The Current Scene
The Moral Majority
A new bloc has entered the U.S. political arena. It is represented mainly by Fundamental Christians; although its membership is open to any whose viewpoint is decidedly conservative. This body of voters feels that it played a considerable part in bringing about a Reagan victory. They now feel that they have sufficient public opinion and numbers to wield a political clout. In politics professing Christians are attached to one of two camps. The label given to these two sides is “Conservative” and “Liberal,” or, the right and the left. Until this last election conservative Christians as such refrained from politics. On the other hand, those of the liberal persuasion worked hard in the area of social needs; in fact, Christian doctrines were considered mostly a hindrance. Now socialism seems to have peaked, at least for the present. The State welfarism that liberal Christianity has backed so heavily has now brought to the nation deeper problems than the ones it has sought to solve. One glaring weakness of the social gospel has been its onesided occupation with the physical needs of the disadvantaged at the expense of moral and spiritual instruction. Consequently, law and order is increasingly threatened. Alarmed, and at the same time crusading, a new Christian right has come to the front with a deep awareness of patriotism and mission to save a floundering nation. It is no surprise at this moment that they are more concerned with morality than philanthropy.
The liberals are crying “bloody murder” because conservatives have now stepped into the political arena. One editorial has this note, “Jerry Falwell was quite right in castigating the inconsistency of religious liberals who, back in the sixties, dove headfirst into the activist political waters and now suddenly condemned religious involvement in politics when it opposed their own viewpoint.” One opponent of the Moral Majority is Dr. Brown of the Pacific School of Religion who takes out after Falwell in a recent issue of “Christianity and Crisis.” He faults the Lynchburg radio preacher’s book, Listen America, and quotes a passage that is typical of Falwell, who writes, “The sin of homosexuality is so grievous, so abominable in the sight of God, that He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of this terrible sin.” Brown says this is only a partial truth and does so by calling attention to Ezekiel 16:49, “Behold this was the guilt of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness, neither did she strenghthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Here is an example where an isolated text can generally be found to emphasize one’s point of view. The professor does not appear to be bothered much about homosexuality but rather the concerns of the poor. From the spiritual standpoint, Falwell is driving home something more important as he warns against gross immorality. Dr. Brown continues to criticize Falwell while adding a little irony when he writes, “it is biblicist, all right, evoking stray verses here and there that support free enterprise, male domination, the death penalty, a hard line on homosexuals, employment of physical force to bring unruly children into line and so forth.” This is, of course, the usual criticism that the Fundamentalists receive from this source: stern on morality but short on comparison. The impression that “born again” Christians are callous toward the disadvantaged is contradicted by history. The best schools and universities have originated from orthodox Christianity and motivation. Slavery under the English flag was liberated through the efforts of Wilberforce who was first a Christian, then a statesman. Prison reform has its origin in early 19th century Christianity. Evangelicals support and run the Rescue Missions; their ratio of foreign missionaries is far in excess to those from liberal quarters. The approach of the two positions is different. Socialism, and Communism would boast of putting a new suit on a bedraggled wretch. Evangelicalism would first want to see a new man in rags, knowing that the rags would soon give way to cleanliness and suitable attire. This latter is a slow and painstaking work requiring patience, and the thing that will count for time and eternity.
With this Moral Majority entering the main stream of American political life there are pitfalls ahead that need to be avoided. There is the danger of polarizing and getting impatient if their goals are not heeded. This in turn could tend to stiffen the liberal wing, resulting not in two contending parties but civil strife. Christian values cannot be pressed upon non-Christians. This was done in Calvin’s Geneva and Cromwell’s Holy Commonwealth in England. It succeeded only while there was the iron hand to enforce the stern measures. When relaxed, the carnal soon revealed their preference for the former days that had been denied them. We live in a pluralistic society and we are going to encounter galling situations. Freedoms work both ways. Let Christians use theirs to serve God while we wait for His Son from heaven.
A New President
Ronald Reagan is not only a new President but he intends to introduce a new approach to the country’s problems. For decades the country has generally been under the administration of liberal politicians. To their credit they have evened out the distribution of wealth. The poor and underprivileged have considerably benefitted. Unfortunately, this welfarism has come up with some alarming side effects. It has deteriorated the work ethic for many. The government is plagued with all the problems that go with unmanageable debt. All of the former Presidents of this welfare era have made promises of some kind to clean up the mess in Washington but without success. We wonder if Reagan can perform the needed miracle. The promises to do so are certainly to be recalled.
Politics has been aptly defined as “the art of the possible.” We wish President Reagan well if he succeeds in doing just that. Naturally, there is the wonder if a free society will stand for the necessary disciplines that attend a sound economy. Then there are the unforeseen disasters, droughts, earthquakes and wars and rumors of such. Nor can we overlook the negative prophecy, “that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2. Tim. 3:1).
A recent evangelical writer adds, “Only one is capable of achieving the impossible — effecting astronomical adjustments, altering topography of the Middle East, above all, radically revolutionizing that stubborn, intractable, recalcitrant thing called, ‘human nature’ — the rock on which, sooner or later, every manmade ship of state is sure to flounder!” Another musing on the same subject writes, “Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, with title over all things, but having taken none, with His enemies still in power and to rise up more dreadful than ever; and then all will be put down. Now here it is that people are so deceiving themselves — Christians too. They are trying to improve man and improve the world. Why, Christ was in the world and could not improve it, but Christians are going to try.”
In Revelations 5 we observe a strong angel asking for a challenger to open a seven-sealed scroll written within and without. Since the main burden of this prophetic book is to discover who is to reign over the earth, it would appear that the scroll contains the title deeds for such. After it was discovered that no one in the universe was capable of fulfilling the contents of the scroll, “the Lion of the tribe of Juda” prevailed to open the scroll. He is also described as “the Root of David.” These two figures of Jesus Christ suggest sovereignty and the long promised Davidic Kingdom. Three times in the Revelation our Lord’s reign over the kings of the earth is described as to rule all nations with a rod of iron.” This cannot be equated with the present as we are told “so might grace reign through righteousness” (Rom. 5:21). Now God is calling out of the world the Church, the body of Christ. When Christ returns to reign, then this tortured world will enjoy its long promised millennium. Two distinct divine programs. Ours is to adjust to this present church age.
Thy Kingdom come, O God,
Thy rule, O Christ begin;
Break with thine iron rod
The tyrannies of sin.