A good friend of mine for many years apparently has some pause to reflect on the current climate of our Christian culture. It seems like this friend is equating Christianity (and those with strong religious beliefs) with the "right wing crazies" that are shown on some newscasts. He didn't say it, but it is what the quote made me feel.
In a recent blog, he inserted a quote from Barry Goldwater, a Republican senator from Arizona and a presidential candidate years ago. This quote is from 1981:
"There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent.
"If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me...that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are?"
Oh, Mr. Goldwater, I am so glad you asked. (Goldwater died on 1998, but I will still answer him because it is relevant today.)
First, you say religious people are immovable and trying to force the government into following their position. Look at television and radio broadcasts today. I challenge you to say that the "non-religious" faction is not immovable and trying to force the government into following their position. Do you understand? Both sides (Christians and atheists, the conservatives and the liberals) feel passionate and want their ideas to be heard and followed. That is not wrong. It is who we are. We must be fully committed to what we believe and trust and understand, because our spiritual nature comes out in our physical nature and world view. So, yes, we as Christians are immovable and trying to make change. Hallelujah!
Second, Mr. Goldwater, you say that you are tired of the political preachers across the country telling you what to believe. Well, the preachers became silent for some time and came to be understood as the "silent majority." It has been high time that the preachers of today proclaim truth and Biblical justice and morality with boldness again. We need a great revival in our land. Atheism and various non-Christian political agendas will not bring needed hope and joy and purity to our world. Only Jesus can do that. I have debated, cajoled, talked, cussed and discussed with many atheists and agnostics over the years of my ministry. I have never had any atheist tell me about the profound joy of life, the great purpose of living or the exciting miracles that have happened through their "belief" system, and we must agree that atheism is a belief system of sorts. So, I am happy to be a part of the renewal of the Christain faith. Praise God for preachers and lay Christians who stand up and tell others what they as Christians believe! It's about time.
Third and last, Barry (I'm going to get personal now), if you want to be a moral person, where will you get your moral base? From philosophy, or secular humanism, or personal introspection? I think not. Those all have a base in something else. There is a final point of view, a ground floor, from which we gain our perspective and viewpoints. It's either the Bible or from someone who is human (who has taught a certain value). Barry, where do you get your morals and values? Will it be from someone long ago (or even present-day) who you will trust for your belief system? Or will you rely on God's Word as the final authority? For me, it's the Bible with Jesus as central for my faith. I rejoice that I have such a foothold and base to stand on!
So, Mr. Goldwater, if you were here today I would lovingly and proudly tell you about my faith in Jesus if you would let me. I am not high and mighty to think that I sit on the throne of "greatest knowledge" that no one else can attain. No, I am but a simple individual who has found indescribable joy and unparalleled peace through my personal relationship with a God who loves me more than I can ever know.
And I hope my friend from years ago still has pause to reflect on the current Christian climate. It's not what it needs to be, but Christians are merely human beings too. We as Christians just have a mighty hope from above that we live for. And, yes, I want everyone else to have it too!