Improving America with the Principle Approach®
Sometimes, wording can be a tricky thing. Miscommunication can happen in a heartbeat. Or, sometimes there are fringe groups (isn’t there one for just about anything?) that latch onto wording and take it in a whole other direction. For this reason, defining vocabulary is hugely important. In a previous article, I wrote about how some individuals shy away from stating: “Saving America with the Principle Approach®” because they think of only one definition for “save.” In this article, I aim to highlight the idea of improving America with the Principle Approach®. This will help us to navigate those tricky conversations (from another angle) about Christians who care about government, civics, and education.
What Does it Mean to Improve?
Does it ever seem ridiculous and laborious to you to define words? For instance, who doesn’t know what marriage means?
Then again . . .
Well, it’s never meant to be insulting or belittling for us to define words. Rather, it’s for clarification and context. So, here we go nevertheless.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines improve, v.t. as:
“Improve, v.t. improov’. [L. in and probo, to prove, or the adjective probus.] 1. To make better; . . . advance in value or good qualities. We amend a bad, but improve a good thing. A good education improves the mind and the manners. A judicious rotation of crops tends to improve land. 2. To use or employ to good purpose; . . . make productive . . . 3. To apply practical purposes . . . 4. To use; . . . occupy; . . . cultivate. The house or the farm is now improved by an industrious tenant.”
For improve the v.i., Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines it as:
“To grow better or wiser; . . . advance in goodness, knowledge, wisdom or other excellence. We are pleased to see our children improve in knowledge and virtue. A farm improves under judicious management.”
Improvement Begins with the Individual
Of note, Noah Webster first addresses an individual’s internal qualities: “A good education improves the mind and the manners.” Furthermore, if you define the word education with his dictionary, you’ll find that he also addresses the responsibility to tend to spiritual instruction.
Of course, this means that we parents must be diligent in talking with our children about sin nature, repentance, and the need for a Savior. And it means lovingly guiding them with God’s Word. In this way, we may be able to lead them to Jesus Christ. Then, He will do the internal cleansing in the hearts of our children. Otherwise, they may try to look like they are “good,” but the heart is not in the right place.
Improvement is Seen Outwardly
Secondly, Noah Webster addresses the external qualities—the outworking, which is reflective of the internal qualities. He states: “To use or employ to good purpose,” “make productive,” and “to occupy.”
I credit Ben Gilmore with teaching me how to think about a product revealing its producer. This is another way of saying “internal” to “external.” Or “if this happens” (the internal cause), “then that happens” (the external effect).
Maybe “product” causes one to think only of something that is manufactured—whether produced by hand or machine. However, good ol’ Noah Webster defines “product” as:
“Product, n. 3. Effect; result; something consequential.”
While we can’t guarantee that our children will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, we still have the responsibility to raise our children with quality character. And, prayerfully, they will accept Him as their Savior. Additionally, hopefully, they will reflect godly morals in their lives. Our children are eternal souls, and the most important thing to us as their parents is to watch out for their souls. That said, if we neglect these duties, the result will more than likely be the opposite of what we hope.
Even if our child does not accept Christ as his or her Savior, we can still influence our child with godly morals. This will have a positive effect on his or her life. And in turn, society will be positively affected when interacting with our children. Who isn’t blessed when their neighbor doesn’t steal? Or, who isn’t blessed when their neighbor doesn’t bear false witness? For this reason, John Adams said:
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Why Bother Improving Individual Character or Society?
If the expectation is that things will worsen, why bother to grow and improve individual character or society? After all, aren’t Christians the losers in history anyway?
Why do some individuals think it has to be either/or when preparing children spiritually and stewarding their nation? To be clear, the top priority is and must be the spiritual aspect—cultivating hearts and inspiring them to think with the mind of Christ.
Prepare our children spiritually for possible persecution in their time? Yes. Step out of the way in education and society so that evil can dominate? No. Worldview has always been a battle—even as far back as the Garden of Eden. Throughout history, there have been ups and downs in every nation.
Significantly, Christ must be the foundation—the Focal Point in all of history and education.
::whispers:: Every subject has a history.
As we teach and learn with this approach, discipleship takes place in God’s principles for all of life. Also important to recognize is that there is an outworking of the spiritual (internal). Is it negative to see improvement in one’s nation because of individual Christian character? I cannot imagine how it could be!
Abraham Lincoln was spot on when he said:
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
How Individual Character Improves Society
Firstly, with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are compelled to help others in several different ways. Will everyone choose to become a representative or senator or some other level of civic or gov’t leadership? No. However, our Federal Constitutional Representative Republic’s structure is to:
- Teach godly morals and our Biblical form of government to citizens via education (whether at home, church, or a “traditional” school).
- Disciple Christians in Politics, Economics, Education, Religion, and Social Issues (there is a Biblical worldview for each sub category of these categories)
- Elect individuals who will make laws, judge, and execute according to our form of government principles
- Be involved at the local level in civics (attend city council meetings, school board meetings, “meetings that will affect this area” of your city, etc.)
- Serve as Precinct Committee Men and Women (do what you can do, when you can in this position).
Doing these things is one way of helping to look out for others.
That said, all Christians and godly-morally-minded people can help to improve society by applying God’s practical and intelligent principles of life to:
- volunteer organizations
- small businesses
- places of employment
- social issues
Remember, Congress will legislate someone’s morals.
Ought Christians to be hands-free in education, civics, or government? If they are, then they will cry: “See, persecution is coming! I told you so!” Or, they’ll shout: “I gave up on the American political system years ago because of x,y,z.” Then, Christians—who see the cause to effect of the matters that have led to the muck we are in—are accused of things like Paul Washer’s statement below:
The audacity of accusing Christians (who “get civics and/or government”) of putting more hope in the political party than in Jesus Christ is mind-boggling. Might this be a pressure tactic to get Christians to back down from having influence for Christ?
Improvement: Using a “T-Chart on Salvation”
Let’s call it what it is and acknowledge that Paul Washer’s statement refers to the idea of a political party or government or civics “saving” America.
One Type of Salvation:
So, to be clear, there are two types of salvation. Check out Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
“Salvation, n. 1. The act of saving from destruction, danger, or great calamity.”
Moses kinda comes to mind. No one was looking to Moses to be a “spiritual savior.” God used him to save the Israelites from destruction, danger, and great calamity.
And Moses isn’t the only example of this in historical accounts of the Bible. There are the midwives who saved many first-born sons of the Israelites. Oh, and then there’s Rahab, who saved the spies. There was a gal named Esther who God used to save God’s people. She was a queen—you know, she had a place in government. But far be it from anyone to claim that the parents of those babies were placing their hope for spiritual salvation in the midwives. Or that the spies were placing their hope for spiritual salvation in Rahab. And, I don’t hear any Christians claiming that God’s people were putting their hope for spiritual salvation in Queen Esther.
Now, a question for you to consider: Did things improve in various ways because of the obedience of Moses, the midwives, Rahab, and Queen Esther?
Another Type of Salvation
Our man Noah Webster is back with a dichotomy (as he typically does with the Biblical worldview definitions):
“Salvation, no. 2. Appropriately in theology, the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death, and the conferring on him everlasting happiness. This is the great salvation. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. 2 Cor. 7.”
This hope for eternal spiritual salvation is placed in Jesus Christ alone. This is far, far, far different than anyone wanting to choose wise leaders from among them to be servant-leaders in government or civics.
So, let’s stop muddying the waters by misusing and abusing words. Let’s take time to govern words—to define the vocabulary for the issues of life and use them correctly in context. Shall we, please?
7 Basic Principles of Government From the Beginning.
Remember: From the Beginning, words were used to confuse, persuade, and entice Eve and Adam to give up their call to have dominion. Adam and Eve were to apply these governing principles¹ practically:
- Honor God’s Individuality as Sovereign King themselves and in the way God created them for their roles as male and female
- Have quality character
- Practice self-government
- Honor God’s private property (His Creation and His laws) and their own (conscience)
- Practice the Biblical form of government established in the Garden by God
- Govern in their roles of local authority over His Creation
- Walk in liberty in the Garden (as a result)
Needless to say, Christians need to be on guard about tricky words. Ben Gilmore taught me that one’s opponent will always try to attack his or her character. Paul Washer is doing this when he claims that Christians who care to be involved in government/civics are placing their hope for “eternal spiritual salvation” in politicians.
From the beginning, the serpent tried to make Adam and Even feel false guilt for following God’s principles of government. They thought along the lines of: “If we follow God’s form of gov’t that He laid out for us, we will not be wise.” What they ended up opting to do was to become gods in their own eyes. And the serpent succeeded with this beguiling, didn’t he? Let us not give in to that same deception!
Govern Wherever is Home
Wherever is home to you—the nation in which you live or serve in missions—apply God’s principles of government in your home, church, local, and national levels. God’s practical and intelligent principles for life are for all people, all nations.
For Christians who live in America, this is the place where God has decided to have us dwell. Therefore, America is where we are to apply God’s Biblical form of government. Doing so will help us to improve America.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” -Psalm 33:12 (KJV)
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” -Proverbs 29:2 (KJV)
So, Christians, wherever you live, your nation will be blessed if God is its Lord. And, when Christians—the righteous—are in authority, the people rejoice. Hmmm, I spy with my little eye words like “authority” and “rule” in Proverbs 29:2. Something tells me that’s referring to government.
Since God’s ways are wise and righteous, it makes sense that the people of any nation will rejoice when governed accordingly. Therefore, this wraps back around to the philosophy and method of education. Because education does matter when it comes to evangelism and discipleship, as Christians who happen to live in America, we can help to improve America. And it may begin with education (discipleship).
¹Of note, Rosalie J. Slater ingeniously identified and compiled the 7 basic principles of our form of gov’t. But, Ben Gilmore is credited to rewording them as above. I’m thankful that he did because it clearly shows how these principles are for all people, all nations, all throughout history.
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