, healthy society. Co-opting a label that has meant one thing for centuries to mean something completely different is to no ones benefit except the deceiver. And referencing to point 1, such deception in more indicative of your own heart issues than any intolerance true Christians may or may not hold.

The same goes for other truths that are defined in human nature and through the Word of God. Killing of innocents is always unjust and immoral. It doesn’t matter if you’re all in a life raft and starving and the weak ones wouldn’t survive anyways. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to live with the consequences of your actions. It doesn’t even matter if the choice was taken from you and forced upon you by evil people doing evil actions. Taking a life never expunges the memories or heals the wounds. It only adds to the pain and grief and lays actual and real and deserved blame on yourself. Abortion is murder. There is no argument that can change that plain and simple and very obvious fact. And to subscribe to and support any ideology that holds otherwise is to accept a huge burden of responsibility for the ugly truth that is our societies acceptance of this hideous and unconscionable act.

Third, we must agree that in order for God to justly judge the actions and intentions of each and every person, each and every person must be allowed the maximum use of their own abilities to do with as they please. Acting according to conviction or spite, or duplicity or compassion, or cynicism or malice or justice or pleasure, it is each and every one of our prerogative what we shall do with our own resources, got by our own hand, multiplied by our own skill, maximized by our own discipline. If the government or any other group takes from the able to distribute to the needy, they are removing that able person’s ability to show their own character and quality to God and man. And they are, more often than not, removing a powerful motivator for the needy to raise themselves up through honest and accountable charity and use of those resources they do have. A system of mutual dependency removes the onus of responsibility both from those who have and those who need.

I subscribe to conservative social and political beliefs not because I want America to return to its roots as a Christian nation. I don’t hold to my standards and ideas because I hope to create a wondrous theocracy here in the United States of America. Useful theocracies perished with the coming of Christ. At that point the theocracy moved to the heart of each and every man and woman and child. The responsibility is no longer with the nation but with the individual how they will go and who they will serve. The nation bears responsibility for maintaining an atmosphere most conducive to individual expression of their own faith, preventing such beliefs from infringing on others beliefs, and punishing where such infringment occurs. The individual bears the responsibility for using what freedom they have to serve whom they will in what manner they deem best.

The philosophies and ideas our Founding Fathers used to build such a nation were predominantly those derived from the Christian worldview. Because God does not want automatons but people who have freely and willingly chosen Him, He give to us complete choice and builds a framework, a worldview that is most conducive to such freedom while accounting for the human predilection for sin. It is the Christian government that is most conducive to all religions coexisting as peaceably as they may.

I am not Christian because I am conservative. No, political ideas can only at best be results of deeper things. I am a conservative because I am Christian. To be Christian is a deeper thing.

How To Evangelize

Going through Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” series in Sunday School, yesterday we discussed his admonition that we ought to “gladly make others glad”.

First, our gladness equates to the fullness of our joy, our satisfaction with our life in Christ.

The others gladness can only occur when they recognize their sin, accept Christs forgiveness and redemptive work on the Cross, and begin and work out their own relationship with God.

One of the cardinal points of this teaching is that we, despite our responsibility to make others glad, are wholly and completely unable to make others glad. We are tools, we are the conduit used by God to bring about gladness in others.

But don’t think ours is a passive place, as our work for God is not passive in the slightest sense but active and our will and energy aligned with God’s work is necessary. As I love working for those I love, I ought to give all to the God who ransomed me.

And so, with our energy, and with our responsibility, and with our inability, we confront the admonition: “…always ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.”

And we ask, practically speaking: If I were to go to the door of a stranger across town with two people from Church, and (just thinking averages and chances) told them about Christs work on the cross. Would it matter? Would it make a difference in their life?

It may, it may not.

If however, you were “in the world but not of it” in the sense that you made relationships with unsaved people and allowed them to see into your life as you saw into theirs, and then told God: I’m ready for whatever trials You bring my way, only help me be strong and consistant in my love and trust in You, and let my patience and heartiness borne of Your strength in my life radiate and illuminate even in the depths of the trials You’ve allowed and shine such that my friends and neighbors who do not yet know the amazing power of Your might be unable to understand the peace within me. And give me the answer then as they see Your hope in me.

We are not saving people to heaven necessarily, but to a relationship with God.

To get someone to embrace heaven for any reason (to see loved ones, to escape hell, to live forever in bliss) besides the wonderful relationship we Christians experience with the Father of all, is to create a weak and cheap faith.

It’s like marrying for sex: sure it’s a cool thing that’s really fun, but the real reason to marry is because you can’t live without this best of friends who is so different from you and yet completes you in so many ways. Marrying for sex is one thing, but marrying for love and enjoying sex with that person you love is so far and above the former that it does not even bear comparing.

It causes me to think that the Ray Comfort method of evangelism, while it has it’s place in our sound-bite culture, isn’t the most effective method and may be more likely to create weak faith and charlatans of Christianity who at the first or second onset of adversity promised, will fall away and show “they were not of us”.

To Kill A Butterfly

Monarchs hatching

Want to know how to kill a butterfly?

Help it.

Yes, it’s that easy.

You see this newly metamorphosized creature, brimming with potential beauty and wondrous mystery, struggling weakly against the tough confines of it’s chrysalis shell. Moved with pity you gently tear the chrysalis further, freeing it’s hostage, the beautiful young butterfly.

And yet, what is this?

The fair creature is still weak. It’s body not energized with the pangs of struggle, and it’s abdomen still engorged with liquid it must now pump into it’s wings. Without the necessary and draining struggle for freedom from it’s chrysalis, the butterflies strength is stunted and it will not have the strength to pump it’s wings full.

It will fall to the ground and become easy prey to the other creatures waiting for food or it will simply die.

It is good to minimize suffering whenever we can. It is our moral responsibility to strive to help and assist others however we are able.

However, all assistance and relief must be provided with an awareness of the necessity of the situation.

Does a parent do their child good by covering for them when they cheat or break the law? Often, it is a parent’s failure to provide the necessary discipline at home that allows the child to grow up to break the law, and the best thing they can do is to allow that authority willing to provide the necessary correction the freedom to mete out the necessary punishment.

Does a parent do their child good by demanding the opening of the school basketball court to where they are skipping classes and failing everywhere except for their “mad skillz” on the court? Wouldn’t it help the child by standing firm beside others who care and require higher standards from children who obviously have drive and intelligence?

The easy solution is often fraught with foreseeable future failure.

An often maligned conservative standard is to expect more from people. It is completely true that this perspective tends to hurt more than the soft tyranny of low expectations held by many of a liberal bent. However, the people who grow through adversity are stronger people, more independent and more positively beneficial to the independently interdependent system our Founding Fathers devised for us.

It has been said the most difficult part of raising children is consistency, and also the most rewarding. Consistantly providing instruction, correction, support, guidance, and parental leadership will take life from me and cause hurt and pain. But it will reap rewards far beyond any mushy permissiveness or laissez-faire Spockian parental philosophy.

Our dear child is to be a butterfly, and I shall not do more nor less than hold his hand as he struggles through the various chrysalis’ life passes him through. I not ease his way only in giving him the tools he needs to accomplish his own way.

I will not kill my butterfly.

What is our problem?

What makes us so special?

Rather than embarking on a long dialogue, as is my norm, I want to instead throw some things out on the table for you to think about.

First . . . do we really readthe Bible, or do we just preview it through our Americanized mindset? In American culture, my actions are treated as my own, and the consequences are solely mine. However, read the Bible. Truly read it. The story of Achan clearly demonstrates that not only is a person responsible for their crime, but their wife, children, and grandchildren are to suffer for the sin and their possessions are to be destroy. Do I condone this? No, with fulfilment of the law, God brought grace. But guess what? God hasn’t changed, we are still responsible for the sins of those we are connected to (accountability) are our sins still effect those we are around (responsibility), to a much larger extent than our American minds want to accept.

Second¬†. . . what makes us so special (American Christians)? We walk around acting like being an American Christian is a benefit to God. Somehow, we have a general mindset (not when we think about it, but when we just normally act) that God is in debt to us since we are American Christians and he owes us providence and goodwill. I got news . . . I am of no more value to God than a Chinese Christian who is of no more value to God than a Chinese heathen. We act like God owes it to us to keep our country “safe” and prosperous, but God owes us no such thing.

Third . . . are we (American Christians) the ones who decided who is a Christian nation and who gets God’s blessings? Somehow, we feel like we have a direct line to God and can dictate to Him who he should bless (us) and how the world should be run (through our prosperity). However, here is a though . . . maybe God is using, and blessing the Chinese. Here is an even harder thought, maybe God is using the Chinese to reshape the world for the next stage of human development. That is a hard pill to take, but guess what . . . we (as Christians) should rejoice in that because it is the next good¬† step in God’s good plan.

In closing, maybe we should get over ourselves, read what God really says (not what fits our mindset), and take joy in world event (and prepare for joyous persecution) because God has ordained it for his glory.

Dilbert . . . in this new economy

Here is a priceless article out of the WSJ. There are no real “slick” lines in the article or fancy catchphrases, just sound, well though out reasoning.

The article details how the economies woes are no longer the fault of the Bush administration, the poor credit lenders, or the greedy oil barons. In fact, the article explains that the economy was actually recovering from those disasters . . . untill the anticapitalists came it. Check it out.

There is one quote really worth passing on to you all though. This is about AIG and Citigroup.

Citigroup’s restructuring last week added not a dollar of new capital, and also no clear direction.

I don’t know about you, but this really sounds a lot like a major theme in Dilbert. The constant changing of the outside of the organization with no real changes to the people, operations, or leadership (usually the real problem).