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.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Reformation
Your comments are welcome!
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion
This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.
Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.
“… an extraordinary statement … a powerfully articulate presentation about what abortion really means, and why a great and moral nation like the United States must not allow the slaughter to continue.”
— Congressman Robert K. Dornan
Running time: 85 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
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.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“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.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)