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Do Americans Trust in God?
Townhall.com ^ | December 31, 2013 | Terry Paulson

Posted on 12/31/2013 11:39:20 AM PST by Kaslin

Our coins say it--"In God We Trust." But surveys indicate that fewer and fewer Americans actually put their trust in God. For many, God seems to get in the way. To some, God and his commandments are the creation of an archaic Judeo-Christian belief system that just impedes needed cultural transformation.

Coverage of the recent statements by Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson have focused primarily on his statements regarding homosexual behavior. But the subsequent reaction has revealed a deep divide in our culture.

Ron Highfield's faith-affirming book, "God, Freedom & Human Dignity," explores the impact of centuries of Enlightenment thinking on modern day moral judgment and contrasts that with America's long-standing Judeo-Christian moral foundation. While those with a secular view look within themselves for moral sources and authority, Christianity points to a transcendent God who is Lord, creator, and man's ultimate judge.

Such a difference invites conflict. Highfield writes, "For many people, Christian calls for obedience to the divine law, for repentance and moral transformation sound like recipes for oppression." Approaching people today with any hint of such judgment just triggers a reaction of defiance or indifference.

Highfield draws on Alasdair MacIntyre's book, After Virtue, to help understand contemporary moral thinking. Highfield explains that MacIntyre noted three activities characteristic of moderns: "The arbitrary claim to possess rights, the inclination to protest and the strategy of unmasking. The self asserts certain rights against other people, but can offer no rational justification for these claims. Hence, when the self feels that its rights are violated, the facade of rational argument quickly falls away leaving nothing but protest and indignation. Protest, according to MacIntyre, is a 'distinctive feature of the modern age.'"

The Robertson protest has fueled an equally strong reaction--"Fire Robertson" vs "Bring Him Back!" But let me take a step back from this battle to attempt to bring some less emotional clarity to the evangelical Christian world view that some attack as "offensive:"

1. America's freedom of speech has supported a necessary and vibrant exchange of even "offensive" exchanges throughout our history. Political correctness and even attacks for "offending" can threaten this vital freedom if allowed to win the day. Christian tolerance does not translate into approval of all lifestyles. Ever since Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, God has been "offending" people with his "stop" sign to man's sin. Likewise, secular attacks on the religious offend many, but Christians have no desire to silence attackers by force of law.

2. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in his novel The Brothers Karamazov, makes the observation: "If there is no God, everything is permissible." What could be called "right" or "true" without God? History provides ample proof that the support of the majority cannot be a reliable anchor for moral decisions. With no higher moral authority, any individual could argue, "What gives anyone the right to determine what is 'right or wrong' for me?" In the same way, America's Declaration of Independence based our rights not on reason or majority rule, but on "inalienable rights" that come from our creator--The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. God-based rights and rules provide a firm foundation.

3. God's commandments, rather than being an obstacle to freedom, help foster freedom. Studies have found that perceived freedom in teens is higher in homes where clear parental discipline is consistently applied. The uncertainty of inconsistent parenting diminishes perceived freedom. With clear rules and referees enforcing them, players know what's out of bounds and can be free to play between the lines. To Christians, playing the game of life by God's rules and grace is not constrictive; it's freeing.

4. When the Bible lists sins, it's not done to isolate any group but to confirm that all sin and fall short of God's expectations. When Jesus defended the woman caught in adultery by asking, "Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone," he reinforced the universality of sin and man's need for forgiveness and grace. You may see "John 3:16" signs at football games, but John 3:17 is more essential to this discussion--"For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Most Christians have no desire to single out anyone for condemnation.

5. Christians are called not to judge or condemn but to pray for, love and serve sinners and even our "enemies." We're also called to bear witness to Biblical truths including God's moral laws. But aren't Christians supposed to love their neighbor as they do themselves? Of course, and I would hope my neighbor would love me enough to confront what I was doing if dangerous to my eternal wellbeing. Blindly approving whatever a person does is not true love, and it is certainly not Biblical. No one needs the approval of Christians, but having God's approval might be very important.

Years ago, a gay speaker friend was in his final days in his fight with AIDS. When Hank asked me to come and pray with him, I came not to judge but to serve. I treasure that shared prayer with Hank. In that same spirit, as Christians, even when attacked, may we spend a little less time judging those who are lost and a little more time sharing about what it means to be found and to serve in the spirit of Christ's love.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: americans; freespeech; religion

1 posted on 12/31/2013 11:39:20 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
I trust in God and pray for our nation everyday.He will deliver us in the end!
2 posted on 12/31/2013 11:48:16 AM PST by spincaster (Spincaster)
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To: Kaslin

In G-d we trust.

All others: Pay cash!


3 posted on 12/31/2013 11:53:22 AM PST by donmeaker (A man can go anywhere on earth, and where man can go, he can drag a cannon.)
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To: Kaslin

Usually people who’ve come up on to an insurmountable problem. They need G-d until they don’t need G-d.


4 posted on 12/31/2013 12:01:49 PM PST by SkyDancer (Live your life in such a way that the Westboro church will want to picket your funeral.)
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To: SkyDancer

I trust in God and love Him with all my heart. I am an imperfect human but He sees me as perfect. I am so sorry for those who have not sought Him out and received Jesus as savior. Eternity will happen. Where is up to each individual.

God bless everyone!


5 posted on 12/31/2013 12:04:11 PM PST by ruesrose (The Anchor Holds)
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To: Kaslin

I can sum it up in one word.

Idolatry.

Gods correction for this is never pleasant.
Except for the believer who is expectant of it.

I crave Gods correction for this world without any
any reservations.

Come Lord Jesus.


6 posted on 12/31/2013 12:08:17 PM PST by right way right (What's it gonna take? (guillotines?))
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To: Kaslin

Always put your trust in God-—never government.


7 posted on 12/31/2013 12:16:06 PM PST by freeangel ( (free speech is only good until someone else doesn't like it)
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To: freeangel

Bump


8 posted on 12/31/2013 12:27:00 PM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin

WATCH Duck Dynasty, Duck Commander, Phil Robertson talk - why this country needs a lot more Jesus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrHucQubx_E


9 posted on 12/31/2013 12:50:41 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Kaslin

Do Americans Trust in God?


Which God?...... There are so many designer Gods...


10 posted on 12/31/2013 1:10:11 PM PST by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole..)
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To: hosepipe

There are many gods the world chooses from. There is one God that chose the world.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


11 posted on 12/31/2013 1:20:30 PM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Kaslin

I trust that every step our country takes that gives God a colder shoulder will result in greater catastrophe.


12 posted on 12/31/2013 1:43:05 PM PST by stevem
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To: Kaslin

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.


13 posted on 12/31/2013 2:17:30 PM PST by PoloSec ( Believe the Gospel: how that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again)
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To: Kaslin

As for me and my family we will follow the Lord.


14 posted on 12/31/2013 2:18:28 PM PST by JamesA (You don't have to be big to stand tall)
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To: JamesA

Bump


15 posted on 12/31/2013 2:37:50 PM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: hosepipe

Maybe there is for you. For me there is only one


16 posted on 12/31/2013 2:39:38 PM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: thackney

There is only one God for me


17 posted on 12/31/2013 2:40:45 PM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin
I think Americans are increasingly trusting in reason. With the internet, people can now weigh religious claims much more efficiently than ever before. They can examine Christianity (its theological statements, its purported miracles, etc) and compare it to other religions, like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or what have you.

They can look at the evidence for each and decide if there are good reasons to choose one faith over the others. They can debate those with different cultural and philosophical perspectives and see if, by putting on someone else's shoes, they can better understand why others come to very different conclusions about religion and God(s).

It seems to me, if Christianity can stand up to this critical examination at the hands of the "everyman" that information technology is now facilitating, then America will continue to be religious. If it can't, America will become more secular. Either way, reason (which is responsible for an incalculable amount of good in our society) will have won out. It will mean America has chosen what to trust wisely, and that will be a good thing.

18 posted on 12/31/2013 2:58:56 PM PST by BearArms
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To: BearArms
Wrong. In politics today, half of the American people are not trusting reason. This administration is probably the most unreasonable administration ever. Half of the population prefers it that way.

Anyhow, you present a false dichotomy. Reason is not what separates. What separates is a preference for the body over the soul and an temporal life over an eternal life. You think the ancients didn't trust in reason.

19 posted on 12/31/2013 3:05:37 PM PST by cornelis
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To: cornelis
"Wrong."

LOL...I love it when people do that. Have a great new year!

20 posted on 12/31/2013 3:13:53 PM PST by BearArms
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To: BearArms
I love it when people do that.

Sorry. You stepped in it.

21 posted on 12/31/2013 4:22:02 PM PST by cornelis
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To: right way right

Hebrews 12:11 - Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.


22 posted on 12/31/2013 4:49:26 PM PST by ilovesarah2012
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To: cornelis
In politics today, half of the American people are not trusting reason. This administration is probably the most unreasonable administration ever. Half of the population prefers it that way.

Half the population has values fairly consistent with those of the Obama administration. Many of its policies are "unreasonable," yes. However, no election is ever a straight choice between reason and irrationality. People tend to vote for candidates who possess values closest to theirs, and so we have president Obama. I found George W. Bush's spending orgies to be exceptionally unreasonable, so I hope you're not implying that voting Republican is always the reasonable course.

Reason is not what separates. What separates is a preference for the body over the soul and an temporal life over an eternal life. You think the ancients didn't trust in reason.

What separates is credulousness versus evidence based belief. Some ancients did trust in reason...far more trusted in superstition. These days, superstition has a far tougher time of it. I expect it will get tougher.

Sorry. You stepped in it.

I don't think so. You might be smelling something on your end.

23 posted on 01/01/2014 11:37:21 PM PST by BearArms
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