An Associated Press survey released this week shows that American confidence in the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, and those who report on them—the press—is at all time lows. When confidence lags, one begins to look for something to hope in for the change that is needed. Six years ago that search led to Barack Obama, who promised hope and change “we could believe in.” We got lots of change, but these poll numbers show that hope is still sagging. Are any of the candidates for president in 2016 what we need?
To answer that question, one must diagnose what is needed. Someone well-versed in the mechanics of combustion engines might be great to call on when your car is not running smoothly, but not to do a heart valve transplant when your heart’s not running smoothly. So what is our problem that needs fixing?
Our tendency is to look at various public policies and to believe that if we tweak this policy or add or eliminate another policy that we’ll get things back on track. We then look for a candidate whose policy views best line up with our policy diagnosis.
While I do believe public policies can produce negative individual and societal consequences, diagnosis of our problem must run deeper. How do we determine which policies or perhaps missing policies are producing the negative consequences?
I think the answer to that question ties into the reason we have no confidence in government or the press. I’m reminded of another culture that bore a striking resemblance to ours. A man named Isaiah described it this way:
So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away (Isaiah 59: 9-11 NIV).
Then in summary fashion he provides the diagnosis for their condition: “Truth has stumbled in the street. Yes, truth is lacking” (Isaiah 59:14).
Truth is what is needed to evaluate anything, including public policies. And like Isaiah’s culture, truth is not in vogue in ours anymore.
Let’s admit it. We don’t trust these governmental institutions because we think they are, on the whole, a “bunch of crooks and liars.” But in our condemnation of them we forget that they are a reflection of us. They are a product of a culture filled with lies and a people that seem to prefer the temporary phantom comfort of lies over the harsh realities of the truth.
So going back to the question about the presidential candidate in which we should put our hope for change, the answer, to me, is none of them. None of them will really say what needs to be said because they fear the PC police and their allies in the press.
For me, our hope for the change we need will not be found on the ballot, but in the pulpits of our churches. However, that will only happen as our pulpits recover their prophetic voice and speak God’s truth about what is going on in our culture, something large numbers are not yet inclined to do. If they do recover their voice, the question is whether those in the pews will listen.
Again, God’s prophets of old have described our modern situation. Jeremiah said this of the “pulpits” of his day and the response of those in the “pews:”
An astonishing and horrible thing
Has been committed in the land.
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so (Jeremiah 5:30-31 NKJV).
And then Jeremiah asks this question, “But what will you do in the end?”
That is a question we Christians need to be prepared to answer if we don’t want to hear the truth anymore.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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