[forthright] Righteous Nation / The Tyranny of Consensus

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2010 07:35:33 -0800 (PST)
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COLUMN: REALITY CHECK

Righteous Nation
 by Stan Mitchell

"The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of
the Lord; he turns it wherever he will,"( Proverbs
21:1, ESV).

In the early 1980's, Zimbabwe suffered a debilitating
drought. I remember one evening watching the nation's
parliament on television debating the measures they
should take to alleviate the suffering.

One speaker, Anglican bishop Dube, to his credit, stood
and suggested that they should pray for rain. I'll
never forget what happened next. The entire house of
parliament broke up in helpless, knee slapping
laughter.

I wondered that night how long God would permit his
being mocked before he responded.

I love the Wise Man's declaration that no matter how
great and how powerful a nation's leader thinks he is,
he is actually being led wherever God directs him. He's
a pawn in the hand of the Almighty!

I am grateful that politicians in America invoke God's
name more often than they do in many countries in the
world, but I wonder if legislation in this country
reflects the principles of a nation that wants to
please God.

In ancient days God demanded that Israel live under his
rule and control. I have just one question for you.
When did God quit caring that nations be righteous?

----
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COLUMN: HANDS-ON FAITH 

The Tyranny of Consensus
 by Barry Newton

Arthur Schopenhauer is credited with the insight: "All
truth passes through three stages: First, it is
ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it
is accepted as being self-evident."

Perhaps an appropriate addendum would be: The fight
against truth often involves the tyranny of consensus.

Within a large amphitheater style auditorium, silence
recently reigned as riveted attention focused upon the
scientists sitting at a series of tables on the stage.
Each held a doctorate. Each were leaders on the
controversial topic being discussed.

The opening statements from both sides of the
discussion seemed reasonable enough, even convincing.
Suddenly the nature of the evidence being presented
shifted dramatically.

As counter-evidence was presented, one side retreated
to appealing to consensus: "Among those at research
universities, I do not know of anyone holding that
position."

The pattern continued as the spotlight shown brightly
on additional data. "If we were to fill this auditorium
with those working in this field, your opinion would be
rejected."

At times, consensus simply provides an historically
curious snapshot of a social barometer.

Arthur's insights and my proposed addendum lead me to
reflect upon another scenario.

Confronted with the evidence that the New Testament
beckons people to rely upon Jesus for salvation by
being immersed, I encounter two typical responses.

Some, apparently oblivious that the point under
examination is not faith but how people are being
instructed to initially express their faith upon Jesus,
merely reiterate, "salvation is by faith." They fail to
grasp the discussion.

Others, remain unmoved regardless of where the evidence
actually points because they seek refuge and security
in the consensus opinion of Protestantism.

As a principle, agreeing with the consensus opinion is
not necessarily misguided. Most people agree 2 + 2 = 4.
What matters though, is not whether an idea enjoys
popular acceptance, but where that evidence actually
leads. 

----
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