- The position of RenewAmerica on church-state separation
- RenewAmerica's position on personal religious belief
- What does it mean to be "converted" to Jesus Christ?
- The nonpartisan character of RenewAmerica
There are few issues that are of greater importance to the future of our nation than the constitutionally-guaranteed right of religious expression — both public and private. Today, that right is threatened as never before by an out-of-control, dictatorial judiciary.
As a result of unconstitutional interference by the courts with freedom of religion — in disregard for the overwhelming will of the people — school teachers and their students live in fear of reprimand for crossing imaginary lines drawn by the courts about public religious expression; states and communities are routinely bullied by ACLU attorneys into taking down Ten Commandments displays and other religious symbols without even a fight (a fight, of course, states and communities stand to lose); public officials who once opened meetings and events with prayer now have either dropped the practice or are waiting to be sued if they continue; and in countless other ways, religious expression that was acceptable years ago is now threatened by the heavy hand of government — all in utter and outrageous disrespect for that Creator who "hath made and preserved us a nation" (The National Anthem).
The dubious grounds for such forcible encroachment of atheism by the courts is the so-called doctrine of "Separation of Church and State" that the courts have created out of thin air in recent decades (misusing a statement by Jefferson that is legally irrelevant). Nowhere does the much-cited phrase "wall of separation between church and state" actually appear in the Constitution, itself.
Nor can the First Amendment be credibly cited to require separating religion from public life, or from government. Nothing in the words of the First Amendment itself supports driving a wedge between religion, per se, and public institutions.
At least two principles are clear in the First Amendment — neither of which supports separation of church and state:
- The federal government is prohibited from even considering issues of religious establishment: "Congress shall make no law respecting" — that is, concerning — "an establishment of religion." This means that the matter of religious establishment is not even the province of the federal government, which has no competence either to create a national religion, on the one hand, or to prevent it from evolving, on the other. It's not the federal government's concern.
- States are free to set their own statutes concerning religion without interference from the federal government. (This principle is reinforced by the express language of the Tenth Amendment.)
This whole situation is arguably the single most dangerous threat to our liberties — and to our future as a constitutional republic — that can be cited of all insidious possibilities. Nothing poses a greater threat to our survival as a nation, because this misguided policy alone has the power to change our nation's very character from moral and God-fearing to immoral and self-destructive. If we persist in such cultural and spiritual revisionism, we will not survive the extreme challenges of the 21st Century.
Virtually all other public policy issues tend to hinge, one way or another, upon this definitive policy question. It was usurpation of citizens' First Amendment rights (beginning with the notorious prayer in school decision of the early 60's) that got the courts firmly established in the business of creating — that is, dictating — unconstitutional "law."
The above position of RenewAmerica makes clear one of the most basic requirements for participation in RenewAmerica: No one who believes in the separation of church and state — a doctrine, again, that cannot be found anywhere in the Constitution — is in harmony with the core values of RenewAmerica.
All who participate in RenewAmerica are expected to uphold the Constitution. They are also expected to help preserve our nation's founding ideals — on the premise that "America must return to its founding principles if it is to survive."
Such commitment to constitutional principle simply does not allow participants in RenewAmerica to align with an overtly unconstitutional position — such as certain positions held by the ACLU, atheistic plaintiffs, lawless judges, or others that intend to dismantle the right of religious expression in outright disregard for the Constitution, as written. The position of such activists is diametrically opposed to that of RenewAmerica.
Likewise, RenewAmerica disavows any and all other attempts by judicial activists to legislate from the bench in any other matters — for such "judgislation" is, itself, a direct and serious violation of the Constitution.
RenewAmerica has no official position (or requirement) regarding religious affiliation or belief, other than that derived directly from our founding documents and the biblical Word of God.
As our published guidelines make clear, the official ideals of RenewAmerica center in promoting and applying the two main documents upon which our country was founded — the Declaration of Independence, which defines the role of government as "securing" our God-given rights; and the U.S. Constitution, as written — along with the divine premises and teachings of the Bible.
On that basis, our "About RenewAmerica" statement says:
RenewAmerica is a grassroots organization that supports the self-evident truths found in the Declaration of Independence, and their faithful application through upholding the U.S. Constitution, as written. Its purpose, therefore, is to thoughtfully and courageously advance the cause of our nation's Founders.
The organization is for ALL people who consider themselves loyal Americans. It has no philosophy, image, or agenda beyond this one unifying premise: America must return to its founding principles if it is to survive.
The mission of RenewAmerica is to expand the influence of America's grassroots . . . upon its founding ideals, specifically those in the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, as well as those derived from biblical principles.
Given the above, it should go without saying that RenewAmerica firmly believes in the importance of religion itself (defined, at a minimum, as belief in a Creator who gave us our rights, and in "firm reliance" on divine Providence — ideals stated in the Declaration and premised on the Bible). Those who profess to believe in God in this manner meet any stated or implicit religious standard for participation in RenewAmerica.
Upon this common foundation of belief, it's vital that all who wish to participate in RenewAmerica realize that most of us involved will reflect the reality of the vast Christian majority in America — a majority that itself reflects the virtual consensus of belief in Christ that existed among our Founders. This suggests that RenewAmerica will always be primarily Christian in composition, but not exclusively so. All who join with us are expected to respect the beliefs of others, Christians and non-Christians alike.
RenewAmerica is comprised of numerous individuals from a variety of denominations and religious backgrounds — all of whom share a belief in the ultimate authority of the Bible in defining what it means to be a Christian.
As long as we rely directly on the Bible in identifying the core of doctrine that is essential to salvation, we believe we have a sound basis for working together — despite our differences — and for unifying, inspiring, and mobilizing grassroots Americans in the cause of preserving our country.
With that shared understanding of the basis for doctrinal orthodoxy, RenewAmerica issues the following statement on the vital question "What does it mean to be 'converted' to Jesus Christ?"
All persons seek "SALVATION" — in some form or another — even if defined in purely secular terms. Salvation could be considered personal triumph over those things that vex us: our adversaries, detractors, obstacles, weaknesses, challenges, threats. To be "saved" is to be rescued from such things. For many people, this means "rescuing themselves" by their own wits.
To Christians, however, salvation means something quite different, something unattainable by human effort. It consists in overcoming human nature itself and becoming "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4) — through the atonement and grace of Jesus Christ, and not through "self-improvement" or self-reliant "works." It means surrendering our will to God, and receiving through Him a renewed heart and mind and the hope of eternal life — thus being rescued from our fallen condition and becoming "reconciled" to God, capable of doing those things that truly please, glorify, and exemplify Him.
The future of our nation hinges on which version of salvation most Americans genuinely believe in — as revealed by their actions in the face of the severe tests and trials that surely await our country.
We therefore ask: What is ultimately required of those who profess belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ, if their faith and faithfulness are to bear fruit acceptable to God? Can the acceptable lives of the faithful persuade God to spare His judgments upon our entire nation? And can one righteous life make a difference?
What, indeed, does it mean to be CONVERTED to Christ, or to His gospel, in the first place — and what are the obligations and duties of those professing to be converted? The following outlines RenewAmerica's view of this critical topic.
The biblical definition of conversion
Jesus told Peter, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32, emphasis added). He also taught his disciples, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3, emphasis added).
Jesus elaborated, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:4).
On the day of Pentecost — during which the apostles were "filled with the Holy Ghost" — Peter instructed a group of onlookers who were amazed at the healing of a lame man:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:12, 19, emphasis added).
In the Bible, the idea of conversion is best described by the term "born again." We read the following discussion of this doctrine in John, chapter 3:
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (verses 1-8, emphasis added)
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (verses 9-21)
For, as the scriptures teach, only as we are regenerated through the blood and atonement of Christ can we truly be "saved."
To understand why we need such "salvation," of course, we need to accept the fact that we are "fallen," through sin, and thus in need of "reconciliation with God" (see Rom. 5:8-12, 2 Cor. 5:17-21). Hence the need for a Savior, through whose sacrifice we might overcome our fallen condition and become a "new creature" — a person whose heart and mind are fundamentally changed.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
This kind of conversion isn't transitory or fleeting. If it is to be real, then it must be fundamental, enduring, even "eternal" for those who have attained it — as evidenced by their fulfillment of the following words of Jesus:
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matt. 24:13)
With the above understanding of the need to be reclaimed from our fallen condition (in which we are prone naturally to sin) — so that we might thereafter, as Paul wrote in Romans 6, be "free from sin, and become servants to God," "walking in a newness of life," imperfect but acceptable to God because our hearts have been changed, and with the understanding that through Christ we can be made spiritually alive as a little child — the question arises: how can we attain such abundance of life, for real, not in a way that is pretended, imagined, or temporary, and thus be a light and strength to others? (See Matt. 5:13-16, as well as Luke 22:32.)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus cautioned all of us with these words: "[S]trait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matt. 7:13-14)
No elitist, Jesus is not saying that He is withholding from any person His invitation to come unto Him and be saved — but He is emphasizing that true conversion does not come lightly. As the scriptures clearly teach, the price of salvation is whole-hearted submission to God, nothing held back, as James taught:
. . . Wherefore . . . , God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. . . .
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. . . .
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (James 4:6-8, 10, 14-15)
Jesus Himself says in Matt. 22 — when asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law" —
. . . Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment. (verses 37 and 38)
And as Jesus taught in Matt. 18:3, the measure of such yielding is the degree to which we "become as little children" in our faith and our submissiveness to God.
This brings us back to the Sermon on the Mount.
In the same passage in which Jesus warned about the narrowness of the "way, which leadeth to life" and the fact that "few" find it, He then says,
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matt. 7:21-27)
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Tim. 4:7-8)
A word about baptism
So far, we've focused on the inward submission of our will to Jesus Christ — and the spiritual changes that result when this surrender is authentic — in defining what it means to be converted to Christ.
The reason for this emphasis should be clear. According to the scriptures, God will accept the offering of our will — that is, our heart — only if it is given fully, without pretense, as displayed by the kind of life we live after our professed conversion. (See Deut. 4:29, Matt. 5:8, Rom. 10:9-10, Heb. 4:12-13, and James 4:8.) On that premise — at least in principle — all Bible-believing Christians should be able to agree.
This unifying point of doctrine, however, is not meant to ignore the need for water baptism, a doctrine emphasized throughout the New Testament as essential to salvation.
Indeed, in His words to Nicodemus, Jesus declares, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5) — a passage generally understood to require water baptism, as well as spiritual rebirth.
Unfortunately, because of water baptism's practical implications — involving such issues as authority (formal vs. informal), manner (immersion vs. sprinkling), timing ("age of accountability" vs. newborn), preconditions (evidence of repentance vs. no evidence of repentance), and so forth — discussion of baptism introduces a number of "institutional" issues that tend to divide Christians. Indeed, differences regarding baptism are among the most important distinctions that characterize the various Christian denominations.
That said, let's accept unequivocally the following words of Jesus Himself:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:16)
One of the recurring themes of the scriptures is the idea of "bearing fruit," and in the same section of the Sermon on the Mount cited above, Jesus stresses this basic doctrine. In verses 16 through 20 of Matthew 7, He says,
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree [that is, an unconverted one] bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
For unless our conversion is genuine, and our hearts truly reconciled to God, we are incapable of bringing forth "good fruit" of the sort that enables us to "strenghthen [our] brethren" (Luke 22:32) — as Christ instructed Peter to do, and as He Himself exemplified by His own life, as we read in Acts:
. . . God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:5-8)
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matt. 13:23)
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)
Why such explicit religious focus in the context of "renewing America"? Because reliance upon God — and living worthy of his intervention — is the best, and ultimately only, hope for the future of our embattled nation.
We stand to lose the culture war, the war on terror, the political war for the future of our country, and the prospect of passing on to our posterity the blessings of liberty unless we as a nation submit ourselves individually to God and seek his intervention and guidance in the affairs of our country.
That's how we started, of course. Our great Declaration of Independence — by which our forbears risked their lives and fortunes for our sakes — was premised on the following:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions. . . .
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, . . . mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Indeed, without the same "firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence" that our forbears exhibited, which "hath made and preserved us a nation" (The National Anthem), our best efforts will prove powerless against our current and future foes.
That is the sobering reality — and challenge — facing all concerned Americans.
RenewAmerica is an independent grassroots entity unaffiliated with any public figure, political candidate, or political party. While it steadfastly supports the right of all citizens — including those connected with RenewAmerica — to engage in partisan politics, RenewAmerica itself is strictly nonpartisan and "neutral" in its political activities and communication.
All representatives, members, chapters, and entities of RenewAmerica are likewise expected to be officially nonpartisan in any activities connected with RenewAmerica.
For the record, RenewAmerica generally supports the platform principles of the Republican Party, as currently written — although RenewAmerica does not officially support or endorse the GOP itself, or any of its candidates.
Similarly, RenewAmerica has much in common with the stated platforms of many "third" parties, but RA is strictly unaffiliated with any and all such parties. In fact, RenewAmerica considers the endless proliferation of such parties a detriment to the conservative movement — because of the splintering it unavoidably creates, rendering conservatives impotent as a political "base," even though they far outnumber all other voting blocs.
The obvious goal, therefore, should be to force the GOP (often referred to as the "stupid party") to break with the Democrats (often called the "evil party") and open up the political process of our nation to truly open and free elections. This will require, at a minimum, the virtual commandeering of the GOP by principled conservatives. Until this happens (something that appears unlikely), third parties will remain merely "issue-advocates" — not genuine players in the election of serious candidacies.
Because the current political situation in America leaves little hope for any real "political" solution to our nation's disastrous collapse into socialism, RenewAmerica believes that only
As far as the Democratic Party is concerned, it goes without saying that RenewAmerica has virtually nothing in common with this corrupt, deceitful organization — which today acts unabashedly as an agent of world socialism and behaves increasingly as an enemy of our constitutional republic. This does not mean that RenewAmerica is necessarily opposed to all things the destructive Democrats may occasionally propose — we simply see little in that party's agenda that qualifies as acceptable.
No matter the temptation to act otherwise as America continues to fall prey to its internal enemies, RenewAmerica is determined to remain steadfastly "nonpartisan" — committed only to advancing and preserving the Declaration-based, constitutional, and biblical principles that authentically define America.