By Rev. N.P. Franklin
When I consider the things happening that grab our attention in the national political arena, the social and religious arenas, it causes me to reflect on the similarities of circumstances decades ago. I came of age in the 1960s.
The decade of the ‘60s was a tumultuous ten years wherein we rejected the portrait of life in America, shrouded in a veil of lies. We reckoned with truth, and strived for the soul of this nation. Violent protests were common, five leaders were assassinated, we were sensitized to injustice and conditioned to grief, but we were determined that truth would not be denied, we will know it.
We are a nation of Christians, a nation founded on biblical principles, the principles of truth and justice. We do not shun the truth; it is our foundation.
We trust God, it’s on our currency, “In God we trust.” We acknowledge His sovereign reign over the affairs of our country, it’s in our pledge of allegiances, “we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, one nation under God.”
The lyrics to one of the country’s most beloved songs, say “God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her.”
These beliefs are by implication, but in reality, we lack application.
We find ourselves, in this second decade of the twenty-first century, embroiled in ideological battles to determine who is the bearer of truth. But God does not leave us guessing, debating and deflecting when it comes to truth. “Truth,” Dr. Tony Evans says, is the absolute standard by which reality should be measured.”
Pontius Polite, Roman governor of Palestine, asked Jesus, “what is truth?” Pure truth stood before him, bruised and disfigured; he could not recognize it even if he had some inkling of what represented truth. Now, as it was then, truth is subjective.
There is conservative truth, liberal truth, social truths and religious truths. It’s all relative to your ideological platform. The soul of the nation hangs in the balance.
“Indeed, our survival and liberation depend upon our recognition of truth when it is spoken and lived by the people. If we cannot recognize the truth, then it cannot liberate us from untruth,” said James H. Cone, African-American theologian. “To know the truth is to appropriate it, for it is not mainly reflection and theory. Truth is divine action entering our lives and creating the human action of liberation.”
We cannot separate our Christian ethics extolled on Sundays from our professional lives, our political practices or social activism. Christians are to be concerned about the truth; our lives, our values, our moral standards are the application of principles derived from the Bible, the book of truth. In John 17:14, Jesus said, “sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.”
That which we do in public arenas, whether political, religious or social, is a demonstration of the theology we embrace and the ideology we pursue. Ideologies are the content of our thinking by which we frame our social, political and religious perspectives. Theology is the study of God and of His relation to the world. Our knowledge of God and the understanding of His interactivity with His creation frames the manner of our practices and interactions with each other, and most importantly, how we process truth.
We now have a fusion of theology and ideology, the line between conservative theology and conservative politics is blurred; conservative Christianity has blended with Christian nationalism; liberal theology and liberal Christianity has become social activism, embracing all things under the guise of love for all. Both need to be channeled through what the Word of Truth presents. We are not able to receive truth unless it fits into our narrowly defined ‘ologies.’ This is never more evident than today.
We are a nation of Christians, a nation governed by Christian men and women who should employ the principles and ethics of their belief system in the performance of their duties for the public. But what is demonstrated by our political leaders fits the conclusion of Cone, who noted to African-American theologians of our time, that “theology in America is largely an intellectual game unrelated to the issues of life and death.”
That would explain how the pursuit of the truth by the Jan 6. Committee could be labeled a “Democratic ploy to divide the country” by conservative Republicans and citizens of like mindedness. That would explain how a congressman from Georgia could state that what he saw as he looked at the video footage of the insurrection, was tourist taking an orderly stroll through the Capitol rotunda.
He said this without a frown, quirk or remorse.
What’s going on? We know that gas prices are very high, that truth is self-evident. As Christians, we want to know the truth about the assault on our democracy, about the attempt to disrupt the peaceful transition of power from the outgoing administration to the incoming administration.
This peaceful transition of power has been the hallmark of our democratic experiment of self-government. A nation of Christian leaders who respect truth more than allegiance to a particular ideology.
Rev. Norman Franklin is a freelance writer based in Somerset, K.Y. He is a contributing community columnist to several Black publications. Franklin is an ordained minister of 17 years and he focuses on the teaching of Bible principles.
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