Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
your salvation according to your promise;
then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules.
I will keep your law continually, forever and ever,
and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.
I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes. (ESV)
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A Religious Commitment to Non-religion
Tuesday of Pentecost 12
18 August 2015
In the sixteenth century, Dr. Martin Luther's books were being confiscated and banned in ducal Saxony by the inveterate opponent of the Reformation, Duke George. Banning books and confiscating them is not about getting rid of paper and bindings, but about stamping out ideas and limiting the ability to speak freely about those ideas. Such actions are universally considered anti-progressive in our modern context. There are very few book burnings in modern America. However, book burnings are not the only way to suppress ideas and to bind consciences. It is not uncommon for our modern politicians to try to suppress what they consider to be subversive ideas in our culture and society; often with the willing cooperation of the mainline media. Laws that suppress religious ideas, free consideration of those ideas, the speech about them, and religious action based on those ideas are no different than book burnings or confiscations. America is not far separated from ducal Saxony in the sixteenth century.
In our day, suppression of religious acts, although the first amendment of the Bill of Rights protects them, is being perpetrated by the very government officials required to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Forcing a group of Roman Catholic nuns, The Little Sisters of the Poor, to provide health care services that include morally reprehensible acts, such as providing abortifacients, is at least that kind of suppression of religion, if not downright persecution. Our Constitution protects freedom of religion, including its free exercise. It is unacceptable to say that you can believe as you please, so long as you don't act on those beliefs, that they are required to be checked at the door of your church on your way out. Our government acts as though you may not live your Christian faith except within the four walls of the church building. I fail to see how that could be anything but tyranny over religion, not to mention imposition on consciences and their freedom of thought. Government then sets the speech agenda so that its religion is the one that is accepted in our culture. This is a retreat into the medieval period, repudiated by all progressives, in which the ruler imposed his religion on his subjects.
However, you may be quite skeptical about this. The default religion of our elites and their companions in government is materialism. The dogma that there is no God and cannot be one; that all religion is a delusion. But this commitment to materialism is as much religious as religion itself. Materialism cannot be sustained on the basis of anything except as an ideological presupposition that cannot be verified or falsified on external grounds, any more (or even less!) than Christianity can be. In that way, even atheism is a kind of religion with specific anti-theistic religious presuppositions. The way to know if such commitments are religious is simply to ask the question of the believer if there is any evidence possible that would lead the believer to reject his or her position. If the answer is "No, there is no evidence possible to make me change my mind;" then what you have is pure and simple a religion. The myth that unbelief is the neutral position on religion is just that, a myth. Yet this is the widely held position of the elites, who imagine that it is nonreligious. And they are religiously committed to it.
"God Almighty has made our rulers mad; they actually think they can do, and order their subjects to do, whatever they please. And their subjects make the mistake of believing that they, in turn, are bound to obey the rulers and everything. It has gone so far that the rulers have begun ordering the people to get rid of certain books, and to believe and conform to what the rulers prescribe. They are thereby presumptuously setting themselves in God's place, lording it over men's consciences and faith, and schooling the Holy Spirit according to their own crackbrained ideas. Nevertheless, they let it be known that they are not to be contradicted, and are to be called gracious Lords all the same."
"Because the raging of such fools tends toward the suppression of the Christian faith, the denying of the divine word, and the blaspheming of the divine majesty, I can no longer just look at my ungracious Lords and angry nobles; I shall have to resist them, at least with words."
Martin Luther, Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed, 1
Lord Jesus Christ, give us the courage and resources to resist the government's attempt to silence Your Word. As we pray for our government that You, O Lord, would uphold it and keep us from sedition, rebellion, and other strife, help us to speak freely of Your love for the world using our First Amendment rights. Grant that we may exercise our freedom of religion by offering ourselves to the need of our neighbor. Amen.
For Kirstyn Harvey, that the Lord would grant her health and healing in accordance with His good and gracious will
For Diva Pilli, that the Lord would keep her in his hand as she undergoes testing and undergoes therapy for an infection
For our magistrates and all in authority over us, that they might serve the common good
Art: Dürer, Albrecht The Adoration of the Trinity (1515)
© Scott R. Murray, 2015