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Words of Life

Restoring Our Culture

By James Robison and Jay Richards February 19, 2012 Words of Life

As we enter an election year and obey the Bible’s exhortation to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions…for all that are in authority” (I Timothy 2:1-2), we offer these excerpts from Indivisible by James Robison and Jay Richards, which is available this week in bookstores and online.

God is not finished with us as a country. Decline is not inevitable. But if we’re going to escape decline, we have to make a hard turn – and fast. Will our grandchildren enjoy the freedom and prosperity we enjoy, or will they ask us, “Where were you when freedom died?” The choices we make in the next few years—in our personal lives, families, churches, and politics—will determine the answer.

To see our culture restored, Christians must do a lot more. We must understand the sources of the ideas that ail us as well as their alternatives. We must learn to connect and apply these alternatives and think clearly about them. We must argue persuasively in the public square; apply our convictions consistently in our personal lives; build lasting alliances among Christians, other believers, and friends of freedom who share some but not all of our views; and act strategically to influence the people and institutions that shape culture over the long term. First, though, we need to clear out the weeds and fog in our thinking that have kept us from succeeding in the past, and clear a path to understanding and progress in restoring our culture.

Does it really matter whom we vote for or what policies we support? Yes, it does matter. Politics isn’t everything, and certainly we should tend our own proverbial gardens. But in today’s world, having no political effect is not an option. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Not to stand is to stand. Not to speak is to speak.” The question is, “Will you stand idly by while our culture collapses, or join those who seek to restore it?”

To restore faith, family, and freedom in America, we need God’s Spirit to transform our individual lives. Our public engagement should be accompanied by tangible, Spirit-filled growth in holiness and humility that others will see. If we were to pray hard for a real outpouring of the Spirit and zealously pursue lives of prayer and heroic virtue, surely we would have a more lasting impact on our culture.

A free society allows us to love, seek, and enjoy God. It frees us to fulfill our other God-given purposes as free beings made in the image of God—to love our families and fellow human beings and exercise the virtues required to do that. It lets us be fruitful and multiply, and exercise our dominion as God’s stewards over His creation.

The Founders saw human beings as sinners who could be shaped by society but who have a nature that men can’t change. This founding philosophy could not be more different from the so-called “progressive” philosophy that now dominates our public life. Socialists and progressives assume that man can be molded and transformed like a soft lump of clay. You just need society to be set up correctly and run by really smart people. But even in an ideal environment, human beings can fall into sin. That’s how we got where we are to begin with. Even when Adam and Eve were placed in a garden prepared by God, they still managed to get into trouble.

We believe America is exceptional and are saddened that so many people are ashamed of our country. That doesn’t mean we think it’s the kingdom of God on earth. We’ve had our national sins—slavery and the treatment of Native Americans being the two most glaring ones—but surely we should condemn the sin and not the sinner, particularly when the sinner aspires to high ideals and has done more to spread freedom and justice than any other nation in history.

While everyone may long for freedom at some level, history teaches us that people will often give up their freedom without a fight if they are promised security in return. This is a sucker’s bargain. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.”

Having children and raising them up in the way they should go has always been one of our most profound ways to affect the world. It is in pro-creating that we come closest to participating in God’s creativity. The biblical text that says we are created in God’s image also contains God’s first commandment, which is also a blessing, “Be fruitful and multiply.” We live at a moment when the most influential voices in our world discourage childbearing. And they follow their own advice. So, in the long run, having a large family and passing on your faith and pro-family ideals to your children may be one of the most significant ways to renew our culture.

Restoring a culture is not impossible; it just takes a lot of hands and a lot of concentrated, thoughtful work. If cultures normally change through overlapping networks of elites, then we must influence these elites, penetrate their networks, and/or to create networks that overlap or compete with them . . . If we hope to influence our culture, believers have to be high achievers in many fields—business, academics, science, literature, technology, art, music, politics, journalism, publishing, and philanthropy.

We can’t allow our Christian subcultures to become assimilated by a hostile culture or to become dilapidated ghettos isolated from the rest of the culture and from each other. We need to create our own culture, not just complain about popular culture or copy secular culture with a patina of Christianity thrown in for marketing purposes. To quote the overused phrase, we have to be fully in the world but not of it. Wise as serpents; innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Working together as allies, not fighting apart as rivals or enemies.

If we can etch Godly principles on our hearts and minds, seek a life of holiness and wisdom so we can discern them, teach them to our children, and apply them wisely in our personal lives and politics, then with God’s help, we’ll have most of what’s needed to restore faith, family, and freedom in the twenty-first century.

Jay Richards and Sheila Walsh join James and Betty this week on LIFE TODAY to discuss the restoration of Godly principles in America and every culture. Excerpts are from Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late (FaithWords)

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