Ideas Have Consequences … A Columbus Day Reflection

Per the subtitle of this blog, we believe that truth has the power to transform culture.

That’s why, a few weeks ago, we highlighted Dr. Marvin Olasky’s challenging piece Darwin Matters: The Influence of Evolutionary Thinking Far Beyond Biology. This week we want to point to something from Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint: Ideas Do Matter.

The theme of the Breakpoint piece underscores one of the points that I am making in my new book (now at the publisher with the working title The Freedom Narrative: A Kingdom Response to Anarchy and Tyranny).

The War from the East – Jihad and the War in the West are not so much about bombs and bullets – though that is what gets our attention. These wars are wars of ideas.  The following excerpt from my upcoming book comprises some further elaboration.

In 2004 the draft of the European Constitution was completed. Conspicuously missing was any reference to the role of Christianity in laying the historic foundation of European civilization. When a people sever themselves from their roots, whether by neglect or choice, that people and their culture dies. As I write, we are witnessing the cultural suicide of Europe, and approaching a tipping point that will determine whether the United States will survive as a nation of freedom.

 As an American citizen who loves the freedom and wonder derived from Judeo-Christian principles, and as a resident of our global community, my heart is broken to see nations dying, moving toward disorder, and languishing in poverty.

For nations to flourish, they must be bound within the framework of God’s created order. To be so permeated and transformed by this order, a nation’s people must be wise. Her people must be students of God’s self-revelation both through creation and his word. They must understand the first principles that will nourish a nation’s soul and enable it to flourish.

On a recent trip to Asia, I read The American Cause by American historian and social critic Russell Kirk. In the editor’s introduction, Gleaves Whitney tells a story that motivated Kirk to write his book. The story took place in the early 1950s during the Korean War. The chief of intelligence of the Chinese People’s Voluntary Army based in North Korea was reflecting on how little American prisoners of war knew of the founding impulses that shaped their nations freedom. This intelligence officer wrote to his commander in Beijing of the American POWS: “There is little knowledge or understanding, even among United States university graduates, of American political history and philosophy; of federal, state, and community organizations; of state rights and civil rights; of safeguards to freedom; and of how these things supposedly operate within [their] own system.”[1]

Sadly, more than sixty years since these words were penned, things have not improved. Rather, they have deteriorated. As the fortieth president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.”[2]

If the United States and Europe are to remain free, we need to reflect on the gospel roots of our Western civilization. Those living in countries struggling with poverty, corruption, and enslavement need to understand that the foundation of free and just societies is found in the Great Commission. We need to be people who think from biblical paradigm and principle.

Russell Kirk notes that Greece died because her people refused to think: “Demosthenes, the great Athenian patriot, cried out to his countrymen when they seemed too confused and divided to stand against the tyranny of Macedonia; ‘In God’s name, I beg of you to think.’ For a long while, most Athenians ridiculed Demosthenes’ entreaty. . . . Only at the eleventh hour did the Athenians perceive the truth of his exhortations. And that eleventh hour was too late. So it may be with Americans today. If we are too indolent to think, we might as well surrender to our enemies tomorrow.[3]

In the West, Christians and non-Christians alike have not thought seriously about the foundations of the Western order and thus have unknowingly acted to sever our nations from their roots. We must wake up before it is too late.

 - Darrow Miller


[1] Russell Kirk, The American Cause (Wilmington, Del.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2002), x.

[2] Ronald Reagan, “Inaugural Address, January 5, 1967,” Text of Speeches and Statements by Ronald Reagan, 33rd Governor of California, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

[3] Kirk, The American Cause, 4; emphasis added.

  
This entry was posted in Culture, Current events, ETW, Freedom, History, Worldview and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ideas Have Consequences … A Columbus Day Reflection

  1. Pingback: The Protestant WORD Ethic? | Darrow Miller & Friends

  2. Pingback: Breakpoint Interviews Darrow Miller | Darrow Miller and Friends

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>