Word from the Center: Friday, September 21, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s topic/issue….

When Being Christian Means You Can’t Be Christian: Part 2

Last week, I talked about an issue that is happening with a University in Canada named Trinity Western University. It’s Canada’s largest privately-funded Christian university and the government is denying certification to a Law School they had hoped to add as part of their University experience. Why? The University requires all of its students to sign code of conduct covenants  – clearly defined, explained, and defended – which define the virtues and character called for from any student seeking to matriculate from Trinity Western. One of those conduct rules limits sexual activity to marriage between a man and a woman. That’s it. The Law School would not be certified unless the school rejected its covenant. To get their Law School up and running, that’s exactly what they’ve done (For the full story, see https://www.christianpost.com/news/canadas-largest-private-christian-university-drops-ban-on-same-sex-relationships-226803/).

It is ironic that the school has decided to change some of its fundamental, time-tested, moral views, even though the purpose of their having have a “Law” school was to produce well-trained lawyers and public servants who could address the moral and legal challenges of the day from a Christian worldview. The school decided not to demand “covenant subscription” from its students even though this had been a fundamental aspect of their “Christian” identity.

But that’s Canada, you say, not the United States. It is true that we have some constitutional protections that Canadians don’t have. It’s true that our Founding Fathers saw the value of principles encased in the Bible as fundamental supports, not hindrances, for temporal liberty, civility, and the very pursuit of purposeful happiness. Unfortunately, what Canada and the United States both share today is the increased pressure from certain forces in culture to redefine many of these fundamental principles and moral virtues. And, unfortunately, both cultures also share the reality of certain groups successfully hijacking the legal process, silencing opposing views to this radical transformation of cultural mores by legal fiat or governmental coercion. Some are even using traditional Christian moral views as disqualifiers for public service. Amazing!

Now is not merely the time to defend the basic moral teachings of the Bible, which, by the way, are reflected in virtually every culture and religious tradition around the world. Now is also the time to learn to be public Christians for the sake of the Gospel, and for the sake of the culture in which we live. Now is the time to boldly defend the Christian worldview principles that helped create and undergird the very temporal liberties so many of us enjoy. Binding temporal power due to humanity’s sinfulness, as well as protecting “unalienable rights from one’s Creator,” are biblical ideas that undergird the liberties we enjoy. And when people talk about the “separation of Church and State,” Christians know that this “separation,” or better, the “differentiation” of the public authority and work of both the State and the Church is an extension of the very Christian worldview that so many claim to despise.

Here’s the point: Such biblical wisdom for temporal liberties and freedoms won’t “save the world.” But it can bless the world. It can and will continue to provide the philosophical framework to maintain order in a culture full of sinful men and women in ways that are more peaceful and tolerant than differing cultures and governments before it. Christians have a role in that civilizing work wherever they live because God himself is at work amidst all these issues to preserve the world. Such efforts will never take the place of a Christian’s unique calling to be one who receives and shares the eternal salvation earned through Christ’s  life, death, and resurrection for all. But a Christian also seeks to honor one’s public responsibilities because they are directed and guided by God’s preserving work in the world too. That work takes place in the fields of education, commerce, politics, art, music, science, etc. It should also be part of a full educational experience, especially at a Christian University that is rooted in a Christian worldview perspective and is freely expressed on its own terms.