Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 7

Getting the Big Picture of Reality Is a Key Factor in Affirming the Existence of Absolute Truth and Understanding Authentic Liberty

[T]he problem of the 1920s to the 1980s…is the attempt to have absolute freedom—to be totally autonomous from any intrinsic limits. It is the attempt to throw off anything that would restrain one’s own personal autonomy. But it is especially a direct and deliberate rebellion against God and his law.
Francis Schaeffer in The Great Evangelical Disaster, published in 1984—

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.—John Locke in Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

In a Family TalkTM booklet titled Discipline, Dr. James Dobson relates a story loaded with lessons for us today. Countering the idea that parents and their children should “be on an even playing field—making decisions by negotiation and compromise,” Dobson recalls observing his daughter’s pet hampster fidgeting in his cage, anxiously trying to escape. The little guy

worked tirelessly to open the gate and push his furry little nose between the bars. Then I noticed our dachshund, Siggie, sitting eight feet away in the shadows. He was watching the hamster, too. His ears were erect, and it was obvious what was on his mind. He was thinking, Come on, baby. Open that door, and I’ll have you for lunch. If the hamster had been so unfortunate as to escape from his cage, which he desperately wanted to do, he would have been dead in a matter of seconds.

Dobson goes on to discuss the difference between the hampster’s perspective and his own: “I was aware of dangers that he couldn’t have foreseen. That’s why I denied him something that he desperately wanted to achieve.”

In this respect, children are like that hampster—but so is everyone else in the human race, regardless of age, before he or she is willing to acknowledge the big picture offered by “nature and nature’s God,” to quote the the Declaration of Independence.

But wait! The Declaration does not just speak of “nature and nature’s God,” but of “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” What? In the Declaration of Independence? Yes! Our founders got it right. True freedom and liberty—on both personal and societal levels—can be established and maintained only when individals and society affirm the laws of nature, or absolute truth. Dr. Dobson’s perspective in relation to his daughter’s hamster parallels the one we need with regard to the world, life, and the universe.

True freedom and liberty—on both personal and societal levels—can be established and maintained only when individals and society affirm the laws of nature, or absolute truth. 

No One Really Believes Truth Doesn’t Exist

Even a relativist has to admit that some truths and falsehoods exist.

  • He knows he’s wearing a blue shirt and not a red one.
  • She lives in Texas, not in Vermont.
  • Go through a traffic intersection when you approach a green light, not a red one.

Truths and falsehoods in the moral and spiritual realms exist, too. These also are evident, but we don’t recognize them with physical senses like seeing and hearing—and they often are even more consequential than realities in the physical relalm.

True Freedom Is Found In a Recognition of Absolute Truth

In their book on apologetics for high schoolers titled Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door, Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler expose 42 myths that have become quite popular in today’s culture. One of them is the “Anarchist Myth.”1 To expose this false belief for the lie it really is, McDowell and Hostetler tell a story. The story also is available online.

Herman, the son of a crab named Fred, was growing rather weary of what he believed to be the confinement imposed on him by his shell. “Hey, Dad! This shell is really boxing me in,” said Herman. “I can’t take it anymore! I want my freedom! My friends and I have been talking, and they feel the same way. Some of them are thinking about forming a group called ‘Crabs for Shedding Shells.’ I’m ready to help!”

“Son,” said Fred to his boy, “I understand your frustration. I know it’s easy for you to think your shell is denying you freedom and that you could move around unencumbered if you only could get rid of it—but let me tell you a story.”

“Aww, Dad, come on. I’m too old for that!” complained Herman.

“Now, hear me out,” replied the elder crab. “I think this will make a lot of sense to you. My story is about

Humphrey the human, who insisted on going barefoot to school. He complained that his shoes were too confining. They cramped his style, he said. He longed to be free to run barefoot through fields and streams. Finally, his mother gave in to him. He skipped out of the house barefoot. Do you know what happened?”

Herman opened his mouth, but his father continued before he could answer.

“Humphrey the human stepped on pieces of a broken bottle. His foot required twenty stitches, and some other guy took his girl to the prom while Humphrey sat home watching reruns of Flipper.”

“That’s a pretty lame story, Dad,” Herman said.

“Maybe, Son, but the point is this: Every crab has felt this way at one time or another, thinking life would be better if he could be completely shell-free. But that’s like a sailor getting tired of the confinement of a ship and jumping to freedom in the sea. He may think that’s freedom, but if he doesn’t get back to ship or shore, he’ll drown and end up as crab food. What kind of freedom is that?”

Fred explained to Herman that one day in the not-too-distant future, he indeed would discard his shell. The process, called molting, is a normal part of a crab’s growth into adulthood. “But don’t be fooled,” Fred warned his son. “After your old shell comes off, you’re going to be especially vulnerable. It’ll be a dangerous time. You’ll need to be more careful than ever until your new shell hardens.” Fred tapped his son’s exterior shield a couple of times and then summarized his main point. “The truth, Herman, is that without a protective shell, life will be far more confining than liberating.”

Both the irony and the reality of the situation were beginning to dawn on Herman. After thoughtful reflection, he turned to his dad and said,

“You mean that some things may seem to limit freedom but really make greater freedom possible?”

Fred smiled broadly and patted his son on the back with a mammoth claw. “How’d you get to be so smart, Son?” he asked.

Corporate Liberty Depends on the Affirmation of a Supreme Authority

“The laws of nature and nature’s God” are like Herman’s shell. Coming back now to the larger picture, we note that as a nation, if we don’t return to these, we will lose our liberty. Does everyone have to become a Christian in this nation for America to restore and maintain liberty? No, not everyone was a Christian even at America’s founding, although most were. People believed in God, however, and that was key. In particular, the Founders held beliefs “rooted in the Judeo-Christian values found in the Bible.”

While we might not be able to convince our secular friends and neighbors of the existence of God right off the bat (even though we certainly need to know and be able make the case for God’s existence), if we can help them see the connections between law, liberty, and belief in a divine being, that will be a good first step.

Yet we may need to take at least one step even before that. We absolutely must teach our children about these connections. As the Bible affirms Psalm 119:45: “I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts.”

Have you had a discussion about absolute truth in your home?

Part 8 is available here.

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

For Further Study

Homicide detective J. Warner Wallace became a Christian after applying principles of forensic analysis to the Gospel accounts and determining that they passed the tests for authenticity. In these videos, he discusses the evidence for God based on the existence of moral truth.

In this video, conservative radio talk show host and devout Jew Dennis Prager argues from the other side of this issue. Prager makes the case that without God, objective moral truth cannot exist.

Both Wallace and Prager are correct, but each deals with the issue from a different angle.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 4

The Foundation and Benefits of Absolute Truth
True Liberty Is Grounded in a Recognition of Absolute Truth

There are three points of doctrine the belief of which forms the foundation of all morality. The first is the existence of God; the second is the immortality of the human soul; and the third is a future state of rewards and punishments. Suppose it possible for a man to disbelieve either of these three articles of faith and that man will have no conscience, he will have no other law than that of the tiger or the shark. The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.
John Quincy Adams

[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. Here therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.
Samuel Adams, pictured above in John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence

Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.
Ronald Reagan

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

A Jewish rabbi bound on a plane for Israel soon discovered he was seated next to one of the leaders of Israel’s socialist labor movement. After the plane became airborne, a student of the rabbi who was seated several rows behind him approached him and offered him his slippers. “Here are your slippers, sir,” he said, “You’ll feel more comfortable in them, since your feet swell terribly on the plane.” A short time later the same young man came forward again and offered the rabbi several sandwiches. “Your wife fixed these for your lunch, sir. We know you’ll like them much better than the food the airline will offer.”

These were not isolated incidents, but a pattern; the student returned on numerous occasions to check on the rabbi, to offer him something to make his flight more pleasant, or to serve him in some other way. All of this made quite an impression on the socialist leader, who finally turned to his seatmate and said, “Wow! I’m so impressed with your son! I have four grown sons, and never in all my life have they offered to serve me as your son has waited on you. Why is he so attentive to you?”

“I have to be honest with you,” said the rabbi. “This young man is not my son but my student. His service, as good as it is, is nothing compared to the assistance my own son would give me if he were here.

“The reason the members of the next generation, including members of our own families, treat us as they do is quite simple. All of them are living according to the ideas and principles we’ve taught them. You decided some time ago to tell them that you—and they—descended from apes, and this is what you taught them. They know intuitively this means that you are one generation closer to being a monkey than they are, so it’s only natural that they would expect you to serve them. I, on the other hand, have taught my children and students that we have been created by God Himself. They understand this puts me one generation closer to the Source of Ultimate Truth, and they treat me in accord with this understanding. We reap what we sow.”1

Of course, just as the socialist leader’s belief in evolution does not prove God doesn’t exist, neither does the rabbi’s belief in divine creation prove that He does. What our story does demonstrate is that a belief in God is conducive to civil behavior, and ultimately to a civil society. It also sets the stage for us to see that true freedom can exist only in a society grounded in virtue. Without virtue, freedom unravels into chaos, which leads to bigger government and, finally, to tyranny.

Consider the positive virtues inherent in the rabbi’s perspective. A belief in being created by God helps a person to cultivate a variety of noble qualities in his or her life, including these.

  1. Generosity
  2. Gratitude
  3. Selflessness
  4. Humility
  5. A sense of responsibility
  6. A sense of accountability
  7. Respect for others
  8. Respect for one’s elders
  9. Respect for one’s peers, grounded in the truth that all of human life is valuable because God creates it in His image

And to think—we got all this just from considering the implications of the rabbi’s observations on the plane!

Yet there’s more. While selfishness and pursuit of personal pleasure tend to foster distrust and tension in relationships, the virtues listed above promote numerous priceless benefits, including stronger and more fulfilling relationships and a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness.

On a societal level as well, virtues establish and maintain order and stability. A virtuous people exercise a positive self-restraint that makes true freedom in society possible. The other side of the coin is that without virtue, self-restraint is non-existent as well. Without self-restraint, chaos, then tyranny, inevitably follow.

Virtue, let us not forget, flourishes in the soil of a belief in God and an awareness of one’s accountability to Him. A belief in absolute truth also is a part of this mix. To be accountable to God means to understand that He holds us to a high and unchanging standard—His. If this make you feel straight-jacketed and unfairly confined, think of a train, which has been designed and built to travel along railroad tracks. The train constructed neither itself nor the tracks. Human beings built both of these for a purpose. The train accomplishes its purpose when it runs on the tracks that fit its design.

In like manner, God designed people for a purpose that ultimately can be fulfilled only when they are aware of their accountability to Him. Yes, this is confining in some ways, but it is liberating in many more.

The rabbi is right. So are the statesmen we’ve quoted at the top. And so is Founding Father Fisher Ames, who said, “The happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend on piety, religion, and morality.”

Let us do all we can to help our society rediscover and re-implement this principle. Once again, absolute truth is far more liberating than confining when we cooperate with it. Why? Because it is part of the uncompromising, unyielding, unbending, real world in which we live. Reality isn’t mean, it just is. Because it is what it is, it will hit you in the face if you try to defy it.

Part 5 is available here.


Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

1Rabbi Daniel Lapin, America’s Real War: An Orthodox Rabbi Insists that Judeo-Christian Values Are Vital for Our Nation’s Survival, (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1999), 51-52.


The Importance of Getting History Right, Part 9

An Opportunity Seized by Progressives—
and a Turning Point for America

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Thomas Jefferson

Part 8 is available here.

For the last eight weeks, we’ve been discussing several significant events in America’s history and the importance of understanding them in the historical contexts in which they occurred. Was America founded on racist principles? Was the original Constitution of 1787 racist? If not, then why did slavery continue in America for decades beyond the Constitution’s ratification?


Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in the 1770s

These have been some of the questions we have considered and endeavored to answer. Our journey has taken us from the Constitutional Convention of 1787, to the Civil War, to Reconstruction and beyond—all the way into the 20th and 21st centuries.

As we examined history, we saw that the Constitution was not racist.  Yet we did discover that one political party has promoted racism. Before, during, and after the Civil War, Democrats, generally speaking, were indeed racists and sought to implement racist policies. Today the prevailing narrative says that Republicans, not Democrats, are racists, but the fact that the narrative is what it is simply demonstrates that liberals—Democrats—have controlled it and effectively have rewritten history to their own advantage.

Today the prevailing narrative says that Republicans, not Democrats, are racists, but the fact that the narrative is what it is simply demonstrates that liberals—Democrats—have controlled it and effectively have rewritten history to their own advantage.

Just how has it come to pass that most people believe the narrative rather than what history teaches? Actually, with last week’s post, we already have started to answer this question, but this week and next week we’ll seek to answer it in earnest. In these final two installments in our 10-part series, we will highlight two strategies Democrats have adopted in the last 70 years to promote a progressive agenda. Progressives have relied on

1. powerful appeals to people’s emotions and
2. vicious attacks against their opponents.

These approaches largely have worked to further progressives’ aims, and it’s significant that as they have used them, liberals also have employed racism and racist overtones. Their racism isn’t manifested in the same ways it once was, but it is real and destructive nonetheless.

Let’s learn more. To set the stage to consider the first strategy we named—appealing to people’s emotions—we need once again to look back into history.

The First Black Democrat Elected to Congress

arthur_w-1-_mitchellArthur Wergs Mitchell (1883-1968) was the first black Democrat to be elected to Congress. Not coincidently, he was first elected in 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression. Mitchell began his political work in the Republican Party but in 1932 switched to the Democrat Party to support the programs of FDR. When he arrived in Congress in 1935, Mitchell declared, “What I am interested in is to help this grand President of ours feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.”

As it turns out, Roosevelt wasn’t the first president to take steps to involve government in meeting people’s needs. How much do you know about the era of the Great Depression? Go here to take a brief, 2-question test and to learn some important things about American history you probably never heard in school. Also, you can learn more about Arthur W. Mitchell here.

What I am interested in is to help this grand President of ours feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.
—Democrat Congressman Arthur W. Mitchell, conveying His desire to assist FDR in passing his proposals—

Mitchell’s statement sounds compassionate, noble, and honorable. Who could argue with it? I will! Before speaking against it, though, I must highlight the era in which Mitchell spoke. The Great Depression was taking a heavy toll on the American people. The average unemployment rate in 1935 was 20.1 percent. People had needs—and those needs were real. We must not minimize their desperate situations.

Government—Not an Effective or Efficient Provider

Even so, I am compelled to point out that it isn’t the primary job of the president, nor is it the main task of the government, to “feed the hungry and clothe the naked and provide work for the idle of every race and creed.” What is government’s job? Scripture is clear, but we don’t even need Scripture to understand that government is not equipped or suited to efficiently meet the material and physical needs of its people.

Thus, today, at minimum, government programs that “help” people in need must be reformed. Needy recipients must be encouraged to demonstrate responsibility and to work wherever and whenever possible—even though offering them handouts is tempting from an emotional point of view. Reforms were implemented in 1996, but President Obama gutted them in 2012. Reforms need to be reinitiated.1

Returning to our main point, we must not allow emotions alone to guide us when making decisions that affect so many. It is logical to assume this is one reason Thomas Jefferson warned against ignorance, or a lack of knowledge and understanding (see his statement at the top of this article). Government can’t help the poor without taking resources from others, and we need to use our heads to analyze, not just the impact government programs have on the poor, but also the impact they have on the country itself, and particularly on those who pay for such programs through higher taxes.

arlie-j-hoover-webThe point here is that emotions are a terrible guide. We have quoted the late Dr. A. J. Hoover in previous posts on other subjects (here and here). In a book exposing the weaknesses of various kinds of faulty arguments, Professor Hoover says, “Clear thinking involves many things, but one of the most important things it involves is learning to control your emotions.”2 Hear him elaborate on this idea. Especially today, these statements offer much needed wisdom.

Sometimes even the noble emotions like love, honor, courage, and kindness need to be carefully watched. You commit the fallacy of argumentum ad misericordiam (“argument to pity”) when you make an illicit appeal to the emotion of pity.

This technique of persuasion has long been a familiar practice of lawyers in the courtroom. It is usually employed by the attorney for the defense who ignores the facts of the case and plays on the heartstrings of the jury. For example, he may bring into the courtroom the bedraggled wife of the defendant, followed by his seven pathetic, ragged children. He need not speak any words, for this “body language” says to the jury: “If you send my client to prison, you will make a widow of this poor woman and orphans of all these innocent children. What have these poor human beings done to deserve all this?”

Naturally, the prosecuting attorney will want to remind the jury that there is no necessary, logical connection between the deplorable state of the man’s family and his guilt or the requirements of the law. The jury should not be blinded by the noble emotion of pity in such a case.3

We’ve also previously noted this about government.

Government is inefficient, costly, and has an intoxicating effect on leaders and the public. Government may look like a benefactor, but it can offer only those resources it has taken from citizens and businesses through taxes and regulations. Despite appearances, government is not compassion, but force. Government’s good intentions often have very bad unintended consequences.

And this

The following quote frequently is attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler, although no evidence exists in his writings it ever originated with him. Nevertheless, whoever said it was absolutely correct. We need to heed this warning and understand its implications.

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

• From bondage to spiritual faith;
• From spiritual faith to great courage;
• From courage to liberty;
• From liberty to abundance;
• From abundance to selfishness;
• From selfishness to complacency;
• From complacency to apathy;
• From apathy to dependence;
• From dependence back into bondage.

When the people of a nation believe they have a right to government “benefits,” they become intoxicated with everything the government is willing to offer. In turn, those in authority become intoxicated with the power they gain as an increasing number of people become dependent upon them. The more government “gives,” the more beholden recipients become. This is how a nation that began with liberty can be led into tyranny.

The early stages of this process, however, don’t look at all like a journey into tyranny. They may not look that way years or even decades later. Eventually, though, “the chickens will come home to roost.”

When the people of a free nation begin to look to the government to meet their needs, the journey on which they’ve started won’t appear to have tyranny as its destination. The road may not look like a path to tyranny and oppression years or even decades later. Then, when it’s too late, some of the people—certainly not all—will realize they’ve traded freedom for security and now live in bondage to the government.

FDR’s policies often are viewed favorably because of the many ways they seemed to help those in need. In other words, his programs were “compassionate.” Roosevelt was then, and is now, a hero to many. Economist Robert Higgs writes, “Roosevelt, it is said repeatedly, restored hope to the American people when they had fallen into despair because of the seemingly endless depression, and his policies ‘saved capitalism’ by mitigating its intrinsic cruelties and inequalities.”

But wait! Higgs goes on to contend this perception doesn’t fit the facts.

This view of Roosevelt and the New Deal amounts to a myth compounded of ideological predisposition and historical misunderstanding. In a 1936 book called The Menace of Roosevelt and His Policies, Howard E. Kershner came closer to the truth when he wrote that Roosevelt

took charge of our government when it was comparatively simple, and for the most part confined to the essential functions of government, and transformed it into a highly complex, bungling agency for throttling business and bedeviling the private lives of free people. It is no exaggeration to say that he took the government when it was a small racket and made a large racket out of it.4

As this statement illustrates, not everyone admired FDR during the 1930s.…The irony is that even if Roosevelt did help to lift the spirits of the American people in the depths of the depression—an uplift for which no compelling documentation exists—this achievement only led the public to labor under an illusion. After all, the root cause of the prevailing malaise was the continuation of the depression. Had the masses understood that the New Deal was only prolonging the depression, they would have had good reason to reject it and its vaunted leader.

headshot-bennettYet the masses, in fact, did not understand. In his three-volume work on American History—America: The Last Best Hope—William J. Bennett states that the congressional Democrats who had been elected to office in 1932 on Roosevelt’s coattails were all too eager to pass his policies, and pass them they did. Bennett quotes this paragraph from Samuel Eliot Morison as part of his explanation of the shift of political allegiances occurring against the backdrop of the Great Depression.

A feature of the WPA [Works Progress Administration] which caught the public eye and became nicknamed “boondoggling,” was the setting up of projects to employ artists, musicians, writers and other “white collar” workers. Post offices and other public buildings were decorated with murals; regional and state guides were written; libraries in municipal and state buildings were catalogued by out-of-work librarians, and indigent graduate students were employed to inventory archives and copy old shipping lists, to the subsequent profit of American historians. The federal theater at its peak employed over 15,000 actors and other workers, at an average wage of $20 a week. Under the direction of John Houseman, Orson Welles, and others, new plays were written and produced, and the classics revived.5

Bennett then writes,

iuHere, in a nutshell, we see the origins of many of today’s political alignments. Hollywood, academia, the press, libraries, the public universities—all are inhabited by tens of thousands of people who could trace the existence of their jobs or their institutions to a federal program begun under FDR. By bringing into government a “Brian Trust,” FDR assured the allegiance of what we today call the “knowledge class” to the Democratic Party. One thing can always be assured: If you take from Peter to pay Paul, you can generally rely on the vote of Paul.6

A history website  agrees that the 1932 election brought together a new coalition in support of Democrats. It also included blacks, the country’s other minority populations, and organized labor (see also the last paragraph on the 1936 election in this article). For decades beyond, Democrats would depend on this coalition for many of its wins. Robert Higgs, whom we cited earlier, says bluntly that “the New Deal served as a massive vote-buying scheme.”

The Snowball Effect

Lyndon_B._Johnson,_photo_portrait,_leaning_on_chair,_color_croppedWe see this dependency not just in the Roosevelt era, but particularly during and since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with building a coalition to support a cause, to use taxpayer money to strengthen a political party’s power—and to make constituents dependent on that money in the process—are actions that are especially unethical and wrong. It’s apparent that President Johnson was quite pleased at the prospect of bribing and manipulating voters—especially black voters—to increase his own party’s power.

If you don’t remember or haven’t heard what Johnson said privately about civil rights legislation when he was a senator and about his “Great Society” programs when he was president, you need to know. Go here to read these statements. Also recall the apparently deliberate misrepresentations of so-called black leaders with regard to the Three-Fifths Compromise. In each of these situations, the goal is the same—more power.

The unethical nature of creating dependency for votes is only one problem with government “entitlement” programs. Another big problem is that the stated goals of these efforts never are realized. In fact, since the welfare system was set up, things have worsened for those the system was supposed to help. African American economist and political commentator Walter Williams has rightly declared, “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.”

The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do. And that is to destroy the black family.
Walter E. Williams

Yet another huge problem with wealth transfer programs—not just welfare but Social Security and other such programs, is the inability of taxpayers to sustain them as the number of recipients continues to increase. In other words, there’s a snowball effect. In a National Review article, journalist Michael Tanner asks, “How long can a shrinking number of taxpayers support a growing number of beneficiaries?” It’s a great question.


poster from the late 1930s or early 1940s marketing the “benefits” of Social Security

Advocates of government intervention to meet people’s needs focus on compassion and whether or not the action or the program makes them feel good. Bill Voegeli, the Senior Editor at the Claremont Institute, explains this important dynamic in progressives’ approach to government in this PragerU video.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line. Even though Arthur W. Mitchell, the first black Democrat, was elected and reelected to Congress by narrow margins, his wins reflected the beginning of a change in Americans’ perception about the role of government in people’s private lives. Even more importantly, Mitchell’s electoral contests—as well as Roosevelt’s landslide wins in 1932 and 1936 and his decisive wins in 1940 and 1944—reflected the beginning of a change in the nation’s perspective on rights. The ignorance Thomas Jefferson feared can, to a large extent, be effectively countered when citizens understand the Founders’ views on rights and why that perspective squares with reality.

FDR’s election and his subsequent reelections, as well as Arthur W. Mitchell’s election and reelections to Congress, reflect that the country was beginning to change its perspective on rights. It is critical for us to understand the Founders’ views on rights as well as the new perspective on rights the country was beginning to embrace. Why? The country has fully embraced the revisionist view today, and we need to combat this misinformation with the truth. America’s Founders got it right!

A quick review: To secure rights like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, government needs to stay out of the way and allow people to exercise those rights; but to secure rights like the “right” to food and shelter, government has to take wealth from its citizens and redistribute it so it can meet those needs.

Aren’t you concerned about hunger and housing? someone will ask. Of course we are! We’re simply saying it isn’t government’s primary role to meet these and similar needs. Please read and review our series on Americans’ posture with regard to rights. This is critical information.

Misinformed and Misled: An Eight-Part Series on America’s Distorted Perspective on Rights

In the 1930s, the 1960s, and beyond, progressives saw a golden opportunity for themselves. Unfortunately, they took advantage of it; and quite frankly, in doing so, they have exploited Americans who already were at an economic disadvantage. Moreover, it is not coincidental that to effectively promote the entitlement mentality that strengthens their power, Democrats have had to misrepresent history, including the Founders’ views on race, and liberty, and rights.

To effectively promote the entitlement mentality that strengthens their power, Democrats have had to misrepresent history, including the Founders’ views on race, liberty, and rights.

Republicans and other concerned citizens need to call them out, but they know there’s a risk in doing so. They’ll be called racists and practically every other pejorative name in the book.

Next week, we’ll explore this tactic, another manipulative strategy in progressives’ playbook.


Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.


Top image: A line of unemployed men waiting outside a soup kitchen opened by Al Capone in Chicago, 1931



1As an aside, the Bible upholds both hard work and Christian generosity as means to meet the needs of individuals who are unable to work to provide for themselves and their families. When government took over the job of helping the poor, the church stepped away from it. The church should reassert itself in this area.

2A. J. Hoover, Don’t You Believe It! Poking Holes in Faulty Logic, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 67.


4The statements from Howard E. Kirshner’s book, The Menace of Roosevelt and His Policies, are quoted by Richard M. Ebeling in “Monetary Central Planning and the State, Part XIV: The New Deal and Its Critics,” Freedom Daily, February 1998, p. 15.

5Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, Volume Three, 306.

6William J. Bennett, America: the Last Best Hope, Volume II: From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom, 1914-1989, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 114.





Misinformed and Misled: How a Distorted Perspective of Rights Is Leading America into Tyranny, Part 2

The Revolutionary War Was Over, but not the Struggle to Establish a Free and Stable Country

For the first time in human experience, the legislative power of a nation was forbidden from legislating the conscience of man.
—Stephen Mansfield on the first ten words of the First Amendment—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”1—

Part 1 is available here.

Last week we highlighted We Hold These Truths, a special radio broadcast written by Norman Corwin to commemorate the 150th birthday of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1941. The program still is important today for many reasons, especially its emphasis on the Founding Fathers’ perspective on rights. The Founders believed that because rights are God-given, government has no authority to take them away. To preserve rights, therefore, government must be prohibited from interfering with individual liberties. The Bill of Rights was created to restrain the federal government of the United States in this way. The historical record of the genesis of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights showcases the Founders’ wisdom in this regard.

After the American Revolution, the thirteen states rejoiced over their independence, but they still were thirteen individual states, each of which, in many ways, acted as an individual country. Previously the war against Great Britain had united these Virginians, New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, Marylanders, and the residents of the other states, but now other matters confronted the new nation. How could the states work together? Could they establish a central government that would acknowledge states’ sovereignty, yet unify the states to address the issues that would confront them all?2

An attempt was made in the Articles of Confederation. This document was drafted under the authority of the Second Continental Congress, which appointed a committee to begin the work on July 12, 1776. In the latter part of 1777, a document was sent to the states for ratification. All the states had approved it in the early part of 1781. The states now had a new central government, but it wasn’t long before problems arose. The national government was too weak. It had no executive authority and no judiciary. Too high a hurdle had been established for the passage of laws. Furthermore, the states had their own monetary systems, so understandably, buying and selling across state lines became difficult. Without free trade between the states, the national economy was severely hindered. In western Massachusetts in 1786, an uprising occurred when some farmers found that money they had been paid when they were Revolutionary War soldiers wasn’t valid tender for their taxes. The central government was powerless to bring order, although stability eventually was restored anyway. The uprising, which became known as Shays’ Rebellion, was a wake-up call for the entire country. The Articles had to be fixed.3

Accordingly, the states were asked to send their representatives to Philadelphia in May of 1787. This meeting become the Constitutional Convention. Delegates soon realized they shouldn’t try to fix the Articles of Confederation but needed to replace it altogether. The Convention met from May 25 to September 17, 1787. George Washington served as its president. Fifty-five delegates in all worked together to draft a constitution that would effectively address the problems the Articles of Confederation had failed to resolve. As you can tell from the timetable, the task was not easy. At one point when impasses seemed insurmountable, Benjamin Franklin stood to implore the assembly to pray regularly for God’s help in the deliberative process. Here is a dramatic presentation, along with music, relating what occurred. Here is a brief speech about the event. The task remained formidable, but consensus was indeed reached and signatures affixed, and the Constitution was sent to the states for ratification.

One of the Constitution’s brilliant provisions was the division of the government into three separate branches so as to prevent leaders from seizing absolute power. Moreover, this model has its roots in Scripture.

Another issue related to states’ representation in lawmaking. Some delegates said all the states should have an equal say in the making of laws, while others contended that the larger ones should have a greater voice. Delegates reached a compromise in their design of the legislative branch. The lawmaking arm of the federal government—Congress—was divided into two separate bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Every state would have two senators as well as a population-based delegation of representatives in the House of Representatives. No proposal could become law unless it passed both houses of Congress. Thus, states’ interests and the concerns of the people at large would be adequately represented.4

In any contemporary discussion of the Constitution and the liberties it seeks to protect, the question of slavery will understandably arise. If the Founders believed that “all men are created equal,” how could they have allowed the practice of slavery to continue under the new government? This discussion is beyond the scope of this article, but I would commend these resources to you for further study. Also remember that we need to evaluate our Founders not in light of our own culture, but in light of theirs; America’s “Founders were born into a society that permitted slavery.”5 Despite this, some swam against the tide as they expressed resistance and even opposition to the practice. Yet in the end they realized that forcing the issue at this point likely would have have resulted in an unratified Constitution and a divided nation.6

The truth still remains that in and through the Constitution, the Founders set the stage for slavery eventually to be abolished in the United States. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t happen until after a bloody civil war had ended nearly a hundred years later. Nevertheless, it did happen, and the principles upon which America was founded paved the way for slavery’s demise.

On the last day of the convention as delegates were affixing their signatures to the newly drafted Constitution, Benjamin Franklin reflected aloud regarding the image of the sun carved and painted on the back of George Washington’s chair. Was it a rising or a setting sun? Franklin said, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I…know that it is a rising…sun.”

With consensus reached among delegates, the support of the people now was needed. Actually, it was essential. As it then stood, the Constitution wasn’t law, but only a proposal. Ratification required formal approval from nine of the thirteen states. Those who believed in a strong national government—a group called the Federalists—supported the Constitution strongly. Anti-federalists, however, were great in number, and typically they opposed the Constitution because it did not have a bill of rights.

Take just over 15 minutes to watch this video about the drafting and ratification of the US Constitution—and how the Bill of Rights became a part of it. Be aware that contributors include individuals with whom we strongly would disagree about certain public policy issues today. For example, Theodore Olson is a strong supporter of same-sex marriage and has worked to advance it, even arguing in favor of it before the Supreme Court in 2013. Susan Herman, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, is a contributor as well. Even so, this particular video is enlightening and informative from a historical perspective.

Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen summarize the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their landmark work, A Patriot’s History of the United States:  

The First Amendment combined several rights—speech, press, petition, assembly, and religion—into one fundamental law guaranteeing freedom of expression. While obliquely related to religious speech, the clear intent was to protect political speech.…However, the Founders hardly ignored religion, nor did they embrace separation of church and state, a buzz phrase that never appears in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. [James] Madison [who is considered the Father of the Constitution and of the Bill of Rights] had long been a champion of religious liberty.…[He] rejected the notion that the exercise of faith originated with government, while at the same time indicating that he expected a continual and ongoing practice of religious worship.…Modern interpretations of the Constitution that prohibit displays of crosses in the name of religious freedom would rightly have been shouted down by the Founders, who intended no such separation.


James Madison

The Second Amendment addressed Whig fears of a professional standing army by guaranteeing the right of citizens to arm themselves and join militias. Over the years, the militia preface has become thoroughly (and often, deliberately) misinterpreted to imply that the framers intended citizens to be armed only in the context of an army under the authority of the state. In fact, militias were the exact opposite of a state-controlled army: the state militias taken together were expected to serve as a counterweight to the federal army, and the further implication was that citizens were to be as well armed as the government itself! The Third Amendment buttressed the right of civilians against the government military by forbidding the [government forced] quartering (housing) of professional troops in private homes.


Amendments Four through Eight promised due process via reasonable bail, speedy trials (by a jury of peers if requested), and habeas corpus petitions. They forbade self-incrimination and arbitrary search and seizure, and proclaimed, once again, the fundamental nature of property rights. The Ninth Amendment, which has lain dormant for two hundred years, states that there might be other rights not listed in the amendments that are, nevertheless, guaranteed by the Constitution. But the most controversial amendment, the Tenth, echoes the second article of the Articles of Confederation in declaring that the states and people retain all rights and powers not granted to the national government by the Constitution. It, too, has been relatively ignored.7

Then Schweikart and Allen make this critically important observation, a principle that America needs to rediscover today.

These ten clear statements were intended by the framers as absolute limitations on the power of government, not on the rights of individuals. In retrospect, they more accurately should be known as the Bill of Limitations on government to avoid the perception that the rights were granted by government in the first place.8

The above video highlights the distrust of government on the part of the people—especially those who actively fought in the Revolutionary War. The citizens demanded a bill of rights. Although it already had been ratified, the Constitution was accepted when the Bill of Rights, which placed limits on the federal government, was proposed. We thus see that there was, in the minds of this first generation of US citizens (not just the Founders), a direct relationship between the thriving of personal liberties (rights) and restrictions that kept the federal government from intervening in people’s lives.

This truth is echoed in many places. Here is a sampling.

  • On its page on the Bill of Rights, the Bill of Rights Institute acknowledges, “One of the many points of contention between Federalists and Anti-Federalists [when the Constitution was debated] was the Constitution’s lack of a bill of rights that would place specific limits on government power.…The Bill of Rights is a list of limits on government power.”
  • The American Center for Law and Justice affirms, “The Bill of Rights illustrates that our Founders understood that for personal freedoms to be broad, the power of the federal government must be limited.”
  • Lamenting the departure of the Founders’ understanding of rights, David Barton of Wallbuilders writes, “Sadly, in recent years some federal courts have…declared that ‘The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the minority from the majority,’ yet this is ridiculous. No individual is to lose his or her right to free speech, self-defense, the rights of religious conscience, or any other right simply because he or she happens to be in the majority rather than a minority. To the contrary, the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights were all based on the philosophy that government is to protect the God-given rights of every individual, whether they are in the majority or the minority, from the encroachments of government.”
  • Of special significance are these words from the Preamble to the Bill of Rights itself. “THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution” (emphasis added).

Again, rights and liberties are preserved when government is restricted from forcing individuals to act in certain specific ways. This does not negate the validity of general laws that require or prohibit specific actions for societal cohesion and stability. Constitutional rights can coexist with these statutes. What they cannot coexist with are laws that, in the name of extending rights to all, violate the Constitutional rights of others.

Here’s just one all-too-common example affecting a great many people: Laws and policies that force people like the florist, the baker, the photographer, the artist, and the venue operator to lend their property, time, talent, and other resources to the celebration of a same-sex union against their consciences clearly are not about expanding rights to all people.

  • First, no one desiring these services for a same-sex ceremony would have any difficulty finding them, so their “right” to any or all of these services isn’t being denied. These laws, therefore, don’t protect the vulnerable. How are advocates of same-sex marriage vulnerable if they easily can secure the services they want?
  • Second, generally speaking, bakers and others aren’t refusing to sell their goods or services to homosexuals; they simply don’t want to be forced to participate in a ceremony that violates their deeply held views on marriage.
  • Third, rather than leveling the playing field, laws that force participation in same-sex ceremonies give the proponents of same-sex marriage a legal wedge to coerce those with whom they disagree to celebrate with them. Christian merchants, therefore, can easily be targeted and punished for their beliefs. Whatever happened to the provision that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”?
  • Fourthly and finally, such laws represent the antithesis of the philosophy of rights reflected in the first ten amendments of the Constitution—the Bill of Rights. They empower government rather than limit it, and they embolden government to force compliance on one side of an issue still being widely debated on the national stage.

So you see, we’ve traveled a great distance from the Founders’ view of individual rights and liberties in this country. We’ve even come to embrace a philosophy opposed to theirs. Next week, we will explore how we got here; we’ll consider the subtle way in which Americans have been enticed to depart from the Founders’ perspective on rights and liberty. Once we realize how we departed from where we started, we will be better able to return to the place where we began.

Part 3 is available here.

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.


1Stephen Mansfield, Then Tortured Words: How the Founding Fathers Tried to Protect Religion in America and What’s Happened Since, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), xvi.

2Marilyn Prolman, The Story of the Constitution, (Chicago: Childrens Press, 1969), 6-8.

3Prolman, 13-15.

4Prolman, 19-20.

5William J. Bennett, America, the Last Best Hope—Volume 1: From the Age of Discovery to a World at War, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 122.

6Bennett, 122-123.

7Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, (New York: Sentinel, 2004), 125-126.

8Schweikart and Allen, 126.

Obergefell v. Hodges: Eliminating Freedom in the Name of Upholding It


It has long been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression…that the germ of dissolution of our Federal Government is in the constitution of the Federal Judiciary—an irresponsible body…working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief over the field of jurisdiction until all shall be usurped from the States and the government be consolidated into one. To this I am opposed.
—Thomas Jefferson1

[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government.…and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.
—Noah Webster2

Americans now live in an oligarchy—a form of government that can be described as rule by a few. This is but one of the lessons coming out of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the Court redefined marriage in America to include same-sex couples.

It is helpful periodically to review the various approaches to government. There are five.

  • Monarchy—rule by one, a king
  • Oligarchy—rule by a few, an elite group
  • Democracy—rule by the majority
  • Republic—rule by law
  • Anarchy—rule by none

Note that when the founders of America established this country, they set up a republic. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.3 The meetings were secret,4 so concerned citizens were anxious to know what had happened. Following the proceedings, a lady approached Benjamin Franklin and asked him what kind of government delegates had established for the new nation. Franklin replied, “A republic…if you can keep it.”5,6

In fashioning the republic, this country’s early leaders looked to the Bible and sought to base the structure of the nation’s new government on biblical principles.7 Here’s one example. The men who established this nation crafted three branches of government—the presidency, the Congress, and the courts (executive, legislative, and judicial). They patterned these after God’s multiple roles as king, lawgiver, and judge. Isaiah 33:22 says that “the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; He will save us.” But there is more. Recognizing man’s sinfulness and his tendency to become corrupt when given too much power, America’s earliest leaders made the branches separate. The specific responsibilities given each branch and the barriers between them would act to restrain each one and keep it from overstepping its authority.

Sadly, the judicial branch has overstepped its authority on many occasions. Most recently and most ominously, five unelected Supreme Court justices, along with numerous federal judges in lower courts, have overruled millions of American citizens who voted to affirm natural marriage in 39 states.8 The Constitution’s “We the People” has been replaced by the elite few of the Supreme Court. In other instances the executive branch has overstepped its authority, and Congress and the courts have allowed this to happen.9,10,11

As believers and as concerned Americans, we need to understand the fragility of our liberties. Freedom is threatened not solely by arrogant politicians on one side of the spectrum and acquiescent officials on the other, but also by (and this may be even more important) the absence of an internal restraint that used to characterize Americans. Today, society’s rejection of God has removed that restraint, and bitter fruit can only result.

Clayton M. Christensen is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts.12 A brilliant economist and as well as a man of faith,13 Christensen offers these insightful observations in a powerful You Tube video. (While he uses the term “democracy,” here he essentially means our republican form of government.)

Some time ago I had a conversation with a Marxist economist from China. He was coming to the end of a Fulbright Fellowship here in Boston, and I asked him if he learned anything that was surprising or unexpected. And without any hesitation, he said, “Yeah, I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy.” The reason why democracy works, he said, is not because the government was designed to oversee what everybody does. But rather, democracy works because most people most of the time, voluntarily choose to obey the law. And in her past, most Americans attended a church or synagogue every week, and they were taught there by people they respected.

My friend went on to say that Americans follow these rules because they had come to believe that they weren’t just accountable to society; they were accountable to God.

My Chinese friend [further observed] that as religion loses its influence over Americans, what will happen to democracy? Where are the institutions that are going to teach the next generation of Americans that they too need to voluntarily choose to obey the laws? Because if you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.14

Read that last statement again and allow it to sink in. If you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police. The positive counterpart to this truth is that widespread adherence to religion compels people to police themselves, making a free society possible.

Our founders, as well as many of our leaders and statesmen during our nation’s history, understood that devotion to God or “religion” was the only force that could hold both people and leaders accountable to the nation’s laws. Note that leaders, not just citizens, were to live under the law. Read carefully some of America’s statesmen’s words on the importance of religion in maintaining liberty.


  • “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”15—Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
  • “[M]en…will be free no longer than while they remain virtuous.”16—Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
  • “Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government…can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppressive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people.”17—George Washington (1732-1799)
  • “Statesmen…may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand….The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.”18—John Adams (1735-1826) On October 11, 1798, Adams also said, “[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”19
  • “Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters should be a nation of free men. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, are incompatible with freedom.”20—Patrick Henry (1736-1799)
  • “[W]ithout virtue there can be no liberty.”21—Benjamin Rush (1746-1814), signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”22—James Madison (1751-1836)
  • “All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet. It may do for other countries and other governments to talk about the State supporting religion. Here, under our own free institutions, it is Religion which must support the State.”23—Robert Winthrop (1809-1894), to the Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Bible Society Boston, Mass; May 28, 1849.
  • “The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.”24—Frederick Douglas (1818-1895)
  • “America! America! / God mend thine every flaw, / Confirm thy soul in self-control, / Thy liberty in law!”25—Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929), in the second stanza of “America the Beautiful”
  • “History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”26—Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)
  • “Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first—the most basic—expression of Americanism.”27—President Dwight Eisenhower, 1955 (1890-1969)
  • “You cannot have liberty without faith. You may have tyranny and despotism without it, but not liberty. Because if you dissolve the bonds which faith creates, the government must inevitably move in to create the control which has been lost by [the removal of] the internal Christian self-government upon which the founders of this country based our nation.”28—D. James Kennedy (1930-2007), in a sermon titled “The Bible and the Constitution” preached June 7, 1987


  • “Does [Justice] Kennedy understand liberty apart from God’s moral code brings on horrors like were experienced during the French Revolution? Does he understand the role marriage and family play in self-governance? Does he have any idea of the kind of world he has insured our children will know?…America was morally adrift long before this ruling. This is the fast-track version of moral relativism as national political, legal, educational and cultural policy.”29—Joseph Farah (b. 1954), founder, editor, and CEO of

We as believers must recognize these truths if we are to effectively contend for the preservation and, in some cases, the restoration, of liberty and freedom. Most people have absolutely no understanding of the delicate balance between national order and individual liberty. Perhaps no modern observer painted a clearer picture of this balance than Francis Schaeffer.


In our own country we have enjoyed enormous human freedom. But at the same time this freedom has been founded upon forms of government, law, culture, and social morality which have given stability to individual and social life, and have kept our freedoms from leading to chaos. There is a balance here between from and freedom which we have come to take as natural in the world. But it is not natural. And we are utterly foolish if we do not recognize that this unique balance which we have inherited from the Reformation thought-forms is not automatic in a fallen world. This is clear when we look at the long span of history. But it is equally clear when we read the daily newspaper and see half the world locked in totalitarian oppression.

The Reformation not only brought forth a clear preaching of the gospel, it also gave shape to society as a whole—including government, how people viewed the world, and the full spectrum of culture.…This is not to say that the Reformation was ever a “golden age” or that everyone in Reformation countries were true Christians. But it is clear that through the Reformation many were brought to Christ and that the absolutes of the Bible became widely disseminated in the culture as a whole. The freedoms which grew out of this were tremendous, and yet, with the forms grounded in a biblical consensus or ethos, the freedoms did not lead to chaos.

But something has happened in the last sixty years [Schaeffer’s statements were published in 1984]. The freedom that once was founded on a biblical consensus and a Christian ethos has now become autonomous freedom, cut loose from all constraints. Here we have the world spirit of our age—autonomous Man setting himself up as God, in defiance of the knowledge and the moral and spiritual truth which God has given. Here is the reason why we have a moral breakdown in every area of life. The titanic freedoms which we once enjoyed have been cut lose from their Christian restraints and are becoming a force of destruction leading to chaos. And when this happens, there really are very few alternatives. All morality becomes relative, law becomes arbitrary, and society moves toward disintegration. In personal and social life, compassion is swallowed up by self-interest. As I have pointed out in my earlier books [these statements come from the last book Schaeffer would write], when the memory of the Christian consensus which gave us freedom within the biblical form is increasingly forgotten, a manipulating authoritarianism will tend to fill the vacuum. At this point the words “right” and “left” will make little difference. They are only two roads to the same end; the results are the same. An elite, and authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on society so that it will not go into chaos—and most people will accept it.30

We cannot overstate the ominous nature of this situation. While in truth, religion, most significantly Christianity, has provided the basis for American freedom and liberty, today that foundation is being viciously attacked. Furthermore, a new definition of freedom now prevails in society. To most people, freedom is what we once referred to as license. And beyond this, Christianity is being portrayed not as the friend of freedom, but as its enemy.31,32,33,34

Even more broadly, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges sends the signal to all Americans that whatever a person has an urge to do, fulfilling that urge is legitimate and valid—even a positive good. This lie not only falsely legitimizes homosexuality but will falsely legitimize a great deal of additional destructive behaviors and practices as well. President Barak Obama said, “No matter who you are or what you look like or who you love, America is a place where you can write your own destiny. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”35

Unfortunately, we are not freer under these conditions, because under these conditions, we really aren’t being treated equally. Some are being treated as more special than others; preference is being given to those who engage in practices contrary to God’s law. They even have been given an unfair advantage in that they now have legal leverage to use against dissenters that dissenters do not have, even though the American way is one of free and open debate, with each group contending for its position in the marketplace of ideas. The American people also are being lied to and being led to believe that destructive actions are harmless and even good. Our founders would not be fooled by these lies. They realized the truth of these Bible passages, among many others.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Prov. 14:34).

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isa. 5:20).

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings (Jer. 17:9-10).

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Still, especially in this environment, we as Christians have a duty to declare the truth and to call America back to God. We must do so lovingly, but also with confidence that the truth is on our side. And we must do so with a clear understanding of the connection between faith, freedom, and stability in society. We do this not for our sakes alone but also for the sakes of the children who will bear the brunt of the marriage ruling.36,37,38,39,40

We also do it for everyone celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, because we realize they actually are sawing off the very branch on which they themselves are sitting.

Eventually, unless America’s course is altered, no one will be free.


Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
































30Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1984), 21-23.