Words with Granddaddy

th    “Granddaddy, may I ask you a question?” I asked, looking at him.

“Of course. What is it?” he said.

“Can you explain to me whether you’re a leftist or a conservative, and why?”

Looking back now, it appears I asked him more than one question. However, as a Baptist pastor of decades, he was accustomed to people’s questions. I never once knew my grandfather to be anything but an earnest man. What’s more, he was never one for small talk. When he spoke, discerning people knew to listen.

This conversation took place many decades ago, and my grandfather has long since died. However, I remember what he said. What he told me decades ago abides with me still—namely, the importance of discernment. In short, I was to prize wisdom. The converse, he said, was also true—namely, to distance yourself from folly. I realize now that he was echoing Solomon’s words in Proverbs. He did tell me, eventually, whether he was a leftist or a conservative, by the way.

With very few exceptions, I’ve unplugged a lot from contemporary culture. Disillusioned especially by the coarseness of politics and television/movie entertainment, I prefer to read, fish, and enjoy my family. In coming days, the word trump will have more definitions after its place in the dictionary. Perhaps it’ll mean “to engage in vitriolic ad hominem attacks, especially as an evasive strategy.” Who knows? It seems that we cannot escape the deluge of worldviews in conflict. What’s better—leftism (big government; higher taxation; fewer liberties; entitlements, etc.) or conservatism (smaller government; lower taxes; individual liberty; an ethos of hard work, etc.)?

In teaching some of my students last week, I was searching for an apt illustration when explaining postmodernism in literature. I could tell, by observing their faces, that some of the language I had been using was too technical. “Think of it like this,” I said. “All is up for grabs. There’s no metanarrative, no overarching story to unite your life, or to unite anything. It’s a random universe. God is rejected; Christ is rejected; the Bible is rejected; history is rejected; distinctions between male and female are rejected. Kardashian culture and MTV paganism are the religions of the land. What used to be deemed folly and coarseness doesn’t shock us as much as it used to, and that is tragic. Wisdom is vanquished and vileness is crowned.” Then, it seemed, my students began to understand. Their facial expressions changed. They began to connect the intellectual dots.

What does my question to my grandfather, many decades ago now, have to do with why I wanted to know if my grandfather was a leftist or a conservative? What does my question have to do with postmodernism and the differences between a leftist worldview vs. a conservative worldview? The ideas are related. Solomon’s wisdom, like my grandfather’s echo of it, gets to the heart of the matter: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7, ESV). What my grandfather was teaching me was that wisdom and folly are deeper issues of character than politics. “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it” (Proverbs 9:12, ESV). We’re in a day when scoffing is cool; we’re in a day when mocking is hip; we’re in a day when wisdom is maligned and manners are largely in graveyards.

The contrast to wisdom is folly. Folly is characterized in Scripture as loud, ignorant, and in love with death (Proverbs 9:13-18). Postmodernism is just this: loud, ignorant, and in love with death. Postmodernism lacks heroes because it’s impossible to be a hero when you’re given over to solipsism and despair. When all is relative, nothing is worth fighting for. There are only power plays by victimized groups. All is up for grabs, but nothing is inherently valuable, since the author of life has been killed. “If God is dead, all is permitted,” wrote Dostoyevsky in The Brothers Karamazov, a warning to the discerning about the depths to which civilizations descend when they reject God as revealed in Scripture.

The New Testament echoes the same principle: “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20, ESV). The contrast between a biblical worldview regarding wisdom vs. folly is crystal clear. Discernment is inextricable from wisdom and maturity; growing up involves growing deep. This means self-discipline. When shaped by the biblical worldview, people cultivate self-discipline, and big government is unnecessary, because the people’s morality is rooted in a biblical teaching regarding the preciousness of wisdom.

But what does leftism do? It teaches that man needs government to do what unrestrained pagans will not do—namely, be self-disciplined. Instead of working hard, leftists want to take wealth from producers and redistribute it to those who won’t work. Instead of admitting that all lives matter, leftists divide people by gender, skin color, and sexual preference. For some leftists, only some lives matter.

Granddaddy taught me through his words and through his life many truths. However, what he taught me about why he was politically conservative paled in comparison to what he taught me about wisdom. Wisdom or folly; big government leftism or small government conservatism; fluid “gender identification” or men and women created in the image of God.

Paul wrote that Israel had “a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:2-3, ESV). “Not according to knowledge” could be the epithet for today’s culture. I, for one, would rather learn from my grandfather.



It’s the Climate of Ideas, Not of Weather

Strange bedfellows? China’s president, Xi Jinping, will meet with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Barack Hussein Obama and England’s Prince Charles, another disciple in the religion of global warming, will meet with India’s leadership, as well as with Nigerian, Indonesian, and Pakistani leadership. How can you get government leaders of countries who are, in many other ways, ideological adversaries, together? China and the U.S. are at the same table. Syria and the U.S. are at the same table. Russia and the U.S. are at the same table. You might think that they are addressing how to end religious persecution, but you’d be wrong. You might think they are assembling to solve Muslim persecution of fellow Muslims, thereby causing tens of thousands of refugees to flood Europe and the U.S. but you’d be wrong. You might think that they are in Paris to condemn Muslim terror in groups like Boko Haram, Hezbollah, ISIS, al Qaeda, the Taliban, etc. but you’d still be wrong. These government talking heads are gathered to talk about means of reducing fossil fuel emissions. The goal? That the wealthiest nations will allocate billions of dollars to other countries who promise to reduce fossil fuel emissions. We are witnessing a culture given over to idolatry; by abandoning the Judeo-Christian worldview, the culture has largely imbibed paganism. The earth and the creature are worshiped and the Creator is rejected.a culture given over to idolatry...

The fact that American law enforcement is currently besieged by thugs is less important to the current U.S. government leadership than their zealous commitment to the religion of manmade global warming. Well, it’s not global warming now. Their spin doctors have renamed it “climate change.” Even one of the self-described socialists running for America’s presidency, Bernie Sanders, says he fears climate change more than ISIS. How does one try to reason with people like this? And guess which countries will be on the hook to pay the “under-developed” countries billions of dollars to install solar panels and windmills? You guessed it, the wealthy countries that thrive on the use of fossil fuels. Are you awake yet? The heretofore wealthy West, built largely on fossil fuels, has the resources to fund poor countries. Where did that wealth creation come from—solar panels and windmills? Even Don Quixote would not charge these windmills!

Barack Hussein Obama claims that this meeting of political leaders is a “powerful rebuke” to terrorists. Folks, are you listening to this drivel? We are living in a time where committed Leftists advocate for abortion on demand, but oppose your fueling up your car, because it produces carbon dioxide. We are living in a time where committed Leftists can “gender-identify” as one sex on Monday and another on Thursday, but at the same time claim discrimination if non-Leftists posit that gender is not a fluid category. We’re living in a culture where Bruce Jenner (he now calls himself Caitlyn) is named Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine. We’re living in a world where legislators are vying for pedophilia to be inculcated as normal and healthy (http://www.jewsnews.co.il/2015/11/28/germany-and-eu-to-legalize-pedophilia-and-with-it-child-pornography-as-well/). We are witnessing a culture given over to idolatry; by abandoning the Judeo-Christian worldview, the culture has largely imbibed paganism. The earth and the creature are worshiped and the Creator is rejected.

In the biblical worldview, creation is to be cared for but not to be worshiped: “And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28b, ESV). In the biblical worldview, creation (the earth, the heavens, etc.) is designed to manifest the glory of the Creator (God), not to be worshiped as an idol: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, ESV).

But what we are witnessing in our day is a world that largely exchanges the truth of what God reveals and replaces it via idolatry. And what we are witnessing is the natural outworkings of a pagan worldview. Again, the biblical worldview speaks to this: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2, ESV).

We are witnessing a culture given over to idolatry; by abandoning the Judeo-Christian worldview, the culture has largely imbibed paganism. The earth and the creature are worshiped and the Creator is rejected.

Lest I be misunderstood, please understand. The earth is to be cared for; we should seek to tend the garden God has provided. However, we are not to worship anything or anyone but the Lord. If the pagan were consistent in his logic, he would admit that in a materialist universe, he is substantially no different from the very material he seeks to protect, but he cannot provide objective reasons for morals, only preferences. And whose preferences should prevail? In the biblical worldview, however, we are told why we should tend the earth—namely, because it was created by God for our good and His glory. Moreover, we are told that we are not to worship the creation, only the Creator.

The biblical worldview tells us that this is what we fallen creatures do (we exchange God for an idol). We worship the creation instead of the Creator: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23, ESV).

We are witnessing a culture given over to idolatry; by abandoning the Judeo-Christian worldview, the culture has largely imbibed paganism. The earth and the creature are worshiped and the Creator is rejected.

Socialism, Leftism, the redistribution of wealth, paganism, and all the other isms will not remedy culture, folks. The nations will continue to rage until we acknowledge the truth we suppress in unrighteousness—namely, that (as Francis Schaeffer penned years ago now) God is there and He is not silent.