Ramon Arias | August 4, 2015
What do you consider is America’s greatest problem? Some will find it hard to single out the main difficulty facing our nation. It is undeniable that the list of problems that plague this country is a long one. For most people in the world there is the logical answer of opposites. The opposite of bitter is sweet, of cold it’s hot, of evil it’s good, of true it’s false, of war it’s peace, of sickness it’s good health, of darkness it’s light and so forth. It sounds simple and logical, yet the nations find themselves following the same ancestral steps of chaos. Why is that, and why is it so difficult to bring order?
Let us consider morality. When it comes to defining what is the best form of morality for society we get into the predicament of wondering whose morality is the right one and how or who determines morality. The recent videos that are exposing doctors and executives from Planned Parenthood, which is the largest killing industry of unborn children, where they are discussing the sale of baby parts has horrified the public. This has shocked even some pro-abortionists. It really is repugnant, but what can we expect of a society that has morally derailed and embraced a culture of barbarism? Someone’s version of morality has determined that baby’s in the mother’s womb have no value and can be killed by the most gruesome methods with the mother’s or both parents’ approval. In America alone close to sixty million babies have been slaughtered. Most people’s moralities are outraged by the killing of a lion and have threatened the hunter who shot it with death, even though he allegedly paid and acquired all the required permits in the African nation where he was legally hunting. The majority of Americans have a profound crisis in understanding what is the right morality.
America’s morality is no longer the one brought by the Forefathers and this is rapidly plunging it into a greater abyss of cultural darkness. A little over a hundred years ago, at the beginning of the 20th century the nation was confronting moral decay; they would be shocked to know that their unwillingness to halt immorality gave way to a legacy that has produced an unrecognizable nation in the 21st century for generations to come.
President Theodore Roosevelt, at an event on April 14,1906 addressed the audience at an event for the laying of the cornerstone for the House Office Building (the Cannon House Office Building), and spoke of the evil of the times that was overpowering the culture of America.
Even though Theodore Roosevelt professed to be a Christian and a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, he was also involved with the denomination of his wife in the Episcopalian Church, but he lacked the biblical worldview that shaped past generations. Nonetheless, he was fully aware that the nation was going in the wrong direction.
In that speech, he tackled the problem head on, even though he was addressing the journalists’ responsibility to be truthful and abide by God’s morals for living, it also applies to all professing Christians. Let us review portions of his message with my brief comments hoping and praying that it will open our eyes to America’s present reality.
In his opening remarks, he acknowledges the material problems George Washington’s presidency experienced which were different from T. Roosevelt’s. When it came down to human behavior they were the same, in other words, not much progress was accomplished due to the tendencies of people to embrace evil.
Theodore Roosevelt declared:
“Over a century ago Washington laid the corner stone of the Capitol… The material problems that face us to-day are not such as they were in Washington’s time, but the underlying facts of human nature are the same now as they were then. Under altered external form we war with the same tendencies toward evil that were evident in Washington’s time, and are helped by the same tendencies for good. It is about some of these that I wish to say a word to-day.”
Roosevelt made reference to the allegories found in the world famous Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan to point out how most people prefer the filth of life instead of God’s ethical blessings in all areas. He stated:
“In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress you may recall the description of the Man with the Muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward, with the muck-rake in his hand; who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.”
Roosevelt directly attacked people’s obsession of choosing the destructive sinful, carnal life instead of the richness of a transformed life that begins with the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He admonishes against ignoring what is vile and debasing. He reprimands those who choose to remain silent or think they can be neutral; when in reality they are endorsing evil. Roosevelt continues:
“In Pilgrim’s Progress the Man with the Muck-rake is set forth as the example of him whose vision is fixed on carnal instead of on spiritual things. Yet he also typifies the man who in this life consistently refuses to see aught that is lofty, and fixes his eyes with solemn intentness only on that which is vile and debasing. Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck-rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed. But the man who never does anything else, who never thinks or speaks or writes, save of his feats with the muck-rake, speedily becomes, not a help to society, not an incitement to good, but one of the most potent forces for evil.”
He not only acknowledged the overwhelming and severe evils they were confronting but also speaks on how to war against them with urgency and firm resolution. No one was to be given a pass; rather those who understood the times were to shine the light by exposing every evil man in all areas of society and its institutions. Praise was given to benefactors who used the social media and the spoken and written word to mercilessly attack as long as they did it based upon absolute truth and facts. When individuals are attacked with exaggeration, the honesty and character of individuals are greatly harmed. Even so, there are those who rejoice when the evildoers excoriate decent people. Roosevelt adds:
“There are, in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave evils, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil man whether politician or business man, every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform, or in book, magazine, or newspaper, with merciless severity makes such attack, provided always that he in his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful. The liar is no whit better than the thief, and if his mendacity takes the form of slander, he may be worse than most thieves. It puts a premium upon knavery untruthfully to attack an honest man, or even with hysterical exaggeration to assail a bad man with untruth. An epidemic of indiscriminate assault upon character does not good, but very great harm. The soul of every scoundrel is gladdened whenever an honest man is assailed, or even when a scoundrel is untruthfully assailed….”
Undeniably, righteousness exalts a nation and unrighteousness is a reproach to all nations. Roosevelt called upon men of righteousness to be calm but also courageous and with boldness gain knowledge from God’s revealed truth to attack all the evils of their time. No journalist should betray the original intent of America’s foundation, which is Jesus Christ the Cornerstone and God’s revealed truth; the same applies to every Christian and decent American. Man, who is at war against the God of the Bible, always looks for ways to lure and dupe others who oppose them. They can only succeed if God’s people are neophytes lacking understanding of God’s full counsel as it applies to life and culture. He goes on to say:
“…Hysterical sensationalism is the very poorest weapon wherewith to fight for lasting righteousness. The men who with stern sobriety and truth assail the many evils of our time, whether in the public press or in magazines, or in books, are the leaders and allies of all engaged in the work for social and political betterment. But if they give good reason for distrust of what they say, if they chill the ardor of those who demand truth as a primary virtue, they thereby betray the good cause, and play into the hands of the very men against whom they are nominally at war….”
He was right; preaching or teaching is not limited to those who proclaim the word of God but also to those who advocate any course of action. Preachers or teachers of unrest and discontent are those who have a distorted worldview and far from solving social evils make them even worse as they convince others to follow them; Jesus called them blind leading the blind into the ditch of destruction. He further states:
“On the other hand, the wild preachers of unrest and discontent, the wild agitators against the entire existing order, the men who act crookedly, whether because of sinister design or from mere puzzle-headedness, the men who preach destruction without proposing any substitute for what they intend to destroy, or who propose a substitute which would be far worse than the existing evils–all these men are the most dangerous opponents of real reform. If they get their way they will lead the people into a deeper pit than any into which they could fall under the present system. If they fail to get their way they will still do incalculable harm by provoking the kind of reaction which, in its revolt against the senseless evil of their teaching, would enthrone more securely than ever the very evils which their misguided followers believe they are attacking….”
Teddy was one hundred percent accurate by stating that Americans must strive to gain all the knowledge, understanding and wisdom from God’s revealed truth, which is guided by the Holy Spirit spiritually and ethically, if clean living and right-thinking is to be achieved for generations to come. Having this as the primary goal all other moral benefits in this life will be the outcome. This is what Jesus meant by seeking first the Kingdom [character] of God and His righteousness. There is no other choice for America or any other nation and history is going to prove this to be true. We are eternal human beings with a mortal physical body that must be shed at some point. Upon departing this life there are only two destinations: heaven or hell. We choose where we want to spend eternity by the way we embraced life here on earth, either in obedience or disobedience to God’s Commands. Roosevelt concludes:
“Materially we must strive to secure a broader economic opportunity for all men, so that each shall have a better chance to show the stuff of which he is made. Spiritually and ethically we must strive to bring about clean living and right thinking. We appreciate that the things of the body are important; but we appreciate also that the things of the soul are immeasurably more important. The foundation stone of national life is, and ever must be, the high individual character of the average citizen.”
T. Roosevelt was not only encouraging journalists but also Christians to shed light in the midst of the cultural darkness that the nation was submerged into a hundred years ago. If you want to read his full message go here.
I am not blinded to the realities of Teddy Roosevelt’s passion and commitment of finding nonexistent powers in the Constitution to expand the federal government over business and war and other common flaws of the executive office. He had a strong passion to make America great, but did not follow the original intent of not entangling in the affairs of other nations, except for moral commerce. He also bypassed the best culture that would have helped nations overcome the culture of corruption by teaching and discipling the nations with the statutes of the Kingdom of God. By ignoring this reality he opened the floodgates for future administrations that followed after him not only to abuse political power but in distancing themselves from the accountability to God’s ethics and law as applied to civil government and all other areas of life.
Why then is it important to quote Roosevelt’s speech of 1906? It is important for us to assess what transpired morally and culturally in the 20th century in this nation and also how historically it is now known to have been the bloodiest of all centuries. Filled with wars, two world wars, revolutions and a race to accumulate devastating nuclear weapons, which in case of a third world war it promises to be something that the human race has never witnessed.
For the most part, American Christians of the early 20th century were more concerned about material gain and the pursuit of immoral pleasures that decade after decade they created a culture like something out of Dante’s Inferno. So far, in the 21st century, the overwhelming cultural darkness has not receded.
Two thousand years ago the nation of Israel rejected Jesus Christ, the cornerstone foundation (Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11) and in the year 70 A.D. the Temple in Jerusalem and Israel were destroyed.
What does the future of America a hundred years from now look like? The answer depends upon Christian America; if it embraces the full counsel of God as revealed in His Word and builds upon Jesus Christ the cornerstone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; if they rely upon this solid rock they will never retreat in panic but will burst forth with God’s light shattering darkness in all areas of life.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12
“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” John 12:36
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16