The political breath of fresh air that swept through Massachusetts this week like an old-fashioned “nor’easter” gave hope that the government takeover of health care and the radical agenda of the Marxist/Democrat machine can be slowed or stopped. The fact that it occurred near where another “shot heard ’round the world” occurred on the 19th of the month (April) was particularly sweet.
As usual, let me be the fly in the sugar bowl for a moment to remind us of some important facts. First, anything close to center and certainly center-right from the Commonwealth was a huge victory.
However, lest we pin too much hope on Scott Brown, it is important that we remember some critical facts. First, he represents a state that has given us Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Barney Frank and – I know I’ll raise some ire with this inclusion – Mitt Romney … all center to very far left on a legitimate scale of true conservatism.
This political victory was desperately needed to throw grease under the drive wheels of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi locomotive. The fact that it also represents the uprising of the Common Joe to take our government back is inspiring. With that stated, here is the question we must answer; “How did we get from John and Sam Adams to Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank to begin with?”
We must also answer the challenge David presents us from God’s word: “If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3) The foundation he was referring to is in verse 1, “In the Lord, I take refuge. …” Do we largely take refuge, aka hide our collective self under His authority and protection?
How is it that the region that was the birthplace of freedom and produced like the Adams and documents like the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut declined so far, so fast? While we often deride Western Europe for its dead churches, secularism and socialism, those nations have been on a much longer and more gradual decline. New England is the least churched region in the nation, following in the footsteps of our European cousins, producing similar fruits.
In large part the majority of our pulpits, congregations and institutions no longer reflect the “aflame with righteousness” described by Alexis de Tocqueville. We have loved comfort, popularity, prosperity and peace far too much to risk even preaching the offensive truth of God’s Word lest we chase off the big donors or aren’t invited to be keynote at the Church Growth Conference.
While we love to wave flags and wipe a tear on Independence Day, do we really know what patriotism is, or is it even a legitimate premise for Christians? Am I irritating you will all these questions? Good.
How we define patriotism in its true form, whether it is just people mad at government overreach and overspending or whether the foundations of it are much deeper, is critical. Noah Webster, in his historic 1828 dictionary defines it as:
PAT’RIOTISM ,n. Love of one’s country; the passion which aims to serve one’s country, either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions in vigor and purity. Patriotism is the characteristic of a good citizen, the noblest passion that animates a man in the character of a citizen. (emphasis added)
What are our laws and institutions that relate to patriotism? I would propose that those identified in our the Seven Mountains concept as developed by Campus Crusade for Christ and the Community Transformation Flow Chart all qualify as essential:
Remove the foundations from any of those and they crumble. Remove them from No. 1, and No. 2 crumbles and so on through the dominoes. The primary reason for the attack on the nuclear, traditional family as well as the purpose and definition of marriage is that our enemy is a shrewd strategist.
Destroy marriage, destroy the family, destroy the church, destroy the government, destroy the nation.
Restore marriage, restore the family, restore the church, restore the government, restore the nation.
We must love those institutions but must first love the Creator of those institutions, followed by loving our “neighbor” who comprises those institutions. God’s righteousness and justice are integral to every one of those institutional spheres, or they will become an instrument of destruction – pick any one as an example.
True patriotism also loves our laws because without them we do not have freedom. Our “laws” are grounded in the U.S. and state constitutions but are inseparably linked to one critical element – self-government. That personal restraint, our Founding Fathers believed, occurred primarily through the teaching and practice of biblical Christianity as the dominant cultural influence.
The moral meltdown of the last 40 years has brought to life John Adams’ warning and has shredded the cords of the Constitution “like a whale goes through a net.” As historian Dr. Marshall Foster asserts in “The American Covenant”:
Because our form of government is derived in all its parts from biblical principles, it cannot be understood without comprehending those principles, nor can it be made to work as our Founding Fathers intended.
I am thankful for the uprising against tyranny represented by Scott Brown’s victory as well as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in defense of freedom of speech and association this past week (Citizens United v. FEC). What we must do if those are to be anything other than very short-term gains is to turn back to the Author of Freedom.