By Dr. James C. Denison
President, the Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, Texas
June 4, 2010
Corvettes and character
Armando Galarraga is my new favorite baseball player. Two days ago, the former Texas Ranger (aren’t all good pitchers former Rangers?) came within a botched umpire’s call of the greatest feat in baseball, a perfect game. As we observed in Thursday’s essay, first base umpire Jim Joyce will forever be known for his mistake.
Then something happened which made the game pale by comparison. Joyce was home plate umpire for yesterday’s contest between the Tigers and Indians. Galarraga brought the lineup card to him before the game began, and shook his hand. Joyce was clearly moved by the player’s gesture. Chevrolet gave the pitcher a new red Corvette in recognition of “his excellence on the field and for his professionalism and sportsmanship.”
Games are won and lost, but character remains. Nothing is more essential to a functioning democracy and culture than personal integrity.
In his farewell address (September 19, 1796), President George Washington told the nation: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . . Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. . . . Virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”
John Adams, our second president, claimed that “the general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.” He stated, “Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”
By contrast, Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was not a biblical Christian. He cut from the Bible every reference to the miraculous, and viewed Jesus as only a man. But he insisted, “Injustice in government undermines the foundations of a society. A nation, therefore, must take measures to encourage its members along the paths of justice and morality.”
Jesus closed the most famous sermon in history with this observation: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).
The storms of life are inevitable. Rains will fall, streams will rise, and winds will blow and beat against your soul today. What decision or problem or fear are you facing this morning? What does Scripture say about it? Will you stand on the rock of revelation or the sand of self-sufficiency? Choose wisely.
By Dr. James C. Denison