Point of Reference
by Fred Price
To put this article in context, I should begin by confessing that I am not an overly political person. I do believe Christians should be aware of the issues and involved in policy-making for our country, but I certainly don't believe politics or any one political party to be the salvation of America. Furthermore, I can't say I totally agree or disagree with either of the major parties but must say I categorically disagree with most of the social/moral issues one party in particular seems to hold so dear.
'Are Americans Stupid?' is a question posed by World Magazine's Culture Editor, Gene Veith; in part decrying the liberal contention that the result of recent elections, in which 51% of the public voted against their candidate and agenda, did so because they weren't smart enough to understand it. F1 Hence their claim that a majority of Americans are foolishly rejecting science (by which they mean the belief in evolution and the harvesting of human embryos for stem cell research); embracing superstition instead (by which they mean Christianity); as a result being intolerant and oppressive (by which they refer to any opposition to same-sex marriage). F2 These "intellectuals", considering themselves smarter than the "vulgar masses", cannot possibly represent the common man but are instead condescending, disdainful and almost totally disconnected with most ordinary Americans. Their dream of intellectual rule should give us pause; for example, Plato's Republic governed by philosophical guardians manifests itself in eugenics (cell manipulation for the supposed betterment of man), immorality and the elimination of individual freedom. Real-life states implemented by well-meaning albeit extreme leftists throughout Europe and Russia rejected moral absolutes, abrogated individual and state's rights, and attempted to implement societal evolution; in the process killing millions of their own people not smart enough to cooperate. (Which is not to say movements inspired by the radical right weren't responsible for their own atrocities.)
Paul describes the core reasoning behind such faulty policies as being reflected in men who, " 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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:3,4
Even as they claim to champion the rights of the common man essentially the freedom to say and do whatever they please - they would none-the-less restrict many liberties ordinary Americans prize; such as parental oversight, private-property use and gun ownership. Economic liberty and religious freedom also come under fire as how we contribute charitably is questioned and moral standards are repudiated, resulting in the forced acceptance of sexual permissiveness, homosexual rights and abortion. The polarization of the country in the name of diversity and cultural license, while unintended, can occur as a result of elevating numerous cultural heritages over our oneness as a people. Experimentation that disregards the sanctity of human life even as it seeks to legislate animal rights to a level equal to humans' attempts to redesign mankind through genetic engineering, stem cell research, cloning and designer babies. And if all that doesn't work, they excuse ending it all as a right and possible duty of the individual to control suffering and expense.
It's not too much of a stretch to hear Jesus repudiating these modern-day Pharisees as hypocrites, with their own particular spin on morality; " nullify(ing) the word of God (and common sense) for the sake of (their) tradition." (or preference) Matthew 15:6 Their manipulation of wisdom culminating in foolishness. (Romans 1:22)
Mental functions involve both intelligence mental ability, and knowledge mental content; yet it's possible to have one without the other; not to mention the issue of wisdom, which is the ability to use what we know well. Some Americans think morality is nothing more than subjective preference, not necessarily grounded in the real world. If they leave room for God at all in their lives, they consult him sparingly, especially in practical matters. Many are ignorant of our past or believe the wisdom of our forefathers to be inapplicable to our modern condition. Some reject the existence of objective truth altogether, believing reality is nothing more than a construct of their own minds to be reconstructed at will. They resemble people Paul described as, " not think(ing) it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, " Romans 1:28; inevitably leading to a "People (who) will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient ungrateful, unruly, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power." With a consequent warning to, "Have nothing to do with them." 2 Timothy 3:2-5
This combination of ignorance, confusion and hostility to Godly principles is held today primarily by "smart" people, the intellectuals of our society who question the value of reason, the possibility of definitive knowledge and ultimate truth having become thinkers without beliefs, possessing fine minds that are empty of real substance. (1 Corinthians 1:23-25; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20)
Mr. Veith points out, "In America's democratic republic, (as well as the Christian church) citizens of various intelligence levels can take part people with the whole range of intellectual abilities (finding) welcome and fulfillment. Some level of knowledge, though, is important for citizenship in both kingdoms Americans are smart enough, but it would be helpful for Americans (of all stripes) to know more, to be open to truths that go beyond their own limited interests, desires and preferences." If for no other reason than to gain a workable understanding of others' positions allowing for an informed debate of the points of contention. This involves preparation and the desire to be heard. As Charles Chaput recently wrote, "Democracy depends on people of conviction expressing their views, confidently and without embarrassment. This give-and-take is an American tradition, and religious believers play a vital role in it. We don't serve our country in fact we weaken it intellectually if we down-play our principles or fail to speak forcefully out of some mis-guided sense of good manners exiling religion from civic debates separates government from morality That road leads to politics without character." F3
As Hosea warned, "My people are destroyed," not for lack of intelligence but, "from lack of knowledge." Hosea 4:6
F1 World Magazine; Dec. 4,2004
F2 Maureen Dowd, columnist for The New York Times
F3 Roman Catholic Archbishop of Denver, in a New York Times essay; available at www.orthodoxytoday.org
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Fred Price - married (48 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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