Timothy Buchanan
Straining gnats and swallowing camels
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By Timothy Buchanan
February 19, 2020

There's a strange political paradox in Washington and in state capitals that frustrates and angers conservative voters relentlessly. You've seen it, too. The dichotomy has split the nation and threatens us all in one way or another.

While liberals who embrace horrible and sinister public policies aimed at ruining the republic, vote with virtual unanimity for evil deeds, ostensibly-conservative Republicans who champion wholesome, just and moral causes, bicker among themselves. Invariably, some defect.

Why is it that devilish Democrats are able to successfully coalesce in their contempt for religious liberty and loathing for President Trump with impunity? How are the wrong people able to make friends among the right people in order to gain support for wasteful federal spending schemes and reckless attacks on constitutional rights? Why does it often seem easier to herd alley cats than to unify Republicans to vote the right way?

Politics is certainly not the answer to the reform of American culture, but it does provide useful illustrations from time to time. There exists in our society, a queer affinity for what some have labeled "terminal uniqueness." Pride is its seed. Its bitter fruit is amply evident and pervades even the Church. Protestants condemn Catholics, Arminians bash Calvinists, and Pentecostals bristle against Baptists. While the Church fights among itself, the wicked are eating our lunch.

On the surface, most theological conflicts may appear to be matters of scriptural ignorance or some new and devious esoteric interpretation. But that's only the surface. Personal pride underlies each of these divisions, and we all pay a heavy price for hard and stubborn hearts.

Religious persecution and gross immorality are not coming to America – they are here, they are thriving and gaining strength. Recent history tells a dark tale of gradual but persistent moral decline in our society. The grave consequences are simply the result of human faithlessness and the cowardly refusal to confront wickedness. But the root of all is pride.

Five hundred years ago, John Calvin told us, "Pride is the pregnant mother of all sin." But one thousand years before him, St. Augustine declared, "There never can have been, and never can be, and there never shall be any sin without pride." In ignorance and arrogance, many moderns foolishly reject the wisdom of great men out of childish disdain for personalities.

One superb example of the destructive effect of spiritual arrogance is the Manhattan Declaration of 2009. In the first year of the Obama administration, many church leaders saw that the force of government was being leveraged against the sanctity of life, marriage as the foundation of the family, and religious liberty. Their response was to affirm unity in opposing federal laws that would undermine these universal principles that all denominations of Christians hold in highest regard.

The Manhattan Declaration gained broad support among Catholics, Orthodox and Protestant Christians across denominational lines, but it was not universally embraced. Some church leaders declined to sign on to the manifesto, choosing instead to quibble over language and stubbornly hold onto trivial divisive differences and nurse long-standing doctrinal feuds.

Nevertheless, the Manhattan Declaration was successful in awakening many of us to the importance of recognizing that the one thing that we all espouse – our love of Christ – must supercede any and all petty distinctions over which we may privately squabble.

Forty Days for Life is largely a Catholic pro-life movement aimed at interceding on behalf of the unborn and awakening a morally-deaf culture to the beastly practice of abortion. I don't have to embrace Catholicism in order to enjoin their noble work. Likewise, every Christian can demonstrate the love of Christ to Israel by advocating for the protection of the Jewish people. He can provide caring financial support for them and receive blessings in so doing.

Human history makes it clear that each of us needs to return to fundamental truth again and again. We get lost whenever we forget where we began and lose track of where we are going. History provides markers and messages.

Just as a fruit tree requires annual pruning to remain healthy and productive, the watchful Christian must periodically examine his growth in context of the whole counsel of biblical truth. We must judge our own progress not only in direction, but also in degree.

Any dead fish will eventually makes its way downstream to a waterfall. The live fishes must swim in order to avoid being swept away by the swift river currents. The same is true for Christians in this turbulent society. It should not be so that the godless are more effective unifying around hate than the Church is bonding in love and grace.

While superficial appearances may change, every major problem that human societies face in the present or await in the future has an answer in the past. The seed from which they sprout is pride, and it ever lives in each of us. However terrible the present may be, hidden in every failure is an opportunity, and in every success a potential pitfall.

Through shrewd philosophical maneuvers, godless public officials are abusing America's children, gagging America's pastors, priests and parents, stealing our honor and mortgaging our future. These they do, often with our tactic cooperation.

The late Francis Schaeffer said, "The ordinary Christian with the Bible in his hand can say that the majority is wrong." But the Christian must have confidence in its power to speak life to the dead and health to the sick.

Therefore, let us leave prejudice, bigotry and hatred to the heretic and the infidel. Let us recognize that what we have in contrast is trivial compared to the power we share in common. And let the name of Christ ever be praised.

© Timothy Buchanan

 

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Timothy Buchanan

Timothy Buchanan is a US Navy veteran, a former defense contractor and broadcast engineer. He's the author of two published books and a regular contributor to BarbWire.com. Timothy and his wife live among the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.

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