There are some mistakes which humanity has made and repented so often that there is now really no excuse for making them again. One of these is the injustice which every age does to its predecessor; for example, the ignorant contempt which the Humanists (even good Humanists like Sir Thomas More) felt for medieval philosophy or Romantics (even good Romantics like Keats) felt for eighteenth-century poetry. … Why should we not give our predecessors a fair and filial dismissal?
So C. S. Lewis began “The Funeral of a Great Myth” (published posthumously in the anthology Christian Reflections, as I mentioned in a recent Blog entry). Lewis realized the wisdom in taking the good from those who have gone before us while we seek to improve and expand our knowledge today. We must be cautious of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” as they used to say.
As we arrive at “Super Tuesday,” it seems that every candidate is claiming to be the “Candidate of Change.” America seems ripe for “change,” and perhaps rightly so. But we must beware of change for change’s sake.
Jesus was certainly a catalyst for change, but even He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” [Matthew 5:17 NKJV] “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” [Luke 13:52] As we seek new and better ways of running government, we must not forget the old foundations.
We must also beware of the tendency of politicians to–how shall I put this politely–exaggerate to try to make a point about their opponent. This has been going on as long as our country has had elections. James Madison, in the Federalist No. 55, 15 February 1788, commented on the mudslinging going on even then:
As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than
the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.
As we seek change, we need to not only be aware of the good of the past, but we must seek the truth in the present. Don’t take what your favorite candidate says as the unvarnished truth–do some digging. When Jesus said, “The Truth shall set you free,” He was speaking primarily of the truth about Himself. But the principle applies to other areas of life, not the least of which is politics. In this case, we may lose political freedoms if we are not careful to seek the truth. How often lies have led nations into slavery. With much freedom comes much responsibility. Choose wisely.
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