on the corruption of governments

A few weeks ago at my church, I had the pleasure and privilege of preaching from God’s Word.  (The link to the video for that can be found here.)  The sermon series this summer has been “What Does God Say About _____.”  After much thought, I decided to roll the dice and propose the topic of government.  Nothing controversial there, right?

I proceeded with my points:

  1. Government was instituted by God
  2. We must submit to the governing authorities.
  3. The only thing we can do with government is corrupt it.

It was this third and last point that came to mind when I was listening to the radio and heard an unbeliever (my assumption) echo the very sentiment.  This past week, Russian president Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed in the New York Times slamming American “exceptionalism,” the notion that there is nothing special about America.  The radio host vehemently disagreed.  He said the following:

So what is it? Well, if you know the history of the world… Read your Bible, read whatever historical account of humanity you hold dear, and what you’ll read about is human tyranny. You’ll read of bondage. You’ll read of slavery. The vast majority of the people, the vast majority of the human beings who have lived and breathed and walked this planet have lived under the tyranny of despots, the vast majority.

It isn’t even close.

The vast majority of the people of this world since the beginning of time have never known the kind of liberty and freedom that’s taken for granted every day in this country. Most people have lived in abject fear of their leaders. Most people have lived in abject fear of whoever held power over them. Most people in the world have not had plentiful access to food and clean water. It was a major daily undertaking for most people to come up with just those two basic things.

Just surviving was the primary occupation of most people in the world. The history of the world is dictatorship, tyranny, subjugation, whatever you want to call it of populations — and then along came the United States of America. Pilgrims were the first to come here seeking freedom from all of that. They were oppressed because of their religion. They were told they had to believe in the king and his god, whatever it was, or they would be imprisoned.

They led an exodus from Europe to this country, people of the same mind-set. They simply wanted to escape the tyranny of their ordinary lives. This country was founded that way. For the first time in human history, a government and country was founded on the belief that leaders serve the population. This country was the first in history, the EXCEPTION — e-x-c-e-p-t, except. The exception to the rule is what American exceptionalism is.

It is because of this liberty and freedom that our country exists, because the founders recognized it comes from God. It’s part of the natural yearning of the human spirit. It is not granted by a government. It’s not granted by Putin. It’s not granted by Obama or any other human being. We are created with the natural yearning to be free, and it is other men and leaders throughout human history who have suppressed that and imprisoned people for seeking it.

The US is the first time in the history of the world where a government was organized with a Constitution laying out the rules, that the individual was supreme and dominant, and that is what led to the US becoming the greatest country ever because it unleashed people to be the best they could be. Nothing like it had ever happened. That’s American exceptionalism. Putin doesn’t know what it is, Obama doesn’t know what it is, and it just got trashed in the New York Times. It’s just unacceptable.

The host?  Rush Limbaugh.  (His full monologue can be found here.)  Even an unbeliever understands that we as humans have a tendency to corrupt everything we come in contact with.  Even an unbeliever knows that there is a supreme being that endows men with rights.  The problem is that we look for redemption in the external.  We look for salvation through government (whether less or more of it, even though I certainly have an opinion which is better!).

Yet, salvation, deliverance, and eternal life are only found in one place — the God-man Jesus the Messiah.  He paid the penalty for our sins at His first coming, and He will set up the most perfect government when He comes again!  Lord, haste the day!

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on the hermeneutics of suspicion…

In preparation for a class on philosophy that I will be teaching next semester, I have been reading Ronald Nash’s Life’s Ultimate Questions (along with this and this, as well).  In his first chapter on epistemology, Nash discusses the idea of the “hermeneutics of suspicion.”  He writes:

Postmodernists regard texts as attempts by powerful people to impose their will upon the weak and powerless.  A text represents a hidden agenda.  Not only must we look beyond the apparent meaning of a text, but also we must dig deeper and uncover the relationships of power that make up the culture.  Postmodernists do this by means of what they call “subversive readings.”  Reading a text does not mean seeking out its objective meaning, which is something that cannot be done anyway.  Rather, the postmodernist seeks to uncover what the text is hiding.  Deconstructionists break down the text; they deconstruct it in order to uncover the relationships of power hidden beneath the text. (p. 234, emphasis mine)

Later on in the chapter, he recounts this anecdote.  He does not cite its author; rather, he says that the author wishes to remain anonymous.  He prefaces the scenario thus:

So far as I can tell, the people who utilize the hermeneutics of suspicion operate on the far left of culture.  Never once, so far as I know, has the hermeneutics of suspicion ever been applied to a liberal.  If the tables were turned and the hermeneutics of suspicion were applied to the practitioners of the method, the result might go something like the following:

Either deconstructionists are among the dumbest people ever to get university teaching positions, or there is something sinister going on.  But deconstructionists are not dumb, though at times they can put on a convincing act.  So what are they really up to?  As we learn from the hermeneutics of suspicion, whatever a text is hiding has to do with power, never with truth.  It hardly seems a coincidence that many deconstructionists are Marxists.  Naturally, this does not mean they are Marxists in any sense that the historic Marx or even Lenin would approve.  Marxian deconstructionists recognize that most nontrivial sentences in the writings of Marx and Lenin have been falsified.  They know that Marxian economics is a fraud.  After years of watching Russian and Chinese and Cuban leaders impoverish every citizen in their nations, except the rich and powerful people at the top, we know that no Marxist cares about poor and oppressed people.  Their entire program is keeping the power they have and smuggling as many American dollars as they can to their Swiss bank accounts.

As for Marxian intellectuals in America, the name of their game is also power.  They know that deconstructionism is bunk.  The real purpose of the deconstructionist power brokers is to separate as many Americans as possible from their families and from their literature and traditions.  If we cannot know the meaning of any text, then we cannot know the meaning of the Bible, including the Ten Commandments.  Neither can we know the meaning of the United States Constitution or any other text that might sustain social order or provide meaning and direction to life.  Once students become alienated from their families, their religion, their values, their traditions, they will be like lambs prepared for the slaughter.  And when that day comes, who do you suppose all the people with empty heads and empty chests will look to for their orders?  They will look to the deconstructionist, marxian, power-seeking professors who introduced them to the mysteries of a world without meaning.  The real name of the deconstructionist game is not meaning or truth; it is power, raw political power. (p. 240-1, emphasis mine).

Wow…  wow.  Now, this book was published in 1999, and there’s no indication as to when the anecdote was written, but it’s eerily predictive of the situation we find ourselves in today.  While it is the name of the game throughout the world, it is pitiful that it is also true of America, as well.  What is the liberal agenda but to expand the welfare state, ever-widening the parameters of who qualifies, so as to make more and more people dependent upon their government?  To propagate and exploit racism and sexism in order to be the lords and protectors of those in the “minority?”  To appoint judges to lifetime positions that believe the Constitution is a dead document, and must be interpreted (or even replaced) by international law and custom (here’s looking at you, Sotomayor [Ms. Wise Latina Woman] and Kagan [deciding cases you helped defend in your previous position]).  And to what end?  Has poverty and homelessness gone down?  Is the family the central unit of society?  Does Obama, or Pelosi, or Miss Sheila Jackson-Lee, or Maxine Waters, or Harry Reid really care about citizens?  Not in the least!  It is all about having the power, being looked upon as the saviors of the “squandered.”

It’s incredible how the destruction by postmodernism is so predictable; and yet, blind eyes are turned at the will and the whim of those in power and in the media.  And it all starts with a philosophical idea.  As much as I attempt to shy away from political discussion in the classroom, I dare say this philosophy class would be a time to have this discussion in the classroom.  Not only is postmodernism destroying Christianity, but it is destroying our country, as well.  I look forward to this discussion.  And I look forward to voting for someone — the only one — who would fight for traditional family values and the freedom upon which this country was founded.

be careful what you ask for!

I apologize to all two or three of you about the dearth of James the past couple days.  A segment of my thesis was due today, and I’ve been working on that.  Regular programming will resume soon!  But for now, a little election day story.

Over three thousand years ago, Israel began to exist as a nation.  They weren’t like any other nation before that time — not only did God called them out to be His nation, but He wanted to rule over them directly without any mediator.  This did not bode well for the Israelites.  They looked around to every other country and noticed that they lacked a ruler.  Every other country had some tangible person they could go to in order to receive instructions and laws; they did not.  Instead of doing things God’s way, instead of letting the government in place do what it was suppose to do, they asked for a king.  They wanted someone who would judge them, plead their case, and fight their battles (1 Sam 8:19-20).  And God said, “You want a king?  Alright…”

Enter Saul.  By the way, Saul’s name means “the one asked for.”  What is so striking about Saul is the fact that he was an awful king.  He started battles with neighboring countries, he made hasty oaths that adversely affected his people, and he didn’t know when to step down when a new king was appointed.  Israel eventually came to loathe Saul — he drafted their young at an early age, he was an angry bitter man, and he just did not make the good decisions because he (and all of Israel) did not have their eyes set on God.  During this whole debacle of Saul’s awful reign, I can picture the people of Israel pleading with God to fix the situation.  In response, I can picture God shrugging His shoulders and saying, “What do you want Me to do?  You wanted to be like every other nation.  You wanted to have a king.  Well, you asked for him, and you got him!”

Now, lest some of you think that I am equating America with God’s chosen nation here on earth, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  What I’m saying is, today, as well as every other day, we need to be careful what we wish for.  We don’t know what is best for ourselves, but thankfully we know Who we can trust who happens to know just that.  So, whether you are voting for the lesser of two evils today, or you are actually voting your conscience on a third party candidate who actually cares about public service, (1) think about who you are casting your vote for, (2) remember you get what you ask for, (3) God is totally capable of stuffing the ballot box, and (4) in the end, what does it all matter anyway?  In the utter grand scheme of things, it’s not going to matter what America does from January 2009 to January 2013, just like no one is still around writing dissertations on the effects of Saul’s reign on trade in 21st century America.  It will matter that you have to stand before God and answer for everything that you do!

Be careful what you ask for!