The Crucial Connection - The Dismal Disconnection
During a presidential election year, as well as a time when the nation mourns the loss of one of its greatest Supreme Court jurists, private citizens and public servants alike need reminded, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, that it is “not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers …[that] the liberties of this country [will] be preserved” (Ostergard, The Inspired Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln 122). The most important connection that civilization has to safeguard its liberties, moral stability, and prosperity is a deep awareness of the Divine in the minds and lives of the people. The importance of the nation’s faith in God is implied no less than four times in the Declaration of Independence. One of those instances is extremely timely as we realize the loss of a judicial giant, Justice Antonin Scalia. The Declaration says, “We…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude [moral integrity] of our intentions…solemnly publish and declare…” (emp. added).
For America, as well as for all the Western world, the most crucial connection historically is Jesus of Nazareth. Yale Professor Pelikan, in his book Jesus through the Centuries, called Jesus of Nazareth “the dominant figure in the history of Western culture” (1). The events of Jesus’ life have been seen as “the turning point of history” (30). He further observed that Francis Bacon, credited with the formulation of the scientific method, was also the one who coined the word crucial from crux Christi—“the cross of Christ.” Indeed, history is His-story.
The biblical writings have been described as having “exercised an unparalleled influence upon western culture” (Great Books, Syntopicon 2.589). This influence is especially transmitted through the New Testament which was called by the English novelist Charles Dickens the best book that ever was or will be known in the world. William Lyon Phelps, who held a prestigious chair as a professor of English literature for more than 30 years at Yale, delivered a series of lectures at Princeton which were published as a book titled Reading the Bible. In a brief but masterful style, the book addresses the eminence of Jesus. Phelps wrote: “The supreme illustration is our Lord, whose brief addresses and intimate conversations have changed the history of the world” (59).
Through his philosophy of agnosticism, Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899), an American lawyer, attacked Christianity with the goal of disconnecting culture from the Divine. He said: “We are laying the foundations of the grand temple of the future…wherein…will be celebrated the religion of Humanity…We are looking for the time when…REASON, throned upon the world’s brain, shall be the King of Kings, and God of Gods” (The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll 1. 89-90). However, in Ingersoll himself one is able to see the dismal results of Godless and Christless thinking. The funeral for Ingersoll’s brother, U.S. Congressman Ebon C. Ingersoll, was in Washington, D.C. on May 31, 1879. The hollow nature of a humanistic philosophy and the limited strength of every mere human leader are evident in a report concerning the funeral of this political leader. The National Republican, June 3, 1879, described the funeral ceremony thusly:
The funeral of the Hon. E. C. Ingersoll…from his late residence, 1403 K Street…was the largest gathering of distinguished persons [Representative James A. Garfield was one of the pall-bearers along with several other Senators and Representatives] assembled at a funeral since that of chief Justice Chase…The only ceremony at the house, other than the viewing of the remains, was a most affecting, pathetic, and touching address by Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, brother of the deceased…When he began to read his eloquent characterization of the dead man his eyes at once filled with tears. He tried to hide them, but he could not do it, and finally he bowed his head upon the dead man’s coffin in uncontrollable grief. It was only after some delay, and the greatest efforts of self-mastery, that Colonel Ingersoll was able to finish reading his address. When he had ceased speaking, the members of the bereaved family approached the casket and looked upon the form which it contained, for the last time. The scene was heartrending…(qtd. in Ingersoll 12. 389)
That which was described as “a most affecting, pathetic, and touching address” included the following statements from the famous agnostic who paid tribute to his brother but, in so doing, implied the tragic failure of any system of unbelief whether atheism, agnosticism, moral relativism, et al. He said: “…[W]hether in mid-sea or ‘mong the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end of each and all. And every life…will, at its close, become a tragedy as sad and deep and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death …Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing…” (390-91).
Before our eyes today, we see the rotten fruit of a culture that to a large degree has removed God from mind and life. It has largely lost connection with the dominant figure in its history—Jesus of Nazareth. The only star that provides hope in the night of death is the Bright Morning Star—Jesus of Nazareth. The only rock on the shores of time that will forever stand is the Rock of Ages—Jesus the Christ. Liberty, morality, and prosperity will only remain through a rational connection to Christian Theism. This proposition is at the heart of the purpose of Warren Apologetics Center. How could anything be more relevant for such a time as this? We plead for your support before it is too late.
Charles C. Pugh III