Will the New Year Bring Anything New?
Dec 23, 2020 by David Fowler
As I head into the new year, a friend’s response to one of my recent post-election commentaries weighs on me. My friend asked, “David, is the republic lost? What can we do?” Sentiments like this have been expressed to me before, but I sense it is more widespread than ever and the earnestness by which it is expressed is greater. After the year we have all had, I think the start of a new year calls for an answer to these questions. If we can’t or won’t answer them, there may not be much that will be “new” in 2021.
What Is Required if the Question Is to be Answered?
The answer, of course, requires a right diagnosis of the situation. A superficial survey of various conditions existing in society will not suffice. In this, I am reminded of what Abraham Kuyper, theologian and former prime minister of the Netherlands, once said, “[D]eterioration so widespread suggests the presence of a general cause and this cause must be sought in the ideas which have predominated” our thinking.
In other words, can we find a root cause from which we could say that all the various conditions of the last year (or so) spring? If we can, then the proverbial axe must be laid at its root, otherwise, the projectory that prompted my friend’s concern about the republic’s duration will not change, even if there are periodic, momentary disruptions in that projectory. If the root is not attacked, then the new year will not even birth, let alone bring, anything new or different from what we are now experiencing.
What the Question Presumes
However, what I just wrote proceeds on the assumption that the republic is worth saving. It presumes that there is nothing better than the form of republic we have known.
Whether it is worth saving and why must be addressed, because many in our society think it is not. They think the root from which our current social structure has grown is bad, and, to their way of thinking, thatis what has brought the conduct that those on the “other side,” like my friend, think is bad and destructive of our republic.
The question also assumes that either saving the republic or replacing it is worth the effort. If some Christians are to be true to their core theological beliefs about God, the scope of salvation, the Kingdom of God, and, in particular, their eschatology (beliefs about last things or end times, the consummation of history), then the answer would be no. I know some would say, “Duty is ours and results are God’s,” and, therefore, we should do what we can to save the republic. But the counter to that Christianized form of stoicism is what evangelist D.L. Moody reportedly said, “You don’t polish the brass on a sinking ship.”
What Are the Answers to These Questions?
Some would say there are no answers. For example, the pragmatist would say you simply do what works in the moment or what seems for the moment to accomplish the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Sounds good, but somebody or group of somebodies has to first define what the “good” really is.
But I believe there are answers, and I really don’t believe they are that complicated.
However, an appreciation of those answers requires more words than can fit into one of my even more extended commentaries. So, if you want to know more, let me invite you to join me for a new series on our weekly podcast, God, Law, and Liberty, that I have entitled simply “Hope and Purpose.”
Check out this short video about the podcast, and I hope you will tune in to each week’s episode. Look for the first episode in Five Minutes for Family next Friday and on our Facebook page the following Monday.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006.