The Christian Response to the Liberal Agenda

by Professor Dr. Thio Li-ann

Christians are born again to resist the spirit of the age. Francis Schaeffer noted in The God who is There, “the Christian must resist the spirit of the world in the form it takes in his own generation.” This requires both discernment and personal resolution not to be taken captive “through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world, rather than Christ.” (Colossians 2:8).

The basic principles of the world rest on human rationality and experience; this precludes consideration of revelation or any form of transcendental authority like a Creator God. The Christian is to love God with his whole mind; Jesus Christ is the alpha and omega, the Way, the Truth and Life; any thinking apart from Him is deficient and false.

The authenticity of Christian discipleship is reflected in whether we fully apprehend we are “no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” (Eph 2:19). Our identity, allegiances and priorities must shift and align with God’s purposes.

The quality of our character is determined by our response to the trials He ordained for our maturing. All must give account to the Lord Jesus Christ who will assess whether we were complacent in our comfort-zones, or whether we knew our God and did exploits (Dan 11:32). In John 15, our Lord said He choose us, and appointed us to bear lasting fruit. While salvation is free, we will be judged or assessed in relation to how we lived our lives and whether we built on the foundation of Jesus Christ with “gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw”. Our co-labour with Christ for His Kingdom will be revealed with fire which will “test the quality of each man’s work.” (1 Cor 3:12-13).

We Contend Not Against Flesh and Blood –

The spirit of the anti-christ, which can occupy human systems, laws, and cultural mindsets, is “every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” (1 John 4:2-3). What comes from the “world” is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life: 1 John 2:16. This relates to sensuality, which diminishes spiritual sensitivity, the greedy longings of the mind, which dilutes the call to be a living sacrifice and self-sufficiency, being assured in one’s own resources or the stability of earthly things.

To be useful to the Master, we must be cleansed from such worldliness and continually examine our hearts to root out that which displeases Him. He will not use a filthy instrument or un-consecrated heart which neither seeks Him nor carry His concerns. Only those who pursue intimacy with God and holiness will be positioned to carry the heart of Zion in the language of Canaan. Only those saints who repent of their ‘worthless words’, knowing there is power of life and death in the tongue, will be selected as His spokesmen (Jeremiah 15:17).

The Liberal Agenda

What is the nature of the ‘liberal agenda’ and why must Christians oppose this, both as stewards of the land God has placed us in and as citizens in a democratic state where we have the privilege of speaking up to our governors and being heard?

The simple point is that the ‘liberal agenda’ is infused with the spirit of the anti-christ. This manifests through the philosophy of humanism and materialism, the ethics of moral relativism and the politics of radical liberalism and militant secularism.

Liberalism is a deceptive philosophy which presents itself as being morally neutral and non-judgmental. Two types of ‘liberalism’ must be distinguished to avoid confusion: political (classic) and philosophical (modern) liberalism.

Political liberalism is the belief in limited government flowing from the view that human nature is corruptible. Hence, the need to separate government powers to check abuse.

Philosophical liberalism rests on the precept that the state should be ‘neutral’ and not interfere with the ‘personal choices’ of individuals, allowing each to decide and live out his conception of the ‘good life.’ Why then should the state interfere with the choices of 2 consenting male adults wanting to commit sodomy or fraternal incest? The creedal language of the radical liberal is ‘autonomy’, ‘right’, ‘privacy’ and ‘choice’, rooted in the will of ‘rational’ adults.

Philosophical liberalism is not morally neutral, although it pretends to be. There can be no neutral ground when we contemplate morality because the consequence of believing in morality is the need to make value judgments on what is right and wrong. Any viable theory of morality has some limit on consent. Liberalism as a philosophy cannot logically find an authoritative source for limiting consent.

James Kalb elegantly observes in his essay, ‘The Tyranny of Liberalism’: [2] “In spite of claims of neutrality, liberalism establishes an enforceable official morality that supports a definite way of life. It makes demands for moral reconstruction that are necessarily intolerant.” This brand of liberalism celebrates moral indeterminacy. It is intolerant towards all appeals to non-consensual forms of authority, such as God or community values.

This is a recipe for moral lawlessness and societal suicide, the fruit of illiberal liberal tyranny which tries to exclude all argument not based on ‘consent’ from being considered as a source of public philosophy or morality. It is also irrational because it makes personal choice, determined by human desire, the sole public value for consideration; traditional morality is bulldozed out of the equation. Public philosophy, if it rests on hedonism and desire, can be as perverted as human desire potentially is. Without revelation, the people cast off restraint. This is not the basis for a strong community or for human flourishing.

Ideas have consequences. Humanism shapes both legal and social norms which directly impact our political and social environment. An example of the outworking of humanism is the legal controversy or tussle over cultural mindsets in relation to the definition of “life” and the issue of abortion.

As man is made imago dei, a human person is of intrinsic worth because God values humanity. In Psalm 139, the truth is affirmed that God knew us even in our mother’s womb and has written all the days of our life in His book, before we even breathed. Humanism, joined with Darwinism, strips man of this sacred quality – man is just an organism that evolved out of some primordial muck. Humanism, fused with moral relativism, disavows any absolute principles emanating from a transcendent source such as the sanctity and preciousness of life. Man is central and the ‘measure of all things’; morality is derived apart from God and its chief value is autonomy. Notably, “auto” means self and “nomos” means law. The cry for unrestrained autonomy is a unilateral declaration of independence from God, an assertion of self-rule, in other words, sin.

For example, humanist liberals rationalise things away by defining an unborn child as a ‘fetus’ and speaking in terms of ‘viability’. If not ‘viable’, a fetus is but a clump of cells, not a sentient being made in the image of God from the moment of conception. Hence, abortion is presented as a woman’s reproductive right – a question of her choice. Liberals would oppose a coerced abortion as they would violate choice. It disengages from the larger issue, when does life begin? As ethics are relative in the humanist worldview, you decide, not God. This harks back to one of the four lies of the serpent in Eden “you will be as God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) When God and His moral law is displaced, fallible man is deified and becomes the unstable source of ‘evolving’ and inconstant moral standards.

There is no logical or normative basis upon which liberalism can morally differentiate between racism and incest as it cannot prioritise between claims, apart from reference to some external standard. It is morally incoherent.

National Sin, National Judgment – Understanding Corporate Responsibility

How does the latter-day Holocaust of the unborn differ from offering child sacrifices to Molech (see Leviticus 3:3-5)? We must take to heart that when the sin of a nation cumulatively reaches its tipping point, the judgment of God can ensue in our lifetime if we are actors or complicit in acts of evil. A clear biblical precedent where the evil of a people invoked the God’s judgment in their lifetime is the case of Sodom.

In Leviticus 20:22, a direct correlation is made between keeping God’s laws and ensuring that the land “does not vomit you out” because we have allowed ourselves and the land to become defiled. So too, when God’s moral laws are rejected and acts of child sacrifice, bestiality, incest and homosexuality proceed apace, He gives His people over to ‘laws they could not live by’ or unlivable laws: Ezekiel 20:25. Laws and government are supposed to serve our good, by providing order and peace and allowing us to lead quiet lives. Laws which restrict religious freedoms exemplify unlivable laws. For example, apostasy laws bar the changing of faith and ‘hate speech’ laws may prohibit criticism of homosexuality on religious grounds, regulating the content of preaching!

God looks for a man to “stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it.” (Ezekiel 22:30). There is a direct correlation between contending for righteous laws and preventing divine judgment from being visited on the land. Certainly, that was a chief motivation for many Christians engaged in opposing slavery.[3]

To assess the moral ecology of the country, a useful moral barometer is set out in Romans 1: 18-32. Three stages of personal and social degeneration can be discerned, all stemming from the deliberate suppression of Truth that God exists and has made claims on our lives – what we might call the law of reason and conscience. Indeed, this is the law written on the heart of Gentiles with no knowledge of God which indicates we were created moral creatures: Romans 2:14-15.

The first stage is that of sexual immorality or impurity (Romans 1:24-25) – where sex is detached from God’s covenantal design of reserving sex for marriage, the one flesh union for life between man and woman. This is an expression of intimacy and the method by which humanity fulfils the mandate to multiply and fill the earth. Consequently, bodies are degraded and the injunction to ‘be holy even as I am holy’ is discarded. This opens the door for pansexuality i.e. sex without boundaries, contrary to the divine design.

Stage two (Romans 1: 26) relates to sexual perversity or “shameful lusts”, specifically, homosexuality and lesbianism. Romans 1:27 goes so far as to state that such indecent acts between men “received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” The act of homosexuality causes both physical and mental harm to the actors. Like any other sin, it can be repented of, as is evident from the Corinthian church: 1 Cor 6:9-11. While we must be compassionate towards the homosexual person, we cannot in love condone homosexuality and the homosexual agenda, if we take Hell seriously. It is not ‘loving’ to be callous, in the name of ‘compassion’, when people around us are perishing and hell-bound. Sin must be called a sin, as problem cannot be solved unless first identified.

Stage three is full-blown moral anarchy, detailed in Romans 1:28-32 where men hate God, are arrogant, boastful, senseless faithless, heartless and ruthless, where evil is not just winked at but celebrated. In Isaiah 5:20, it is written “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil...” The defining feature is a complete lack of shame, the total searing of conscience such that evil-doers persist in sinning, invent ways of sinning and approve of those who engage in sinful practices. As moral lawlessness, rooted in humanism, gains strength, it corrupts private and public morals, ushering in moral confusion and moral cowardice. However, when our Lord returns, the ancient distinctions will be restored, just as humanity will be divided into the sheep and goat camps according to the degree of their fidelity to God: “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not...” (Malachi 3:18).

This audacious spirit of lawlessness is already at work within our society. If we do not intercede and speak out against unrighteous acts or laws, we will be judged and may lose our destiny if we grow fat, complacent, indifferent, seduced by doctrines to suit itching ears, becoming entirely irrelevant to the advancement of God’s kingdom of righteousness, joy and peace. As the Psalmist notes, righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne” (Psalm 89:14). Furthermore, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34). We bear culpability for the state of our nation.

No fear or love of the Lord – Counting the Cost.

There is a cost to engagement in the public square. Everyone who wants to lead a godly life will be persecuted and anyone who standsup for what is right will be vilified, called vicious names.[4] But if they hated our Lord, they will hate us too and if we are in Him, He is mighty to save and vindicate us (Psalm 91, Psalm 37 and Isaiah 54:17). This requires trust.

It is a distinctly cowardly stance to hold our peace in the face of patent injustice and evil, one entirely unbefitting of any generation of believers with aspirations to meet their call to be the Bride worthy of Christ. Two pieces of wisdom from the Book of Proverbs are apt. First, untruth has an ability to acquire a false air of inevitability where this is unopposed. As Proverbs 18:17 states: “The first to present his case seems right, until another comes and challenges him.”

Second, how we speak and whether we speak is a revelation into the quality of our character: Proverbs 25:26 declares “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.

Like the Lion-Lamb, we must be loving and tender to the broken and hurting, but also aggressive towards evil, however manifested. As salt, we are to conserve that which is good and nurtures human flourishing, and as light, we are to model and show a better way ahead in the transformative development of a just and humane society.

Those who refuse to stand up for righteousness do so because they lack the fear and love of the Lord – to love God is to know Him and what is on His heart and to burn with those things on His heart. He is a God of righteousness and justice – His children must manifest this same passion while not seeking utopia on earth.

In the realm of law and politics within a multi-religious secular democracy that frames Singapore society, to be silent in the face of evil and suffering is to betray our calls as watchmen, stewards and citizens who have a right and interest in the quality of our laws and policies and the social environment this nurtures or sustains. If we refuse to learn and educate ourselves to speak through issues affecting our common good, we disqualify ourselves, through fear or lack of vigilance, from God’s plans and purposes. From a study of Judges 7, it is clear that God will not use every Christians – in assembling Gideon’s army, He only used 0.8% of the original army (300 out of 32,000, against 132,000 Amalekites).