Sunday, November 11, 2012

1 Chron 12:32 report, 108: Facing the radical secularist dechristianisation challenge and the question of government under God

It isn't hard to figure out that I would much rather be talking about technology, education and capacity development (and indeed this weekend I updated the post on a Java Hello World based intro to programming course). 

However, like it or not, we are at a watershed in our culture and several issues need to be put on the table linked to the aggressive dechristianisation of our civilisation* and especially to the challenge of dealing with government in a balanced way as Christian citizens and community leaders, in light of the biblical vision and challenge of prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership under the fullness of Christ. This, in the further context of the development- and- sustainability challenge that confronts us as a region today.
*F/N: Before I go on, let me immediately direct the interested or needful reader here on the core warrant for the soundness of the gospel, the call to repentance and trust in the risen Christ, and to a transformational life of godly discipleship, with more details here on and here on. The right hand column of this blog will lead you to many more linked resources.
A good place to begin is a remark I made a few days back, on what church leaders in the region -- with all due respect -- have not been doing adequately:
. . . the very fact of our lack of discernment and determination to do the right, living by the truth in love, and our vulnerability to the futile thought of those in endarkened rebellion against God, indicts us. For had the leadership been equipping the saints adequately, we would not be vulnerable to the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful schemes, nor would we spend good money to imbibe the poison, deception, decadence and addiction to conscience-numbing sensual indulgence that so haunt our whole civilisation.

We have to build a godly alternative, and we have to do so now.
One of the incidents that drew my attention, is the unbalanced way that I have recently heard church leaders speaking of how God puts up rulers, and takes down others, and how our main duty is to pray for government leaders so that we can lead a peaceful life in godliness which is on the whole the best context for communicating the gospel.

Something jarred in me when I heard this. 

So I asked, why is this so seemingly "off" or out of balance, lacking the rest of the story? Isn't this directly taken from scripture?

Somehow, I couldn't shake the sense that this was not the whole story.

Reflecting on this brought me back to my thoughts some years ago on government under God and how we are always under the moral government of God -- cf. Finney here and esp. here (as well as debate points here) -- who made us as morally responsible creatures. Where, communities can choose to walk in godly ways or ungodly ones, leading to blessing or judgement. Ultimately, to the point where the cup of the iniquity of a nation can be full to overflowing, making it a self-destructive, often menacing, plague upon the earth. Leading to its ruin.

This brings us back to the message of the book of Daniel -- where of course Daniel (as had Joseph before him) served under a king who was pagan and plainly out of alignment with the full counsel of God:
There are two typical reactions to the book of Daniel that must first be addressed: (1) the specious but influential modernist claim that it is a fraud written circa 165 BC, and (2) the eschatological escapist tendency to so bind the application of the book to apocalyptic speculation that we fail to see how it strongly and relevantly argues that the Most High God rules over the affairs of men even now, so that we must consult and heed his counsel today, or else fall under his just judgement.
The first reaction is fairly easy to rebut, once we have in hand a few basic facts; as the NIV Study Bible’s notes tellingly summarise:
      Nebuchadnezzar's Dan 2 vision (Cr: ZYWorld)
      The widely held view that the book of Daniel is largely fictional rests mainly on the modern philosophical assumption that long-range predictive prophecy is impossible . . . But objective evidence excludes this hypothesis on several counts:
          1. To avoid fulfillment of long-range predictive prophecy in the book, the adherents of the late-date view usually maintain that the four empires of chs. 2 and 7 are Babylon, Media, Persia and Greece. But in the mind of the author, "the Medes and Persians" (5:28) together constituted the second in the series of four kingdoms (2:36-43). Thus it becomes clear that the four empires are the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman . . . .
          2. . . . Linguistic evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls (which furnish authentic samples of Hebrew and Aramaic writing from the second century B.C. . . . ) demonstrates that the Hebrew and Aramaic chapters of Daniel must have been composed centuries earlier. Furthermore, as recently demonstrated, the Persian and Greek words in Daniel do not require a late date [e.g., the prior Assyrian Empire was familiar with Greek musicians and their instruments]. Some of the technical terms appearing in ch. 3 were already so obsolete by the second century B.C. that translators of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) translated them incorrectly.
          3. Several of the fulfillments of prophecies in Daniel could not have taken place by the second century anyway, so the prophetic element cannot be dismissed. The symbolism connected with the fourth kingdom makes it unmistakably predictive of the Roman empire (see 2:33; 7:7, 19), which did not take control of Syro-Palestine until 63 B.C. Also, the prophecy concerning the coming of "the Anointed One, the ruler," 483 years after "the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" (9:25), works out to the time of Jesus' ministry.
      Objective evidence, therefore, appears to exclude the late-date hypothesis and indicates that there is insufficient reason to deny Daniel's authorship.
Enormous consequences follow from these apparently simple, but often overlooked (or even suppressed), facts. For, these facts so strongly testify to the authenticity of the prophetic element of the Bible that they mean that there is every reason to believe that God speaks through prophets to rulers and people, showing that He rules in the affairs of men – holding rulers and people alike to account before him.
Further, the message of Daniel means that, even centuries ahead of time, God knows and indeed controls the future. Yet further, as he rules over the affairs of men and nations, he holds us to account for righteousness, justice and moral purity: we ignore or reject his counsel at our peril, and to our ruin. In short, those who, over the past several generations, have led many people, governments and nations to forget and even to defy God have misled Western Civilisation down a road to ruin.
Specifically, we may think in terms of three levels of God's judgement of the nations, which -- as Psalm 24:1 -2 and the Parable of the Vineyard and Tenants in Lk 20:9 - 19 remind us -- are his tenants; and since this is being written in volcano-stricken Montserrat, let's highlight the levels with appropriate warning level "colour codes":
  • YELLOW: We are fallen creatures in a morally ordered world, where sin leads to death: we are subject to the judgement of consequences. [Jas. 1:12 - 18, Rom. 6:23, Prov. 14:12 .]
  • ORANGE: God, in loving mercy, sends his prophets and especially his Son to warn, redeem, correct and call us to repentance and reformation: corrective judgements and chastisements. [Amos 3:7 - 8, John 3:16 - 17, Heb. 1:1 - 14, Matt. 28:18 - 20.]
  • RED: If we insist on disobeying God -- that is, on "sin/business as usual" -- we will surely be destroyed by our sin: destructive judgement. [Deut. 8:17 - 20, John 3:18 - 21, Rom 1:16 - 32.]
So, it is high time for us in the Caribbean to wake up to our peril, and turn back to God; in the hope and prayer that he will graciously forgive and rescue us from our folly.
But, also, speculative eschatological escapism is of great concern to those who are inclined to take the Bible seriously, for such an attitude distracts us from the direct relevance of Daniel to the business of government in the community in our time, and in our place: the C21 Caribbean. However, while indeed Daniel contains many prophecies of the End of Days -- some of which are "closed up and sealed until the time of the end" [12:9] -- there is much in that Book that speaks to us as we set about just government under God.
It is well worth pausing to note Nebuchadnezzar's testimony on returning to his right mind after having been struck down for arrogance:
Dan 4: 34 At the end of the days [of my judgement] I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,     

                    for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
        and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
      35 ​​​​​​​​all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
        and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
        and among the inhabitants of the earth;
        and none can stay his hand
        or say to him, “What have you done?” 

 36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 

37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble[ESV]
Would to God that our leaders in the Caribbean and wider world today would consistently heed this counsel.

Next to this, I see that in a democratic community, we the citizens have a great privilege: we get to vote for our rulers, and so we have a responsibility to be accurately aware of what is going on, and to insist on godly, sound leadership. We should inform ourselves and build up participative skills so that we take part in the day to day governance of our communities and their institutions as stakeholders, which includes that we must be willing to correct those who would intimidate us into silence or lead us astray in a PTA or the like. It includes creating an active voice in the community that shows the soundness and relevance of the gospel perspective, e.g. we need good regular radio panels and columnists. We need good apologists and opinion leaders who are willing and able to give good answers on challenges and issues, especially to rout the new atheists and their rhetorical bellicosity, or the likes of a Dan Brown or a Jesus Seminar etc. We must have some who are effective Daniels, not only as public/civil servants, but as politicians, social activists and more. We should be willing to support them so they will not be half-starved. And that in turn means that we must watch and guard against the increasingly deceptive and manipulative media culture and our education system, lest they lead us astray.

Today, of course, we are back at Rom 1 and Eph 4 on the problem of willful rebellion against God and resulting endarkenment of heart and mind, leading to sinful chaos in the community.

In the face of such, we specifically need to create a godly, sound alternative for information, discussion of serious issues and education. Which, under the solemn charge to nurture the flock of God soundly, must not shun to speak correctively and prophetically to those who are in positions of influence and government, once they are misleading the public into the sorts of rebellion and error described in Rom 1. 

This time, to emphasise the preacher's solemn responsibility under God, let's pick up the text from v 14:
Rom 1:14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,  both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 
 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,  as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.  [--> whether such images are in pagan temples or materialist museums makes but little difference]
 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 
 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 
 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.  [ESV]
It is obvious that we are living in a day in which our civilisation is living out of Romans 1, right down to demanding that we approve perverse evils. But, just as Paul found himself under obligation to proclaim and to teach in ways that corrected errors and sins that hardened men's hearts against the gospel, just so, we have the same obligation today. We must be ready, willing and able to provide godly, sound, prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership. 

In the words of Amos:
       Amos 3:6 ​​​​​​​​Is a trumpet blown in a city,
        and the people are not afraid?
        Does disaster come to a city,
        unless the LORD has done it?
       7 ​​​​​​​​“For the Lord GOD does nothing
        without revealing his secret
        to his servants the prophets.
       8 ​​​​​​​​The lion has roared;
        who will not fear?
        The Lord GOD has spoken;
        who can but prophesy?” 

And again:
Amos 5:10 ​​​​​​​​They hate him who reproves in the gate,
        and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
      11 ​​​​​​​​Therefore because you trample on2  the poor
        and you exact taxes of grain from him,
        you have built houses of hewn stone,
        but you shall not dwell in them;
        you have planted pleasant vineyards,
        but you shall not drink their wine.
      12 ​​​​​​​​For I know how many are your transgressions
        and how great are your sins-
        you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
        and turn aside the needy in the gate.
      13 ​​​​​​​​Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
        for it is an evil time.
      14 ​​​​​​​​Seek good, and not evil,
        that you may live;
        and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
        as you have said.
      15 ​​​​​​​​Hate evil, and love good,
        and establish justice in the gate;
        it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
        will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. [ESV]
Psalm 127:1 is also very helpful in understanding genuinely sustainable development under God:
 Ps. 127:1 ​​​​​​​​Unless the LORD builds the house,
        those who build it labor in vain.
        Unless the LORD watches over the city,
        the watchman stays awake in vain. [ESV]
Unless we work with God, our development efforts and hopes for prosperity and good life in a pleasant community will ultimately be in vain. That includes the principles of neighbourliness in Leviticus 19:15 - 18:
Lev 19: 15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.
16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life  of your neighbor: I am the LORD. 
 17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.
18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. [ESV]
In short, the Golden Rule cited by Jesus and Paul, is not just about warm fuzzies, it is a call to justice, open and serious discussion and fairness in truth in the community. I cannot but note that this is an outright rebuke to far too much of what goes on in our media, on our streets and in our political life as well as in the office politics of organisations INCLUDING churches.

God cannot bless us in such evil! 

No, instead we are bringing judgement down on ourselves.

In answering to such challenges, I believe that if we understand the prophetic alert levels, we can understand that we are always under the judgement of consequences. 

Indeed, we can revisit the concept that God raises up community leaders, including those in government in this light. In a democratic community, he has given us the privilege of electing our leaders. This means he has given us the responsibility to act in accord with good neighbour principles and with godly soundness. So, we have a duty to prepare ourselves as citizens, and to support the good and the sound. 

If we choose instead to follow the cunning and craftiness of men in devilish, deceitful scheming and listen to those who tickle our itching ears with what we want to hear, through slander, envy, backbiting etc, we invite the consequences of our misbehaviour. In one word: ruin.

So, if our communities begin to walk down a road of ingratitude to God, resentment against him and sinful mind-endarkening rebellion, it is the duty of sound leaders of God's people to speak out clearly and forcefully, grounding the gospel, highlighting   and correcting the errors that block us from receiving it and walking in discipleship that leads to reformation. Indeed, we must remind ourselves that invitation to such reformation is a part of the Great Commission:
Matt 28: 16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in  the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [ESV]
As a part of this, we plainly have a duty to point out that governmental leaders are in fact -- as Rom 13:1 - 7 outlines -- God's servants, appointed to do good, especially by establishing and defending the civil peace of justice as a space in which peaceful community life may prevail. In such a context, the gospel can be put forth most effectively. And yes, we are to pray for such leaders (even if -- inevitably -- they are imperfect), but we are also to speak out the word that calls men to the truth and to repentance, renewal, revival and reformation of the community -- the four R's of revival --  under God.

Where also, a big part of that prayer for leaders that we must also emphasise is that we should ask that God would move such men to repentance and reformation.  Which in turn requires that we take the lead in the call and work of renewal and positive transformation, otherwise we would be beating the air with empty, insincere words. That starts with our own soul searching, penitence and renewal of heart, mind, life and institutions, starting with the churches.

Plainly, God does not listen to or bless empty words that we do not back up by our own deeds. (Consider: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us . . . )

In a democratic community, we therefore should not shun to teach people that we should demand that our government leaders respect godliness, decency and uprightness. For far too long we have tolerated government by scoundrels in our region, and have gone along with those who seek out those who will tickle itching ears with what they want to hear and will smear, denigrate, lie and slander. We are paying a terrible price for that all over our region.

Let me get concrete. Here is the call to prayer by the Continental Congress of the American colonies, for May 1776. Yes, by the same founding Congress that issued the US Declaration of Independence in July: 
May 1776 [over the name of John Hancock, first signer of the US Declaration of Independence] : In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity.. . . Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; . . . that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wisdom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis—That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and abstain from servile labour on the said day.
The underlying theological context for this is the double covenant understanding of nationhood and government under God taught by the reformers of 400 - 500 years ago. In the words of professor Bamberg in an article for CAPO:
[b]y means of the first covenant, the people form a religious covenant community. By means of the second, the political state arises. This political covenant assures that people will obey the ruler's commands as long as they are just. If the ruler does not fulfill his obligation then the people are absolved from their vows of allegiance. The fact that God includes the people in the parties of the compacts demonstrates that 'the people have a right to make, hold and accomplish their promises and contracts.' The people are not slaves without rights but are responsible to fulfill certain obligations as well as enjoy certain privileges . . . .
The concepts of compact, tyranny and resistance are popularly attributed solely to the Enlightenment figures of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. To be sure, this was one means through which these ideas were disseminated, yet, they are actually much older. The language and arguments Adams employs [and this of course includes that collaborative work, the US DOI of 1776] bear striking similarities to the Vindiciae contra tyrannos. . . . [which] does not argue for anarchy. It recommends resistance to tyranny based upon the authority of lower officers of the state [i.e. through their interposition as equally God's agents to do good and protect the community and its members from evildoers, including tyrants by usurpation, corruption or invasion]. As such, it should be considered an argument for a conservative revolution. At the same time, it brought the contract theory into play against the claims of divine right absolutism. In this way it contributed to later contract theory . . . . 
Any revolt must proceed along orderly lines through the lower magistrates . . . . In America, the elected representatives of the people, town councils, Continental Congress or the lower houses of the colonial legislatures were responsible to oppose the tyrant king and Parliament as well as the loyalist lower magistrates, i.e. Massachusetts Governor Hutchinson. Adams felt that the American Revolution met these qualifications. On the other hand, he had nothing but animosity for the rabble revolution in France which claimed the American Revolution as its model. Adams, appalled by the mob rule in Paris, denounced the tyranny of the majority in that revolution . . . .
The social contract theory of civil government [in this context] was an amiable theory to men raised on the covenant theology of New England as Adams had been. The influence of Locke seems evident, but he was welcomed by the New Englanders precisely because he had reformulated the familiar ideas of the Calvinists . . . . Adams, like other American Whigs, derived his theory from the English Civil War tradition which was itself informed by Vindiciae.

Or, as the Library of Congress display on the US Founding notes:
  The Continental-Confederation Congress, a legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men . . . both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational, nonpolemical Christianity . . . . Congress was guided by "covenant theology," a Reformation doctrine especially dear to New England Puritans, which held that God bound himself in an agreement with a nation and its people . . . The first national government of the United States, was convinced that the "public prosperity" of a society depended on the vitality of its religion. Nothing less than a "spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens," Congress declared to the American people, would "make us a holy, that so we may be a happy people."
Clearly, there is something to the vision that  Paul outlined in Acts 17, that God has created the nations from one man, with one common red blood in our veins. So, nationhood is necessarily under God. And, the covenant that establishes government is obviously equally under and accountable to God. As Paul notes in Rom 13:4, the civil authority is "God's servant," tasked to do us good. Therefore, when Jesus says in Matt 22:15 - 22, that we should give to God what belongs to him, and to Caesar what belongs to him, the underlying point is that the civil authority -- regardless of how he got there -- in this case by conquest under the pretext of an invitation to help one side in a civil conflict -- is under God, and is accountable for justice and doing good in the community. Which is (per Rom 13:1 - 7) the basis for just and limited taxes (taxes can become confiscatory, to the point where they are stealing).

It is in this context that we can found a valid theory of democratic self-government with legitimate rulers accountable before the people, who must also be responsible under God.

In the crucial second paragraph of the US Declaration of Independence, 1776, we may therefore read (and echoing the 1581 Dutch DOI under William the Silent of Orange):

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . .
Summarising, in light of abundant Biblical, historical and theological precedents:
[i] liberty is rooted in God's Creation [which makes us equal, cf. Ac 17:24 - 27, Gal 3:28 etc.] and his endowments of basic rights [which imply and are based on duties under justice: e.g. my right to life means you have a duty to respect my life -- rights-talk and duty-to-justice talk are two sides of the same coin];

[ii] Government is the guardian of justice, thus of liberty as expressed in these rights;

[iii] when Governments fail badly enough, we the people [acting though our representatives] have the collective right of reformation and -- if all else fails --revolution [thank God the ballot box gives us a right of peaceful revolution today!] . . . 
There is in such, much that can be elaborated; but perhaps the best way to do that is to link my more detailed discussion here on.

Nor, can we afford to neglect the next generation of citizens and leaders.

We need a sound godly education alternative, especially at first tertiary level. 

(This is of course one reason behind the proposed AACCS programme.)

Indeed, it is precisely because men like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had that sort of foundation that the pagan environment of Nebuchadnezzar's King's College and his pagan court were unable to shake them.  Instead, these men -- even from youth -- provided solid godly leadership, even when they had to work with those who thought and lived in very different -- pagan -- ways.

And, as a result, when there was need for sound leadership, again and again, these were the best candidates to hand. 

Let the testimony of the Queen Mother regarding Daniel on the occasion of the famous handwriting on the wall speak to us today:
Dan 5: 10 The queen,  because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, 

“O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.  In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father-your father the king-made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.” [ESV]
It is time for us to show forth the same spirit of excellence, integrity, diligence, godly insight and problem-solving soundness in the face of a day of crises. END