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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Make America Good Again

For months now, Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency has seduced tens of millions with the cry of “Make America Great Again!”

There’s a good reason for this. Tens of millions of Americans—myself included—are convinced that America is off course. The Real Clear Politics polling average on “the direction of the country” reveals that over two-thirds of Americans believe that the country is on the “wrong track.” Polling reveals that this has been the case for years. (Click the link at the end of the recent average to view years of polling on the direction of the country.)

A “track” implies something singularly linear, the implication being that if we simply elect the right sort of people from the right kind of party, we will turn the country in the right direction. Few things are further from the truth. Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”

The responsibility for the direction of America lies in the hands of individual Americans, especially American Christians. In the late 1970s, in their seminal book The Light and the Glory, authors Peter Marshall and David Manuel wrote, “It is the most dangerous kind of corporate self-delusion to think that a President, regardless of how much he heeds God, can reverse the bent of the national will, once it is set in a certain direction…which seems to put the responsibility directly upon each of us who has a personal relationship with our Savior—much as we might like to blame the immorality of others for the precipitous rate of decline. But the responsibility is ours, and it always has been.”

The reason the responsibility is ours is because more than any other single factor, the decline of America is the result of decades of attack on the Judeo-Christian worldview. As renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias noted in the fall of 2008, in the race for President of the United States, Mike Huckabee was almost always described as “a former Baptist minister.” Whenever he would speak of his faith, Mitt Romney was described as “a Mormon.”

However, as Zacharias himself puts it, “It is fascinating that the media, in a calculated way, does not mention Barack Obama’s middle name — Hussein — lest society see this as religiously prejudicial toward him. This is a clear attack on the Judeo-Christian worldview, the only worldview that could justify the existence of a nation like America.”

As documented in my soon-to-be-published book, The Miracle and Magnificence of America, in an election day sermon on April 25, 1799, Jedidiah Morse—noted American geographer, pastor, theologian, and the father of Samuel Morse—warned Americans:

“The foundations which support the interest of Christianity, are also necessary to support a free and equal government like our own…To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism.”

In other words, it’s the “foundations” of Christianity that support life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that we all enjoy in America, and the quickest and surest way to turn the United States of America into a nation unrecognizable to those who lived only a few generations ago is to destroy these foundations.

As King Saul sought to kill David, Psalm 11 records David lamenting, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)” On this, legendary biblical commentator Matthew Henry concludes, “The principles of religion [here, of course, Henry is referring to the one true “religion:” Christianity] are the foundations on which the faith and hope of the righteous are built. These we are concerned, in interest as well as duty, to hold fast against all temptations to infidelity; for, if these be destroyed, if we let these go, What can the righteous do?”

An old adage (sometimes wrongly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville) often referenced (at least the final sentence) by politicians of the last several decades (among them Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton) declares that,

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

In other words, to any degree that America has lost her greatness, she has lost her goodness. Any lofty claims about “making America great again”—especially by biblically-illiterate, adulterous, strip-club owning, casino magnate’s like Donald Trump—that aren’t accompanied by a corresponding commitment to goodness—to truth and righteousness—are mere hyperbole rooted in vain folly.

Copyright 2016, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

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