Several weeks ago I attended an event in Castle Rock, CO, which was entitled “Revive 1787.” It was a conservative sort of event, with the sort of things much beloved by Tea Party types. Given the name, I went, expecting that I would find some serious discussion of the Founding, the Constitution, it’s significance, it’s meaning and perhaps a refutation of the Progressive narrative which has largely replaced our own. What I found was something which resembled a religious revival more than a political event.
The first speakers were a trio of speakers, Rev. C.L. Bryant, a Baptist minster, Father Kemberling, a Catholic, and Rev. Walker, an Anglican. These men had some insightful remarks upon the state of faith today, though it was not investigated in any depth, though this may be due to the difference in faiths. Some of their comments were a bit muddled, as they had not thought sufficiently upon what they had to say. Bryant had perhaps the finest comment. He commented that when he began to embrace Black ideology in the 60s, his WWII veteran father said to him, “I fought so you could be free, not so you could be black.”
The second trio were a group of academics. Dr. Mike Adams, Dr. Frank Turek and Dr. Dix Winston III. These men discussed some of the problems of the academy, such as how many students accept the humanitarian theory of mankind, which then works its way out through a subtle shift in views. This acceptance of a seemingly minor point, according to Adams, was the reason why many Christian students return from college having adopted the Progressive worldview. In their question and answer session I was able to put a couple of questions to Dr. Adams, which he was good enough to answer. So far so good.
The main event in the evening was the most troublesome. The speakers were decent, leading to Dr. Ben Carson as their main event. They had a Vietnam vet who spoke on the sacrifice of military men, of which he knew much, having lost half of his face and hand to a grenade.
Dr. Carson spoke well. I never beheld such calm in a speaker, especially not at a political event. He was measured and audible, what he had to say made sense. I admit to a bit of disappointment at Carson. He spoke of his life, which I had already read in his memoir Gifted Hands. His prescriptions on steps to take towards advancing America to being great again were sensible. He called for a greater emphasis on practical education, technical knowledge, a love of country and an attitude which seeks to engage the world as God intended, rather than to simply complain how life is not as it ought to be. So much for the speakers.
What was most disturbing was the overall atmosphere and the attitude of those involved. I came across a great deal of dislike for President Obama, a great deal of contempt for him. Thankfully there was nothing of conspiratorial notions among the speakers or audience. Most troubling was the lack of depth. I had hoped to find some serious discussion by serious men of serious things. What I saw was a great deal of political revivalism, making it feel like a Charismatic event. Such attitudes are understandable at a rally for a politician but hardly seems appropriate for an event named “Revive 1787.” The Founders were serious men who did not trust to democracy, or to ‘the people’ the power of governance of affairs.
The event treated America as if she were a Chosen People, and she is not. The Hand of Providence may be seen in our history, but it is foolish to expect that the Divine Hand may not be removed from a thing which was once its instrument. Did not God use Nebuchadnezzer and Cyrus? Outside of Scripture we may ask as well, did not God use Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Edwards, Washington, Adams and Jefferson? I think He did, for He works all things to His purpose by means of Providence. But to treat the Founders as if they were divinely inspired is questionable at best.
America has been used of God, of that I have no doubt, but she is not the Chosen People. We are not Israel, though Israel may dwell among us. Our circumstances may be seen as the Divine Judgement, the loss of the blessing we had in former times. And all this is to the good, if it drives America to her knees in repentance to the King. What is needed most in these times is, first and foremost, a period of prayer and repentance to God, for America has gone astray and the churches in her midst have stayed silent in the face of evil, while the Church has fastened itself upon such foolishness as Charismatic revivalism, ‘moves of the Spirit’ and the love of money, large buildings and vast congregations. We have God in whom our money says ‘we trust.’
America imagines herself in two ways, which are outgrowths of the growing partisan split in our political life. The most prominent one is the narrative of the political Left, one in which the Left is the eternal hero, like St. George of old, and America is eternally guilty of crimes against different forms of ‘the Other’ which must be remedied by Leftist nostrums of social justice and redistribution of wealth. The second is the one held by the political Right, by conservatives of various strands and by most libertarians. In this narrative, America is largely a force for good in the world, our Founders were great men, our nation has made many foolish choices but still stands for something noble, the ideal of liberty. Neither of these is wholly true, but that is not important. What is vital is that America imagines herself to be one of two extremes, either great evil or great good. Of these, the latter was most on display at the ‘Revive’ event.
I saw men treat the Founding as if they had done it, as if they had put pen to a paper pledging, ‘our lives, our fortunes, and sacred honour,’ to defend their rights. I have heard men speak as if present day figures are the equals of Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Lincoln, and we are not. We are not the equal of these figures, we have forgotten this. Our nation has sunk, morally and spiritually, far below the point these men could ever have imagined.
A nation, a people, who have sunk so far that evil men may take office, vileness is broadcast in public and may be bought at gas stations is not a nation that can claim the blessings of God. What I have never heard, but what must be heard, is a call for repentance. God alone is capable of healing America, but will He? We know from Scripture, that if God punishes a nation and that nation repents, He will relent. But I do not hear this spoken of. The Church in America is spiritually dead, besotted with the nostrums of liberalism, inter-faith acceptance and consumed by social justice issues. The invisible church in America has fared no better, assaulted as she is by mysticism and the ‘rulers of the darkness of the age’ of which Paul warned us. Let us seek the face of God, repent before Him with tears and weeping, and perhaps we may yet be healed.