FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS)- There must be revival in the United States if the nation will again reflect Judeo-Christian values, Richard Land said during chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Nov. 27.
Land is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. The ERLC both represents Southern Baptists before the U.S. government and advises Southern Baptists regarding moral, social and public policy issues. According to Land, however, public policy cannot cause the reform needed to revive Judeo-Christian values in the nation.
“Washington is a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator,” Land said. “Washington is a caboose, not a locomotive. When a change happens in the country, it gets reflected in Washington. Washington does not change the country … If we want to have the kind of America that God will continue to bless, we are going to have to have a revival.”
Land reminded his audience that the reformation of values in the United States begins with each Christian and expands outward to their families, churches, communities and, finally, to the nation. Ultimately, the problems in the United States “are problems of the heart,” Land said. “They won’t be solved by us. They are God-sized problems.”
Land’s sermon was based on the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy. The Israelites, in this passage, were looking forward to the time when they would enter the Promised Land, taking possession of blessings they had not worked for, such as crops they did not plant and wells they did not dig. The Lord warned the Israelites not to forget the source of their blessings once they took possession of them.
“We are always in danger when we reach a place where we live in houses that we did not build, and we drink from wells that we did not dig, and we profit from vineyards and olive trees that we did not plant,” Land said. “We can forget the Lord our God, or at least we can forget from whence the blessings come. And that’s when the temptation to go after other gods and the temptation to depend upon ourselves is great.”
Land urged each seminary student and minister in his audience to remember the source of his or her calling and gifts. “Any gifts, any abilities, any talents that you have, they are in trust from Him,” he said. “You are stewards of His goods that He has entrusted to you. You are going to give an account of your stewardship of the talents that have been given to you, and they are yours to serve Him and to serve His church.”
Land also noted that many people in the United States take for granted the source of their blessings, as if these were theirs by right. The average American citizen has received greater blessings than any other group of people in history. And like the Israelites, current citizens of the United States are heirs to blessings for which they did not work.
Land reported that, according to a Gallup poll, the years leading up to 1957 were the happiest years in the nation. The following years, however, saw a decline in this happiness. In 1957, the nation had persevered through the Great Depression and World War II, and U.S. citizens came out of these trials more prosperous than they had ever been. “By 1957,” Land said, “the joyous consumerism with which they had abandoned themselves, they discovered, was a world of diminishing returns.”
“What happened? When they began to raise a generation – my generation – that lived in houses that we did not build, and ate from vineyards and drank from wells and ate from olive trees that we didn’t dig or plant, too often we forgot from whence comes our blessings,” Land said. In order to change this situation, believers must teach their children and their churches, continually reminding them of the source of their blessings.
Land has served as the president of the ERLC since 1988 and has been a representative for Southern Baptist and Evangelicals’ concerns before Congress, U.S. presidents and the media. Throughout his career, he has served on various government agencies, including three terms on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He was appointed to the USCIRF for a fourth term this fall. He hosts three nationally syndicated radio programs, including “For Faith & Family,” For Faith & Family Insight” and “Richard Land Live!” He was recognized as one of “The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America” in 2005 by Time magazine.
Land earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, graduating magna cum laude. He received a Master of Theology from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and his doctorate from Oxford University in England. He has authored several books, and his most recent book, “The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match!” received endorsements from Madeline Albright, Peter Gomes, Michael Novak and Peter Berger. He has also contributed to various publications and is the executive editor of the national magazine FFV, which addresses traditional religious values, Christian ethics and cultural trends.
Recordings of Land’s chapel message may be viewed, listened to or downloaded through Southwestern Seminary’s Web site, www.swbts.edu.
Southwestern Seminary celebrates its centennial in 2008. Since its founding, the seminary has trained and sent out over 40,000 graduates to serve in local churches and mission fields around the world. In 1908, B.H. Carroll established the seminary on the campus of Baylor University. It was moved to its current location on Seminary Hill in Fort Worth in 1910 and was placed under the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1925. Paige Patterson was elected as the eighth president of the seminary in 2003.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Thomas White, Vice President for Student Services and Communications
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
817.923.1921 ext. 7300