There is a great concern in our nation that the rule of law is unraveling. As we watch the news each night, we begin to wonder where all of this is headed.
Is our country going to survive?
And of course the question we are all left with is, “How did we get here? What is the root problem?” The truthful answer to these questions might point us to a solution.
Recently I listened to a short video interview (which apparently has gone viral) with Clayton Christensen. He shares a wonderful insight into our current condition. It is very simple, but quite profound.
I do not know if you are familiar with Christensen, he was a Rhodes Scholar, and currently is a professor at Harvard Business School.
I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy
I am going to share with you the transcript of this brief interview. Please note that when the word “religion” is used, it is referring to the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which our country was founded.
“Some time ago I had a conversation with a Marxist economist from China. He was coming to the end of a Fulbright fellowship here in Boston, and I asked him if he’d learned anything that was surprising or unexpected. And without any hesitation he said, “Yeah, I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy. The reason why democracy works,” he said, “it is not because the government was designed to oversee what everybody does, but rather democracy works because most people most of the time voluntarily choose to obey the law. And in your past most Americans attended a church or synagogue every week and they were taught there by people who they respected.
“My friend went on to say that Americans followed these rules because they had come to believe that they were not just accountable to society, they were accountable to God.”
“My Chinese friend heightened a vague but nagging concern I’ve harbored inside. As religion loses its influence over the lives of Americans, what will happen to our democracy? Where are the institutions that are going to teach the next generation of Americans that they, too, need to voluntarily choose to obey the laws. Because if you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.”
Our view of God determines our World View
In Proverbs 9:10 we are told that our knowledge of God is where we get our understanding of life. Dr. Tim Keller says how we relate to God is the foundation of our thinking. It determines how we view the world and how we are to live in it.
The infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer explains how his godless view of life lead him down the path to murder. In an interview from prison on ABC News, Dahmer told Stone Phillips:
“I did not believe in God, therefore I did not believe in a judgement after death. I did not believe we were here for a purpose. It seemed to me we evolved from slime and when we die our particles return to slime. I have four score and ten to live on this earth, if I am lucky. Given that I wasn’t here for a purpose and I am going to die and that is the end of me, and there is no reason why I was here, I could not find any sufficient reason to deny the satisfaction of my desires. And as I tortured animals, and it got to a point that it no longer satisfied me, I decided at that point to torture human beings. And frankly, I could not think of a reason why I shouldn’t, given my view of reality.”
I am not saying all Godless people become evil killers, but look where Dahmer’s spiritual worldview lead him.
If there is no God and there is no purpose in life, then as the philosopher Albert Camus said “At the end of the day, it does not matter if you help an old lady across the street or run her down with your car. Because in the final analysis, all there is is atoms, molecules, and motion with no purpose. It doesn’t matter.”
Choosing to build communities and a better life
This is the bleak view of life that so many people possess and helps explain the lawlessness we see in our country today.
I am reminded by the Psalmist who declares that God is the fountain of life. He is the source of all truth and wisdom. He lays out the choice we have to make as we seek to live our lives and build our communities:
“I call to heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him: for this is your life…” Deuteronomy 30:19, 20