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Is America Exceptional?

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland
The Truth Network Radio
July 3, 2018 8:55 am

Is America Exceptional?

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland

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July 3, 2018 8:55 am

07-01-18 Is America Exceptional? by Truth for a New Generation

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Best-selling author, speaker, and advocate for Christian apologetics, Dr. Alex McFarland.

Best-selling author and apologist, Dylan Burrows. Together bringing you truth. For a new generation, this is TNG Radio. America, America, God shed his grace on thee. America the beautiful, God shed his grace on thee.

And on this edition of TNG Radio, we want to talk about America. And the year is half over. Dylan, can you believe it? That, you know, 2018, 50 percent is already gone. I know, and time is passing by quickly for all of us, but when we look back, it's hard to believe now. 242 years of celebrating the United States of America.

A unique and magnificent country. Wonderful to be part of, and we're going to talk about that here today on Truth for a New Generation. Dylan, this is one of my favorite holidays. I mean, obviously as a Christian, my two favorite holidays are Christmas and Easter.

The birth of our Lord, the resurrection of Christ. But I, ever since I was a little bitty kid, I love, I love the 4th of July. And I love the hot summer time. I love to be with family. But, you know, when we stand and hear the national anthem, I get a lump in my throat.

I really do. My dad was in World War II, and I guess Dylan and I grew up in a very patriotic family. My mother, before she got married and before she went to college, she was president. This was many, many, many years ago, but my mother was president of the North Carolina Young Republicans.

Won a college scholarship for a speech she gave. But, you know, I think about a story that I've shared many times when I was in Ohio. And I was preaching, and a gentleman wanted to come, but he was housebound. He was an elderly man. And the pastor said, could we go see this man, because he can't come to the revival? And I said, absolutely.

So we go. And his wall was decorated with honors. He had been a World War II veteran on the island of Saipan, and had, on a certain part of the coastline, through the middle of the night to sunrise, defended the beachhead till sunrise could come. And he had saved the lives of hundreds of American soldiers. And there was a Time Magazine article about him, and there were letters from the White House. And the man was saying, you know, how he wanted to come to the meeting at the church where I was preaching.

And I told him, I said, sir, I don't even feel worthy to be in your presence. I mean, you've done so much for our country, this decorated veteran. And I've met many similar veterans. It was my privilege, when I was in California two years ago, Angie and I were at David Jeremiah's church for the Fourth of July, and we met several of the last surviving people from the USS Arizona that was attacked in Pearl Harbor.

And all three of these men, Christians. And so when it comes to God and country, we encourage people to pray for this nation, to be grateful for America. Is this a perfect nation?

Of course not. I mean, there's never going to be unblemished perfection until we're in the presence of Jesus in that heavenly city. But as Augustine said, Augustine lived 354 to 430. Yes, our citizenship is in the city of God, if you're a believer. However, we have a responsibility to the city of man. And therein, today, we want to talk a little bit about our country.

Well, that's wonderful, Alex. And I know as we talk about this idea of American exceptionalism, a lot of people have baggage associated with this claim or this term. They use it or misuse it in different ways. So we want to be clear, what does it mean to say American is exceptional? And why is this important for those who follow Jesus?

Well, great question. You know, you and I worked together a couple of years ago on a book called Ten Issues That Divide Christians. And we wrote a couple of chapters in there on American exceptionalism.

Now we want to be very, very clear. When we talk about exceptional, it doesn't mean America is better or more deserving of God's favor. And we're not in any way saying that we deserve special treatment or anything like that. Exceptional, simply, in the case of our nation, means different. And as you and I wrote about in the Ten Issues book, Dylan, we were different in our founding. The fact that the founding fathers, as they wrote the Declaration of Independence, as Jefferson did, as they crafted the Constitution, they worked and worked. And really, the Federalist Papers were kind of a philosophical treatment of their view about morals, humanity, good, responsible government. And, you know, I think about what Harry Truman said in 1950.

And this is American exceptionalism, how we're different, not how we're better. But in 1950, President Harry Truman gave a speech. And he said, if we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state. Now in 1960, John F. Kennedy said that the rights of man do not come from the government but from the hand of God. JFK said that.

And I agree. The role of government was not to give you rights, but to guard the rights that you inherently have from God. Now the Truman quote, and then we're going to talk about ways in which America is exceptional. Truman said this before he said the previous statement I read, quote, the fundamental basis of this nation's laws were given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teaching that we get from Exodus and Matthew from Isaiah and Saint Paul. Okay, Exodus, you've got the Ten Commandments. Matthew 5 through 7, you've got the Sermon on the Mount. Isaiah, you've got the concept of really the branches of government. And the Apostle Paul, you've got in Romans 13, civil government. Truman said, I don't think we emphasize this enough these days, end of quote. So I would begin this program by saying, Dylan, we are exceptional in our founding.

And that's a good way to put it. You look at the countries around the world that are founded on different philosophies and worldviews, but as you compare the American founding, you see the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, both of which have significant statements that are connected to the Bible. Now atheists and others may disagree, but if you look at the wording, it's very clear that there's an emphasis on a creator, an emphasis on a freedom of religion, and an emphasis on a responsibility as citizens to care for the creator and for the creation and those who are around us. So as we talk more today about American exceptionalism, again, it's like you said, it's not that America is better than any other nation, but that we are unique in how God has founded our nation through the people of the past and how God is working through our country still today.

And when we come back, we're going to look more at this idea of how God has blessed our nation and what that means for us as we seek to live for Him today. So stick with us at Truth For A New Generation. You know, Christians don't necessarily agree with each other when it comes to questions of religious pluralism, homosexuality, the role of government, abortion, and war. Too often we manage these disagreements by ignoring them. Yet, we are called to engage the world for the sake of Christ.

So, how can we be effective if we avoid society's most pressing questions? Well, in the book that Alex mentioned earlier, Ten Issues That Divide Christians, Alex McFarland, with help from Dylan Burrows, challenged Christ followers to drill down to the biblical core of ten current issues. Alex urges us to do as the Bible says, and come, let us reason together. Only by engaging the Scriptures deeply, thinking clearly, and speaking truthfully can we and God's family address our differences and discover the peace that comes with unity of purpose.

If you'd like to get your own copy of Ten Issues That Divide Christians, you can find it in the store at alexmcfarland.com. For centuries, the Bible has inspired humanity and shaped the very world we live in. But how do we know this book is the Word of God and not merely the words of men? What we believe about the Bible is based on what we believe about its source. The God Who Speaks explores the evidence of the Bible's inspiration and authority through some of the world's most respected biblical scholars. We have essentially a dual authorship, so it's true to say that Paul wrote Romans. It's equally true to say that God wrote Romans. He says, we saw this.

And that sets the Bible apart from almost everything else in the ancient world and its religious pantheon of gods and goddesses. The God Who Speaks is a feature-length documentary from the American Family Association. Available now at thegodwhospeaks.org. Welcome back to TNG Radio. We're going to continue our look at several ways in which America is, yes, exceptional. And before we resume this conversation, Alex McFarland here with Dylan Burrows. I do want to remind you of Truth for a New Generation, the Save a Nation Tour. We're going to be September 14-15 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just minutes from the Nashville airport. An incredible lineup of Josh McDowell, J. Warner Wallace, Dr. Michael Brown, Miki Addison from the American Family Radio Network, Tina Marie Griffin from Hollywood, the Counter Culture Mom, and much more. And then we're going to be in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in October 26-27. So it's an amazing fall of events.

And the last TNG that we had, Dylan, which was in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the spring of 2018, people came from 19 states and three countries. And so, folks, please, I want to ask you this. Pray, promote, and plan to attend as we try to equip this generation to love God and country.

You can find out more at truthforanewgeneration.com. I do want to say we're very honored to have as a partner in this Liberty University. And I'm a graduate of Liberty twice, and Liberty is wonderful. And if you're looking at furthering your education, I took some of their online courses in the pursuit of my master's degree. And I know, Dylan, you probably have taught for Liberty. Am I right?

Yes. And like you said, their online program continues to grow and is one of the premier programs in the nation for those who are seeking to further their education online. So we encourage those who are interested to find out more through our website. You'll hear more about it at our conference, and we are excited to help connect you with how God has helped you to grow in your education as well. As we continue here on America's founding, we've talked about it being exceptional, but we also have some other lessons we want to communicate. This idea of America being exceptional in its fruits or in its prosperity. So tell us what it means, Alex, when we talk about America being exceptional in its fruits or its prosperity. Well, you know, namely, the fruits of freedom have been Liberty and the ability for people to pursue their destiny and find out that thing that they were put here to do. You know, in so many countries of the world, you're born into a certain strata or caste even.

And your vocation, whom you may marry, where you're going to live, so many things are decided for you. But America, okay, it's risky. It's a democratic republic. We elect leaders, and in this context of freedom, people can misbehave. And in fact, the founding fathers predicted that, that without a moral compass that we police ourselves with, it might digress into anarchy. But our fruits have been liberty and freedom and the ability for people to work hard and risk and struggle, but to build their character, to learn self-discipline, and then to create things, to be creative. And let me just say for a minute, part of man's inherent bent to creativity, whether it's maybe you, like the first settlers, you want to build a house, or you want to paint a painting, American technology, I would argue, because we're made in the image of God, and God is creator. And we have the inherent thumbprint of our creator on us. We reflect God's image. We like to build and create.

Generally, a person who is psychologically healthy likes order and closure. And America, with its Christian focus, has paved the roads, cut the grass, planted the crops, and brought a lot of order to the world. Let me just say this. A scholar who I love is Rodney Stark.

He's at Baylor, and we've tried to get him in the T&G conferences, but he doesn't travel quite as much as he did. But Baylor is a Nobel-nominated historian, sociologist, and he talks about, I mean, think about it, within a very short time of our founding, America was giving to the world inventions like the internal combustion engine and automobiles and mass production and airplanes and penicillin and telephones and television. And Stark says it was, quote, the iron Protestant work ethic that built America. Now, not only technology and conveniences.

In fact, Dylan, where I sit as we record, we're only a few miles from the city of Thomasville. That is pretty much where air conditioning was invented. Why were we such a technologically blessed nation? In terms of medicine and bettering the human condition, literacy. I mean, these are some of the fruits, but I would say one of the things that has been a fruit of America has been the fact that whenever the American flag has gone to foreign soil and when American soldiers and men and women show up, people feel safe.

People know help has come. But as my friend Chuck Colson said, the church is the conscience of America, but America has been the conscience of the world. That is exceptional and unique. And it's something that I believe every generation should aspire to perpetuate. Well, I appreciate that, especially your mention of the Protestant work ethic. And it's interesting to me how that is connected with the history of our country.

When you have people who believe that their work matters in the eyes of God and that they are to do all they can for God's honor and glory, it does lead to a different society. And that's what we've seen throughout the history of our nation as well. Also, we talk about in your book this idea of America being exceptional in its influence.

In the next minute or so, before we go to our break, tell us a little bit about what that means that we are exceptional in this nation for our influence. You know, I think about how so many countries have worked to try and emulate the U.S. Constitution in terms of structuring their own government. And really, in the last hundred years, even though in our own culture, socialism has become kind of a default position in the eyes of many millennials, and that's really troubling to me. But yet, many, many countries that have found freedom, I think about much of the westernization of China. After Maoist China began to unravel, it was Methodist college students that first began to talk about human rights and freedoms over there.

And countries, you know, I think about Zambia, and I think about countries around the world that have tried to introduce more of Christianity and more of representative elected democracy. That's amazing, Alex, and such good words. And we'll share more about this in just a moment on truth for a new generation.

Stick with us. You know, Christians don't necessarily agree with each other when it comes to questions of religious pluralism, homosexuality, the role of government, abortion, and war. Too often we manage these disagreements by ignoring them. Yet, we are called to engage the world for the sake of Christ.

So how can we be effective if we avoid society's most pressing questions? Well, in the book that Alex mentioned earlier, Ten Issues That Divide Christians, Alex McFarland, with help from Dylan Burroughs, challenged Christ followers to drill down to the biblical core of ten current issues. Alex urges us to do as the Bible says, and come, let us reason together. Only by engaging the scriptures deeply, thinking clearly, and speaking truthfully can we and God's family address our differences and discover the peace that comes with unity of purpose.

If you'd like to get your own copy of Ten Issues That Divide Christians, you can find it in the store at alexmcfarland.com. First Peter 3.15 tells us to be ready always to give an answer for the hope we have. We're instructed to be prepared to defend our faith. This is Alex McFarland for the Life Answers Teams, students we train at North Greenville University, a leading Christian college in South Carolina. The Life Answers Teams are made up of students who will inspire and equip your congregation. These apologetics teams we train speak in churches to youth groups and train Christians of all ages to address key issues of our times from a biblical perspective. Like is there a God? Is the Bible true?

What about gender and moral issues? Call me at 864-977-2008 and we will arrange for the Life Answers Team to come to your church and give a presentation that will benefit your people for years to come. 864-977-2008 and always be ready. God bless America, my home sweet home. God bless America, land that I love.

Stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above. Welcome back to TNG Radio. We do wish you a very, very happy 4th of July week.

God bless you and your family and may God bless our nation. You know, Dylan, we've been talking about how America is exceptional and by that we mean different. It doesn't really mean better. It doesn't really mean that we're more deserving.

In fact, you know, the Bible talks about with great blessing comes great responsibility. But we are exceptional in our founding based on God and morality, human liberty. We're exceptional in our fruits and our prosperity.

Exceptional in our stand and our influence around the world. But I would say also, and I really believe this is because of the Christian quotient in our governmental DNA, I think America has been unique in the way we've been criticized, abused, frankly persecuted. And let me just say this, Dylan, America in the last two centuries, more than any other nation, has really been a great engine for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Great Commission.

It's been in this free market economy that people have been able to create wealth and accumulate wealth. Individuals have become prosperous, churches have thrived, and because of that many, many people and organizations have been able to give to Christ's Great Commission. And I think one of the reasons that people who don't believe in God or don't understand this nation, they've really denigrated America and mocked a lot of the great institutions on which this country stands, the church, the family, values. It's been persecution because of what we stand for, which really fundamentally is God and Christianity. And for this reason and others, I think a lot of people have felt led to throw stones at the old red, white, and blue. But I still believe that God loves this nation, and we need to be very repentant, very humble before God. But the things that have built and sustained this country for two centuries plus are worth preserving.

That's so true, Alex. And you also mention in your book that America is exceptional in its potential for restoration. Tell us a little bit about what that means.

What does it mean to have a strong potential for restoration? Well, I was on a conference call with George Barna about a year ago, and he was talking about the number of evangelical Christian adults there might be. At the low end of the spectrum, maybe 65 million.

Barna has a seven question survey. Who do you believe God is? What do you believe about the Bible? What do you believe about Jesus Christ? What do you believe about heaven and salvation?

And I'm sure you're aware of it. Barna's seven question survey comprises what would constitute a biblical worldview. So how many adults have a biblical worldview? Well, at minimum, 65 million.

And Barna says maybe as many as 100 to 130 million. Well, our Lord turned the world upside down with 12 people. So are things bad sometimes? Do we have a lot to be concerned about? Even as you and I record this, the news wire is buzzing about the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. And we're hoping our President will nominate and successfully appoint, like the recent Neil Gorsuch, a justice who is a constitutionalist, believes in moral law. We're hoping that the next Supreme Court Justice is a God and country American. And so we need to pray. But with 100 to 130 million adult evangelicals, there's great reason to be hopeful, I would say.

Well, that's a good way to put it. You think about the early church in Jerusalem, and they had 120 people in the upper room. And it quickly expanded to 3,000 people on the day of Pentecost and thousands more shortly after that. If that is the kind of impact a small group of people can have in the days of Jesus when there was much more persecution, what kind of impact or what kind of potential for restoration can we see today if we properly apply our Christian beliefs here in America? And that's such an insightful thought and an inspiring thought when it comes down to it. As we look at our last principle, though, I want to talk about what it means to be exceptional and what America offers each individual. And I think when we look at this idea of individual freedom, America excels here because we have a freedom of speech, a freedom of religion that many nations do not enjoy, as we do. So what does it mean, ultimately, when we talk about exceptionalism for each individual spiritually as well as how we live in our country today, Alex?

Well, we have an opportunity for the charting of our own destiny. There's an old poem we had to learn in first grade, you know, Breathe, there a man with a soul so dead that he has never within himself said, This is my home, my native land. And in this home, this native land, listen, if you're willing to work hard, say your prayers, live right, and be persistent, you really can achieve your dreams. Traveling as I do, I meet so many first generation business owners. I meet many families that have migrated here, lawfully, legally, worked hard, and you know, for the first time perhaps in their family, somebody's gone to college. And it's amazing that there are families that 25, 30, 40 years ago were poor, and now they have a lawyer, a doctor in the family, a business owner.

I mean, where else can you achieve that and achieve it with relative speed? So I know we're running out of time. I want to give two quotes, Dylan. And again, folks, as we think about the Fourth of July, Calvin Coolidge was, he spoke in 1924 at the unveiling of a statue of Francis Asbury, the great Methodist leader. And Calvin Coolidge, he said, quote, Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, equality, liberty, the rights of mankind. Now listen, Coolidge said, Unless the people believe in these principles, God, justice, religion, they cannot believe in our government. Now, Eisenhower, and he said, quote, The Founding Fathers had to refer to the Creator in order to make their revolutionary experiment make sense.

It was because all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that men could dare to be free. The Founding Fathers, said President Eisenhower, had to refer to God in order to make their revolutionary experiment make sense, end of quote. Now, as we run out of time, folks, we have an exceptional opportunity, but really an exceptional responsibility to live for God and country, and to make a difference in this life that will count for eternity.

That's why we encourage you, number one, to know Christ, to be a good citizen. We encourage you, if you feel so led, to support this ministry. Television, radio, publishing, events, God is using what we're doing.

Dylan and I, we have about seven staff, some part-time, some full-time, but we need your help. And if you would go to truthforanewgeneration.com and pray, promote, support, and be a part of what God has called us to do, which is to win souls, equip the Church, and to promote an awakening in our country. Truth for a New Generation, in association with Alex McFarland Evangelistic Ministries, exists to equip Christians with a Biblical worldview through conferences and camps. For information about upcoming events, visit truthforanewgeneration.com or give us a call at 877-YES-GOD-1. That's 877-YES-GOD-1. TNG radio is made possible by the friends of Alex McFarland Evangelistic Ministries, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404. That's P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404. Or give online at alexmcfarland.com or truthforanewgeneration.com. Thanks for listening and join us again next time as we bring you more truth for a new generation on TNG radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-01 15:33:31 / 2024-03-01 15:44:09 / 11

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