Jim Richards on America the Beautiful?

Jim Richards is executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.


GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) — The line “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread” was first written by Alexander Pope in his 1711 poem “An Essay on Criticism.” I suppose that should be the title for my column.

I have refrained from expressing my opinion on a number of matters due to my role as a unifier. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the expansive but definitive statement under which I serve the churches of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. My responsibility to the Lord is to do everything I can do to help the churches accomplish the Great Commission through cooperation. However, in the chaos of our current situation my conscience will not allow me to hold my tongue any longer. Some may think my commentary is not in my purview. I believe this is a pastoral word for all of us.

The New World in North America was settled by people seeking religious liberty. The founding of the English colonies was primarily by people of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Declaration of Independence was written, theological language was included. The God of the Bible’s actions of creation, judgment and providence are mentioned. Thomas Jefferson, who was no orthodox Christian, crafted these words. Many of the Founding Fathers were professed believers in Jesus Christ. Until the mid-20th century much of the culture was heavily influenced by Christianity. With that being said, we must recognize those who professed our Lord were people like us with clay feet.

We are flawed individuals with Adam’s nature. Even believers are capable of committing some heinous acts. Native American peoples were abused, lied to and almost annihilated. People from Africa were transported to America and forced to suffer the ignominy of bondage. Later under Jim Crow, African Americans were maligned and murdered. Treated like second-class citizens, they suffered unimaginable injustices. Loyal Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps. Italians and the Irish people faced mistreatment when they migrated to the golden shore. Hispanic people have often been abused and marginalized. Although America was to be a melting pot, it has often been a boiling pot.

Sin is sickening. It engenders strife, hatred and desire for revenge. What are we to do as believers? The most obvious and most enduring answer is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the solution and to display that Gospel in a Holy Spirit-empowered life of holiness. This is the ultimate answer for ultimate justice.

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Source: Baptist Press