You know you’re doing something right when both The Huffington Post and The New York Times get all worked up and start to sound the “separation of God from civil government/law/education” alarms. In this case, the alarm-worthy event is the passage of a bill in the Tennessee State House of Representatives that would make The Bible the official state book.
Heading into Session yesterday morning, the bill was believed (and I mean really believed) to be dead unless meaningfully amended, and even with such amendment, it still faced an uphill battle. Yet after much vigorous debate and discussion on the floor over the course of two days, the bill passed in unamended form by a 55-38 margin. Though many wanted it dead in the worst way and thought it was as good as buried heading into the floor vote, HB 0615 not only lived but sailed to victory. This sets the stage for an interesting day in the Tennessee State Senate today, where the Senate version of the legislation – SB 1108 – is scheduled for a vote.
While my focus in this post is not to argue that this sort of legislation is the best route to establishing Scripture as the actual guiding standard for our land (the bill certainly does not accomplish this), the bill’s introduction and subsequent debate represents a remarkable look into the heart of Tennessee and America where their perceived relationship to the nature of God and His Word is concerned.
The debate that unfolded over the course of two days in the House Chambers was incredible to watch and hear. (You can access archived video of these discussions by clicking here.)
Many good men and women noted that we are “at a crossroads” during those debates, and, while I would agree that this moment in time is indeed of great consequence, the much greater crossroads – the much nmore significant fork in the road – that we faced as a people came long ago when we decided that religious pluralism – something explicitly despised and condemned by the God of reality – was something that we were going to enable and enshrine as an American virtue. What we are dealing with now in our rapidly disintegrating country and ever-growing American Corporate/Socialist State is the fruition of that fateful, awful decision made way back in the era of our formal founding as the United States of America.
I am compelled here to note that I love America, I love Tennessee, and I thank God for the Founding Fathers. There is so much that we ought to thank God for where our American heritage is concerned.
That said, it is vital that we test the Founders, the Constitution, and America itself in light of Scripture at every opportunity – and never the other way around. In this context, when we undertake a true Christ-centered approach to “testing all things”, it is not hard at all to see that our beloved Founders made a gigantic, critical error when they allowed for the freedom to worship false gods in the land.
The “freedom” to do that which God despises, which we have the gall to call a “God-given right”, is what has led us to where we are now and what will continue to lead us to the much worse to come if we do not repent of our error, our Founders’ error, and our idolatry of those Founders and America itself.
If we truly love America, we will seek to have her obedient to Christ the King in practice. (See: How to truly love (and really save) America.)
Any other approach to civil government, law, and life is an approach lifted straight from the serpent’s tongue in Eden (see: Genesis 3) and a sure path to the destruction that we even now see unfolding all around us.
Now, back to the debate on HB 0615…
Lord willing, I will have the opportunity to post more detailed examinations of some of the many *ahem* remarkable arguments made against honoring or submitting to the Word of God in practice. There was so much offered up yesterday that I might even get a small (or large) book out of it.
In the meantime, the bottom line that I’d like to touch on here is this: We must stand now explicitly not on the Word of God as an ornament or something that we “honor” in some vague, watery symbolic manner, but as the one and only binding authority under which all of life exists – including life in civil government and including life in the civil government of America.
Even at this time of rolling cultural catastrophe the likes of which were unimaginable just a generation ago, we seem to be doubling down on our idols instead of repenting of our rebellion against the crystal clear Word of God. Using the Bible as an ornamental rabbits foot or symbolic “favorite book” will do nothing but heap more judgment upon us until and unless we accompany these symbolic efforts with actual repentance and submission to His Word in practice, meaning in political practice, educational practice, legal practice, and every other kind of practice.
That’s what this bill and the debate surrounding it has helped to bring into very sharp focus.
If we are relying on America or “American values” or even “Christian values” to somehow save us apart from explicit definition of those things in light of His perfect, sufficient Word, we are (and should be) doomed.
America has come and America will go. Same goes for Tennessee. I love them both, but they are only as good or as bad – as worthy or unworthy of continuing on by God’s grace on God’s earth – insofar as they are submissive to rather than in rebellion against His Nature as defined in His Word.
This should not frighten Christians in America. It should empower and embolden them. (See: Roaring into Post-America Christianity.)
Once we, by God’s grace, let go of our adoration and reliance upon idols like a Christ-dismissing America and a Christ-dismissing Tennessee, then, and only then, will we be able to, by God’s grace through His Gospel-fueled Great Commission, finally have a real chance of saving America and Tennessee.
And that’s why the enemies of Christ will fight vigorously against those who would even begin to ever-so slightly nudge us toward any formal recognition of His Word as uniquely significant and applicable to every aspect of life right here and now.
America may be doubling down on everything but repentance as the way to restoration, but we as Christians must recognize this as the equivalent of the Titanic trying to make a safe run across the Atlantic by purposefully ramming every iceberg in sight, expecting that “the unsinkable ship” is so “exceptional” that it cannot help but triumph.
We as supernaturally transformed and empowered New Creatures in Christ must recognize the insanity of this and act accordingly, no matter the cost.
We may well suffer economically as a result of such a stand. (Economic consequences from a God-hating world were one line of argument deployed against HB 0615.)
We will certainly be looked down upon by the world and worldly when we make such a stand. (Others potentially thinking poorly of Tennessee was another argument made against HB 0615.)
We will be mocked and we will be hated for such a stand.
Are these then reasons not to take that stand and strive to see His will done on earth as it is in heaven? Are these consequences a sound basis for our refusing to lovingly confront and correct rebellion against Him in any realm of life by way of the Gospel-fueled Great Commission?
Well, it can sure seem that way…if we are relying primarily on our employers for our provision, rather than God…or on America for our peace and security rather than God…or…well, you get the picture.
Either we believe, trust, and will therefore stand upon His Nature as revealed in His Word, or we do not truly believe and therefore will not actually stand.
That’s where we’re at. That’s our great challenge, our even greater opportunity, and a great reason why the enemies of Christ (along with some sincerely confused Christians) are doing everything possible to keep His Word from being formally acknowledged by a state-who-would-be-god.
Who is our God in political practice?
Who is our God in educational practice?
Who is our God in legal practice?
Who is our God in civil governmental practice?
The State would have us believe that it is that god.
Scripture tells us otherwise, and emphatically so.
So as America shifts into full-blown iceberg-ramming mode in its final, prideful flurry en route to ultimate disaster, let us build lifeboats with whatever tools, talents, and treasures that He has given us, so that, America or no America, Tennessee or no Tennessee, we are prepared to confidently and productively roar into whatever scenario unfolds, all by His grace, all for His glory, and all to our eternal benefit. (See: Roaring into Post-America Christianity.)
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© 2015 Scott Alan Buss – All Rights Reserved.
Soli Deo Gloria!