The events of this past week have been deeply disturbing, the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime. Every member of our community must contemplate their significance and do some soul searching. There has been a challenge to the constitutional process of transferring power, an assault on the legislative branch, and a storming of the U.S. Capitol. Lines were dramatically crossed this week and this should leave us all troubled.
CCU is a Christian university. It is also a conservative university. We make no apologies for this.
Our highest commitment is to honor God and follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to be an outstanding university in the great and long tradition of Christian higher education. As Scripture states, we believe that nations and governments are accountable to God, that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34, NASB). We celebrate the blessings of liberty. We believe that true freedom is found in Christ and that the truth sets us free. We believe that true liberty is not license but is an ordered liberty, ordered by virtue and God’s laws. We affirm the rule of law and believe that our constitutional structure has been influenced by divine revelation which has brought many blessings to our nation. It recognizes that we are created by God, and have a God-given dignity. It also recognizes that a dispersion of power is a wise political arrangement because of the corruption of human nature.
There was nothing Christian or conservative about what happened Wednesday. What we saw was license — lawlessness and anarchy. Contesting an election is one thing — that is part of the constitutional process. So are protest and airing grievances, whether for racial injustice or election fairness. Double-checking our processes, whether laws and practices that racially discriminate or standards for fair elections, is right and important.
However, what we saw on Wednesday was an attempt to subvert the constitutional order, with demands of loyalty to a man over loyalty to laws. There was an attempt to disrupt a constitutional process. President Trump indelibly marred his presidency and the achievements he made by not conceding or accepting the constitutional rules. After he spoke at the rally, the protest turned violent and Capitol barriers were breached. The president then delayed denouncing it for several hours after it started. Worse yet, there were symbols of crosses, nooses, Confederate flags and “Jesus saves” signs in the crowd (please remember that Jesus said not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of God).
We are a constitutional republic, not a banana republic. The United States was designed to be a constitutional republic under God, remember? Our Revolution was a conservative revolution.
It is my opinion that what happened is yet another symptom of a society drifting from and rebelling against God. It is a rebellion we see manifest on both the left and the right. We rebel against Him when we seek to expunge His presence and His laws from our land. But we also rebel against Him when we take His name in vain or believe that the end justifies the use of any means.
The more we drift from God the less His commands and the influence of Christ are felt among us.
Hence we see a growing authoritarianism on the right, and a creeping or soft totalitarianism on the left. This new populism has little respect for persons, property, government, rules or the Constitution. Many populists have learned that you can advance political ends by violence. On the left, ANTIFA attacks went on in Portland for over 100 days last year with no consequence. Groups on the right breeching the barriers of the U.S. Capitol were doing the same thing this week.
We are not the first society to experience such a shift. One might point to Rome as the republic came to an end with the empire, and caesars demanded to be worshipped. More recently, we could point to the 1930s in Europe. As Europe became more secularized, many Christians felt themselves more and more displaced. At the time, as C. S. Lewis wrote in his 1933 book Pilgrim’s Regress, there were dragons on the right as seen in Germany and Italy. But there were also dragons on the left exhibited by the communists in Europe and in Russia.
This puts sincere Christians and other citizens of good will in a difficult place. Factions on the right showed this week that our Constitution means little. Factions on the left last summer declared that America is over and called for a radically new order. Both are a threat to our republic. Both value power above any other consideration. Both have little use for laws or respect the dignity of others.
In this environment, what do we do? First, we check our own hearts and actions and ask if we have adopted this agenda ourselves and if so repent of it. Second, pray for our current and incoming leaders to rule humbly and pursue righteousness and justice. Third, we recommit ourselves to Christ and His kingdom as our highest loyalty and pray for a spiritual awakening in our land. Fourth, as a university, we will continue to raise up students who are not only Christ-centered and well trained, but who believe in an ordered liberty — liberty under God. We want them to be good neighbors, great citizens, and courageous leaders. Fifth, we must continue to contend earnestly for the truth and for good policies — especially in a season when we will be facing the most radical, progressive agendas in the history of our nation. But we must do this in a way that is fitting for a follower of Christ, i.e. with convictional civility, exhibiting grace and truth.
This is not an easy thing to do in our polarized and often hostile environment, but we must try. We have not always done this well, but we should do better. This does not mean we ignore or opt out of our political responsibilities or avoid important policy battles, working for what is right and just, pushing back on what is bad, etc. It does mean that we do so in a more constructive way, to the end of honoring God, training outstanding student leaders, and building a better society.
I am so grateful for your statement, President Sweeting. How easily we feel justified in our actions, not seeing them as sinful yet readily seeing sin in others. Comparing the violence on Wednesday to Antifa can be an impossible comparison for many to see. We can even interpret Scripture of Jesus returning with a sword as God calling us to use violence.
An ongoing posture of repentance can seem weak and ineffective. We can miss the counter intuitive truth of Jesus calling us daily to our knees. How easy it is to want to be right. Dead right