The United States of America was founded upon Christian principles, and throughout the history of our nation our Christian heritage has been respected by our government officials, until the middle of the Twentieth Century. Since that time Christianity has come under increasing attack from government officials at all levels, but particularly from those in our national government. To put this trend in perspective, we invited to our conference Dr. Frank Wright who is the president of the National Religious Broadcasters. As such he is on the firing line in the battle to protect freedom of expression for American Christians. For 25 years he worked with the ministry of Dr. James Kennedy. Dr. Wright's topic at our conference was "The Challenge of Government" (watch).
I'm going to attempt to do something that I hope will be beneficial for all of us as it has been for me as I've considered and studied this. I'm not going to give you a report about what's going on in Washington D.C. so much as I will touch on a few legislative items at the end that I think bear on our ability to freely proclaim the Gospel of Christ.
It was Winston Churchill who once said, "the farther you look back the farther forward you can see." In other words, history is prologue to what is coming next. I believe that we live in a day when we must look back to clearly see what lies ahead, especially as it relates to the halls and the corridors of power which in Washington D.C. is comprised of the three branches of government: the Executive Branch which is led by the President, Congress, and the Courts. All three of those branches today are impinging dramatically on our religious freedoms.
I also think it's important to look back because in my opinion the days ahead for us are fraught with danger. I'm no Jeremiah, and I'm not here to deliver a Jeremiad so that we'll be wringing our hands in fear and trembling. I'm not of that camp. But, I believe the greatest danger maybe is if we sit on our hands and do nothing. There are other dangers as well, and I want to speak on some of those.
You could argue that we live in the time most significantly fraught with peril, perhaps more than any other time since the founding of our country. And yet, with that danger we see the seeds of opportunity as well. I'm persuaded that the Church is to advance truth, which is what we really are all about, isn't it?
Jesus stood before Pontius Pilot who asked Him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" And Jesus answered, "For this reason was I born. And for this reason have I come into the world" (Jn. 18:37). What? Jesus is telling us the very reason He was born and the very reason He came into the world. What did He say? "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
The mission of Christian broadcasters is the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ — to advance truth. Truth is the Gospel and the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The Politics of Opposition
I'm persuaded that in order to advance truth we have to have a healthy respect and understanding for its foes — those who oppose truth. As someone whom I've known for many years in Washington D.C. once said, "It's good to read the Bible everyday to know what God is thinking. And, it's good to read the Washington Post just to get the opposing viewpoint." That's not really very charitable is it to our friends at the Washington Post? But, the principle is a good one. We need to know how the opponents of truth respond to our message in order to do a better job of proclaiming our message. If we aim to proclaim truth, we must carefully study how our adversaries work.
In my years of working on Capital Hill I've observed a standardized approach used by many who contend with us in the market place of ideas. It's a predictable methodology that I see unfold almost every day of the week. It's what I call the Politics of Opposition. In this seven-point framework that I'm going to give you, you will see the principle way that ideas are opposed in political, legal, and legislative arenas, and also just in the marketplace of ideas which is the very place that we are trying to advance the Gospel of Christ. More than that, you'll see the principle way that truth is opposed in almost every forum you can imagine.
I want to quickly walk through the seven stages of the Politics of Opposition. Then I want to apply them to our battle to bring the Gospel and the mind of Christ into the culture. That's what's needed, isn't it? To proclaim Christ, but also to bring the mind of Christ to the institutions of our culture.
It was Abraham Kuyper who said that, "Only Jesus can say there isn't one inch in all of creation that Christ cannot say 'mine.'" It's all His. He is sovereign. He is sovereign over the Church. He is sovereign over the culture. He is sovereign over government, business, law, and education. All of it is submissive, or should be, and one day will be under the sovereign reign of the King of Kings.
I want to apply these coming points then to our effort to advance the Gospel in the culture and against the opposition that we see. I want you to keep in mind as I begin that I'm speaking primarily about a strategy. This is a plan of oppositions and not just some random thing that happens. This strategy is employed by those who stand in opposition to public policy questions and also values and ethics and even truth itself.
In the next part on the challenge of government, Dr. Wright explains the Politics of Opposition's strategies one through five.