America is living in what I consider one of the hinges of history that will determine the country's future. The more I read the documents of the founding fathers, the more I am fascinated by the insight, the brilliance of the founding documents. The late Russell Kirk, who wrote the book The Roots of American Order, examined those roots; the founders believed in the seminal connection of life's sacredness and freedom. The only way it can be sacred is if there is transcendent moral order. In fact, I believe more and more that the only way one can condemn racism logically and morally is in a framework of theism. Naturalism severs the nerve of intrinsic worth and we become the accidental collocation of atoms. Naturalism has no philosophical basis on which to condemn racism. That's why Nazism and the philosophy of Nietzsche took hold of the naturalistic worldview, because they had no rational basis for an equal intrinsic worth and they started to obliterate and deny the right of individuals. My belief is that the founding fathers knew this. George Washington said that in his final address. That in vain would you seek to find the moral order apart from a religious worldview. And if the closing words of the Declaration of Independence are right, which says, for example, "and for the support of the declaration and the firm reliance and the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." I think they knew it. They understood. They said it in a kind and gentle way so that it was not an overbearing worldview but an undergirding worldview. If America's leaders do not realize that a moral basis for freedom is rooted in a transcendent moral order, then in the end, we will violate both our essential work and the practical outworking.
The founding fathers understood the ramifications of liberty and the necessity of the sacred dignity of each life. Those who deny that our framers were predominantly Christians are engaged in a falsehood. But suppose they persist. An inescapable fact is that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights could never have been framed in a Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist worldview. It is only in the Judeo-Christian worldview that such documents make sense and reflect an order.
Now, about how can we return to our essential faith tradition with such a pluralistic mix in American society? Is a full-blown revival is necessary?
I think there are multiple strands that come in. I'm a firm believer in the fact that unless theological institutions and our seminaries start training leaders to think again and think well, and to be able to articulate their positions well, we'll be running for a long time against the wind. We'll be swimming against the tide. Secondly, we need to go back in our homes and teach our young people how to think properly, how to think critically. Our institutions and our homes are our places of great importance. Our musicians have a very key role here because this is a culture of music and the arts. We need to return to solid thinking in the lyrics of our songs, not just the floaty feeling that punctuates our worship. Our worship has to have integrity returned. There are many, many ways in which I think this needs to be done but not the least of which is we start cleaning up our own house first: our families, our institutions, our leadership. And last but not least, I guess I would say we cannot live in hibernation. We have to be on the front lines and keep moving. The best way to lose a battle is to stop moving and to sort of get behind your own fort and think you'll be safe out there. We have to be in the public arena. And I think the day will come when some of these other worldviews will find the beauty of following Christ, and it's already happening in many part of the world. But America has to be strong and we need to pray that our leadership will continue to be of the caliber and the quality that is willing to stand against the tide. We, I think, have statesmanlike material in the country, and that's what the nation will need to be strong, courageous, and humble at the same time.
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