Heroes: Secular and Biblical

Modernity has robbed us of true heroes. Certainly our Leftist culture attempts to foist its own brand of hero on us, but they simply don't rise to the criteria of a true hero, such as those we find in history and Sacred Scripture. We're somehow supposed to view a sordid cast of characters like Margaret Sanger, Hillary Clinton, and Christine Blasey Ford as heroes. The skeptic might counter that the heroes of both Western European history and the Old Testament are represented as either heroes despite glaring faults and cruelty, or as being special favorites of the Almighty, while demonstrating many vices and sinful behaviors. What, then, are we to think of these heroes and of our Bible as a teacher of morality or as a divinely inspired book? Should we reject our traditional heroes, both secular and biblical, and toss Sacred Scripture out with them?

The Patriarchs and some of the other leaders of the Jewish people are indeed represented as favorites of the Almighty on account of their great personal virtues. They certainly had their failings as well, but their lives were written, not so much on account of their personal qualities as with a view to exhibiting the special providence that presided over their personal destiny, as well as that of the people they represented. As fathers and leaders of the Israelites these biblical heroes were objects of God's special care, but that didn't exempt them from the failings to which all men are susceptible. Needless to say that the faults of secular and biblical heroes, great or small, have met with scant justice at the hands of the skeptical and the Leftist. Certainly not as much as those of, say, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. The faults of Biblical heroes, such as they were, show by their very presence in the narrative that the sacred writers had no thought of giving a rosy tint to their descriptions of the deeds of their countrymen, and that their single aim was to give a trustworthy report of facts. This is, indeed, the unique distinction enjoyed by the Bible among the historical records of ancient peoples: even unworthy deeds associated with great names are faithfully registered. Unlike other such records, the books of the Bible were not composed as a tribute of adulation to reigning dynasties or to serve as a flattering unction to national vanity. The writers penned an exact and impartial account of God's dealings with men and of men's behavior toward God. There is no similar record in existence. None like it ever could have arisen out of the bosom of paganism.

Likewise, our honoring the secular heroes of history is an act of honesty and a moral good. While demonstrating the frailties of their fallen state (just like any other man), they nonetheless impacted their world for the better, providing an example for us to emulate in those particular cases. Charlemagne (April 2, 742-January 28, 814) is a good example of this. He refused to allow his daughters to contract sacramental marriages, purely for political reasons, yet he tolerated their having affairs outside of marriage, and  ignored their reportedly scandalous behavior and sexual exploits. We can objectively agree this was a sin on his part. However, much good was done during his reign, including what is known as the 'Carolingian Renaissance'; a renewal of European education, scholarship, literature, architecture, and art. The vast majority of all classical Latin texts we have today were copied and preserved by Carolingian scribes and scholars. He also engaged in reforming the church of his time, insisting on greater moral quality from clergy, standardizing the liturgy, and, most importantly, ridding both church and State of the vestiges of paganism. As a result, Christians of that time deepened in their faith. Heroes such as this provide examples for us that, while we are in a fallen state and may commit acts of sin, we're still capable of receiving the grace of God and rising above those frailties to do good in our world.

The real and genuine shortcomings of Biblical and secular heroes we don't excuse. The Bible itself condemns their sinful actions. At the same time we must refuse to accept the judgment of sworn enemies of the Christian faith when they are pleased to ascribe faults, even crimes, to the heroes of the Bible where there is no evidence of guilt. Abraham, for example, made his wife Sarah pass for his sister when both were in danger of falling into the hands of the King of Egypt. Skeptics denounce him as a liar. His accusers ignore the fact that Sarah was Abraham 's step-sister, and hence might be called simply his sister. Skeptics also like to characterize David as a leader of bandits and a usurper of the throne. They fail to recognize that the Jewish form of government was a theocracy. God Himself was in a very special sense the Ruler of the nation. In His hands were the making and unmaking of its kings. If Saul was rejected and David made to reign in his stead, it was done by divine appointment, and David was consequently not a usurper. If David before ascending the throne acted on his own responsibility and took the field against the enemies of his people who were inflicting serious harm upon them, he did nothing inconsistent with just warfare. Neither this nor anything else he did in self defense constituted him a bandit. David did indeed commit sin of a most grievous nature; but the description of this event and of its consequences, while showing on the one hand the rigor of God's justice, presents on the other an example of repentance in a sinner—a repentance that charmed the heart of God Himself. The Lord called him a man after His own heart. 

Ultimately we don't have to defend the Bible by offering excuses for every act of the patriarchs that seems in any way dubious. In some cases those acts may have been in a greater or a lesser degree sinful. This is probably true in the case of Jacob when he impersonated his brother Esau and fraudulently obtained his father's blessing. True, he may have known from his mother, who certainly knew it by revelation (Genesis 25:23), that in the designs of God's will he was to take precedence of his brother, but would that excuse his deception? And yet if he sinned, why should he cease to be an object of God's special providence or a recipient of His grace? Would any skeptic suggest that with even a single mistake or sin committed in their lives, we should never forgive them, never permit them the opportunity for a change of life?

Don't allow the shrill cries of Leftists and skeptics shame you in your faith or make you doubt Sacred Scripture. Don't permit them to force you to comply meekly with the statues of these great heroes being removed, their names torn from history books and schools, but resist these things with all the fervor of a Charlemagne or Biblical Patriarch, and be a hero yourself.