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Rivalry Over Great Principles Reaching Impasse

By P. Andrew Sandlin
Published March 31, 2008

IF POLITICS IS THE ART OF COMPROMISE, almost every cranny of American society has become politicized. In refusing to endorse the presidency of Bill Clinton, a Little Rock, Arkansas newspaper complained that the governor’s problem is not that he sacrifices his principles, but that it is uncertain he has principles to sacrifice.

That criticism is just as applicable to Republican and independent candidates and educators and entertainers and media personalities and military leaders and mechanics and bus drivers and housewives and librarians. Increasingly, the strategy of pragmatism and the message of pluralism from which it issues dominates American life.

The modern pluralistic thesis goes like this. All of us in this professedly pluralistic country are not going to agree on all – or perhaps even most – issues. The United States is increasingly diverse. We are liberal and conservative; male and female; Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic; black, white, Hispanic and Asian; heterosexual and homosexual; elderly, middle-aged and young; upper-, lower-, and middle-class. The most prudent way of dealing with the problems engendered by the close proximity of such diverse individuals and groups is to affirm the ultimate, fundamental, indeed, the seemingly only, axiom on which all may agree and which serve as the social cohesion amidst overwhelming diversity – I’m OK and You’re OK, just as long as Your OK doesn’t infringe on My OK.

This is the pluralistic message. It is guided by the employment of pragmatism, the view that nothing can be accomplished without compromise, that fundamental principles are amenable to revision in terms of the even greater goal of social harmony. The really important thing is that everybody get along, a state accomplished by the willingness of everybody not to be too insistent on individual beliefs.

The increasingly numerous supporters of this social philosophy are naive, however. They do not recognize that some visions of reality, civilization, justice, freedom and the future are fundamentally irreconcilable, mutually contradictory. Certain principles are great precisely because they are not subject to compromise. Pivotal events in the history of the United States highlight this inflexibility of great principles. In the Revolutionary Era the colonists were convinced compromise with the policy of taxation without representation was tantamount to complicity with tyranny, that, in the words of Jefferson, “[W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations … evinces a design to reduce [citizens] under absolute despotism despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government….” Jefferson justified this revolt by appeals to great principles, so-called “self-evident truths.”

Similarly, Abraham Lincoln was willing to spill the blood of a nation at the hands of its own citizens to preserve what he considered a fundamental principle, that the Declaration of Independence in principle secured the liberty of all humanity, not just white males. He was emphatically not motivated by the mentality so prominent today, which transported to and immersed in 1850 become; “It’s OK for Southerners to own slaves, just as long as they don’t try to force slavery in the free territories.” Indeed, just such thinking obtained in various antebellum compromises, all of which were miserable failures. It was because Lincoln repudiated the sort of thinking so prominent in our modern United States that slavery no longer exists here.

While many beliefs are discretionary and subject to compromise, others are held so tenaciously that compromise is virtually impossible. For example, the pro-abortion arrayed against the pro-life forces are locked into a fight to the death. The great guiding principle of the pro-abortion devotees is the right of a woman to “reproductive freedom.” to her body, to “her own choices that affect her life.” The undergirding principle of pro-life is the right of the fetus or unborn child to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These two visions are mutually exclusive and compromises between them like those between slavery and abolitionism preceding the Civil War are futile: no amount of regulation short of banning abortion is likely to appease those who believe abortion is murder. No amount of regulation is likely to appease those who believe abortion is murder. No extension of abortion rights to anything less than unrestrictive “reproductive freedom” will satisfy those who believe the lack of such freedom is a violation of a woman’s constitutional rights. The hostility at the doors of abortion clinics between pro-abortion and pro-life forces is simply the visual manifestation of the war between two rival thought systems.

This sort of worldview rivalry exists over the issues of environmentalism, homosexuality and multiculturalism. Supporters of the two sides of each of these views are combatants; they are not interested in a pragmatic solution to the rivalry because the very nature of their vision precludes the existence of the opposite vision. Each side, like Krushchev in his comment to the American press, is working for victory, like coexistence. Coexistence for the disciples of opposing visions is defeat.

The foundational meaning of commonwealth is a group of people united by common interests. Stable nations are designated commonwealths because they presuppose common interests, but when interests no longer are common, a commonwealth is no longer possible. Therefore, it is incumbent on the United States to address the issue of great fundamental principles if it is to survive as a vibrant republic. The solution is not to assume that all principles may be compromised or, more naively, that none have principles to compromise.

Our history reminds us that postponing or compromising decisions over fundamental principles is the supreme exercise of futility.


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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!

These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.

Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.

Watch these pro-life videos on-line.

“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California

“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.

Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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