Almost every daily newspaper and newscast reveals a blatant disregard of God’s Word, eternal truth, and undeniable principles. This week alone we have witnessed assaults on our First Amendment rights which protect freedom of speech, religion, and the press from government interference, as well as evidence of deceptive cover-ups in the Benghazi attack, the IRS targeting conservative non-profits, and disregard for the sanctity of life as exhibited by Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s murders in his abortion clinic. Did you think you would ever witness such damaging practices, troubling trends, and apparent indifference?
The consequences of such actions are grave. The fact is we do not actually break God’s laws or scientific laws. We defy them and doing so ultimately breaks us. Many Americans believe the only absolute is “there are no absolutes.”
Over 10 years ago, I wrote The Absolutes: Freedom’s Only Hope. I was inspired to write it by observing a nation drowning in a sea of relativism. The brilliant contemporary philosopher Ravi Zacharias said while lecturing at Harvard, Oxford and other major venues throughout the world, “The pure relativist cuts off the branch on which he is sitting while telling you the branch cannot be severed. The landing is mind-shattering.” How true. Nevertheless, relativism has gained currency in our society, greatly weakening our foundations.
Absolutes, however, do not change over time. They are not made to fit our circumstances. Instead, we must remake our thinking to conform to these truths. We must continually remind ourselves and others of the importance of moral and biblical absolutes.
Here are some of the pressing realities we faced then and face even more urgently now. These are major problem areas, which should lead to focused, prayerful attention. We are in serious trouble for many reasons:
- For many years, national leaders have lacked the character necessary to make wise decisions.
- Radical partisanship prevails at the expense of the people and our best interests.
- Comfort and economic prosperity has become more important than principled living.
- Human compassion for the suffering is lacking—and this in no way refers to the “take and distribute” mentality with no compassionate connection or hands-on involvement.
- Our intelligence and protection agencies fail to safeguard our security because of bureaucratic tendencies to protect their “turf,” thereby short-circuiting clear communication and cooperation.
- Spiritual and eternal values are blatantly sacrificed on the altar of selfish material pursuits.
- Protecting innocence and the innocent has become an object of scorn.
The absolutes I shared in my book remain undeniably important as necessary first principles.
1. Evil is a horrible and present reality. The reality of evil exposes the bankruptcy of relativism. As G.K. Chesterton appropriately said, “Unless a man become the enemy of evil, he will not even become its slave but rather its champion.” The ability to recognize and discern worldviews is one of our most important responsibilities and requires wisdom that can only come from God.
2. Ideas have consequences. Every belief system will ultimately bear fruit—and the fruit will be consistent with the root from which it comes. It is time to take an honest look at the consequences of our ideas and practices. C. S. Lewis rightly said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
3. We are spiritual beings. To ignore our spiritual nature is to deprive ourselves of what makes us most essentially human. To deny the existence of God is to set our minds at war against our hearts. God exists, and He created us with the capacity to know Him.
4. The majority is not always right. History—both secular and biblical—demonstrates that the majority is not always right. Democracy without responsible, principled, self-governing citizens will lead to “mob-ocracy.”
5. Truth withstands debate. We can agree to disagree, but we must reaffirm our commitment to freedom of speech. Only then will truth be given a voice and the opportunity to transform society. Truth is much like a lion, turn it loose and it always defends itself. Thomas Paine said, “Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it wishes, and all it needs, is the liberty of appearing.”
6. People matter most. Every life is worth affirming, enabling and protecting. The Apostle Paul said in reference to the second of Christ’s great commandments, “Love your neighbor as yourself – herein is all the law fulfilled in a word.” It is very important to note, the Bible has stern warnings for nations guilty of shedding innocent blood.
7. Greed destroys. Self-serving greed is the animating power behind pride, vengeance and prejudice. Unchecked, it wreaks havoc in the world. Fruitfulness, success and prosperity create productivity and opportunity and this is positive, but “the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.”
8. Character counts. More important than what we say or do in the public eye is what we are like when no one else is around. We must present ourselves to God so that we are not conformed to this world, but transformed by the power of His kingdom presence.
9. Sex is a great gift that must be protected. The breakdown in sexual morality and practices has hurt or destroyed countless people, relationships and families. This is one of the most compelling evidences of the impact ideas and beliefs have on our quality of life.
10. Strong families are the cornerstone of society. When families break down, so do people. We must be diligent to keep our families solid and strong. Homes must be established on the rock solid foundation of Biblical truth.
11. Equality is not sameness. The cause of justice is made all the more essential by our differences in aptitude, motivation and ability. God made no two people, no two fingerprints, and no two snowflakes the same. Difference and diversity are beautiful qualities. Attempts to make all people the same abolish personal responsibility, creativity and positive progress.
12. If government doesn’t serve, it will enslave. We must be vigilant to keep the blessings of government within their proper bounds lest they come to dominate the whole of our lives. When the people depend upon government for their sustenance, the population is in bondage. Government has nothing it does not first take or receive from the people. Effective government must be controlled and properly maintained by people who are inspired, informed and involved.
13. Religion can be dangerous, but repentance is redemptive. Mere religion is a poor substitute for a relationship with the living God, made possible through true repentance and the transforming power of God’s grace. Membership is too often substituted for relationship.
14. Servanthood is the key to success and significance. At no other time than when we serve others do our meaning and purpose in life become so clear. Jesus said, “The greatest among you is servant.” We experience life fully when we release it freely in order to bless and benefit others.
15. Love conquers all. Love never fails. Ultimately, it can overcome every obstacle and solve every dilemma. The love of God expressed through us is the only power that can overcome the destructive forces of hatred, anger, unforgiveness and human decadence.
16. The absolutes have a source. There are many other absolutes—and they have been forthrightly revealed to us throughout the ages. Time-tested, historical principles can be found in the Bible, which is the word of God. It has been well-said, “The Bible is not the only means to furnish a mind, but without it…a mind will remain unfurnished.”
Permit me to close with these words from our Father in heaven:
“My child, listen to me and treasure my instructions. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and understanding. Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him.
“Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Wisdom will save you…” (Proverbs 2:1-16, NLT)
I encourage you to read The Absolutes. It seems even more relevant today than when I wrote it. You can order it online right now. I think you’ll agree with me that the truths presented are timeless and essential.
since i first heard you as a pastor in buffalo,ny in 76 or 77, at the annual easter sunrise svc- i have followed and been inspired by your ministry- betty sure is good also! keep up the great ministry! you are making a huge difference!
At my age of sixty-three, I have become very distressed by all that I see around me. Something has to change. Thank you James for this article & for bringing this into the forefront. My only question is how do we bring this back to our world of today?
Your posts are always very inspiring and informative. Thank you so much!
thank you for your very relevant and very accurate to the point words.Your words of truth ,compassion and wisdom are greatly needed and appreciated. God bless your effort