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Surge Summary: The Scriptures — and life! — teach us that it is wise to rule over one’s emotions in all situations. This would be true especially when responding to one’s critics. Republican rivals need to remember this as the primaries and elections of 2024 draw near.
by David Lane
“The worst political attacks on Republicans who join the 2024 presidential field likely won’t come from Democrats. Instead, they will be lobbed by former President Donald Trump, whose command over much of the party’s base will make it difficult for his opponents to fire back without the risk of alienating MAGA voters,” writes Susan Ferrechio in The Washington Times.1
President Ronald Reagan [1911-2004], the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989, embraced the so-called Eleventh Commandment principle early in his wildly successful tenure in politics: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”
When asked recently about the potential Florida Governor Ron DeSantis 2024 candidacy, Trump replied, “So, now I hear he [DeSantis] might want to run against me. So, we’ll handle that the way I handle things.” Rather than handling this in his usual way, Trump would do well to reconsider his scorched-earth approach to politics.
Proverbs 16:32 offers council to those on the receiving end of the former president’s hard-line competitive ire: “One who is slow to anger [even when insulted by Donald Trump] is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
Carol M. Swain [born 1954] provides a remarkable example of American free will, allowing anyone to make it with hard work and grit. Carol was the second of twelve children who were reared in dire poverty in rural Virginia. Her father dropped out of school in the third grade and her mother dropped out of high school. Carol lived in a two-room shack without running water or indoor plumbing … she shared one of two beds with her eleven siblings.
Her stepfather physically abused her mother. Carol said that her “most graphic memory is my stepfather chasing my mother with an ax threatening to kill her.”2
Unless placed in check by Christ, sin carries to the third and fourth generations, with Carol experiencing in her teens the ramifications and blights of dysfunction. Dropping out of school after the eighth grade, and then marrying at 16 years of age, she confided “not because I was in love, I married a neighbor that was a little older just to get away from home.” Now a teenage mother with three children, Carol divorced at age 21.
Following her divorce, Carol earned her GED and went on to earn a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1989 and a Master of Legal Studies from Yale Law School in 2000. An award-winning political scientist and former tenured professor at Princeton and Vanderbilt Universities, she is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Constitutional Studies with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The author of twelve books, Dr. Swain co-chaired President Donald Trump’s 1776 Commission, which released its report in January 2021 as a response to The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project. The 1776 Commission called for patriotic education and criticized liberals in public education for teaching students to hate America and to hate each other.
Last week she tweeted: “I am not in a mood to endure months of Republican gutter politics while we spend our time destroying one another rather than focus on America’s domestic and foreign enemies.”3
The ability to rule over one’s unruly spirit when being provoked or pestered is a display of real strength. From a biblical perspective, Dr. Bruce K. Waltke comments, “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty … the foundation of righteousness is his ability to rule his unruly spirit when provoked.”
Abraham Lincoln was the prototypical model for those seeking to control an unruly spirit. In his run for congress in 1846, Lincoln had a formidable opponent in Reverend Peter Cartwright [1785-1872], who was a two-term member of the Illinois General Assembly [1828 and 1832], a tremendous orator, a most impressive Methodist missionary credited with helping ignite the Second Great Awakening, and personally baptizing twelve thousand converts.
During their intense battle for Congress, Lincoln had been insulted and called an ‘infidel’ by Cartwright’s followers. Hence, he decided to attend one of Cartwright’s evangelistic meetings. Carl Sandburg tells the story in his book Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years.
In closing his sermon Reverend Cartwright said, “‘All who desire to lead a new life, to give their hearts to God, and go to heaven, will stand,’ and a sprinkling of men, women, and children stood up. Then the preacher exhorted, ‘All who do not wish to go to hell will stand.’ All stood up – except Lincoln.
“Then said Cartwright in his gravest voice, ‘I observe that many responded to the first invitation to give their hearts to God and go to heaven. And I further observe that all of you save one indicated that you did not desire to go to hell. The sole exception is Mr. Lincoln, who did not respond to either invitation. May I inquire of you, Mr. Lincoln, where are you going?’
“Lincoln slowly rose, ‘I came here as a respectful listener. I did not know that I was to be singled out by Brother Cartwright. I believe in treating religious matters with due solemnity. I admit that the questions propounded by Brother Cartwright are of great importance. I did not feel called upon to answer as the rest did. Brother Cartwright asks me directly where I am going. I desire to reply with equal directness: I am going to Congress.’”4
Abraham Lincoln won the 1846 congressional seat with 56% of the vote.
Thankfully Gideons, Rahabs, and Lincolns are beginning to stand.
American Renewal Project
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Image: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/; Adapted from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse45/49830919747
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