As 2014 ends and 2015 begins, prognosticators are hard at work, offering their insights on everything from fashion to global politics, cultural mores to economic opportunities.
If history is any guide, predicting the future is an uncertain science at best, though trend analysis and evaluation of the past can help us anticipate what may happen. The divine gift of freewill coupled with our global connectedness keeps certainly out of reach.
With these qualifiers, including my non-omniscience (a fancy way of saying only God knows everything and I am not God.), I do offer the following as “certain” predictions for 2015. They are general enough to keep me from being stoned and sufficiently specific so that future assessment is possible.
Here are my certain predictions for 2015:
- Millions will come to faith in Jesus Christ and thousands of new Christian churches of all traditions will be planted – most in the Global South.
- Almost under the radar, the Christian churches will grow in the West and the USA through compassionate, insightful outreach, church planting and revitalization and the awareness among thoughtful people that science and technology will not usher in Utopia.
- Political and social leaders will continue to struggle to find consensus on shared principles and vision for America’s future.
- The new Discipleship Dynamics Assessment from The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel University will help thousands of individuals and hundreds of communities celebrate progress in their relationship with Christ.
- The Acton Institute’s new video series, “For the Life of the World; Letters to Exiles” will grow in fluency as thousands catch a new vision of human flourishing.
- Hollywood will continue its march toward mediocrity.
- The Oikonomia and Made to Flourish Networks will increase in influence as seminary leaders and pastors help their students and parishioners grasp 24/7 whole-life discipleship that integrates faith, work and economics.
- Missio Alliance’s evangelical and egalitarian vision will inspire creative missional enterprises among diverse Christian communities.
- The Institute and its sister organization REP will equip hundreds more for business-as-mission and the transformation of all spheres of society.
- Messenger Fellowship will advance a mission of Kingdom vision and the ways of God as many more leaders learn to think kingdom before institution and mission before preservation of tradition.
- Jihadi Islam will find resistance from two camps. The first will appeal to base passions of nation and race. These will gain momentary influence, but do not offer compelling principles for peace. the second will be diverse people of all faiths choosing resistance to evil and active peacemaking, calling on Muslims to accept philosophical and religious plurality as part of a free society.
- Israel will resist all unilateral attempts by the EU, UN, USA and others to shrink her borders without the guarantee by a new Palestinian State of full diplomatic recognition as a Jewish nation.
- Their will be new voices attempting to restore civility to public discourse and offer solutions instead of slogans.
- New African-American voices will be heard, offering an alternative to the Jessie Jackson-Al Sharpton narratives and shakedowns. Hopefully they will be heard for their substance and not labeled/libeled for being different. By today’s standards, MLK was not “truly Black” with his appeals to Christian principles, non-violence and the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution!
- China and Russia will continue their militant ways, trying to intimidate smaller neighbors and blackmails nations dependent upon their resources and wealth.
- Republicans in the US Congress will have to choose between capitulation to totalitarianism from the White House and serious confrontation with policies detrimental to America’s future.
- And in the midst of all this, Dr. Charlie and Kathy Self will continue to love God and each other and serve productively with our callings and gifts. All of this is possible because of God’s grace and the prayers and support of so many friends!
A very Happy 2015 to all!
The 21st century is a world in transition. Millions of people are finding new work and being lifted out of poverty. Conversely, millions of others are exiled and suffering due to political and social instability fueled by war. Globalization of communications, economic systems and urbanization help us feel closer and learn from one another as never before. These same trends also create displacement, cultural confusion and vacuums that despots long to fill.
20th century empires and alliances are shifting as well. China is an economic and military power, with core weaknesses in civil rights and the economic subsidizing of its “capitalist” systems. Russia is once again expressing imperial ambitions. Emerging powers such as Brazil and India have growing educated classes no longer content to support the wealth of multinationals. The Middle East is as confusing as ever, with sharp increases in anti-Israel rhetoric (while the same nations ally with her against common foes) joined with competition for leadership of jihadi Islam.
The USA is at a crossroads, both domestically (as we have seen in Parts 1-3 of this series) and in her international standing. The following thoughts are proposals for improving our nation’s service to the global good while protecting humanitarian and national interests. All of these are doable, but they require moral and political courage – something lacking most of the time in all branches of our federal government. Here are the global facets of Vision 2016:
- Active, non-violent peacemaking efforts are rigorously pursued, with military action a regrettable last resort. One taken, its aims are clear and actions decisive, with as little loss of innocent life as possible.
- Our nation appreciates its blessings while humbly listening to others and learning from other nations aspiring for virtue-based liberty.
- Our military is deployed judiciously as an effective force for good – and not an occupying power – in conjunction with other freedom-loving allies. Our soldiers and veterans have the support systems they need.
- Best practices help us reign in the costs of foreign aid programs without hurting the most vulnerable.
- Israel is valued ally and Arab nations that support her right to exist peaceably as a recognized Jewish nation are part of a coalition we help to prosper.
- The Middle East will only know peace when Palestinian leaders recognize Israel as a Jewish nation, establish full diplomatic ties and crease terrorist activities.
- The nuclear ambitions of terrorist states are thwarted and genuine democratic movements are supported.
- Advocates of intolerance, subversion of freedom and violence are deported, prosecuted and unable to further their terrorist agendas.
- The USA must unite with the EU and other democracies to resist Islamic radicalism that calls to either two systems of law or violent overthrow of pluralistic regimes. One rule of law respecting all religious traditions is essential for social and political peace.
- Nations that claim religious tolerance are held accountable and groups that persecute people of other faiths are condemned and opposed.
- The United Nations is held accountable for its stewardship and our generous funding includes audits of its humanitarian and peacekeeping programs. It must remain a place of robust debate even when its opinions differ from our national interests; however, America will not sanction either corruption or known supporters of terrorism issuing directives.
- National sovereignty will never yield to any international political or military power. Cooperation is not coercion and no international court must ever trump an American one.
- Foreign aid moves from charity and relief to development and entrepreneurship that keeps jobs and wealth local.
- Free trade benefits economic well-being as well as fostering mutuality among diverse peoples. Governmentsubsidies hurt economic growth when they cease being a temporary catalyst and become long-term policy.
- American Presidents and the Congress will work for consensus on military and political initiatives instead of unilateral Executive actions.
- Climate change fears need to yield to stewardship of resources and expansion of wealth-creation. The global companies exploiting fear need to be put out of business.
Navigating our global future will require immense amounts of knowledge and wisdom, courage and humility, as well as clarity on priorities. Success in one part of the world does not half to come at the expense of another geography. Human flourishing is not a zero-sum game!When jobs move from America’s heartland to China, the response needs to be new wealth creation in the USA, remembering that someone across the ocean can now feed their family. At the same time, America must oppose all forms of sexual and work slavery, including suboptimal conditions in foreign factories.
America’s leadership is more than sheer force or economic power. It must arise from exemplary ethical, political and social principles that include freedom of conscience and religion, the rule of law, personal virtue, natural and property rights protected – not bestowed – by government and a virtuous citizenry that desires for all others the liberties they enjoy.
As we continue this important series, it is vital that we agree on and understand the principles that support and shape our nation’s flourishing. Policies and programs, including necessary political compromises are built on particular conscious and unconscious values. Here are some of the key ideas for our nations future.
We the People unite in creating an America where…
- Freedom of conscience and religion is protected as the first freedom and the deepest values of our citizens inform civil debate.
- Life is cherished from conception to its natural end and no active measures are adopted to prematurely end it.
- The freedoms of peaceable assembly, the redress of government and speech must be protected not restricted and the marketplace of ideas unhindered by bureaucratic notions of “fairness.”
- Moral persuasion is as influential as public legislation.
- Our natural rights are protected – not bestowed – by the government.
- Government is subsidiary to the person, family, community, religious group and other voluntary agencies. In other words, sovereignty and support structures first rest with the people, not the federal government.
- The Constitutional balance of power matters and all legislation gets to the floor for public debate by elected leaders and citizens.
- Access to education, business markets and other opportunities are not stifled by corrupt business and political powers.
- Equality of opportunity is not necessarily of equality of outcome.
- Cultural, gender and racial diversity are celebrated along with unity on the guiding first principles of liberty, virtue and the common good.
- Marriage is defined as one man and one woman, with legal allowance (state-by-state) for other approved adult relationships such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Marriage so defined is one of the empirical cornerstones of future success for the next generation.
- Citizens must show an official ID from their state and prove their residential status in order to cast a ballot. ID cards should be offered to qualified persons without charge. No votes cast by non-citizens count in any elections.
- Disagreements do not devolve into personal attacks and caricatures and stereotypes do not obscure issues worthy of serious reflection.
- History and hope meet and Americans can cherish their heritage and humbly resolve not to repeat her egregious errors. We live in a land of saints and sinners, humble servants and rapacious overlords, amazing sacrifice and regrettable indulgence.
With these first principles in mind, the coming posts will consider domestic and foreign policies that will bless both our nation’s residents and liberty-loving people around the world.