I was listening to the CBC Radio program “Ideas” early yesterday morning. Philosopher Mark Kingwell, political theorist Emma Planinc and actor Jonathan Goad discussed to topic “Public Morality in the Ages of Caesar and Trump.” I found it an interesting discussion juxtaposed against the backdrop of Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message the day previous.
In the Shakespearean play Julius Caesar Brutus is faced with a dire moral conflict: his love for his friend Caesar and his love for his country Rome. In the end, he slays Caesar for what he believes to be the betterment of Rome. As he states, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” (Act 3, Scene 2).
The question with which these minds wrestled asked “In an age of diverse opinion how can we define the idea of a common public morality, and public good. Indeed, how much common ground can we actually find?” As Philosopher Mark Kingswell stated the issue:
“We have large, diverse populations where we have different conceptions of what’s good. And that, on the whole, is a healthy condition to be in. But it means that the political struggle and whatever local morality might possibly mean among citizens or leaders is always a question mark.” – Mark Kingwell
But his statement reveals his own moral bias. “Different conceptions of what’s good” is most definitely NOT “a healthy condition to be in.” The “question mark” exists because we have abandoned God!
Listen here to this one-minute clip as Emma Planinc, historian of political thought at the University of Notre Dame weighs in. Essentially she is saying each individual must decide if they think there is such a thing as an ultimate standard of Right…
“It depends on whether or not you think there is something that is capital R ‘Right,’ that morality is set in stone. …then you have to figure whether or not you think that is compatible with democratic politics…” – Emma Planinc
The Christian knows there most certainly IS an Ultimate Standard of Right–and His Name is Jesus! “No one is good—except God alone,” said Jesus (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30), and “I am… the Truth.” (John 14:6). But the onus is not on God to adapt to human democracy, but on mankind to fall before its Creator and acknowledge His Supremacy.
Yet we know not many will…
“Enter through the narrow gate,” urged Jesus. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13,14).
I am reminded also of the narrative toward the end of the book of Joshua: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Joshua 21:25). When a society has “different conceptions of what’s good” that society is lost.
This is exactly what happened to Israel and Judah… they had strayed from Jehovah, set up their substitutes and lost their way. This is exactly what happens to you too when you try to run from the Gospel. As Emma Planinc even concedes, “There are many political theorists throughout history who will assert that a maximal political ideal would be one in which the government was structured around what is ‘good.’”
Without God we no longer know what is Good. God is Good. He is our King. His is that Good Government.
Have you strayed in any way? He calls us to return. He can yet make all things new. “A cry is heard on the barren heights, the weeping and pleading of the people of Israel, because they have perverted their ways and have forgotten the Lord their God. Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” (Jer. 3:21, 22)
Hallowed (Holy) be His Name… His Kingdom come… Amen!
Note: To hear Pastor Andrew’s full message go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website; look under ‘Media’ for the June 2 message.