Note: A reader was kind enough to send me the precise quote of President Dwight Eisenhower (which Tuesday’s blog entry hacked up a bit) together with a brief comment which I think is worth considering. Here it is:
“In other words, our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.”
Address at the Freedoms Foundation, Waldorf-Astoria, New York City, New York, 12/22/52
“The point he might have been making…is that theological detail is not relevant to shared national belief. (Incidentally, in an increasingly irreligious society, that core belief may no longer be true).”
Now, on to today’s entry.
“Therefore, God has given him the name that is above every name…”
Nothing is peripheral when it comes to the Christian life. That is to say, when the import of the Christian faith grasps us we come to see that life is to short to monkey around on the circumference of things. No matter where we are in our personal lives, our reading of the Bible, our worship life, our personal decisions or in our struggle to get along in the world, the Christian is driven back again and again to the question of who is Jesus Christ.
Today, the Christian is enmeshed in a great, confounding set of questions. Jesus and a host of ‘isms’ blend in and out of one another. In the current environment of unrestrained pluralism the whole business of Christian identity and commitment can get very fuzzy, to say the least. In this environment, if we are going to bear the name of Christian, the name of Jesus, we must do so, I believe, more energetically. And to do so, the Christian and the Church as a community, must turn to the Bible.
The classic formula for Lutherans, in this regard, is that the Bible is “the final authority in all matters of faith and life.” Not theonly authority but the final authority. What this means, at least for me, is that if we are to know who Jesus Christ is and, therefore who we are, we must – finally – turn to the witness of the Bible. For, although there is great diversity of expression in the Bible, there is only one message and that message has to do, unerringly, with Jesus Christ.
The diverse witness of the New Testament to Jesus mirrors our time. They, like we, were struggling to confess “the name that is above every name” in an environment of religious pluralism, conflict and hostility. The New testament witness can help us today as we, too, seek to tune our faithful witness, sounding that one, clear graceful note of Jesus Christ in the midst of the din and confusion of our time.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”