Stop dog whistling our fallen angels before its too late
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861
The appeal by President Lincoln to our better angels during an era of political strife was commendable. Certainly, our shared human hopes and aspirations would outweigh our divided anger – over slavery! Lincoln meant well. Tragically, good intentions do not guarantee good outcomes. He, as many others from the 18th century onward, have misdiagnosed the nature of man. All men are born depraved, spiritually dead and without a desire to seek the true God. A more honest and Biblical view of man’s nature is one more closely identified with fallen angels than better angels.
Lincoln’s optimism that man’s good nature would prevent the unraveling of the union failed. If truly better angels of the human soul were present, how did basically good people justify slavery, brutality, and the idolatry of exalting one image of God over another by the means of racism. Furthermore, if these better angels would not capitulate on the issue of slavery, undoubtedly they would not back down on their efforts to secede from the union. Fallen angels never leave without kicking and screaming. The Civil War had to ensue.
Today, our political speech has stirred up left wing mobs that harass and threaten lawmakers and assault conservative citizens. Equally, far right supremacist groups are emboldened to hold rallies, marches and organize domestic terrorist plots. Today, Oct 24, 2018, suspicious packages carrying pipe bombs were sent to high profile democratic political figures, CNN – a liberal leaning news organization, and George Soros – a leftist billionaire that underwrites many radical causes and organizations.
Far from the spirit and posture of Lincoln, our current political leaders unapologetically appeal to man’s fear, uncertainty, and frustration. It is pragmatic to leverage the unbridled passions of sin within humanity to gain cheap political points or the more treasured political seats.
The appeal to better angels by Lincoln could not prevent the Civil War. The dog whistling to our fallen angels to wage a war on civility will produce increasing confrontation. Political struggles once fought in debate and decided in booths will give rise to violence to silence opponents. Did I mention fallen angels never go quietly – on either side?
This is uncharted territory for our republic. Of course, division and differences have always been part of our national makeup. Yet, without incident, there has been peaceful transfers of power. However, we have not experienced this as a post-Christian nation. In other words, most people have rejected the objective moral code of scripture, and therefore, are more resistant to the restraining power of the Holy Spirit. Common grace is diminishing, and a new world of self-autonomy and collective hypnosis is forming.
If a Civil War was inevitable despite the appeal to non-existent better angels living in a Bible literate society. Much more so, an appeal to the fallen angels of man living in a post-Christian society will test the civil fabric of our nation.
Do you think this sounds implausible, then like many other evangelicals, you might have a higher view of man than what is described in the Bible? In the recent 2018 State of Theology survey, 72% of Evangelicals believe mankind is born basically good. That is humanism not Christianity. Secondly, the absence of church influence in a secular culture has not ended the culture war but according to The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart is “making American politics even more convulsive and zero-sum.” Secularism has not made our culture more tolerant but has made the “partisan clashes more brutal.”
Once again, the gospel is the answer to the escalating tensions in our nation. Regeneration through Christ is the hope of the world. The Church must intercede, so God in His mercy will intervene.