These Two Paragraphs Have Nothing To Do With Each Other

Reading J. Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership has been a huge blessing. Consider this excerpt:


Can we waive a principle to reach agreement? Lowering standards is always a backward step, and compromise nearly always requires it.

The epic contest of Moses and Pharaoh is a classic example of the temptation to compromise. When Pharaoh realized that Moses meant to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, he used cunning and threats to frustrate him. “Worship God if  you will,” was his first overture, “but don’t leave Egypt to do it.” A modern equivalent would be “Religion is okay, but don’t be narrow about it. No need to let religion isolate you from the rest of the world.”

When that approach failed, Pharaoh tried something else: “If you must go out of Egypt to worship, don’t go far. Religion is fine, but there is no need to be fanatical about it. Stay as close to the world as you can.”

Yet a third attempt played on natural affection: “Let the men go and worship, and the women and children stay here. If you must break with the world, don’t force such a narrow lifestyle on everyone else in the family.”

Pharaoh’s last attempt was an appeal to greed: “Okay, go. But the flocks and herds stay. Don’t let your odd religious commitments get in the way of business and prosperity.”

With clear spiritual insight Moses cut through each evasion: “Not a hoof is to be left behind,” he said (Exodus 10:26). Moses passed with honors a great test of his leadership of God’s people.

I love the way Sanders turned the focus on to Pharaoh’s temptations toward Moses and away from the question of God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.

In unrelated news, Colorado passed a law making it illegal to discriminate against against someone based on lifestyles or perceptions, whatever that means. Colorado, recall, is the home of such evangelical power houses as Focus on the Family so it is pretty surprising that such a law passed. WorldNetDaily website, which is a fairly conservative and Christian leaning news service, quoted Colorado Family Action who quoted Cathryn Hazouri, executive director the ACLU, in her testimony as saying, “One may practice one’s religion in private; however, once a religious person comes into the public arena, there are limitations in how the expression of their religion impacts others.” Separation of church and everything apparently. This is not how the founding fathers envisioned it, I don’t believe.

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  • No Tim, this is not how the founders envisioned it. The U.S. Constitution (and the Bible, tangentially) is frequently referenced by people who have not troubled themselves to thoughtfully read the document to which they refer, or to not have read it at all. Read Amendment 1 of the U. S. Constitution. It is very clear. It reads as follows:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    Like all of the first ten amendments to the Constitution (the Bill of Rights”), it is all about what the people are free to do, and what government is prohibited from doing. I do not see how any honest reader can interpret the above quoted words to mean anything else than that the people and their religious institutions are protected from interference by the government, not the other way around.

    The sad fact that so many United States citizens have never taken the half-hour or so that it takes to read their constitution (and that is if you read it slowly) much less re-read it from time to time, makes it very easy for those who want to use government authority to restrict our freedoms. An equally sad irony is that many of the people trying to restrict religious freedom are outspoken advocates of a free press, the right of free assembly, and the right to petition the government. How foolish! The founders put them together because they understood that once a people allow their government to violate one of these fundamental rights, all of them are in jeopardy.

    If anyone reads this, we in the U.S. are celebrating the anniversary of our independence this weekend. Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? If you have not done this recently, Google up the documents and read them. Read them to your children. Discuss them with a friend. You will be amazed how short, easy to understand, and interesting they are. You may also find that just one reading makes many public forum controversies easier to analyze and understand. Try it. I double-dog dare ya!

  • Well said David!

    The really ironic thing is that Thomas Jefferson coined the term “a wall of separation between church and state” (or something like it) in a letter to the Danberry Baptists. Baptists in those days were a marginalized part of Christianity and were afraid that the new American government would infringe on their churches. Jefferson assured them that it would not. Not how it is used today, huh?

  • Excellent observation, Tim, and your quote from Jefferson’s letter is accurate and contextually on point. The phrase, “separation of church and state” are Jefferson’s words. They do not appear in the U.S. Constitution; though, read in context, they do embody the meaning of Amendment 1. Jefferson was not a Christian. He expressed contempt for religion, though he only recorded this in private. (He was, after all, a politician.) He rejected the essential teachings of Christianity, and, in the private company of close friends, mocked Christians, their beliefs, and their ministers. Yet Jefferson’s letter to Baptist ministers, read in context, records Jefferson’s belief that the intent of the authors of the Bill of Rights was to protect the peoples’ right to religious belief and practice, NOT to protect the government from the people. Since Jefferson participated in the debates surrounding the writing and adoption of the U.S. Constitution, his take on its meaning is likely to be better informed than the ACLU’s.

  • I guess the Bible can’t be proclaimed in CO since it condemns all.

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