Every nation and every generation has problems of its own. For example the Apostle Paul (30 A.D.) quoted the poet Epimenides (600 B.C.) saying, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).
Around 700 B.C. in Israel a prophet speaking about the king of Babylon (based on my research, I believe the prophecy ended up referring to Nebuchadnezzar) said, “Therefore hear this now, you who are given to pleasures, who dwell securely, who say in your heart, I am and there is no one else besides me” (Isaiah 47:8).
Is this a description of what our nation is turning into?
Ultimate self interest – There is no one besides me
No truth – liars
Cruel animal nature – evil beasts
Had rather eat than work – lazy gluttons
Let me clarify my purpose for this discussion. I used Bible verses to point out that the historicity of the Bible confirms the development of a civilization collectively. The quote from Isaiah reveals the problem with humanity throughout every age. It is a reflection of the ultimate sinful condition of the human race. “I am and there is no other beside me” is not merely a psychological condition. We all must turn from the desire to find our personal satisfaction in life to discover the ultimate reality that drives us to think and act in certain ways that will have critical and substantial effects on the whole nation. Too often societal conventions are influenced by experiences that are merely shadows of reality. If our purpose in life is understood the greater good, then we should move beyond the shadows into the realm of reality.
The quote from Paul in Titus reflects the moral philosophy of the people collectively (Cretans). Most biblical scholars agree that Paul does not mean that every individual in Crete was a cruel liar, lazy and fat. He used hyperbole (exaggeration of words) to make the point that the Cretans as a culture (national entity) were in a bad way.
I started this discussion with hope that you might ask the question “Are we as a nation in a bad way?” If anyone thinks that we as a nation are in a bad way, or at least moving in the wrong direction, perhaps we should rethink our views of ultimate reality.
Should we return to election day sermons? Before the days of the 501c3 church, faithful pastors would preach Election Day sermons. On the first Wednesday of June 1797, Rev. Stephen Peabody preached an Election Day sermon before the General Court of New Hampshire. His text was Exodus 18:21. “Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them, as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens” (Exodus 18:21).
He explained the qualifications for a man to serve in political office. He said they must fear God. “An atheist can have no part or lot in this matter.” He argued that since an atheist believes God does not exist then God has no authority over the state. Tyranny would ultimately prevail.
He preached what Americans have forgotten. He said political candidates must be men of truth. If “men of truth” is an essential qualification for political candidates, then most of men on the ballot should remove their names.
Another qualification for political candidates, according to Pastor Peabody, is that they must hate covetousness. The pastor said, “When a good ruler is engaged in his office, his duty to the station arrests his first attention; self, has only a secondary place in his mind. When called to act in public, he leaves his private concerns behind him; they drop, till he has faithfully performed his higher engagements.” Are there any political candidates that hate covetousness?
Among his closing words were these: “Let us then cultivate virtue in ourselves – carefully avoid shading the light of reason, counteracting remonstrances of conscience, and what is recorded in God’s word. In the steady practice of every duty to God, to society, and ourselves – under the influence of caution, candour, and generosity, – we may expect the divine approbation.” I wonder if we should start preaching Election Day sermons?