Friday, January 20, 2017

The Invisible Hand Which Conducts the Affairs of Men

Inauguration Day 2017 brings a new president to deliver a speech to the American people. The words will be scrutinized, analyzed, accepted or denied as relevant and proper for the time. The message will carry hope for some and discouragement for others. This marks the fifty-eighth speech by a newly elected or re-elected president. Here’s an excerpt from speech number one, given on April 30, 1789, by our first president:

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. 

This passage is included in the second paragraph of Washington’s very long, literary speech. Upon his re-election, the inaugural offering was in its entirety thirty-one words shorter than this one excerpt. Nothing else to say? New speech writer? Less reliance on that Almighty Being. I’ll leave that to the historians.

The next president moved the acknowledgement of God to the end of his speech, and there it remained in several future speeches. Here are the words John Adams spoke on Inauguration Day, March 4, 1797:

And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence.

From Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1801:

Relying, then, on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choice it is in your power to make. And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.

From James Madison, March 4, 1809 

In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future.

Abraham Lincoln's beseech of the Almighty was placed closer to the middle of his speeches. From his first inaugural speech, March 4, 1861:

If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.

And from Lincoln’s second inaugural speech, March 4, 1865:

Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes . . . Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Now on Inauguration Day, 2017, no intent of any political movement can be as difficult as the one Lincoln faced as president. No citizen feeling he is denied due rights has suffered under the law, or required freedom by the law, as were the people of that time. No internal battle our nation now faces compares.

Whether God is mentioned or not, revered or forgotten, beseeched or ignored within the new president’s first words to the nation does not determine God’s presence. Or His intervention. Or His blessing. Presidents are only men, and one day a woman, chosen by God for a time and purpose. God is not stopped by a man’s words, nor by a nation’s dismissal. No president is appointed outside of God’s will. Not one is a mistake.

Of course, every Inauguration Day address can not be included in this post on this important day in history. But here’s one more.

From the beginning of Dwight Eisenhower’s address, January 20, 1953:

My friends, before I begin the expression of those thoughts that I deem appropriate to this moment, would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private prayer of my own. And I ask that you bow your heads:

Almighty God, as we stand here at this moment my future associates in the Executive branch of Government join me in beseeching that Thou will make full and complete our dedication to the service of the people in this throng, and their fellow citizens everywhere.

Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race or calling.

May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen.

And amen.

To read all the Inauguration Day speeches, visit:

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Everlasting Gospel

In the past couple of years I’ve written several posts relating to the Gospel. The first was The Actual Gospel, which referred to “what American seekers of all things Godly are apt to find, or not find, when they walk into a church.” Soon after, I wrote about The Wavering Severity of the Gospel, in which I quoted a believer who’d grown tired of the sin bashing. He said, “It’s not like we’re ax murderers or anything.”

I wrote a “Gospel” blog post every few months. In The Command of the Gospel I hoped to explain what I had come to understand—that the Gospel is not a choice to be made. I didn’t decide to pick this way instead of that way, or no way at all. And yet I did. As I stated in the post, “God isn’t asking me to choose. I’m covered by furious waves and He’s telling me to cling to Him or drown. And so I…choose…to cling and not to drown.” 

Then there was The Minimalist Gospel, The Lavish Gospel, and The Intolerant Gospel, which stated, we fall under the oppression of subjective thinking. And we call it tolerance.” A Christmas post reflected on The Imminent Gospel.  Then came one of my favorites, The Selfless Gospel, in which I explored the paradox of “the rhythm of salvation and the poetry of grace.”

Most recently, I wrote about The Far-Reaching Gospel, whichreaches into a stained society to free those wrenched in unbelief. It calls to the ones deemed unclean. It meets the threat of perversion. It counters the claim of irrelevance. It is a far reach the Gospel sustains into the uncomfortable places we thought we could avoid.”

A week into 2017, wrap-up stories of the tumultuous year we left behind and predictions of what’s to come leave me mindful of and grateful for the everlasting Gospel. Recent behavior suggests, at least in the minds of some, that our outgoing president plans to take down our incoming president, and perhaps America, too. And as the old POTUS shuns Israel, the new one appears to embrace the apple of God’s eye. Whether he will waver, time will tell, but God’s plan is sure.

As prophecy concerning Israel ramps up, so it does for the Church. A report states that in 2016, 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith. Little is mentioned of this by Western news sources. Or by Western Christians. Are we waiting for the atrocities to disrupt our own comfort before we cry out to God?

I am unthreatened at present, and as such perhaps not holding the Gospel as dear like those slain around the world must have held it. For them, the fight is done and the everlasting has come. For others, persecution is at the door. How unyielding their grasp must be to endure the weight of that burden. Yet, I do hold the Gospel most dear, for it will outlast politics and nations and wars and death. The Gospel will be the only good news left at the end of this age, whenever this age is destined to end. And it alone will be enough.

If you want to read the previous “Gospel” posts, just click on the titles.

News articles referenced in this post: 


Report: 90,000 Christians Killed for Their Faith in 2016