Dan Popp
Righteousness: America's rejected foundation-stone
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By Dan Popp
August 18, 2015

For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14b, NKJV)

A society without a common moral language, a shared conception of right and wrong, must fracture and collapse. Like the statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream that had feet "partly of iron and partly of clay," a kingdom of contrary natures cannot cohere. If some citizens believe that murdering the innocent, freeing the guilty, redistributing property and sanctioning sexual perversion are wrong, while other citizens insist that these things are right and good and necessary, then there's no common ground for political unity.

America was founded on certain then-universally-held beliefs. When those beliefs no longer have common assent, then the country of the Founders cannot exist.

You're familiar with quotations like these: "It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible." (George Washington) "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." (John Adams) And, "That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." (Thomas Jefferson) Thinkers from Franklin to Lincoln to Tocqueville have warned that a deep and wide commitment to biblical morality is necessary for this experiment in self-government to work. Why? Because We, the People are the sovereign here. If the sovereign is corrupt, then we have something worse than a dictatorship.
    ...the people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power.... All projects of government, formed upon a supposition of continual vigilance, sagacity, and virtue, firmness of the people, when possessed of the exercise of supreme power, are cheats and delusions.... The fundamental article of my political creed is that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor. Equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical. – John Adams
Adams would have condemned our current political condition as "diabolical" – demonic – because the People are unrestrained by a higher Law. There are only two things that can check a ruler's ambition: fear of God and fear of the people. When the sovereign is the People, only the fear of God is left. When that's gone, look out. It was John Wycliffe who wrote originally, "This Bible (the one he had translated into English) is for the government of the people, by the people and for the people." Once our society has rejected the biblical worldview, morally upright self government is not possible.

Even the candidates on our side talk about how their policies would "help" this or that group – not how their plans would put godly principles into lawful practice. When politicians do appeal to the Bible, they universally seem to get it wrong; they always twist the Scriptures to make God endorse their anti-Christian misuse of government.

Most American voters now are trying to build a monument to their own goodness and smartness, like the builders of the tower of Babel, but have thrown away the plumb line. They know the building is crooked, but continue to plaster on more crooked remedies.

The war on righteousness (a neglected, religious-sounding word meaning right-wise-ness; uprightness) has become so intense that even the suggestion of true truth will get one branded as a "theocrat." But without this principle as the prevailing popular idea, we're reduced to fighting each other for my "good" versus your "good," my "truth" versus your "truth," "social justice" versus actual justice.

The concept of righteousness has to be restored. In the coming days and decades Christians will have to talk a lot about it. Jesus said that, when the Holy Spirit would come, He would convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. (See John 16:8)

How often do we, who claim to be indwelt by the Spirit, we talk about any of those?

One Christian lady told me that we should only tell nonbelievers that Jesus loves them; we shouldn't tell them about the Law. And 200 years ago her approach might have worked. Then, everyone on this continent was steeped in the biblical worldview. The rankest heathen then could have alluded to Bible stories and verses. Now that this common atmosphere of biblical morality has been sucked out of the room, so to speak, the unbeliever is floating in a vacuum. He has no reason to care that Jesus loves him because he doesn't know he is an unlovable sinner, "without hope and without God in the world."

The gospel is about righteousness. Read the first chapter of Romans. There you'll find that rightness is something God has, and that we do not have. It is something God demands. But it is something God will give to us through His Son if we'll receive it. It's no wonder that heretics like Tony Campolo can get away with preaching that God will endorse your sin; so few today are preaching that the gospel is about making sinners holy.

We won't be able to renew America unless we can restore the notion that right and wrong are not yours to squish as you wish. They are real, eternal things that have no reference to majority opinion. They are derived from the character of the real God (so Sharia is out), who must be our first consideration (so libertarianism is out).

The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will...only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies. – John Adams

© Dan Popp

 

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