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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Being Honest About The Human Condition

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Early this week, Hewitt ranted about Paypal.  It is a type of experience all of us can relate to, and all of us are frustrated by.  The computer age has given rise to many wonders, but it has also created much havoc.  In many ways, and many places, computerization has reduced us to automatons, forced to fit into its restraints rather than it serving our needs.  In many ways this modern miracle has robbed us, or at least tries to, of our essential humanity.

The Left’s increasingly shrill battle against religion, has reached a new level as the Chairman of the US Civil Right Commission declares “religious liberty” a “code word” and Time has published a story about child abuse “hiding behind” religious freedom.  In an effort to overcome religion’s prohibitions against behaviors in which they wish to engage, the Left forget that just because a person calls a religion their own, that individual remains subject to the foibles and failures of any human.

In many ways, the Left sees the world just like the computer system designers.  Give the humans a box that they must operate in and as long as they stay in that box things will work just like I think they ought to.  But in thinking that way they fail to realize some pretty important things.  For example, it is impossible to foresee every situation, thus something is going to arise that does not fit in any box that has been allowed.  If people only know how to act in one of the boxes, everything is going to breakdown in this unanticipated situation.  Furthermore, people are innovative – they are always going to look for a better way.  Which means they will try and make it as easy as possible in the box you give them; they’ll take shortcuts, and the box may collapse.

Friday morning, Hewitt and Arnn talked about Orwell’s “1984.” (subscription required to follow the link)  The dystopian world of Orwell’s foresight is based on ever increasing efforts to shove people into the boxes.  And yet despite the horrendous ramifications, Winston Smith refuses to stay in them.

Whether it is a good motivation like innovation, a “bad” motivation like discrimination (although how do you know good from bad if you do not discriminate?), or just a plain old desire to be free people just are not going to stay in the boxes you set for them.  That’s a big part of the current human condition.

Recognizing that fact is the basis of the freedoms established in our constitution.  The fewer boxes you try and keep people in, the better things work.  That’s why freedom is so doggone important.  It’s like the oil in an engine.  Sure the engine will run for a while without oil, but eventually it will break down.  Keep it oiled, and keep the oil clean and that engine will run and run and run and run.

Hmmm, maybe the Left has a point, maybe all of the rules and regulations religion places on us ARE the problem.  (Ignoring for the moment that what the Left really wants is to replace them with their rules, not eliminate rules – they are not Libertarians after all.)  Which brings me to all those rules and regulations Christianity seems to have with it (building boxes) and the seeming contradiction that Christ claims to have come to set us free.  How do we reconcile these apparently competing claims in Christianity?

We have to recognize one simple fact.  Christ offers something that no government, no earthly power at all, can offer – the ability to alter the human condition.  The so-called rules and regulations of Christianity are not defining the boundaries of a box, rather than are signs that human nature is more, or less, like God intended it to be.  If we are way outside the box the rules and regulations describe, then our human condition is not where it is supposed to be.  Only Christ can bring us back inside those boundaries – albeit slowly and with effort – and when He does so, they will not seem as barriers, but instead a natural expression of our new humanity.

This is September 11 – the anniversary of an event that showed the human condition generally is way, way outside the box God describes.  No amount of government action will fix that most fundamental problem.  There is much for government to do in response to that event and its aftermath, much that remains to be done even these 15 years later – but none of it will fix the fundamental problem.

This Sunday morning I pray for openings.  Openings in the United States so that the power of Christ to change the human condition will not be restrained.  Openings in the darkest corners of the Islamic world for the power Christ offers to penetrate.  I pray for people to help Christ take advantage of those openings.  But mostly I pray that each of us has an opening for that power in our own hearts.  That’s where it has to start.

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