Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why It's Time to Speak about God Again

American Thinker
America is living under an illusion: the idea that we can expunge God (broadly understood) from our national and public belief system and still operate a moral and accountable government.

C.S. Lewis summed up the problem in The Abolition of Man. "We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful." John Adams asserted, "Our Constitution was made for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Our founding fathers laid down a system that demanded conscientious, self-restrained implementation -- a government dependent on the character of the people. Ben Franklin, perhaps the most deistic of the founding fathers, famously assured one curious bystander that the Constitutional Conventions had engendered "a Republic, if you can keep it." How many people today truly understand that America's health depends on the moral character of its citizens, of their personal "keeping" of our nation?

Many people in power have discovered that what Ivan Karamazov said is true: "If God is dead, all is permitted." They recognize only too well that God has been removed from public life -- and with Him, the attendant moral order. In their minds, there is no responsibility because there is no God. Morality, though not always agreed upon, has become a matter of opinion, easily dismissed.

How quaint the phrases of JFK appear to modern ears in his inaugural address: "the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God." Unlike most of American history, religious utterances today are considered sectarian, even offensive. For the publicly disgraced, however, take a few years in jail or probation and a good lawyer, and they are home free. Americans forgive, and well they should, but who is left to pick up the pieces and contemplate the risk/reward of bad behavior?

When was the last time an American president prayed aloud in public? It was FDR at the moment of the D-Day invasion. According to preacher Andy Stanley, Americans stopped in traffic and got out of their cars, and major companies sent home their employees to pray for the invasion. Children stopped in school, all to pray. The truth is that for most of our history, Americans have believed that our nation is accountable to God for our behavior and prayed publicly for His guidance and forgiveness. Even when Abraham Lincoln asserted in his Second Inaugural that "[t]he Almighty has His own purposes," intimating that they are not easily discerned, very few Americans doubted, as Lincoln asserted, that they are "true and righteous altogether."

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