Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Books I received for Christmas (Part 1)

Unlike my friend Nathan White, I only received 2 books as Christmas presents this year. The reason more of my friends and family didn't think to give me books is because I am in seminary and they thought I would be reading enough books for my classes already. (This is actually a misconception, since for a true bibliophile like myself, there is no such thing as "enough books.")

From my father-in-law, Bobby Hulsey, I received the book Rediscovering God in America by Newt Gingrich. This book looks to be an excellent resource providing a defense against anyone who would say that "separation of church and state" means that we cannot discuss the things of God in the political sphere. Gingrich gives historical information concerning the role of faith in the formation of American politics that should be persuasive to anyone who is not utterly prejudiced against religion. Gingrich builds his case from historical documents in Washington D.C. found on our national monuments (the book is framed as a kind of religious tour through the nation's capital). Consider, for example, the following evidence: "The Declaration of Independence contains four references to God: as Lawmaker ('the laws of nature and nature's God'); as Creator ('endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights'); as Supreme Judge ('the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions'); and as Protector ('the protection of Divine Providence')."

Now, I wish that Gingrich had taken this thoroughly biblical presentation of God and used it to present the Gospel. This would have been easy to do as we have all broken the laws of God the Lawmaker (each one of us, if we are honest, must admit that we have broken His Ten Commandments), and God has the absolute right to require obedience to His laws as He is the Creator of all things. As lawbreakers, we will all stand before God the Supreme Judge one day to give an account for our sins. With this in mind, we all owe God a debt of thanks that He has acted as our Protector and delayed our judgment, not immediately rendering justice against all of us for breaking His law, sending us all to eternal punishment in Hell.

This brief reflection on the character of God, along with a consideration of our standing before Him as lawbreakers, should alert us all to our need of a Savior. This should prepare our hearts to receive the Good News of Christ: That Jesus, the Son of God, fully God and fully Man, died on the Cross, receiving God's judgment against sin on behalf of all who would come to faith in Him. Jesus was buried and raised again on the third day, conquering death and bringing justification- a right standing before God to all who repent of their sin and trust in His work on behalf of lawbreakers.

Gingrich avoids talk of the Gospel and, indeed, any mention of Jesus Christ whatsoever. As he writes in the conclusion, "This book, Rediscovering God in America, is written from a historical perspective. Its purpose is neither theological, nor an effort to proselytize on behalf of any religious worldview." But therein lies the problem of this book and of any attempt to use Bible verses as some kind of unifying cultural documents to form a political entity without reference to Jesus Christ. The problem is that the Bible is being used for purposes other than what God intended. For Jesus declared that the Scriptures were given to testify about Him personally (John 5:39) and there are 'pointers' concerning Christ in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). So even the brief mentions of Scriptural ideas found in places such as the Declaration of Independence or the engravings at the Washington Monument (with statements such as "Holiness to the Lord," "Search the Scriptures, and "The memory of the just is blessed") begin to point to Christ as soon as an honest inquiry is made into the meanings of the words being presented. So while we should be thankful for the spiritual heritage of the Founding Fathers, which has led to a great freedom to share the Gospel in this nation, we should not be surprised when people become hostile toward the idea of God in politics. Nor should we water down the idea of God found in the original documents and avoid the mention of Jesus in order to achieve unholy unity. Instead, Christians should take full advantage of our rights in this country and preach the Gospel as loudly and clearly as possible for as long as the Lord gives us strength.

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