Bill O’Reilly versus John Jay?

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One of our founding fathers, a guy by the name of John Jay, was very open with his belief in Jesus and the Bible. He also happened to be, at one time or another, the president of the Congress, a diplomat, the author of the Federalist Papers, the original Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and the governor of New York.  That’s quite a resume. He once wrote:  “The Bible will also inform (people) that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed – that this Redeemer has made atonement ‘for the sins of the whole world,’ and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy, has opened a way for our redemption and salvation;”

You don’t hear that from the Supreme Court very often, even less from the governor of New York, but John Jay believed in a Creator, in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and in the need for everyone to be forgiven and saved from judgment.   God’s judgment.

These days, even conservatives and professing Christians like Bill O’Reilly won’t go that far.  Continue reading

A Cultural Tipping Point

coexist2Politically, one of the questions after this season’s presidential election is has the nation changed?  Has the electorate changed?  Mitt Romney crudely mentioned that there is a certain percentage of people who weren’t going to vote for him no matter what, and the Presidential re-election team worked very hard to marshal entire segments of the population to vote for him overwhelmingly.  In the end however, people wondered if maybe some of the traditionally Republican ideas and stances have been rejected by society to the point that a “tipping” point has been reached?  That’s what Ann Coulter called it.   Bill O’Reilly offered that this isn’t a traditional America anymore, and Newt Gingrich said “we were clearly wrong on a whole range of fronts.”

It’s an interesting possibility to consider and those who are involved in politics for a living are studying this very carefully.

Whether you agree or disagree with the idea of a political tipping point, perhaps we should consider a “tipping point” in world-views, especially in regards to spiritual beliefs. In fact, such a tipping point may have already come and gone. Specifically, I’m talking about reaching the end of our journey as a culture to that place where the Bible is assumed to be full of errors, fairy tales and myths- not the place where this argued seriously, but the place where this is assumed, regardless of your arguments.

I’m talking about a tipping point where society as a whole assumes that science has conclusively proven the Bible wrong  and arguing evolution or Noah’s flood is assumed to be impossible.  In such a society, people would only go to listen to a debate at a university over the age of the earth for instance, because they enjoy seeing the uneducated, unevolved creationist receive a public flogging.  They don’t go because they want to hear the other side of the argument because they don’t believe there IS another side of the argument.  Oh they would be surprised of course, but the fact that “surprise” exists at all points to the tipping point.

It’s a tipping point where society assumes that no truth of any religion can be believed over some other religion, where the only truly enlightened people who exist would be those who accept cultural notions on same-sex marriage or the non-existence of hell, or etc…, and where the only truly intelligent people would be those who reject any sort of literal Christianity, or especially a literal Bible.

I’m generalizing, of course.  The details are more complex, but it’s nevertheless worth asking ourselves how we might respond to such an environment, just as politicians are trying to figure out how to respond to an electorate that seems to have changed.

That’s the thing about tipping points; you usually don’t notice them until they’ve passed.  You wake up one day and things don’t work like they did.  In sports we use phrases like “he’s lost a step.”  Where did he lose it?  No one knows. Suddenly your favorite athlete isn’t his young dominating self anymore.  And the truth is, in sports you don’t get it back very easily, and eventually, you can’t get it back at all.

The Bible talked about how the faith of people as a whole, tends to lose a step.  Jesus said, speaking of the future: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved,” -Matthew 24:12-13

Paul warned Timothy the church would lose a step, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” -II Timothy 4:3-4

And in 2 Thessalonians 2, the Bible says the world will lose a step.  “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs…” -literally the word “rebellion” there means a “falling away” would occur before the “day” of the Lord, which, in Bible terms, is the end of the world as we know it.  Why, or how, could a falling away, or a rebellion from God happen?

Is it because as a culture, somewhere along the way, more and more people stopped arguing over the word of God in the Bible, and stopped listening to the debate about God, and stopped digging in to find the truth for themselves, and simply bought into the assumption, the worldview really, which claims the Bible is a myth, claims that IF God exists he’s whatever we make him, and claims any religion that talks about accountability, or judgment, or sin …is dangerous and wrong?

So I wonder, sitting here in the back seat, are we there yet? Is this what the majority of our culture now believes in a large enough portion to win the public debate -by default?  If so, and in many places it is, then Christians should realize the people in our world and nation often have a different viewpoint, and a different set of assumptions than we do.  We aren’t always starting on the same page.  And rather than putting ourselves in the place of God and roundly condemning them, more and more it is becoming important to show what Christianity is all about, to graciously explain what Jesus is all about, and be able to listen so that we can see what they are all about. It’s always easier to talk to someone when you know where they are coming from.

That said…

in society as a whole I don’t think we can shrink from the challenges either.

In fact, I think it becomes more important to challenge the very foundations of a world-view without God.  Where the Bible is rejected, defend it on the very substance.  Where creation is scoffed at, ask the hard questions and shake those assumptions.  Where God is maligned, defend Him with thoughtfulness.  Where Christians are condemned, humbly admit our sin when it is true, but show Christ always in love, service, and selflessness.

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. -I Peter 2:11-12

The Christian tradition of the American culture is changing.  We should be smart and bold in how we stand for Jesus.