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February 6, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-90129

This piece is being written on the first of February, so I am not as yet aware of the outcome of the Iowa caucus.  I am, however, aware that during the last Republican debate the candidates were deliberate in speaking about their religious faith and its importance in maintaining the values that have made the United States the democratic leader of our world.  In Iowa this will likely have a significant impact.

The tendency across Western society in the last century has been to compartmentalize the spheres of life so that religion does not affect politics and is kept strictly personal and private.  This is clearly an attempt of secular forces to control, or better deny, the values of religious faith from interfering with the political ideologies that would be contrary to those rising from a Christian commitment.

It was Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), Prime Minister of Holland from 1901 to 1905 and founder of the Free University of Amsterdam who stated in his inaugural address:

“Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who Is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”

This is not an original or unique idea.  It is what the Bible teaches.  Psalm 24 begins, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”  God does not relinquish his sovereignty to anyone or any assembly.

Kuyper also taught that the sovereign God delegates authority to various institutions of society such as family, church and state.  This sphere sovereignty does not, however, negate the overall sovereignty of God.

This is why Christian people believe that faith matters in the election of our political leaders.  An atheist plumber may fix your sink as well as a Christian.  However, people are not inanimate objects.  They operate out of a set of values.  “Liberty and justice for all” requires a fixed moral context.

On the other hand I came across a pertinent comment by Ted Cruz.  He said it was important for politicians “to avoid being a Pharisee, to avoid ostentatiously wrapping yourself in your faith, because I think in politics, it’s too easy for that to become a crutch, for that to be politically useful.”

Our citizens have an awesome task before them in the coming year.  Wisdom is sometimes in short supply.  Emotions get in the way.  Party politics get in the way.  Regional loyalties get in the way.  Ideologies get in the way.  The advice of the brother of Jesus might be helpful.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But, let him ask in faith (James 1:5-6).”

Let us pray that “One nation under God” is not simply a weatherworn needlepoint.

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at END-whs