Saturday, October 15, 2016

"Election 2016"

I have not posted here since the July 4th post, the focus of my studies in the past years have been more in theology than history, leaving this blog for the time to rest more than it previously has. My thoughts here may eventually merge together, viewing our history in light of theology, well see.

This particular post has been considered greatly as I have been tempted to keep my thoughts to myself this election cycle. It would be easy just to vote my conscience, stay out of the conflict and no one would know who I voted for. I could just remain quite and stay out of the conflict.  

That is a great temptation, for in posting my thoughts here, I know from conversation I will be in conflict with most in my circles. Many dear Christian brothers will not agree with me, and my dear internet friend Gene, well, I'll just await his rebuke if he happens to read it.

So, lets get started, first let me say I understand the frustration from a Christian point of view this election. I know there is a division among us, mostly conversing around the decision to vote or not to vote for the Presidential candidates.  Some feel they just cannot support a candidate who obviously is not conducive to their beliefs or who's moral character presents itself outside of acceptable. The opposing view holds that this is the choice we are given and we have a responsibility to vote for the best possible candidate that most aligns with our values. For we all understand we very seldom, if ever, find a perfect candidate, it is always a choice of compromise to obtain the best we can to further our agenda and preserve our liberty.

I approach this discussion fully aware there are many more capable person's than I who can address these issues and who will certainly disagree with me. So I simply present these thoughts to you to consider and weigh them upon the scale of scripture and the conscience of each individual.  If this blog survives, years from now the reader will have the advantage of seeing the effects of our coming decisions in this election, for now, for us, "In God We Trust".

Let us now consider a few words of instructions from those before us.

" It is high time to wake out of sleep!" This gathering of citizens from distant parts, representing the millions who hold to the Bible, and cherish the institutions founded upon its inspired truths, shows that the nation is awakening to the perils, foreign and domestic, which threatens the purity of its Christian civilization.

Its intellectual and moral strength in our Revolutionary struggle were recognized by the world, and Burke rightly attributed that strength to the character of the emigrants from various lands exhibiting 'the dissidence of dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion.'"

They all brought the Bible, from which they and their ancestors had been ready to suffer and to die; and their devotion to that book descended to the Continental Congress, which, a week before it was driven from Philadelphia, ordered an importation of twenty thousand Bibles.

At the Centennial celebration, at Philadelphia, of the Declaration of Independence, the Acting Vice-President, Ferry, said that the American statesmen who had to choose between the royal authority or popular sovereignty had been inspired by the truth uttered on Mars Hill, and repeated in the opening prayer of the morning, that 'God hath made of one blood all nations of men.'" ~ John Jay, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 1887, message titled, "National Perils and Opportunities".

"Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men." ~ Samuel Adams. The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1907), Vol. III, p. 236-237, to James Warren on November 4, 1775   

"Consider well the important trust . . . which God . . . [has] put into your hands. . . . To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]. . . . Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you. . . . [L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust. . . . Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutely oppose the torrent of iniquity. . . . Watch over your liberties and privileges - civil and religious - with a careful eye." ~ Matthias Burnett. Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk, An Election Sermon, Preached at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 12, 1803 (Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1803), pp. 27-28.]

"Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men than men upon governments. Let men be good and the government cannot be bad. . . . But if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn. . . .[T]hough good laws do well, good men do better; for good laws may want [lack] good men and be abolished or invaded by ill men; but good men will never want good laws nor suffer [allow] ill ones." ~ William Penn. [Quoted from: Thomas Clarkson, Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn (London: Richard Taylor and Co., 1813) Vol. I, p.303.]

Oh such weighty words, Oh the grace that God has given to this nation in providing such wisdom and understanding of government and men. I would argue that never before in history has such grace been given to men for government, a provision for freedom, freedom to allow men of their own conscience to serve and Glorify Him. Yet as men do, they turn it for their own pleasure and self-glorification.

Here is the question I propose as we determine our voting privileges, is it purpose or principles that guide us? A pastor friend of mine (and a dear one at that) was expressing his views on the election. In his estimation it is our responsibility to vote for Donald Trump, of which I disagree. I remained quite as he made his argument, as I stated before, a silent vote this election is very tempting. The argument goes something like this; not voting for Trump is a vote for Clinton, if the Christian community chooses not to support Trump, Clinton will be elected and that will be a disaster from the Christian perspective. The issue of the Supreme court appointees will fall to her, it will turn the balance to liberal agendas and our progress on abortion and marriage will be utterly destroyed.

It is pointed out that a vote for Trump will strengthen these positions, uphold support for religious freedom and our 2nd Amendment rights. The question is posed, what about our children, don't we want to preserve our traditional values and freedoms for them? If Clinton wins and turns the court, it will take their lifetime if ever to turn it back, the consequences of a Clinton Presidency are enormous for the Christian community.  After all, it is always a decision of the lessor of two evils, we just have to make our choice based upon the best available candidate. My pastor friend gave this example:

(If you were traveling through a town and  your car broke down, there were only two mechanics in town, both were immoral and of questionable character. Would you refuse to allow them to fix your car and put you on the road again? Of course not, you would pick the one who could fix you up the quickest and do the best you could to watch that he does not cheat you.)

My friend added he did not like the things Mr. Trump said, agreed they were wrong and did not condone his conduct or his language, but still insisted in spite of his character or lack thereof, we should still support him.

Now, all these things above are true, I don't deny that any of them do not warrant and carry a heavy weight of consideration. For an excellent article supporting the view that Christians should support Mr. Trump is here at this link by Tony Perkins.

So I fully understand this argument, and quite simply find I am drawn to it greatly. I like many of the things Mr. Trump says, I am glad he has apologized for the things that have been brought to light, grace is available to those who seek it, but does that qualify him for office?  It is a noble purpose to strive to preserve our Supreme Court, to work toward filling it's positions with people who support  and uphold our values and a strict Constitutional interpretation. It is a noble cause to work toward legislation that will discourage abortion and uphold traditional marriage. This is all a noble purpose, but what about principle? What if the only apparent path to doing these things involve endorsing an individual of questionable, very questionable character and aligning ourselves with them to bring them to office? Do we hold with principle or go with purpose?

What if we loose the Supreme Court? Loose all legislation that restricts abortion, and traditional marriage fades into the sunset. What if we deliver to our children and grandchildren a world of sin and corruption? What if their chances of prosperity and success is lost for their life time? Would we have left them with less than most of the human race has always had?

What if the country goes the other way, all prosper, success abounds for all who want it, yet one day our posterity ask us who we voted for during this election, and our answer demonstrates that purpose is more important than principle? Though the purpose be noble, I propose that principle is greater. I would ask you to consider this when placing your mark on the ballot. I submit that a choice to not vote is a valid choice of principle, and one should not be shamed into thinking they must be a supporter of someone deemed by their conscience swayed by scripture, of questionable character. For my own part, I will choose to abstain from the Presidential ballot or either write in a Candidate of which my conscience can support faithfully. I will exercise my privilege to vote, and I will vote for other offices and positions that will restrain the lessor elected officials which want personal character. If one day I am ever asked why I did so, I will simply answer, "principle".

2Sa 23:3  The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

Matthew Henry (1662-1714) commenting on this verse states:

"Here is a must for the king: He must be just, ruling in the fear of God; and so must all inferior magistrates in their places. Let rulers remember that they rule over men - not over beasts which they may enslave and abuse at pleasure, but over reasonable creatures and of the same rank with themselves. They rule over men that have their follies and infirmities, and therefore must be borne with. They rule over men, but under God, and for him; and therefore. They must be just, both to those over whom they rule, in allowing them their rights and properties, and between those over whom they rule, using their power to right the injured against the injurious."

"They must rule in the fear of God, that is, they must themselves be possessed with a fear of God, by which they will be effectually restrained from all acts of injustice and oppression."

"They must also endeavor to promote the fear of God (that is, the practice of religion) among those over whom they rule." ~ Matthew Henry

"When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, "just men who will rule in the fear of God." The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws." ~ Noah Webster. [History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), pp. 336-337, �49.]

"Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation. . . .[And t]he people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches." ~ John Witherspoon. [The Works of John Witherspoon Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. IV, pp. 266, 277.]

These are guiding principles handed down to us from those before us, they are the principles they deemed necessary to preserve what they determined to be given to us by God. They deemed them principles that delivered this nation to us and would be required to maintain it. They are the principles I will take with me in November.

May God's grace be upon each of you,


Sunday, July 3, 2016

"Atmosphere of Life" July 4th 2016

As one might see from the last post, it has been a while since I took the time to post on here. Even longer than that since I have been consistent. There have been a number of reasons for that of which I will not burden you with.  But I thought today I would  take some time and put down a few thoughts while our minds are to some degree resting upon our nation as we celebrate our Independence, this 4th of July being our 240th anniversary.

I remember many years ago some of my first discoveries of the principles that rest at the heart of who we were as a nation. I understand the complication involved and the various opinions one will wade through trying to put their finger on the reason for a place called America. It is not my purpose to offer you another opinion, though I have one, but simply to encourage us to think about were our roots are planted.

It is hard to know where to begin to dig, the principles that have come to influence all our lives and develop into this experience of freedom we call America began to take root long before they arrived and matured in this land we now call the land of the free and the home of the brave. I will not attempt to promote the idea that this maturity ever was or ever will be perfect. The wonderful men we call our Founding Fathers were men, and being so they as well as us had many imperfections and tendencies to lure them to sin and failure.

What they did have was an atmosphere that had been breathed upon by the Word of God, by that I mean, their thought process was growing in a society where faith and the Christian influence was prevailing. I know this will be troubling for some, but it's just the way it was. 

Yes, there were political minds at work, systems being developed, secular documents being drafted, and the minds of men were reasoning with one another. But all these various parts of human reasoning were under the power and influence of a religious atmosphere that had prevailed upon a people. Their understanding of God, his Word, and the redemption provided through His Son Jesus Christ, coupled with how they understood the human condition in relation to Him, affected every reasonable thought that produced fruit in their lives. Thus, though a secular document was deliberated and drawn up, the secular activity prescribed by it would be conducive to those religious understandings.

Thus, as many have pointed out, our governing documents are of a secular nature and not of a religious nature. The point is well taken, yet the secular nature derived it's life and purpose from it's religious nature. It is herein that our problems have developed, our nation, it's people, and it's leaders to a greater extent, no longer feel the influence of this prevailing atmosphere of which those in the formation of this nation lived and breathed.

This change taking place has caused difficulty in our society, and those secular documents are now viewed and reasoned in the minds of men that have an entirely different understanding. Thus, many of our customs and activities that were once understood as relevant to and supported by these documents are now in many cases understood to have no relation to or in any way supportive of these activities, and in some cases even construed to be in opposition to them. 

This struggle will continue until we are either drawn back to our previous religious convictions and our society once again breathes the atmosphere of God's Word and life, or we are completely given over to our own understandings. We will either prosper upon the Word of God, or die by our own foolishness.

We find in our own Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that we appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions (reasoning's), and that our very lives are pledged to each other, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. If we reject this commitment to God, our pledges to each other, our fortunes, and our honor find no support, no help, no sure footing to take a stand. We are but a straw house in the wind.

David Josiah Brewer (1837-1910) justice of the United States Supreme Court stated in 1892 concerning the general mind of our nation; "There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation.  These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people." Quoting from Updegraph v. The Commonwealth he continued, "Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law . . . not Christianity with an established church . . . but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men. . . . We are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those imposters." Later he would add, "Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind.  It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian. 

Breathing and living in an atmosphere such as one described above by Justice Brewer, the American way of life has flourished, because the Word of God had free course and the minds of men were exposed to it's wisdom and power to transform lives. This experience has been solely by the Grace of God, it is my desire and prayer to God that He in His wondrous Mercy grant us once again such precious Grace.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,