commentary: The Only Path to Reconcliation
Given 19-May-18; 14 minutes
These commentaries are given each week, not to promote any particular agenda of this world but to help us understand the minefield we must navigate in following Jesus Christ in faithful submission to Him, His every word, and to one another, as a great gift to those united through His Holy Spirit and already citizens of a new and better government.
Jesus Christ prayed to His Father the night before His very carefully prepared sacrificial offering of Himself, as recorded in John 17, that those who are His should not be removed from this present world into which we have been sent, but that we should not be part of it, and that we be kept from its evil.
God has put together the Body of Christ from all different circumstances of life to walk together, knowing that God is neither conservative nor liberal, as this world’s political systems define them. Nor is He Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist, Capitalist, etc., etc. and neither are His people. God is not part of, nor subject to, any of the systems of this world, political or otherwise!
John Ritenbaugh has gone to great lengths to explain that we each individually have been shaped by the circumstances of our lives and our particular worldview! But God is God and His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways! So we walk through a minefield that can only be navigated by humble submission to God and all who have been called into the Body of Jesus Christ, while watching, but not participating in, the vain systems of men driven by the spirit of this world.
With this in mind, I would like to point out a couple of things from the past few weeks that point out just how divisive this world has become because of pride-filled nature that drives it. The first is from the Sunday Morning ABC News program, “This Week with George Stephanapolus.” On the April 29th program, Frank Luntz joined the panel discussion after conducting a focus group poll for ABC News.
Frank Luntz has his doctorate from Oxford in political science and, although a Republican, he is well respected and has been used by groups at all ends of the political spectrum for the keen insight he is able to provide though the focus groups he assembles and interviews, from all walks of life.
The following is a short segment from the end of the program that day discussing the results of Luntz’s ABC sponsored focus group. The discussion included ABC White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl, Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile, Governor Chris Christie and Luntz. After showing some excerpts from the focus group, Jonathan Karl said to Mr. Luntz,
Frank, you conducted this focus group and you've done these discussions for a long time. And you did some really tense ones during the campaign. Has it actually gotten worse?
LUNTZ: This is worse!! We did a survey right after, 82 percent of Americans say that we are more divided than at any time in their lifetime, four out of five. And it's across the board—Republican, Independent, and Democrat.
I had trouble getting control of that group. For 12 minutes, I sat with your producers off the set as they continued to yell at each other, having no idea that I'd even stepped away. And, Jon, you and I have known each other now for 20 years, and governor for about 10 years. We have to do something. We have to hold our party accountable. We have to say enough is enough, because if we don't do it this poison is so deep and so pervasive now it's no wonder our kids are now bullying others and yelling at each other and using language that is so inappropriate, they're getting it from their parents. And if we don't do something, including the news media, than we'll be on the point of no return.
Following this comment from Frank Luntz, the panel then went on to discuss this horrifying epidemic, but without solutions other than to say something needs to be done, while assigning blame to everyone else.
Later that same Sunday, in the evening, we were watching another news and views program, which seemed to me to point almost perfectly back to the earlier program and the major detour that could lead each one of us into this world’s minefield of drawing down on sides through personal and intellectual pride. However, within the last 2 weeks, I came across a better example.
I do not have time to read both of the following articles, but I hope to read enough of each to give us a very clear picture that the answers to this ever-ncreasing divisive spirit will never be found in the minds of men, without God’s Holy Spirit and sincerely humble submission.
The following articles are written by two men I had admired in the past for their clear thinking and gracious behavior. But as you will see, their worldviews—driven by pride—have clearly divided them into camps of name-callers, even if they consider it sophisticated name-calling.
The first article is by conservative columnist and commentator George Will, a brilliant man, who has, in the past, been very careful and measured in his expansive use of the English language to make his point.
The second is by William Bennet, another conservative author, commentator and member of both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush’s cabinets. He has written a number of books on morality, family values and civility in society.
Both men served and share an affection for President Reagan, but both have become irreconcilably divided by their own worldview, as you will see.
In a May 9 Wall Street Journal Column, George Will launched a scathing attack on Vice-President Mike Pence. Mr. Will began his column by writing the following:
Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew (it).
The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.
Last June, a Trump Cabinet meeting featured testimonials offered to Dear Leader by his forelock-tugging colleagues. His chief of staff, Reince Priebus, caught the spirit of the worship service by thanking Trump for the “blessing” of being allowed to serve him. The hosannas poured forth from around the table, unredeemed by even a scintilla of insincerity. Priebus was soon deprived of his blessing, as was Tom Price.
Before Price’s ecstasy of public service was truncated because of his incontinent enthusiasm for charter flights, he was the Secretary of Health and Human Services who at the Cabinet meeting said, “I can’t thank you enough for the privileges you’ve given me.” The vice president chimed in but saved his best riff for a December Cabinet meeting when, as The Post’s Aaron Blake calculated, Pence praised Trump once every 12 seconds for three minutes: “I’m deeply humbled. . . . ” Judging by the number of times Pence announces himself “humbled,” he might seem proud of his humility, but that is impossible because he is conspicuously devout and pride is a sin [Will derisively wrote with tongue-in-check].
Between those two Cabinet meetings, Pence and his retinue flew to Indiana for the purpose of walking out of an Indianapolis Colts football game, thereby demonstrating that football players kneeling during the national anthem are intolerable to someone of Pence’s refined sense of right and wrong.
This was a small sampling of a lengthy article, punctuated with polysyllabic name-calling that seems to make name-calling okay because he pridefully punctuates his attack with big words. Petulant rhetoric driven by pride seems to be the order of business today no matter who you are from one end of society to the other!
George Will’s sophistry in his attack on the Vice-President seems to have found its source in the vice-president’s allegiance to someone Mr. Will finds reprehensible! And from George Will’s own viewpoint, as a self-described “amiable Atheist”, Mr. Pence’s professed Evangelical convictions seems to have made him even more deserving of Mr. Will’s scornful disrespect.
This article led to William Bennett’s fiery rebuttal on May 12 in an article entitled, "George Will Scorns Pence for the High Crime of Decency." He wrote (in part):
Conservative syndicated columnist George Will wrote this week that Vice President Mike Pence has “become America’s most repulsive public figure.” Why does Will think Pence deserves this absurd slur? Apparently, the columnist has found the vice president guilty of the heinous crime of being a decent man.
Will announced in 2016 that he was leaving the Republican Party over the nomination of Donald Trump as the GOP’s presidential candidate. So it is no surprise that Will has become part of the so-called “resistance” to the duly elected president of the United States. He’s even become a contributor to NBC and its liberal sister news channel, MSNBC, using this as a forum to criticize both President Trump and Vice President Pence.
But don’t let Will’s penchant for writing columns filled with big words that most American’s never use and can’t even define, obscure the fact that the central indictment of his hostile column is pretty thin gruel.
Some writers - and Will is clearly among them - think using big and seldom seen words makes them seem smart. He clearly rejects the advice given by writer George Orwell in a 1946 essay to “never use a long word where a short one will do.”
George Will is a neighbor and, if not a friend, more than an acquaintance. He has done me more than one good turn. He and his family have been hospitable to my family, and I, like so many others, have learned from and cited a great deal of his work over the years. All the more troubling, then, to see him stoop to ad-hominem attacks.
Since when are humility and decorum fodder for scorn of the worst kind? ...
What is it about proper, genteel, civil, self-effacing men that George Will doesn’t like? It is clearly not that he prefers improper, brash men.
Just five months ago, Will declared President Trump “the nation’s worst president” and accused him of “full-throated support of the grotesque.”
Will has accused the “scabrous” Trump of “intellectual sloth” and “stratospheric self-confidence.” In at least one instance he has even shed that trademark Willian vocabularic creativity to refer to Trump simply as “a bully.”
What is evident from Will’s splenetic attack on Pence is just how far the “Never Trump” movement is willing to go to achieve its main goal of—well, what is the goal now, 16 months after President Trump’s inauguration? Make voters wish they hadn’t supported Trump so they could have avoided the overwhelming barrage of mordant if ultimately toothless hand-wringing from the pundit class?
To put it in Will-ian terms: The only purpose these sesquipedalian insults serve is to denigrate men who are actually working to make this country better. The intellectual elite inside the Beltway would be well-served to look at the big picture. We understand that you think you’re classier than the president and smarter than the vice president. We just don’t care.
The take away for us from all of this must be that there are no solutions to the irreconcilable divisions that are forming all over the place and the only solution is in Jesus Christ.
On this weekend celebrating God’s creation of His firstfruits of a new Body, united under Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit, I thought it good to remind us that these commentaries are given weekly by John, Richard and Martin to remind us that we are living in a world where truth is in short supply and arrogant self-serving politics reign supreme on every side.
We are navigating through a minefield, but our steps are sure if we maintain our complete allegiance in self-effacing loyalty to the Kingdom of God, apart from this world. Those within the Body of Christ can just as easily sell the birthright we have been graciously given to be firstfruit citizens of the Kingdom of God as Esau, if we don’t look beyond what is going on around us.
The reconciliation that this world craves on its own terms is available, but only through Jesus Christ on His terms of absolute allegiance to God and those He has already prepared as a New Creation.