God in the Closet

  Imagine this scene: A conference room at a major publishing company, where the author of a new civics textbook is having a tense meeting with his editor. "There's a problem with your explanation of the Declaration of Independence," the editor says. "Where it says men are 'endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights' you say it means that rights are given to people by God. We can't say 'God,' so that has to come out. Another thing. In the chapter on the Civil Rights movement, it's okay to mention that Martin Luther King was influenced by the Hindu sage Mohandas Gandhi, but you also say he was influenced by Jesus. That has to come out too." Did you think Americans have free speech? Well, it's true that we aren't burdened by official government censorship, but that's not the whole story. According to University of Texas Professor Jay Budziszewski, author of a great new book, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man, Christians face unofficial pressure to conceal the implications of biblical faith for every sphere of life. The shapers of opinion react with amazing hostility to the mere mention of God. I have discovered this myself, time and time again in media interviews over the past 25 years. People simply recoil at the mention of the name of Jesus. The story about the textbook author is true, and Budziszewski tells a similar story about himself. When he was a new scholar—and incidentally a new Christian—a reviewer recommended against publishing one of his early books, just because he was rash enough to write in it that what we believe about God makes a difference to how we should live. Ironically, the reviewer liked the book a great deal. But he said, "God does not belong in political theory," and went on to blame the author for the massacre of the Huguenots in 1572—something that happened 380 years before Jay was even born. What can explain such irrational hostility to the expression of biblical truth? Why do the custodians of culture react with such disapproval to the mere mention of God? Budziszewski's answer is that they are caught up in "the Fall of Man," the age-old rebellion of the human race against its Creator. You see, the Fall means more than just doing wrong—what we commonly think. We humans have a practical, an intellectual, and a strategic problem—we do wrong, we think wrong, and our efforts to deal with wrong are themselves corrupted by wrong. The worst comes when we refuse to admit our sin-sickness, because then we cannot bear even the mention of the God whom we have rejected. Because we deny our disease, we refuse its only cure. It's vital that we understand the root cause of modern man's hostility to God if we're ever going to counter it effectively in the culture. If you want to cut through the denial of God in contemporary culture, there is no better place to start than Budziszewski's book, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man. During the next several days I will be talking about his analysis of conscience, its denials, and its self-deceptions. I'll show you how to deal better with those who seem so resistant, and help make the case for why God cannot be kept in the closet.


Chuck Colson


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