K is for Kingdom

The first mention of a king in the bible is in Genesis 14:1 “At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar…” The king of Shinar also known as Babylon is the first mention of a king and kingdom rule. Scholars regard Amraphel to be Hammurabi of Sumer, whose legal code was a foundation for other legislation to follow. The concepts of a king, kingly rule and kingdom have always been a uniting force of civilization.

In America, we pride ourselves in having thrown off the yoke of the despotic kingly rule of Great Britain. We chose to live and govern ourselves following scriptural principles such as freedom of conscience, personal responsibility, self-control and representative self-government. The individual freedoms we enjoy are un-equal around the globe. However, the general understanding of these foundational principles is waning.

We do not understand nor do we teach that the foundation of our individual freedom is the surrender to the kingship of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Christ is what inspired and empowered us to become a free people.

Although there is a widespread debate about whether our nation was formed as a Christian nation, it is mostly fueled by the fact that many will not recognize the scriptural principles put into the framework of our government. The study of the writings of our founders leaves no doubt that the prevailing worldview was indeed Christian.

William Penn “If you are not governed by God, you will be ruled by tyrants” 1)

John Adams “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity” 2)

 Samuel Adams ” The rights of the Colonists as Christians may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament” 3)

Noah Webster “The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His Apostles…This is genuine Christianity and to this, we owe our free constitutions of government.” 4)

These inspired leaders realized that the freedom of thought and conscience was a freedom enhanced by the renewing power of salvation and redemption in Jesus Christ. This liberty was born in the heart and soul of those who left their homeland, crossing the ocean to settle in a place where freedom of religion and worship would be enshrined in a new political compact. Self-government was made possible by a people who understood the concept of self-control. In their minds, self-control was the fruit of submission by the individual to a higher authority, namely Jesus Christ.  The founders had an understanding that individual liberty was a blessing that came from the personal submission to a new king. Thus the popular sentiment heard throughout the days of the American struggle for Independence from an earthly despotic king was  “We have no king but King Jesus”. 5)

A Culture in Need of Restraint

Our culture has helped create the attitude that we are free to do as we please, to follow every passion and desire. Yet we find that society cannot live this way consistently without the need for external controls on personal behavior. We need to protect ourselves from each other. Families have a need to protect their children from the permissive culture we helped to create where one is free to behave in any fashion they wish abandoning self-control and personal responsibility and respect for others. The less self-control is practiced the more external restraints become necessary. Here we see that the power of the state must grow as the need to restrain evil does. The tendency today is towards more government control of every area of life because many lack self-control. We now demand powerful agents and technologies that will protect us from the monsters we have created.

Those who share a humanist worldview are enjoying the rapid growth of a powerful government using the language of the freedom-loving self-controlled people to attack the foundational principles of the nation. The destructive passions once formally restrained by self-controlled submission to God and His moral law are now protected and encouraged by irresponsible legislation, upheld by corrupted courts. Public institutions are prohibited from displaying the foundational precepts of moral law in the Ten Commandments. The rights and responsibilities of the people are being transferred to an increasingly secular government. Conforming to the pressure of a misinterpreted religious clause, government may no longer invoke or apply moral reasoning in discouraging the pursuit of corrupt desires and behavior.

As in the days of the Roman Empire, the state is all too willing to exert this control and restrain personal freedom whenever they saw the need. When a people are not able to govern themselves they will be governed by the state. This heavy-handed control has been witnessed throughout history. The barbaric Roman rule, the gulags of the former Soviet Union, the murderous reign of the German Nazis and the Red Chinese have not convinced anyone of the effectiveness of government control. Whether we call it socialism, communism, progressivism, liberalism, statism, one world government, or globalism, it is the default form of control for people who abandon the true God.

There is no doubt the people of our nation are divided concerning many issues. The most obvious reason for this polarization is the basic worldview distinctions between secular humanism and Christianity. The fruit of a relentless teaching from the secular humanist perspective is a growing desire to try socialism. Having been taught lies about socialism they embrace a romantic notion that socialism will solve the human problem of evil. They do not realize the trade-off for this false security and the altruistic pursuit of a godless system of government is personal liberty.

The first of these liberties, freedom of conscience is under steady attack from socio/cultural elites and intellectuals wielding the intimidating weapon of Political Correctness. As courts become more detached from absolute morals embracing pragmatism and relativity, they are swayed by the left to rule against those who oppose the socialist and secular humanist agenda.

Subjects of Gods Kingdom

One day Jesus was asked by the Pharisees “When will the Kingdom of God begin?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God isn’t ushered in with visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘It has begun here in this place or there in that part of the country.’ For the Kingdom of God is within you.” (TLB, Luke 17:20-21)

The kingdom Jesus speaks of is a spiritual kingdom made evident in the behavior of the kingdom people.  He is calling us to serve Him and live within the principles of His kingdom. As we remember the Lord’s prayer “Our Father who art in heaven your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”  God wants us to do His will here on earth as His kingdom people. He wants us to share the good news of salvation and redemption from the darkness of sin by the work of Jesus Christ. He wants us to share liberty and freedom by living out godly principles found in His word, the principles upon which our form of government has been formed. The blessings secured within this framework are derived by the willing submission of those governed. Once we forget the principles of right government our government will forget and the words liberty and freedom will be redefined so as to cloud the memory of our loss.

This is Billy Graham’s last Facebook message.

“If you went for a walk in the woods, but then decided to wander off the path, and found yourself surrounded by a thicket of thorns and poison ivy, who would you blame? Would you blame the person who built the path? No, of course not. Instead, you’d blame yourself if you were honest, because you alone were responsible for wandering from the path.

In a far deeper way, this is what happens when we decide to leave God out of our lives. For a time, it may seem like wandering away from Him doesn’t make any difference; it may even seem easier and freer. But eventually, it catches up with us—just as wandering off that path and into the thicket caught up with you.” —Billy Graham #BG100

I am writing not so much to persuade the secular left but more to awaken those who live in the freedom of Christ and to say it’s time to turn around and go back to where we turned off the path. Walk after the spirit (Rom 8:1) on His path, be alert and stand firm and do not become entangled again in the bondage of slavery, (Gal 5:1) be in prayer for our leaders, (1Tim 2:2) be ready to come against the vain philosophies of deceit,(Col 2:8)  and be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2) and remember our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities in high places. (Eph 6:12)

Will we serve an earthly king who will gladly take control over every area of our lives, who is merciless, without truth or grace to whom we yield our freedoms and our conscience in exchange for a false security? Or will we serve a heavenly king who liberates us from personal condemnation, granting mercy and forgiveness and empowers us to practice the virtues of liberty and self-control, personal responsibility and selfless living for our benefit and the benefit of others? Jesus says “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you” (Matt 6:33) We need a king – but to paraphrase and modify the cry of our founders, we need no king but King Jesus!

  • William Penn. William J Federer, America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations Fame Publishing Inc. 1996 p500
  • John Adams. William J Federer, America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations Fame Publishing Inc. 1996 p12
  • Samuel Adams. William J Federer, America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations Fame Publishing Inc. 1996 p22
  • Noah Webster. William J Federer, America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations Fame Publishing Inc. 1996 p678
  • WND Joseph Farrah http://www.wnd.com/2001/01/7965/
  • Billy Graham. https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/bg100?source=embed

Further Reading: Francis Schaeffer https://www.the-highway.com/articleOct01.html

“A” is for Absolute

The word “absolute” is used in many areas of life. In a brief Google search you will find “absolute adjectives” and “absolute phrases” in English and grammar. In mathematics you will find “absolute values and equations”. In an Excel worksheet you may find “absolute values” in formatting cells.

An absolute in the apologetic or philosophical sense is something that is free and independent of anything extraneous. It is complete in itself and independent of any other cause.

(Note: My aim in this series is to awaken a desire in the reader to explore in detail the principles and concepts presented. I am not fully able to expand on all, for it would be a tedious and untidy task on my behalf and a burdensome read. Thus the many links to sources.)

In Apologetics the “absolutes” we are concerned with are philosophical. In the concept chart below from the “Importance of Philosophy” 2001 Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands, the hierarchy of relationship within the five branches of philosophy is identified.

http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/FiveBranchesMain.html

Absolutes form an important aspect of, and are addressed generally within, each branch. At the root and forming the foundation of philosophy is metaphysics, the study of existence.

Metaphysically, reality is an absolute. It has a specific nature independent of our thoughts or feelings, it is important for us to form a correct understanding of this reality.

 “The primacy of existence states the irrefutable truth that existence is primary and consciousness is secondary… Existence is primary because it is independent of, makes possible, and is a prerequisite of consciousness.” Landauer, and Rowlands.

http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Metaphysics_RealityIsAbsolute.html

Closely related to metaphysics is epistemology, the study of knowledge, how we know about reality and existence. In epistemology we use reason and logic to come to an understanding of how we know what we know and to maintain consistency in how we acquire knowledge.

http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Epistemology_Main.html

In epistemology logic is an absolute. Logic guides us to the understanding of reality because it requires us to reason within the boundaries of its laws. They are the Law of Identity, the Law of Non-contradiction, the Law of the Excluded Middle.

J.P. Moreland explains in “What Are the Three Laws of Logic”

The basic laws of logic govern all reality and thought and are known to be true for at least two reasons: (1) They are intuitively obvious and self-evident. Once one understands a basic law of logic (see below), one can see that it is true. (2) Those who deny them use these principles in their denial, demonstrating that those laws are unavoidable and that it is self-refuting to deny them.

The basic laws of logic are neither arbitrary inventions of God nor principles that exist completely outside God’s being. Obviously, the laws of logic are not like the laws of nature. God may violate the latter (say, suspend gravity), but He cannot violate the former. Those laws are rooted in God’s own nature. Indeed, some scholars think the passage “In the beginning was the Word [logos]” (Jn 1:1) is accurately translated, “In the beginning was Logic (a divine, rational mind).”

These laws help us decide which is true and which is false. It within this discipline we find the ability to reason logically and consistently. These fundamental laws of logic form the basis of the “Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God.” This argument is heavily debated and admittedly difficult to follow because of the implications of it validity.

http://www.str.org/articles/evidence-for-god-from-logic#.VroE0lgrKUk

We find absolutes in the field of ethics, the third branch of philosophy. It is the study of what is the right thing for man to do. What is right and wrong? How do we decide? Again in this field you will find debates regarding absolutes. Are there moral absolutes? Do we discover them or do we create them? It is here I disagree with the reasoning of Landauer and Rowlands. They believe that morality needs no God. It is difficult for a theist to comprehend how that could be. Within this discussion you will find that there are moral absolutes and they form the basis of the “Moral Argument for the Existence of God.”

Absolutes are found in politics, the fourth branch of philosophy and a subset of ethics. Basically, it is how ethics is applied to a group of people. In society we are at our best when individuals follow a shared ethic and morality based upon the absolutes found in Scripture. In America we enjoy a system of government founded upon the framework of principles which enable and empower individual liberty under the law. The Ten Commandments formed the basis for laws established in America.

The structure of a representative republic is found in the Old Testament when Moses was directed to establish leaders over groups of tens and fifties and hundreds and thousands. Exodus 13:18-27.

The principle of three branches of government is found in the words of Isaiah 33:22.

Landauer and Rowlands state that

“Reason is man’s prime means of survival…the prime goal of a political system must be the preservation and enabling of the faculty of reason. Reason does not function under coercion…A moral political system must ban coercion… or the initiation of force”.

The means to protect society from evil being the use of retaliatory force and objectifying laws.

At the link below you will find a brief reflection on the character of our founders and how their reasoning from Scripture was integral to the formation of our government.

http://www.face.net/blogpost/1192984/226719/Reflections-for-Constitution-Day?hhSearchTerms=%22absolutes%22&terms=

Finally in the fifth branch we find absolutes in the study of esthetics. What life can be like, the study of art and the sense of life and what makes it all enjoyable and fulfilling. This area depends upon the understanding of the others. Absolutes are part of what make esthetics fulfilling and enjoyable and valuable for the character, vitality and moral of a society.

In the essay “Art and the Christian” Jerry Solomon and Jimmy Williams attribute the creative drive of man to the creator God.

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/artandxn.html

“He has permitted humans to take the elements of His cosmos and create new arrangements with them. Perhaps this explains the reason why creating anything is so fulfilling to us. We can express a drive within us which allows us to do something all humans uniquely share with their Creator.God has thus placed before the human race a banquet table rich with aesthetic delicacies. He has supplied the basic ingredients, inviting those made in His image to exercise their creative capacities to the fullest extent possible. We are privileged as no other creature to make and enjoy art.”

However the consequences of man’s rebellion also appear in the creative process.

“Man is Jekyll and Hyde:noble image-bearer and morally-crippled animal. His works of art are therefore bittersweet.”

The absolutes that help us evaluate and appreciate art in all forms can be found in scripture.

Phillipians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”

Absolutes are found in the five branches of philosophy. The concept of an absolute is difficult to grasp for the definition of an absolute itself renders it dependent upon its relativity to something other. We use the word absolute in a casual way many times when we should strive to be more deliberate. In a pure sense the absolute is free and complete and is not dependent on anything. It is self-existent, apart from and independent of anything else.

From the Christian understanding everything that exist is created by God. That which is created cannot be a pure absolute. Only God, being self-existent, having always existed with no beginning or end is absolute. His incommunicable attributes (Self-existence, Immutability, Omnipresence, Omniscience, Etc) are what make Him absolute, His communicable attributes (Love, Mercy, Justice, Knowledge, Etc) allow us to be His image bearers. Those who are redeemed and guided by His Spirit who reflect upon the absolutes found in all God’s attributes become disciples and in turn will make disciples thus influencing nations and people to become more like Him.

“”A” is for Absolute” is an installment in the “Apologetics A-Z” series. Thanks for reading!