By: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
Why do you bold sections of your passages from Alexis de Tocqueville on your website where de Tocqueville is stating that Christian morality parallels civic freedom in America? I believe the two can work together, not that they must. In highlighting those sections which contain Christian and American greatness, you insinuate that Christianity must be upheld in order for the extension of civic justness. From this implication, it can be assumed that you believe only a Christian can be civic in the American sense of the word.
The question you raise is one which goes to the center of the distinction between the Christian and the non-Christian heart. In essence, you have asked, “Can anyone other than a Christian behave in a civil manner?” And by extension, “Can a society of non-Christians behave civilly? “There is a place inside every heart which knows and desires goodness. Civil behavior, goodness, and Godliness are not the exclusive property and practice of any religion, people, or culture. The human heart knows goodness because God has implanted that knowledge in every heart. When people act out their desires for Godly personal pleasure, an excellent social order results. But, the violent, addicted, and greedy world we see arises in spite of the heart’s desire for goodness. Moral restraint must be applied internally and externally to overcome the uncivil passions of the heart. Every society has struggled to create the perfect set of laws to govern the unruly masses and thereby create the environment for a beneficent social order.
We must then ask, “Is a society acting under the influence of an excellent Christian culture more likely to behave in a morally superior manner to every other culture operating under their best set of non-Christian social and religious prescriptions?” I believe the answer to this question is “Yes.” I believe the fullness of the Bible is a hologram of behaviors, lessons, and patterns that reflect the perfection of the mind of God, and the fact that Jesus is God in His human form. All other philosophies, religions, and governmental systems have some truth, but they fall short of the perfection available to the fully mature Christian. Even though the heart desires goodness, righteous behavior does not come easily. The heart desires a satisfaction of the flesh and an exaltation of the self. Without proper discipline, these uncivil internal forces will often speak louder than God’s gentle leading.
A deep and integral Godliness and civility will form in the society which overtly embraces the presence of the absolute standard of Biblical moral perfection and the Lordship of Jesus on every level. Such a nation truly will have no King but King Jesus, and every citizen will embrace his/her responsibility as an Ambassador of the King. In a Christian nation, the development of Godly character becomes the responsibility and desire of both the individual and society. The laws of a Christian nation are guideposts for excellent interpersonal conduct. The police and judges are agents of God and society as they give external guidance in the form of punishment, training, and rehabilitation for those who have lost or rebelled against their own internal righteous governance. There is no absolute theocratic rule governing orthodoxy in a nation of individuals submitted to the fullness of Biblical revelation. Together, the metaphorical and literal words of the Bible act as a guide to right behavior and shaping of the heart. The Bible in its complete consideration is the tangible witness to God’s spirit. Every person must digest those words, be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and advocate for the application of that truth to the individual circumstance. Hence, we all function as kings and priests in a Christian society, each person responsible to God and open to the voice of correction and guidance. Such internal dedication to a living standard of truth prevents the tyranny of law from ruling absolutely, and leaves open the door for grace. Such God-serving men and women are the salt of the earth and are clearly preferable as citizens and officers of government.
I believe the Bible excels and exceeds all other moral standards, is the most complete elaboration of spirit-breathed principles, and reflects the True Heart of our good God. To the extent any other religion is consistent with the truth of the Bible, that teaching is excellent. To the extent that a Christian or non-Christian society errs from those perfect principles, their behavior has fallen short. Your question implies that a society which regulates itself on the innate sense of civic justice could guide a society with the same level of moral excellence as could a nation based on a dedication to Jesus.
I believe the most civil society arises when the populace and its government overtly embraces Christian principles and places Jesus as the Lord of their individual lives. The Law becomes alive in the heart of those who embrace a relationship with Jesus because he is the human embodiment of God. He is the place of spiritual resonance between the human spirit and the infinite spirit of God. He is still alive today in Heaven in spirit and body, and we can choose to have a heart/spirit relationship with Him. But relationship requires acknowledgment of His reality. Real relationship requires a dedication of one’s self to following His Way, His moral precepts, and the leading of His spirit. In other words, we must sacrifice and deny our fleshly desires and choose to follow His Way.
The Christian dedicated to following the Way and Spirit of Jesus has exalted his/her innate desire to follow Him. The Christian does not simply believe in a more correct doctrine, the Christian society does not simply have a better set of laws. Rather, the acknowledgment of the reality of Jesus as the True reflection of God as a human spirit, and the dedication to the Lordship of Jesus, awakens a living spiritual influence in the individual’s heart. The Christian must continue to nourish this spiritual presence, otherwise, it will grow cold and overgrown by the other spiritual influences which seek to drown and dominate it. Those who love Him are dedicated to following His Way, and together they form a nation comprised of individuals strongly biased toward goodness and Godliness. But, the spiritual hearing of even the Christian may be distorted. Christians may be misled and confused by the pull of their own passions and the voices of competing spirits. They may erroneously mistake the voice of seducing spirits for the voice of God. Christianity does not ensure the manifestation of perfection of character, only the possibility of a more clear relationship with the Living God and His Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, a nation of individuals who are better able to hear and obey His voice biases the society toward True righteousness.
The purer the society becomes in terms of actually hearing and listening to the voice of God, the closer that society comes to manifesting heaven on earth. The society which relies only on its own internal sense of goodness (as in a nation based on secular humanism) is less biased toward absolute goodness. Such a society and its people will have a lower average level of connection-fidelity to God’s transcendent judgment of goodness. Nations, whether Christian, non-Christian, or secular can be seduced into exalting man’s understanding about what is true and right. Every situation requires a new insight from the divine to manifest the perfection of the balance between justice and grace in each moment. Such a divine perspective comes best when the heart is dedicated, to a real-time, true and living spirit-to-spirit relationship with God. When the heart has not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus and His Way of perfection, the heart has not elevated His voice to the level of supremacy, and the individual is more likely to choose to instead follow the temptations of other spirits.
If in fact, Jesus is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life”, then all other religions, philosophies, and cultures will necessarily aim at a lower standard. Other cultures can manifest some level of civic justice, but none other can manifest the perfection possible in a culture dedicated to manifesting the Way of Jesus in the individual and public life.
I thank you for your question. I pray that my reply helped build you up in the faith.
Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
Candidate, US Senate, 2004