Thursday, May 31, 2018

What a Marxist economist from China had to say about U.S. religion

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Harvard Professor Clay Christensen

Harvard Professor Clay Christensen

Just six weeks after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Harvard President Samuel Langdon, May 31, 1775, spoke to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Samuel Langdon’s address was titled “Government Corrupted By Vice”: “They … attempted, by a sudden march of a body of troops in the night, to seize and destroy one of our magazines, formed by the people merely for their own security. … The fire began first on the side of the king’s troops. … But for what? Because they have made a noble stand for their natural and constitutional rights, in opposition to the machinations of wicked men … aiming to enslave and ruin the whole nation. …”

Samuel Langdon continued: “We must keep our eyes fixed on the supreme government of the Eternal King, as directing all events, setting up or pulling down the kings of the earth at His pleasure. … That for the sins of a people God may suffer the best government to be corrupted, or entirely dissolved; and that nothing but a general reformation can give ground to hope that the public happiness will be restored. …”

Harvard President Langdon spoke further: “The kingdom of Israel was brought to destruction, because its iniquities were full … because there remained no hope of reformation. … Their government degenerated in proportion as their vices increased, till few faithful men were left in any public offices. … At length, when they were delivered up for seventy years into the hands of the king of Babylon, scarcely any remains of their original excellent civil polity appeared among them. …”

Langdon added: “When a government is in its prime … virtue prevails – every thing is managed with justice, prudence, and frugality. … But vice will increase with the riches and glory of an empire; and this gradually tends to corrupt the constitution, and in time bring on its dissolution. … This may be considered not only as the natural effect of vice, but a righteous judgment of heaven, especially upon a nation which has been favored with the blessing of religion and liberty, and is guilty of undervaluing them; and eagerly going into the gratification of every lust. …”

Langdon went on: “They were a sinful nation … who had forsaken the Lord; and provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger. … Their princes were rebellious against God … seizing the property of the subjects … and robbing the public treasury. Every one loved gifts … they were influenced in every thing by bribery … they even justified and encouraged the murder of innocent persons to support their lawless power. … And God, in righteous judgment, left them to run into all this excess of vice to their own destruction, because they had forsaken Him. … The public greatly suffered, and the people groaned, and wished for better rulers and better management. But in vain they hoped for a change … when the spirit of religion was gone, and the infection of vice was become universal. The whole body being so corrupted, there could be no rational prospect of any great reformation in the state, but rather of its ruin. …”

Rev. Samuel Langdon continued his address to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress: “Yet if a general reformation of religion and morals had taken place, and they had turned to God from all their sins – if they had again recovered the true spirit of their religion, God, by the gracious interpositions of His providence, would soon have found out methods to restore the former virtue of the state, and again have given them men of wisdom and integrity. … We have rebelled against God. We have lost the true spirit of Christianity, though we retain the outward profession and form of it. We have neglected … the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy commands and institutions. … Their hearts are far from Him. By many, the Gospel is corrupted into a superficial system of moral philosophy, little better than ancient Platonism. …”

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Harvard President Samuel Langdon concluded: “Let us repent and implore the divine mercy. Let us amend our ways and our doings, reform everything that has been provoking the Most High and thus endeavor to obtain the gracious interpositions of Providence for our deliverance. … May the Lord hear us in this day of trouble. … We will rejoice in His salvation, and in the name of our God, we will set up our banners! … Wherefore is all this evil upon us? Is it not because we have forsaken the Lord? Can we say we are innocent of crimes against God? No, surely it becomes us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, that He may exalt us in due time. …

“If God be for us, who can be against us? The enemy has reproached us for calling on His name and professing our trust in Him. They have made a mock of our solemn fasts and every appearance of serious Christianity in the land. … May our land be purged from all its sins! Then the Lord will be our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble, and we will have no reason to be afraid, though thousands of enemies set themselves against us round about.”

More recently, on Feb. 8, 2011, Harvard Professor Clay Christensen, the Robert & Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, observed: “Sometime ago I had a conversation with a Marxist economist from China. He was coming to the end of a Fulbright Fellowship here in Boston, and I asked him if he had learned anything that was surprising or unexpected. And without any hesitation he said ‘Yes, I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy. The reason why democracy works,’ he said, ‘is not because the government was designed to oversee what everybody does. But rather democracy works because most people, most of the time, voluntarily choose to obey the law. And in your past, most Americans attended a church or synagogue every week. And they were taught there by people who they respected.’

“My friend went on to say that ‘Americans followed these rules because they had come to believe that they weren’t just accountable to society, they were accountable to God.’ My Chinese friend heightened a vague but nagging concern I harbored inside that as religion loses its influence over the lives of Americans what will happen to our democracy? Where are the institutions that are going to teach the next generation of Americans that they too need to voluntarily choose to obey the laws? Because if you take away religion, you cannot hire enough police.”

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