LoS: Isaiah – Exposition (52:13-53:3)

pueblachrist2

52 13See, my servant will act wisely;

       he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

   14Just as there were many who were appalled at him —

       his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man

       and his form marred beyond human likeness—

   15so will he sprinkle many nations,

       and kings will shut their mouths because of him.

       For what they were not told, they will see,

       and what they have not heard, they will understand.

The Gospel of Mark records three significant acts of violence against our Lord and Savior prior to the Crucifixion: a beating at the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:65), a flogging by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:15) and torture (the “crown of thorns”) and beating by the same (Mark 15:17-19). These three acts of violence rise to the level of severity to be noted in this and other Gospels. We can be sure that there were many other “incidental” acts all along the way that were not noted.

None of the Gospel writers dwell on the gory details of these beatings, floggings or the crucifixion itself. They were writing to an audience who likely knew very well what it meant to be dealt with thus by the authorities of the day.

But for us, with almost twenty centuries of civilization between these events and our reading, the grim reality recedes into a bloodless grey. This prophetic passage reminds us of the gory reality of what our Savior suffered even before the horror of the cross. We take note not as gawkers at an irrelevant accident, but as pilgrims seeking to understand the full price paid for, and therefore the full terrible debt incurred by, our sin.

53 1Who has believed our message

       and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

   2He grew up before him like a tender shoot,

       and like a root out of dry ground.

       He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

       nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

   3He was despised and rejected by men,

       a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.

       Like one from whom men hide their faces

       he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

We tend to focus on the suffering of Christ associated with the Crucifixion. However, the fact that the Son of God would leave behind His heavenly glory to enter into our flesh with all of its infirmities, walk among us to be treated by many as at best nothing more than a homeless vagabond and at worst a blasphemer, suffering the fickle allegiance of men with their own petty, selfish agendas, is an act of humble suffering that must be considered.

Every day of His earthly life Christ chose to suppress His glory so as to further His mission. His miracles were in the service of mercy and healing, not as the devil had tempted, in the service of His own ego.

The only clear exception was the Mount of Transfiguration. Here Christ allowed only three disciples (Peter, John and James) to witness a glimpse of His true glory. One of His purposes appears to have been to help these three understand the full magnitude of what Christ was going to give up in payment for our sin. For immediately after the event He says, In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” (Matthew 17:12b).transfiguration-of-Jesus-450x330

LoS: Isaiah – Opening Remarks

Road-to-EmmausThis passage of Scripture was understood to be a prophetic description of the person and purpose of Jesus Christ from the earliest days of the Christian Church. Surely Christ Himself must have taught it to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (although no specific Scripture is referenced). However, we do know for sure that Philip interpreted Isaiah 53:7,8 along with the surrounding text as prophetic of Christ, “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8:35). It has also been noted that this is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament.

The Prophet Isaiah, by Ugolino di Nerio

The Prophet Isaiah, by Ugolino di Nerio

Many modern biblical scholars have proposed that “the servant” should be interpreted as the nation of Israel while it was in the exile. While it stands to reason that those who don’t accept Christ as Lord and Savior will insist on alternate interpretations, it is strikingly curious that those who claim to would place themselves above the testimony of those who walked with the incarnated and resurrected Christ on this point.

Return to the Language of Suffering (LoS): Isaiah

LoS-ImageI’m going to begin posting new sections from The Language of Suffering.  If this is an unfamiliar area, you can read The Language of Suffering (LoS): Introduction and LoS: SUFFERING IN GOD’S WORD.  Additional sections that have been published on this site begin with the following posts:

LoS: Job’s Suffering and Encounter with the LORD – Opening Thoughts

LoS: Christ’s Suffering and Death – Opening Thoughts

LoS: Creation, The Fall and Suffering’s Beginning – Opening Thoughts

I will be covering The Suffering and Glory of the Servant, Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12.  I hope and pray that these posts will provide comfort, insight and, most of all, all glory to our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

What’s to be Done? (Part 8)

Image-credit-H.Koppdelaney-via-Photopin-ccFighting Back

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

… fear not, for I am with you,
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

The Means (5 of 5)

I’ve probably made it reasonably clear that those with whom contend are capable of doing fearful things to our good names and/or livelihoods.  However, were we to add up all the power, real and imagined, of our opponents, I would be flabbergasted were it to approach even 1% of that held by the Roman Empire when Jesus Christ said:

 I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Which brings me to the final point in our means to fight back against the tidal wave that approaches.

5. Overcome fear through trust in God

Yes, the atheists, pagans and post-christians appear to have occupied all the power-positions in our institutions — education, government, press, entertainment, courts and some mainline denominations, among others.  Yet, they must face the fact that there are tens of millions of Americans who continue to live lives of Christian faith.  Some of these Christians are living and working in the very institutions that appear to be long gone.

Compare this to the few thousands of Christians in the early first century living in a 50 million strong Roman world, with centuries of paganism behind their religion and the overwhelming power of the world’s greatest empire in effective opposition to this tiny, poor and new community.

And yet, in the space of four centuries the Roman Empire had accepted Christianity as its official religion.

ebbe758b02b239778d6e25a22262f8f6We are not today seeking to make Christianity the official religion of the Unites States.  However, we are insisting that our Christian faith is not beholden to any religious, political or social movement that demands our submission.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings.  But I do trust that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is in control.  It’s not our place to know how, when or why God will prevail.  It is our place to live lives of faithfulness and trust in our Lord and Savior for however long we are granted to toil here on earth.  Let’s get on with doing that together, as the Body of Christ!

What’s to be Done? (Part 7)

buildingchristiancommunityboxLet love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:9-12)

Fighting Back

The Means (4 of 5)

Let’s be clear…all broad-based Christian churches will be riven with strife over the gay marriage issue.  For some, such as the Southern Baptists, the primary impetus will likely be from outside as radical progressives lay siege to their tax-exempt status.  For others, such as the PCUSA, the primary driving force will be from within.

I believe that in less than ten years time it will be extremely difficult for a PCUSA church to find a pastoral candidate who opposes gay marriage.  This will occur because almost no one who holds this position will bother to enter our seminaries.  For the few who do, the pressure to conform will be immense.  And, finally, even assuming that a few such brave souls graduate with their convictions intact, many Presbyteries will refuse to accept them into membership.

Also, within PCUSA local churches we can expect to find significant numbers of members who energetically and aggressively support gay marriage.  In most cases they will have the power of the Presbytery elite behind them.  In all cases they will have the power of the progressive political machine and cultural elite behind them.

Pastors who entered PCUSA ministry with convictions that oppose gay marriage will likely face growing opposition.  Sessions and Pastors will split over this issue, as will Pastoral and church staffs.

In this poisonous atmosphere, what could it mean to build a Christian community?  I can tell you what it will mean to the PCUSA elite.  It will mean that all should submit quietly to this false teaching and then go forward pretending that we are all together in “Christian” ministry.  However, community organized around falsehood will simply not work.

And yet, we are called by Christ to live out our faith within the context of a Christian community.  So, in spite of the associated difficulties we must:

 4. Find strength and wisdom in Christian community

The first essential point is that there are definite limits to the extent that the concept of a “Christian community” can be legitimately stretched.  This point is both first and essential because of the temptation to place our existing Christian community above every other consideration.  Yes, we should and must strive long and hard to maintain the Christian integrity of the Christian community in which we find ourselves.  However, that particular community is not our Lord and Savior.  No, Jesus Christ alone is our Lord and Savior, and, He is abundantly clear on this point.

“If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26, RSV)

Of course, this statement uses hyperbole to drive home an essential point.  Jesus supports the family.  But, if even familial relationships compete with our discipleship to Jesus Christ, then He must be chosen with such certainty and clarity that it’s as if we “hated” our family member.  What is true in the family is also true in the church.  Here’s valuable commentary on this issue.

Normally, there is no conflict between loving Christ and our family members also. But sometimes a tug of war develops, where a family member puts pressure on us to back off from or even abandon our love for Christ. In those difficult situations, we do not love either Christ or the family member if we accede to the pressure. We do not love the family member, because if we bow to the pressure, we are saying that Christ is not worthy of being followed above all others, and we keep the family member from seriously considering the claims of Christ. We do not love Christ because we have put a sinful human being, who did not give himself for our sins, in a higher place than the spotless Lamb of God who freely offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.

The second essential point is that, for those of us orthodox Christians still in the PCUSA, the primary reason to stay in this community is as visible opponents to its current direction.  This is operative at both the personal and church levels.  Thus, we need to make sure that the arguments in favor of continued fidelity to God’s Word as taught by our historic Confessions are developed and clearly delivered.

We must engage those with whom we disagree in open debate, not in anger, but rather with firmness of purpose.  We must do so at every level of church organization.  We must do so out of our love for the Person and Purpose of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; out of a non-sentimentalized, non-culturally-corrupted understanding of Christian love.  That understanding is there to be rediscovered in the gospels, epistles, prophets, poems, histories and wisdom from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, if only we, as a Christian community, will find the courage to look and learn.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  (1 John 1:5-10)

What’s to be Done? (Part 6)

silencing-dissentFighting Back

I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

The Means (3 of 5)

A primary cause of radical progressive success is their often unopposed claim to own the “moral high ground.”  They base this claim primarily on the assertion that they are looking out for the weak and oppressed in society.  Their motives are presumed to be always pure, while anyone who opposes their policies must be doing so out of hatred and greed.

In Taking Stock at the 100th Post I pointed out numerous reasons to doubt the presumption of moral superiority in our PCUSA elite.  In What’s to be Done? (Part 1) I included a partial list of what progressive radicals have been doing to destroy those who dare to disagree with their “party line” on same sex marriage.  I believe that there are many public policy examples where this presumed moral superiority also rings false.

I’d here like to focus on another area that isn’t as commonly discussed.  That is, if we grant that radical progressives have achieved a position of presumed moral superiority, what have they done with it?

What they have done from this perch of “moral superiority” is to hurl abuse at anyone that sits “below” them.  In most cases it’s just run-of-the-mill intimidation intended to get the offender to shut up. In other cases, it’s intention is to destroy the social standing or livelihood of the victim.  And, in some cases it’s intended to utterly destroy the person in every sense of the word…socially, emotionally, financially and spiritually.

That last category is generally reserved for the least human among us, for example, a female politician who opposes abortion and embraces Christianity, or, a black man who believes in a conservative political philosophy.  In both cases we have human beings who are utterly dehumanized and, if possible, destroyed because (I can’t believe that this phrase is needed in a supposedly enlightened culture) they have rejected the way women or black people “should” think.  In other words, these people in positions of “moral superiority” use their status to engage in the most vile, crude forms of sexism, misogyny and racism that one can imagine.

Which leads me to point 3.

3. Don’t cede the “moral high ground”

Don’t cede it to them primarily because to do so is to uphold a lie.  The radical progressives are not morally superior in any way.  What they are is empowered by their status and relationships to destroy with impunity anyone who dares to effectively oppose them.  That is, they maintain their position by being willing and able to inflict cruelty and pain on anyone who dares to say the obvious.

Also, don’t cede it to them because doing so destroys your ability to ever win the argument on the merits.  The tragic fact is that “debate” in our culture has almost nothing to do with the merits and almost everything to do with who establishes that they own the “moral high ground.”  Once that is established, nothing else, including behavior that clearly demonstrates moral inferiority, matters.

It’s a losing strategy to claim ownership of the “moral high ground” for yourself.  The only possibility for progress is to call into question the presumption of the radical progressive’s moral superiority.  Doing so will open you up to the worst type of abuse.  However, it may also create an opening for the actual merits of the debate to come into view.  For, if the “moral high ground” isn’t ceded, then other means, for example, the merits of the case, may need to be examined.  Finally, by ceding this position you become a participant in a destructive lie.

Not everyone is in a position to, or has the ability to take radical progressives on directly.  In those cases my recommendation is non-participation, as explained by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn in Live not by Lies.

 Aleksandr-SolzhenitsynAnd the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.

This opens a breach in the imaginary encirclement caused by our inaction. It is the easiest thing to do for us, but the most devastating for the lies. Because when people renounce lies it simply cuts short their existence. Like an infection, they can exist only in a living organism.

We do not exhort ourselves. We have not sufficiently matured to march into the squares and shout the truth out loud or to express aloud what we think. It’s not necessary.

It’s dangerous. But let us refuse to say that which we do not think.

My God’s blessing, strength and protection be with you.

What’s to be Done? (Part 5)

Fighting Back

… for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

(2 Timothy 1:7)

courage_graphic_jakobsdiary-550x440The Means (2 of 5)

Most of us of a certain age can recall our mother’s admonition, “If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all.”  This advice remains valid in most cases today.  However, there is a tactic too often used in recent years to leverage that advice to illegitimately obtain success in a debate.  The tactic is to put your opponent in a position where they have to either respond to intimidating accusations or remain silent.  In many cases, rather than “dignifying” false accusations with a response, the person under assault chooses to remain silent.

That’s a problem in today’s culture.  It’s a problem because, for too many individuals in our society, silence in the face of accusation is interpreted as implicit agreement with and submission to the assault.  That is, the victim relies on an assumption of fair play and common morality that simply no longer exists in a large segment of the population.  Thus, to remain silent under these conditions is too often a losing strategy.

Do I appear to be a bit over the top on this?  It turns out that fair-minded members of the progressive left are also noting the same problem, for example, Kirsten Powers’ new book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech.

Lifelong liberal Kirsten Powers blasts the Left’s forced march towards conformity in an exposé of the illiberal war on free speech. No longer champions of tolerance and free speech, the “illiberal Left” now viciously attacks and silences anyone with alternative points of view.  Powers asks, “What ever happened to free speech in America?”

All of which leads to my second point on fighting back.

2. Silence in the face of intimidation is interpreted as submission, so speak up

Over the past 20 years or so I have witnessed increasingly frequent verbal assault as a means of debate, even among members of the PCUSA.  I have been personally accused of terrible things for supporting orthodox Christian norms.  I have seen whole communities being accused of “hatred” for the actions of one troubled individual, or for an event of completely unknown origin.

Early on I too refused to dignify this behavior with a response.  However, as the individuals and groups that utilize this tactic became more virulent, I had to reconsider my response.  Clearly, were this behavior counterproductive they would have reduced as opposed to increased its use.

I have decided that it’s imperative to speak up in defense of yourself and others in the face of this cruel, cynical tactic.  My preferred  response is to point out in no uncertain terms the nature of those who choose to use such tactics.  That is, I refuse to respond directly to the accusation, but rather point out the cruelty and intellectual bankruptcy of this line of argument.  However, there are times when the accusation itself must be directly addressed.

What I have found is that, when met with this type of opposition the accusers most often retreat.  They retreat because the accusation is often literally all that they have.  Once it’s clear that, if the argument is going to proceed at all, it will be done so on the merits, their enthusiasm lessens considerably.

Certainly there are cases where the discussion does continue on the merits.  And, sometimes a good point is made that requires reflection, and sometimes adjustments to my thinking and conclusions.  This is, after all, the goal of constructive dialogue between people with differing views.  It’s just a shame that the preliminary engagement is too often laced with such destructive behavior.

We Christians shouldn’t be looking for a fight.  However, when someone brings a fight to us, one in which they seek to win through intimidation, we must learn how to fight back.  Otherwise, too many observers will conclude that we are silent due to a guilty conscience, or, that we simply don’t care enough about the issue to make a stand.  And, the perpetrators of this tactic will continue to be encouraged by its apparent success.

Let’s listen anew to the Larger Catechism’s commentary on the Ninth Commandment, which discusses our responsibility not simply to avoid untruth, but also to not enable falsehood by our silence:

“The sins forbidden in the Ninth Commandment are … concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others …” [7.255]

To God be all the glory!

What’s to be Done? (Part 4)

trustinlord
Fighting Back

The Means (1 of 5)

1. Trust in the Lord

Let’s be clear-minded.  Those against whom we are proposing to contend hold all the positions of power.  They dominate the justice system, government bureaucracy, the press, the universities and schools, the entertainment industry, most Mainline denominations and many other groups as well.  And, they have clearly shown that they will use this power to destroy anyone who is both vulnerable and in opposition to their view of marriage.

Thus, to participate in the defense of religious freedom in order to ensure Jesus Christ’s definition of marriage is upheld in our Christian churches, organizations and individual consciences is to expose yourself to cruel and often effective assault.  Just to be clear, here is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on the purpose for and definition of marriage.

He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”  (Matthew 19:4-6)

This is not about your moral superiority to others, nor about hatred against others.  No, this is about obedience to Him who has given His all to save us from the consequences of our sin and to lead us into new life.  If your opposition is motivated by anything other that that, then, please, find something else to do.

But, if you do wish to proceed under these terms, then be of good cheer!

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  (Matthew 6:25)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23, RSV)

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.

Hark, glad songs of victory
     in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
     the right hand of the Lord is exalted,
    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!” (Psalm 118:14-16)

May these words from Endings and Beginnings stand behind all that we think, say and do.

For God does not depend on numbers of adherents or the power of human will to achieve His ends. He calls us to be faithful wherever we are, not because we must prevail, but rather because we so love and trust our Lord and Savior that we simply must testify to His Gospel.

Praise be to God!

What’s to be Done? (Part 3)

Chess-board-strategyFighting Back

The Situation

The CNN poll cited in Part 2 is indeed a bit depressing.  However, there’s no reason for despair.  For starters, I suspect that many points from that 59% approval are due to the successful campaigns of intimidation that the radical progressives have conducted against people or institutions who dare to publicly object.

Even granting this “majority” approval, what percentage of American citizens are in favor of the suspension of religious liberty in order to support gay marriage?  My guess that 15-20% would be a generous estimate.

There’s also that fact that the threat to religious freedom would affect Christians, Jews, Muslims and many other faiths.  Within Christianity, Catholics and Protestants would find common cause.  Even within denominations that have already succumbed to gay marriage, many parishioners remain who are in opposition.  With regard to the PCUSA, I believe that this excerpt from An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America by Joseph Bottum still describes many members.

Presbyterians, for example, now typically feel that they have more in common with serious, believing Catholics and Evangelicals — with serious, believing Jews, for that matter — than they do vertically, with the unserious, unorthodox members of their own denomination.

Finally, we have the intellectual laziness and blazing hypocrisy of a movement that has won so much for so long, based on false moral superiority and cruel intimidation, in our favor.  The fact is that progressive radicals live in a hermetically sealed bubble of presumption that remains intact primarily due to the reluctance of those who know better to push back.

There are so many excellent examples of this appalling isolation, but my current favorite is a New York Times editor’s (Dean Baquet) explanation (Washington Examiner) for why they regularly publish works of art that are offensive to Christians but not those that offend Muslims.  With regard to not publishing the offensive Charlie Hebdo artwork, even though it had led to a reprisal massacre, he sanctimoniously said:

“[L]et’s not forget the Muslim family in Brooklyn who read us and is offended by any depiction of what he sees as his prophet,” Baquet explained in a statement to Politico. “I don’t give a damn about the head of [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] but I do care about that family and it is arrogant to ignore them.”

This statement was part of a defense for publishing Niki Johnson’s “Eggs Benedict,” a portrait of Pope Benedict XVI (Milwaukee Art Museum) fashioned entirely out of condoms.  After explaining that, due to the subjective judgements associated with these decisions some level of offense can’t avoid being given, he let the real truth slip out.

“And finally, the very different reactions bears this out,” he added. “Hundreds of thousands of people protested worldwide, for instance, after the Danish cartoons were published some years ago. While some people might genuinely dislike this Milwaukee work, there doesn’t seem to be any comparable level of outrage.

There you have it.  Because Christianity simply doesn’t produce people who will violently respond to offensive and blasphemous depictions of their faith, the Times’ standard should vary accordingly!

The fact that Christians don’t respond with violence to objectionable depictions should be celebrated.  The reasons for and implications of this tolerance should be explored.  They would unavoidably find the Person and purpose of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ should they do so.

But, I contend that there must be a limit to this tolerance.  While violence and cruelty is never a proper Christian response to such a debate in a civil society, that doesn’t mean that there is never call for a stout defense of our right to religious freedom.

How do you imagine that these self defined moral paragons would respond if millions of Christians (along with members of other faiths) peacefully mobilized to defend their rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment?  I don’t think that they would approve.  However, they would finally be forced to pubically defend positions that many fair-minded citizens would find objectionable.

Happy Independence Day!

Fireworks over Chicago skyline

Fireworks over Chicago skyline

gwprays“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
– George Washington, 1789

“Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“I love the religion of Christianity – which cometh from above – which is a pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of good fruits, and without hypocrisy.”
– Frederick Douglass

constitution“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”
– Patrick Henry

The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible’, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”
– George Washington Carver, 1939

freedom-of-worship-final“I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old Revolutionary maxim. Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”
– Susan B. Anthony

“Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience…without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure…If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.”
– Ronald Reagan

“The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
– John F. Kennedy

“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.”
– George Washington

Religious-freedom-part-four“Government should uphold–and not undermine–those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded: religion, education and, above all, family.”
– Ronald Reagan

 

… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863

fourth_fireworks01