I recently listened to a talk delivered by Andrew Kern at an Education conference back in 2009 that has been haunting my dreams. In a good way. I have lost sleep contemplating it. It has profoundly impacted my understanding of the world in ways that I am still just beginning to understand. It is my intention to slowly blog through it, sharing my thoughts along the way.
I urge you to give it a listen. Be challenged. Be blessed.
Download here: Andrew Kern – A Contemplation of Nature
All of us are familiar with the abysmal performance of our public schools, as measured by standardized testing, competition with other nations, drop-out rates, crime statistics and remedial college education. Most of us are familiar with the options;
- Private school
- Aggressive parent involvement at Public School
The conscientious Christian parent will pick one of the three options above, and is right to do so.
In James 1:27, we are told by the brother of Jesus that pure religion is “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” James is backed up in his exhortation by the whole book of proverbs, and many other OT passages. Just like in Jesus’ time, the majority of Widows and Orphans in our culture are the poor. There is a whole segment of our educational/political elite that has devoted their resources to pimping out our poor, particularly minorities. If you believe that you have fulfilled your biblical duty merely by choosing one or more of the first three options above, you must be reading a different bible than me. I know many Christians who will argue vehemently for one of the options above, mostly the first two, but I know very few who have applied their resources towards bettering the lot of those who simply don’t have those options. Single Moms with several kids cannot work to provide for their families and still have enough resources left to engage in any of the three options, and in most cases, have no one else connected with them to advocate for them. When Christians try to either opt out of the debate through homeschooling, buy their way out through private school, or work their way out with public school, they are neglecting their duty to provide and advocate for those in our society who have no one to do that for them. The Poverty Pimps are working against them, not for them. That is our job.
Conservatives have proposed several solutions to the political question of how to fix our education system in America;
- More public funding for homeschooling
- Open enrollment – school choice across public schools
- Vouchers- school choice across public/private schools, with a fixed amount of Govt. funding per child
- Charter Schools – public schools with self-defined methodologies to reach State assigned goals
- Magnet schools – public schools with a specialized technical focus
Vouchers are the only option that lets you choose any of the other options. I know some of my more libertarian friends would say that there should be no federal funding for education, and while I usually would lean in the direction of absolute privatization, in this case, I think that we have a great opportunity to create a win/win situation. Parents of children in poverty care about the education of their children just as much as parents in any other socioeconomic strata, and given the opportunity to choose a school that focuses on rigorous academics, they will choose those schools with the same frequency as middle or upper class parents. Another great benefit of choice is the cost. Studies show that on a broad scale, private education is far cheaper than public. As competition is introduced to the educational marketplace, schools will have to compete for educational dollars. While many homeschoolers are adamant that public school is just wrong, there are many more that would gladly enroll in a quality, affordable private school if they had the option.
The entrenched educational establishment, led by the Teachers Union, and made up of bureaucrats, poverty pimps (minority and poverty activists), and the politicians who have been bought by the unions, are opposed to anything involving choice in education. They have offered one option;
- More money, exponentially, for all eternity
These educational elites would have you reward them for the horrific job they have done enslaving the lower classes of this country in poverty and ignorance, while claiming that you are a racist for opposing their ideas. Stated reasons for opposing school choice run like this;
“Minority Students come from cultures that do not have a history of literacy and linear thinking. If you put them in a private school, they will not perform any better.”
In other words, they’re dumb, and it’s their fault they can’t be educated, not ours. Who’s the racist now? Of course, there are many successful private and charter schools that disprove this assertion everyday, as well as 10,000 years of world history.
“School choice would destroy the Public School system.”
That’s my favorite. If that one ever comes to pass, you are all invited to my house for a big party. What is the value of the current public school system, other than as a haven for lazy teachers and administrators? All the other arguments against choice I’ve heard are about technical logistical problems that presuppose that central planning is the only way to avoid chaos, as if the private sector could never figure out how to transport or feed people.
It is easy to see this issue as unwinnable, or too big for us to fight, and of course, if we work according to our own strength, we’re right. However, if we believe that God can and will work through us, then nothing is impossible so long as we are aligned with God’s will. Several Supreme Court decisions have favored school choice in the last decade. Every year, more districts are experimenting with charter schools and vouchers. As alternatives to traditional public school increase, It gets harder and harder for the educational elite to shout down the little boy crying out that “The Emperor has no clothes.” With regard to education of the orphans that God has gifted us with, the Teachers Union is our Goliath. If we will trust God that he has a plan and wants to redeem our youth and our schools, then we can change the course of our Nation in History.
I would like to begin a series of articles explaining what I, as a Christian first, and a conservative second, believe on a variety of big picture topics. The more I ponder the issues relevant to an application of the Bible to politics, the more I am struck by Christ’s assertion in Mat. 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It would seem that a man’s perspective on money is one of the greatest indicators of his heart, and thus it should follow that a man’s political perspective on wealth would be the greatest indicator of the heart of his politics.
It is God’s prerogative to distribute wealth according to his great wisdom. The natural laws of Economics that God has set in place show that generally He will assign wealth according to merit. When we submit to the laws that God has ordained, we benefit by them. Just as study and submission to the Law of Gravity has allowed us to put a man on the moon, study and submission to the laws of economics has allowed us to enjoy living in increasing prosperity since our country’s founding. This truth is continually played out all over the world (Excellent Resource). When a man, or group of men, are placed in a position to redistribute wealth by taking it away from the earners, by force, and dispersing it as they see fit to those they believe to be more deserving (after, of course, taking a cut for themselves), they are putting themselves in the place of God. Historically, this was done in Europe by wealthy landowners who would exact heavy rents on their peasants, and in turn by monarchs who would levy high taxes on those landowners. In our more “enlightened” age, however, this is done with a sometimes very convincing veneer of “compassion.” After all, the politician doesn’t want your money for himself, he wants to give it to the “poor.” This policy has been promoted most prominently in the 1930’s by FDR, in the 1960’s by LBJ, and on and off since by various liberals and “moderates” of both parties.
As Conservatives, we recognize that not only is this philosophy of re-distribution morally wrong, it will never achieve the stated goal of “Justice.” President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” has been lost. President Roosevelt’s Social Security is bankrupt, and as we look around the world, many socialist nations are turning towards an increasing free market position while others, such as Greece, are nearing bankruptcy. There are two major flaws in the re-distribution philosophy:
1. When an individual, Corporation, or Government is in poverty, giving them money will not bring them out of poverty. When has this ever worked? Poverty only has a few causes, most of which are related to a poor work ethic, or lack of opportunity. Government hand-outs will certainly not repair the first, but rather subsidize the immoral lifestyle, and moving money from the private sector to the hands of Government will only decrease the amount of opportunity in a given economy.
2. When Government takes money from the private sector in order to re-distribute it, much of the money is siphoned off to feed the bureaucracy which is doing both the taking and the giving. Private charities are rated by how much donated money actually reaches the hands of its intended recipients. If Governments were rated this way, no philanthropist would ever consider giving them their charity dollars, and remarkably, none do. This second flaw is particularly important when the Government talks about “Stimulating” a stagnant economy. This fabrication has been compared to attempting to fill a pool by taking water out of one end and dancing over to the other end to put it back in, after losing most of it along the way.
Over the years, some pundits on the right have tried to argue from various scriptures that the bible directly prescribes Free Market Capitalism. I think those attempts are misguided. If we simply use the synonymous term, “Private Property” to describe this worldview, we find that the Bible presupposes this condition from beginning to end. Many of the commands of scripture can only be obeyed if we have the control of our own resources, and certainly any that have to do with charity, sacrifice, and compassion. At the same time, many of the sins listed in the Pauline epistles, such as greed, envy and covetousness lead voters to support candidates who run on the lie of Government re-distribution as “Compassion.” After all, love seeks the good of all, but envy is content to see the destruction of all. Statistics show time and time again that when taxes go down, charitable giving goes up, exponentially. If we as Christians truly want to obey God, then we will work for policies that best give us the freedom to obey him, not abdicate our charitable responsibilities to a secular Government, then shrug our shoulders and claim that we have no choice.
“How would Jesus Vote?” More answers have been proffered to that question than any one could possibly catalogue, but for the Christian that wants to be like Jesus, and wants to be a good steward of all they’ve been given, it’s a question that still requires some serious reflection. Jesus’ parable of the faithless servant in Luke 12 ought to bring all of us to our knees, begging God for wisdom on how we ought to conduct ourselves in all areas of our lives. Depending on what church you attend, principles for leading a righteous life are taught in many different areas of our lives, like marriage, child raising, devotions, etc., but some aspects of life are often overlooked. While there may be many different reasons for this, it is still important that they be addressed. Many of us in the movement known as “Missional,” have explored the ideas surrounding how we engage the cultures we live in, how to use the interests we already have to serve and love our neighbors, coworkers, and those we meet through hobbies and other activities. We believe that all Christians are called to be missionaries, whether we travel around the world, or step out of our front door.
In the United States, all of us who love Jesus are given a significant responsibility, considering that we have wealth (yes, even our poorest are wealthy from a worldwide perspective), educational resources, freedom, and most importantly for our purposes in this discussion, we have the opportunity to influence the political leadership of our city, county, state and nation. As we ponder Jesus’ words in Luke 12:48b (ESV), “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more,” we are compelled to see that here in the U.S., we have all been given much, and Jesus will require much from us. As the weight of this settles on us, we ought to recognize that we need to develop principles which are timeless and reliable in order to determine what kinds of Government Policies, and Candidates, we should be endorsing, and supporting with our time, money, and other resources.
Fortunately, we have 66 books written by 40 authors over thousands of years which presents an internally cohesive message concerning the creator of the universe, who caused this volume to be written in order to communicate with us knowledge of himself and how we should live in the light of that knowledge. God has promised not to leave us wondering, but has spent the Holy Spirit to help us (John 14:26, Deuteronomy 31:6). It is my goal in this Blog to cause my brothers and sisters in Christ to take every Political thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) and to consider their votes, activism and influence as a sacred duty. When we were initially called by Jesus to be saved, each of us had a world view that was informed largely by our own presuppositions, ideas that we assumed were correct, and which we based all of our other beliefs on. As God Sanctifies us, or calls us to be “set apart” by changing our desires to be more in line with his will, these presuppositions are slowly burned away, and replaced with Jesus and his word as our cornerstone of truth. This is the wonderful adventure the Apostle Paul describes in Romans12:1-2 (ESV) “ 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” As we submit to this invitation to sanctification, Paul admonishes further, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8). Sometimes this process is painful, but that is the cost of being made more like Christ, and it is well worth it.
Many pastors and commentators operate under an assumption that Jesus is either A) a Republican, or B) a Democrat. While few would be brave (or foolish) enough to assert this specifically, many take their position for granted and presuppose that God is on their team. Jesus however, as the creator of the universe, must be above teams. Indeed, he refused to be made an earthly King (John 6:15), because he didn’t want to join anyone else’s team , and thus be limited by it. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I on Jesus’ team, and is that reflected in my actions?” Since Jesus is above team membership, and not limited by it, we must seek the same for ourselves. This does not mean that we do not work through existing man-made institutions, but rather always make our conduct and support subject to higher laws than what seems to be good for our institution, or political party, at the time. I would like to see motivated Christians “working upstream” in both major political parties, as well as local and state organizations, persuading, convincing, and working to change hearts to behave more in line with the revealed will of God.
Many Christians who are involved in politics will gravitate to third parties and fringe candidates, believing that their views are not expressed by the two major parties. I want to say clearly from the beginning that this is foolishness. Politics does not exist for your self-expression. If you want a venue to express yourself, write a journal, blog, go to rallies, or start taking interpretive dance lessons, or finger painting.
Political involvement, which starts with voting, and can culminate in running for a public office, or managing a campaign, is action geared towards effecting change in the power structure of our Government. Those who are in power only pay attention to “Expression” when it is backed up by votes, and campaign dollars. Those who align themselves with fringe candidates and third parties will be ignored by those in power, every time.
I often take a few things for granted that I think ought to be addressed at least once. As Christians, we are modeling Christ to the world around us. That means that “The Ends” never justify “The Means.” As we discuss politics with friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors, our conduct must reflect Christ at all times. This means we only discuss politics with willing participants, and we only do this if they are open to hearing differing points of view. Just as we should not be merely “Expressing” without listening, we should not endanger relationships by responding to others who are doing the same. This can be tricky, and it requires reliance on the Holy Spirit for guidance.
Now, in the course of this blog, I will debate with those I have no hope of persuading in an attempt to reasonably display both sides of an issue, for the readers at that point are the ones that my opponent and I are each hoping to persuade. I pray that this will be done in fellowship and affection, as we all seek to emulate Christ.
Lastly, I want to make an appeal to all of the Pastors and other Church Leaders; Please start taking your political principles seriously. The sheep in your flock need leadership and if you are not prepared to provide that leadership from a thoroughly cohesive biblical position, then that job will be done by others, who will not be held to any of the standards that you and I value.
I’ve seen much indignation in the last week that Glenn Beck, as a Mormon, would dare to stand up and call Christians “back” to God. My response is, “Well, what do you expect when The Church generally does not want to have a forum to discuss what our political positions ought to be?” If we as Christians are being transformed by the renewing of our minds and begging the Holy Spirit for wisdom and insight into political affairs, there will be no room for Glenn Beck and his mass of theological confusion in Christians Hearts.
I’m excited to see what God is doing in my region, through the Gospel. Lives and Hearts are being changed, including mine. I want to make sure that I am doing my part to continue to effect that change, as the Spirit leads.
The triune God of the Bible, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, created the universe by speaking it into existence. God did not create for any lack in himself, but rather out of his abundance. The crowning jewel of his creation was Man.
Man was created in the very image of God to reflect God’s glory. Man was to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion over every living thing. Man was to glorify God by enjoying him forever, worshiping, obeying and trusting God. But man rebelled against God, exchanging the truth of God for a lie.
Satan presented man with a question: ‘Did God REALLY say?’ Satan contended for who would have authority over the marketplace of ideas. By disobeying God’s command and eating the fruit, man decided that man would have authority, man would determine what is true, and that all knowledge would flow from man’s own understanding. Man rejected the transcendent reality that all authority, all truth, and all knowledge is held by God and flows from him according to his will and good pleasure.
Loving his children too much to let them follow the lie to their destruction, God the Father sent his son Jesus Christ into the world to reconcile the Father’s children to himself and transform them into new creations. The Holy Spirit softened their stony hearts, and removed the scales from their blinded eyes. He is in the process of restoring them to their intended purpose – to enjoy God forever by worshiping God and reflecting his glory.
As new creations in Christ, how should Christians live? With new hearts and new minds they must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. They must no longer be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of their minds, that by testing they may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
The new Christian begins a life-long sanctification process, as God works in them. Due to their remaining sinful nature however, Christians tend to compartmentalize their lives, often keeping God separate from nearly all areas of their lives. However, God demands more than this. He commands that we submit our entirety to him. This includes our minds, as John Calvin illustrates:
For they set up reason alone as the ruling principle in man, and think that it alone should be listened to; to it alone, in short, they entrust the conduct of life. But the Christian philosophy bids reason give way to, submit and subject itself to, the Holy Spirit so that the man himself may no longer live but hear Christ living and reigning within him [Gal. 2:20]. (Institutes of the Christian Religion, III. VII. 1)
We hope to use this blog to wrestle with the important question of how to live in light of this reality. How do we submit everything, all who we are, all that we have, all that we know, so that we are no longer conformed to this world, but transformed to worship and glorify Christ in all things.
To this end, we need to soberly assess ourselves and realize that much of what we think we know about the world is false. We need to humbly submit our understanding of the world, our wordlview, to the authority of scripture. We must realize that we have acquired our understanding of history and our place in it, our understanding of relationships, politics, our convictions, everything, from teachers with specific worldviews, built on faulty foundations. Our teachers have included our parents, peers, professional educators, our favorite bands, movies, and tv shows. They have discipled us and shaped who we are and what we think, for better or for worse.
“Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.
We have a new teacher now. Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the one who spoke the universe into existence, speaks to us every time we open his word. He built even the invisible things of this world, the systems that govern this world, to bring glory to himself.
For by  him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
As we study all that he has made, both the visible and the invisible, and as we submit every area of our life to his authority, taking every thought captive to Christ, we pray that it always leads us to worship, to exalting the name of the great architect, the author of all reality, the one whose kingdom has no beginning or end.
“In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign,does not declare,’That is mine!’”
– Abraham Kuyper