The Current Scene
Prayer was the common practice in American schools until a small majority, especially the atheists, brought about its prohibition. An equally determined majority has been working all the channels for a return of a public prayer time in schools. Last March 20th the issue was brought to a vote. In spite of intense lobbying and hundreds of evangelicals outside of the Capitol praying, they were eleven votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for an amendment. The measure failed said the President (who used his influence in favor) because the Senators, “just didn’t understand it.” It was a case where the lawmakers could not be fair to every religious persuasion, so an abounding majority must yield to the wishes of the few. In our pluralistic society what kind of prayer would be acceptable? Maybe we should be thankful that our basic religious liberties have not been touched. As evangelicals let us exploit what avenues there are to persuade both young and old that no man comes to the Father except through the Lord Jesus Christ, who declared Himself to be “the Way.”
In Poland it is the “war of the crosses.” There crucifixes are to be removed from the schools. In America we wouldn’t allow them in. The authoritarian government is now in conflict with an equally adamant church. The professed atheistic government of Poland brings to mind a reflection from the late Sir Robert Anderson, “Atheism is always a revolt against a false religion, and it never maintains its hold upon the minds of men.” In both of these school incidents the proof is that where mankind can express itself it will have religion of some kind. Would that this human trait were matched by the words of Solomon: “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasure; then shall thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God “ (Prov. 2:3-5).
At this time of writing the spectacular move to front stage of Senator Gary Hart surprises most the members of his own Democratic Party. He tells them he has some new ideas. To Hart, Mondale would only put the political clock back by revamping the familiar democratic platform. One thing appears, and that is that Hart is far more to the left than his opponent. In harmony with the logic of his party Hart is for sharing the wealth. While in opposition to this, Regan is for creating real wealth. The President’s “trickle down” economic versus the “quick fixes” of the spenders will influence many a voter’s mind this November.
The great landmark that commenced our modern period of history was the Protestant Reformation. Before that rulership was in the hands of the few, such as kings and the papal hierarchy. Now the will of the people is a deciding factor in the most civilized governments. The inalienable rights of the individual possess the popular mind. Everyone in a free society running for office must convince the voter that he has the best solutions. The weak link in this chain is that the ambitious office seeker promises more than the economy can bear. Or to fulfill the promise enormous national debts have been incurred that would pose a grave threat to world stability. Thus the modern democrat assures himself that he has the best, yea only, solution to settle the glaring inequalities that still plague humanity.
In spite of all this there are still gigantic tyrannies which no form of government has yet been able to iron out, or probably ever will. The wealthy, the Edisons and Fords; and the pious, hardworking Amish farmer can be likened to the mountains in nature. Rob them of their place in society and of their privileges and you have stopped the fertilizing rivers that nourish the valleys. “Equal shares are fair shares” won’t work. The English philosopher foresaw much that prevails today, “For who is to judge as to these conflicting interests? and who is to enforce the judgment? Class will disagree with class — nay individual with individual: every man’s hand will be against his brother; might will make right upon a scale the world has never seen, until out of the surging sea a power rises strong enough to command once more.” As another has said, “Who can say where the movement for men’s rights shall stop? If they be rights, must it not be unrighteous to stop anywhere?” The most backward third-worlder is beginning to insist, “Me too!”
All of this denies the fall and makes man the measure of all things, or his own saviour. The cross of Christ has judged and unmasked the world for what it is. The world is still choosing Barabbas and rejecting the Lord Jesus. Yet that cross is the greatest of all paradoxes. “The very sword that pierced His side; drew forth the blood to save.”
The world, and especially the United States, has witnessed some remarkable changes since the close of World War 2. In America the lot of blacks, and other minorities, has greatly improved. Amenities for all in the way of Social Security, complete medical care for the poor and elderly, and assistance to the unemployed are now considered normal government obligations. The nation has been charitable in many instances to the needs of the world. Unfortunately the recipients of giveaways are always crying for more. Solomon describes “the hoseleach crying, give, give” (Prov. 30:15). This has tended to encourage a mindless irresponsibility, especially when it comes to procreation. The swarms of unproductive offspring pose a threat to democratic stability. The Kissinger report on Central America blames an uncontrolled growth of population that the countries are incapable of absorbing as a major problem of those parts. In Mexico City there are 18 million people, half living in shanty towns. Such are a potential for a riot, plague or mass invasion into the U.S. of a redundant population, at the same time threatening to swamp American stock that enjoys its family planning. The Chinese appear to be the first to be taking a realistic approach to population explosion. Situations develop when there are millions of humans with no place to go but up, and there is the cry for living space. Hitler had in mind conquered territory for a “master race.” Obviously he did manipulate those he subjugated. America’s sympathetic approach, food for the hungry and home and welfare for those who manage to enter the country, can be self-defeating as a dependent society ever increases its kind.
Obviously the disciplines of work, disease, famines and wars work out for a balance among the nations. Supposing science were to eliminate all of the effects of the curse that God has imposed upon the world, what then? (Gen. 3). Unless mankind was correspondingly tamed, problems would come from other directions. The Arabs have a proverb, “All sunshine makes a desert.” God was responsible for Noah’s flood, and for the fire and brimstone upon Sodom (Gen. 19:24), and He allowed evil spirits to control kings to declare devastating wars (1 King 22:20 and Ezek. 21:21, 27). We also read, “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6). At this time of writing the nation is grieved over the deaths and destruction of the tornadoes that swept through the Carolinas in late March.
Our Lord called attention to two catastrophes of His day: Pilate’s atrocity in slaying pilgrims and mixing their blood with their sacrifices, and the eighteen that were killed when the tower of Siloam fell (Luke 13:1-5). The Lord then inquired whether they were sinners above others; no, not necessarily. Rather, He said, “… except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” Not perish by a tower falling on them but all are to die; so prepare for that event. This imperfect world, and so beyond man’s power to perfect, certainly has its lessons of eternal value and should also encourage us to heed Abraham’s example, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).
To help protect American interests abroad millions of dollars have been spent to equip and train native soldiers. The predominant Arab representation of the Lebanese army just went over to the other side. Only the embattled “Christian” element remains to fight for an independent Lebanon. This was the American plan but at the moment a hopeless and lost cause. Now in El Salvador its army vastly outnumbering the rebels and better equipped are no match for their motivated enemy. They may be influenced by rebel propaganda that they are only fighting for American interests. History is full of instances where nations have hired surrogate soldiers but of little value.
Money just cannot purchase love, loyalty and devotion; nor even patriotism. Hirelings are of no value in areas where the nobler instincts of mankind are demanded. Now many Christians would be such if they encountered the enmity of the world along with Paul “… as it were appointed to death … Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffetted, and have no certain dwelling place” (1 Cor. 4:9, 11).