By Jeff Ziegler
Published November 1, 1999
Leadership is a quality much admired and much discussed in political ranks. It is also a quality quite lacking, especially in American politics. In training leaders, the cultivation of vision, the courage to act upon the vision, and the character to maintain the vision, are all essential elements for effective statesmanship. This requires reading; and not just trendy periodicals or opinion polls! Rather, the reading of the best works of theology, philosophy, history, and that most neglected of documents, the Federal Constitution.
There is no easy way to obtain vision and understanding. In order to see, you must have knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to the world in which you live. This is the process of thinking! In a political context, a biblical social theory must be revived, if Americans hope to have a new generation of righteous, enlightened, and dynamic leaders.
Courage without knowledge is the realm of fools! You may have great ambition and unquenchable zeal, but without the knowledge and political vision of John Knox or our Puritan forebearers, together with the example of their applications of the same, the only long term Christian hope in political life will be utter defeat—though you may look quite valiant in the fall! You see, the liberals have a working political social theory. It is messianic statism with a full orbed application to every part of culture. Until Christians develop a sound antithesis that is a bit more sophisticated than Rush Limbaugh, all the courage and savvy in the world will be of little use. After all, you can’t beat something with nothing! He who reads, leads!
Character is evidenced in the deportment and stature of the statesman. A true leader is able to command the field, more by what he is, than what he says. Character development is impossible without knowledge and the self-mastery needed to act upon that knowledge. Character is not built through confession anymore than standing in a garage makes one an automobile. The assails of life, the challenges of life, the purging of the soul through trial, temptation, and conflict, all these take our measure and cause our growth. Therefore, how will you answer political challenges that demean the spirit and intent of our forebearers? What will you do when your moral fiber is tested? How will you understand and react to the temptation of avarice? How will you defeat an adversary who is stronger and smarter than yourself? What reservoir will you draw upon? Perhaps your winsome smile and dynamic charm won’t be enough! “My people [God’s elect, mind you] are destroyed for lack of knowledge….” (Hosea 4:6).
He who reads, leads! Think you know it all? Whether it is theology, political science, economics, literature, philosophy, history, science, engineering, or for that matter, personal sanctification, do you think there might be some room for improvement? Or do you think you can defeat the Bill Clintons of this world with a single press release? Like it or not, Bill Clinton, the man we love to hate, reads on average, two books per week. Mind you, I’m not talking about Reader’s Digest here. No, “Billy” has immersed himself in law, history, and yes, believe it or not, theology! Oh, have you noticed? He happens to be president of The United States!
Many of us call ourselves reconstructionists. Unfortunately, I’ve observed quite a few “dust cover theologians” in our midst. Reading the back cover of major theological works simply won’t carry the day in the real world. How many of you have actually read the works of Cornelius Van Til? His philosophical pinions are the basis of a mature expression of a Knoxian social theory. Hence, can any real Christian statesman afford not to read Van Til? R. J. Rushdoony has many critics both within Reformed ranks and without. But how many of you have actually studied his foundational works? If you have not, why not? Bill Moyers, former press secretary for President Lyndon Johnson and radical liberal PBS commentator, has read all of both Van Til’s and Rushdoony’s larger works. Why? In order to defeat the very movement we are supposed to represent! Are you ready to debate Bill Moyers? If you are not, why not?
What about our children and the young people within our churches? Do they know the difference between the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes and Ludwig Von Mises? Have they read the Communist Manifesto? Have they ever heard of the “New Deal” or “The Great Society?” Do they know what the “Cold War” was all about? What was Luther doing nailing things to church doors anyway? How did Cromwell’s political views evolve? No, these are not questions for the intellectual “elite” and in fact, are basic ideas, that even marvelously mediocre students should know.
Explicitly Christian political leadership cannot be formed in a vacuum. Unless you read of great leaders and their principles of leadership, you will be defeated by those who have read and are implementing the same. Unless you read and understand theology, you will remain helpless to evil’s whim both from within and without. Unless you read, someone else will lead!
Jeffrey Ziegler is the new president of the National Reform Association. He is founder and president of Christian Endeavors and Reformation Bible Institute, moderator of the Association of Free Reformed Churches and the Ohio Reconstructionist Society, president of The Continental Group, a think tank for political activism, and an ordained minister who has lectured in over 600 churches and ministerial conferences. He can be reached at 35155 Beachpark Dr., Eastlake Ohio 44095, or email@example.com.
Your comments are welcome!
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.)
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
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)