Public Square

Disillusioned with the Bankruptcy of Ideas in 2016’s Presidential Campaign? The Bible Has an Answer for That.

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Ideas matter because lives hang in the balance.

This is what I teach my students. It’s what I emphasize when I speak to different audiences.

Christians know ideas matter and values and beliefs bear consequences. Look at how Christians have mobilized over the past forty years in defense of the unborn.

So Christians know ideas matter, but we don’t always consistently live out this truth. We don’t always place the same emphasis on our declining economic freedom in the United States, for instance.

We take for granted that we have always been a nation others look toward to lead the way. But what happens when our national ideas are bankrupt?

When I survey the 2016 presidential candidates, I see this bankruptcy magnified. There isn’t much of a quest for truth with a capital “T.” I see fanfare, bullying, name-calling, strutting, and ideological grenades tossed about.

But who is standing for truth?

Politics doesn’t tend to beget truth. It tends to beget salesmen who want to get elected. They sell ideas they think Americans want to buy.

What a circus our political landscape has become! Except no one is selling peanuts and there aren’t any acrobats. Acrobats are fun.

Jokes aside, this is serious business. To fix it, we must ask ourselves, “From where does truth come?”

Does it come from a political platform?

A candidate we prefer?

Or does it come from God, who made it?

It’s human nature to have biases. We were raised in a Republican family or a Democratic one, and those ideas inform our thinking (whether or not we eventually reject what our parents or loved ones believe).

But as believers, it’s not our job to read our biases into Scripture and pull out the things we think verify what we already believe. Economists call this confirmation bias. We are all seeking evidence of what we think is true.

But this isn’t biblical.

The Bible tells us truth comes from God, the Master, the Creator of us and the universe, the fountain of objective truth. One of my IFWE colleagues says it best:

We must start with our nose in the Bible and we must die with our nose in the Bible, and we must hold ourselves and others accountable to this biblical truth.

In Mark 7:7 (NIV), Jesus quotes Isaiah to a group of Pharisees:

They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.

He then tells them in verses 8-9 that,

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions… You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

The battle of ideas occurring in our country is bankrupt because we are fooled by truths of the world instead of committing to the truths of Scripture.

We don’t live in a theocracy; I’m not advocating for that. However, it is our responsibility to advance the biblical principles of work, dignity, life, freedom, and flourishing.

Bringing these things about means showing up for the battle ideas, not bankrupt but armed with the truth.

When we seek Scripture first, we see two important truths: what our job is, and how to do it. Our job is to be good stewards and sub-creators for God in the pursuit of greater flourishing. Scripture contains the insight we need to make God-pleasing decisions as good stewards.

This is all laid out in Genesis. The Fall and our sin make carrying out this task more difficult, but the job remains. Fill the earth. Be creators. Serve others. Contribute to flourishing.

There are correct and incorrect ways to do this. Economics can also help us toward the path to better ideas and better decision-making for the glory of God.

If you feel disillusioned by the current presidential campaigning, let Genesis 1 remind you of the glory of God’s creation and our role in it. Use our new Genesis study as the framework for how you think about ideas and who you might select to represent you in the battle for truth.

Only by being grounded in biblical principles can we fight for truth, unleash our creativity, and bring glory to God.

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