From its inception as a nation America has possessed a uniquely progressive spirit. But what has progress come to mean today? Jumbo-sized houses and smart-phones? Hardly! Our American Republic was constructed on the bedrock of the Judaeo-Christian ethic. Today, those religious roots are increasingly neglected or dismissed as irrelevant in our largely secular society. While exciting new technology, massive communications networks, and consumerism are all a certain measure of progress there is a darker side to the story as well. We are now struggling with epidemic substance abuse, our prisons are overflowing, and the family, once the foundation of society, is in crisis mode. The question then arises, can any people truly enjoy the many blessings of freedom once they stray from the source all freedom, namely God? In fact, apart from Him, who created and sustains life, can we hope to make any enduring or meaningful progress?
Progress means to move toward, not away, from a thing. But if we are moving away from God, in our desire for material fulfillment, we are in grave danger of slipping off our Judaeo-Christian foundation entirely. That same foundation under-girds man’s undying quest for truth: about nature, about God, about ourselves. Our humanity is grounded in the freedom to discover truth, which is the one true foundation upon which any just and lasting society must be built. Truth is also the founding principle of every kind of material, social, or spiritual progress. But truth, like God himself, is not merely an abstract idea but a Person, the same Lord Jesus who proclaimed “I AM the Way and the TRUTH and the Life.” (Jn 14:6) In short, God must be reflected in our laws, in our schools, in our families if we truly hope to prosper.
This nation was first founded on Christian truths and principles and yet today we see Christianity being marginalized, effectively squeezed out of any meaningful public debate. Secularism has become the new “correct” world view for many, if not most, Americans today. As I see it, this is a tragic consequence of two parallel phenomena over the past 50 years. First, the state shut God out of the classroom while at the same time ordinary men and women were busy shutting God out of their bedrooms. This negatively impacted two fundamental human priorities, knowledge and life itself. The courts were responsible for God’s eviction from the schools, but it was couples who increasingly rejected his gifts of new life with widespread acceptance of the oral contraceptive. After all, parents could hardly fault government for expelling God from the classroom when they were busy expelling the Author of Life from their own bedrooms.
Millions of individual decisions, made day in and day out over the span of time, can have just as much effect as a sweeping Supreme Court decision on the life of a nation. If those decisions, large and small, are not made in the light of divine truth, society will suffer (familial breakdown, rampant drug and pornography addictions, etc.) even as God is slowly expunged from the community. Already faith and religious practice are being relegated to “private” expressions, even as suave politicians redefine religious freedom to mean “freedom of worship,” an Orwellian distinction intended to marginalize Christian participation in public life. But it was our founding fathers who had it right. They recognized that the best form of social control is not more courts, jails, and prisons but self control. Christianity has always taught the same profound truth, that self control is good for the individual and society. That truth alone can cure our nation’s current malaise.
One mysterious quality of truth is its ability to hide out in plain sight just as Jesus Christ hid his divinity under the unassuming cloak of a working man. Truth mirrors the love of God; consequently, it does not force itself on the individual. Rather, truth invites one to discover its hidden mysteries on his own. Truth always respects our freedom. Truth and freedom are inextricably bound to one another, and any society that cherishes freedom will also value God’s truth as the one sure basis for a healthy, happy, productive society.
Any hope of restoring our fractured world to genuine health depends upon a willingness to embrace those fundamental truths which formed and forged Judaeo-Christian society over the centuries. It is time to replace the crumbling foundation of modern secular relativism with the solid granite of unchanging Truth. A house built on solid rock can withstand the storms that blow against it. Only if we commit to rebuilding a world founded on Truth (in the person of Jesus Christ) can humans confront the shifting tides of change, secure in that liberating freedom with which our Creator endowed us. We owe our heirs no less than this.
Francis J. Pierson