Essay: Turning the Tide: Chapter Reviews

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[. . .] Many forms of socialism exist, some of which are more progressive than others. Many Christians have explicitly identified themselves as socialists, and socialism and communism (which is officially 'atheist') is not the same thing. In taking a strong stand against socialism, Stanley's stress about the lack of equality between all human beings could be read to justify a lack of any forms of social welfare programs at all, and churches historically have played a very important role in caring for the indigent.

Chapter 6: "The Eroding Banks of Personal Freedom"

Given his concerns about the relationship between religion and politics, Stanley is understandably focused upon First Amendment freedoms in his analysis of the modern political world in America. The First Amendment guarantees citizens' freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Having preached in Soviet Russia, Stanley is understandably sensitive to the fact that simply because something is codified in law does not mean that the authorities will actually support the right. He recalls how in Russia when he preached the gospel in a church, although the doors were open and the sanctuary had been preserved as a historical monument, the translator refused to translate any of his spiritual words. Stanley fears that the same thing could happen within the United States, if people grow overly sanguine and careless about their personal freedoms.

The freedom to worship and the freedom to express all kinds of political opinions are inextricably linked. One of the reasons governments attempt to regulate religion is because the churches are viewed as institutions that are difficult to control and can give root to possibly seditious ideas. Also, religions teach citizens that all of their rights ultimately spring from God, not from government. The Founding Fathers themselves preached this doctrine, which was one reason why they were such zealous advocates of limited government. However, controlling government institutions try to make the people believe that it is government that 'creates' rights rather than protects the rights which are ultimately given from God and God alone.

Chapter 7: "Refuse to Tolerate the Flood of Immorality"

In Chapter 7: "Refuse to Tolerate the Flood of Immorality," Stanley takes what may be his most controversial stance, namely his condemnation of what he sees as the sexualized values of contemporary American society. Stanley compares America to a house that has trash scattered all over its yard, and calls America a 'moral mess,' given the prevalence of prostitution; abuse of drugs and alcohol; divorce, and the lack of respect that young people have for their elders.

Much of the dominant media content is authored by non-believers, says Stanley, and the culture of disbelief and promiscuity has affected even the view of the Christians who consume this media. Stanley says that he places strict limits on the types of media he consumes, reflecting a point-of-view that 'garbage goes in' will mean 'garbage will come out' in terms of what the viewer thinks. Christians should support legislation that promotes godliness and joy and positive values.

Stanley counsels the reader to "trust and obey God's boundaries" rather than to test them. He believes that secular culture promotes callousness and a false sense of sexual freedom, when in truth sexual immorality only promotes heartache and shame for the participants. Stanley believes that there is a reason that God placed specific restrictions on certain types of behaviors, and we must obey them to truly understand the beauty of the goodness of the world He created.

If someone has sinned, they must ask for God's forgiveness and truly repent. Only God can lead someone to true repentance. When someone does repent, it is not an act of the minister or even the Church; it is God's intervention alone. But only if we glorify God by treating our bodies with kindness and consideration can we be open to His mercy and grace.

Chapter 8: "Boldly Hold Our Leaders Accountable"

Rather than to 'boldly go where no man has gone before' into outer space, Stanley urges citizens to "Boldly Hold Our Leaders Accountable" to what they have promised and to the eternal truths they should uphold. Although respecting good leaders should not be confused with the love we owe to God, they are indeed necessary for our nation to move forward and to 'turn back the tide' of spiritual immorality. "For lack of guidance a nation falls but victory is won through many advisers." (Proverbs 11:14). No nation, just like no person can 'go alone' and proper stewardship is required. In a democracy, the awesome responsibility of choosing the leadership lies in the hands of the citizens, although Stanley believes it is ultimately God who chooses who leads a nation, through God's permissive or purposeful will.

By this, Stanley means that sometimes God will allow certain leaders to come to power, even if they may not truly honor His values, while other times God will orchestrate who takes the helm of a nation in a purposeful and directive manner. God's hand in the ruling of a nation's affairs can be seen on many occasions in the Bible, such as in His relationship with King David. God's intervention in worldly affairs is not limited to his involvement in the Biblical land of Israel, however, but also extends to his role in politics today. The U.S. Constitution specifically places checks, balances, and limits upon our leaders, but ultimately, says Stanley, it is God who allows human beings to rule and God can take away that authority as well. No human leader has the ultimate authority of God in his ability to exercise rule over history. Stanley, however, believes that contemporary leaders have exceeded their boundaries in many instances, such as when leaders have passed laws telling parents how to raise their children; what people can eat and drink; and how all Americans can choose to work, pray, and live.

Chapter 9: "Stand Against the Storm Clouds of Pride"

Human pride is not a new emotion. Stories of overly prideful people can be found as far back as the Bible, if not before that. Stanley critiques modern society as uniquely prideful and self-obsessed, however. All too often human beings fail to recognize that our "gifts, abilities, and talents" all derive from God, and what He can give, He can ultimately take away. This was seen in the story of Job, a man given many gifts whose fate was tested by God, when God gave Job much but then took it all away. All Job was left with was his faith until God restored what Job had lost. Leaders are particularly susceptible to pride, given the powerful positions they hold. The Lord has said that He will remove and humble leaders who fail to acknowledge His role in bringing them to power. And America itself can be collectively 'prideful,' given that it often forgets that its many great accomplishments are in fact derived from God, rather than a massive act of self-will.

Sometimes it is easy to think that God has abandoned us in times of stress and turmoil, but it is important to remember the many times God has tested humanity, ever since the Biblical flood of Noah. Only by looking to God, not to political leadership, can we find salvation. God is "trying to get our attention, calling us to a deeper relationship with Him." But we should not assume during times of strife that we will inevitably survive because of the force of America's greatness. Only God is eternal, not nations, and we must realize our collective dependence upon the divine to successfully persevere.

When we engage in hurtful and prideful actions, it is not just ourselves who are hurt: everyone suffers. That is why humility is a responsibility we must shoulder. The choices we make every day affect other people and when we act in a prideful way, we create rifts within our community as well as between ourselves and God.

Chapter 10: "The Turning-Tide Power of Wisdom"

As is his customary style, Stanley begins Chapter 10: "The Turning-Tide Power of Wisdom" with a metaphor: that of a driver going down the street, using the yellow line of the highway as a guide. This highway, says Stanley, is vitally necessary for safe and straight driving, and so is God's word. God's guidance is our 'straight line' down a moral path. Without the center line or map of scripture, life grows dangerous and chaotic. God will recognize us in our times of need and will fulfill all of the awesome promises he makes to us, but we must keep our eye on His words.

During times of extreme distress, scripture can heal our anxious hearts. In the Bible, kings are commanded to read scripture every day, as a way to ensure that they will govern in a wise and just fashion. Stanley states that this commandment was also given because of the extent to which the words… [END OF PREVIEW]

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