Subject: The Bible and Conservatism: Time to Renew Reagan’s Resolution
Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”
Our political experts tell us that Donald Trump won the Presidency because: 1) white working class voters turned out in record numbers for Trump, 2) people don’t trust Clinton – they want a change, 3) people don’t trust the Republican establishment – they want a change. While these are all true, I had hoped we would have elected a conservative President. Donald Trump is not, and never has been, a conservative.
What is ‘conservatism’? It’s a political philosophy that defends foundational social values against cultural change. America was founded on four key social values: 1) limited government, 2) separation of powers, 3) individual liberty with rights that come from God, and 4) moral values and duties based on the Bible. These are the basis of our two national creeds: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
To be a conservative in America means to defend these four values against the onslaught of a culture that works tirelessly to change them. As we look forward to a Trump Presidency, we need to look back to October 4, 1982, when a Democrat-controlled Congress, approved the following Joint Resolution to petition President Ronald Reagan to proclaim 1983 as the “Year of the Bible”:
“Whereas the Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation and people; Whereas deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation; Whereas Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States; Whereas many of our great national leaders (among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson) paid tribute to the surpassing influence of the Bible in our country’s development, as the words of President Jackson that the Bible is “the rock on which our Republic rests”; Whereas the history of our Nation clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families, and societies; Whereas this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before; Whereas that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is authorized and requested to designate 1983 as a national “Year of the Bible” in recognition of both the formative influence the Bible has been for our Nation, and our national need to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.” ([S.J.Res. 165] 96 Stat. 1211 Public Law 97-280 – October 4, 1982).
Can you think of a more appropriate request for Congress to make to Trump in his first 30 days than to repeat the 1982 Resolution – make 2017 “The Year of the Bible”? The above statement “this Nation now faces great challenges that will test this Nation as it has never been tested before” is the theme for 2017.
We need the Bible now more than ever because only the Bible can solve our biggest issue: we are a divided nation, with no love for our neighbors. When a lawyer asked Jesus Christ what was necessary to have eternal life, He answered him with a question: “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” He answered “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus’s response? “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28). The lawyer was commended for knowing the foundation of Israel’s social system: a love for the God of Israel that translated into a love for what He loves – your neighbor.
This is the context of this week’s verse out of Deuteronomy. God has laid out a choice for us to make as a nation that may result in His blessing upon us and our children. What is this choice? Go back earlier to verse 6: “The Lord your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” What God told Israel, and Jesus Christ confirms to the lawyer, is that eternal life isn’t something you work for – it’s something God gives you when He gives you a new heart. And how is this new heart manifested in society? By a love for your neighbor. Stealing another line from the 1982 Resolution: “renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people” – this is the single most impactful action we as a nation can take in 2017 to solicit God’s blessings and draw us together as neighbors.