Remarks by Providence Forum Founder Dr. Peter Lillback at World News Group D.C. Office Dedication
World Magazine has been an important source for a few decades of current events from a Christian perspective. Recently, Dr. Peter Lillback, the founding president of Providence Forum, gave a speech at the opening of the Washington, D.C. office of the magazine and the news entity it has spawned, World News Group. Here is his speech.
Dedication Remarks for World’s Washington Office
Dr. Peter A. Lillback
February 9, 2023
The dedication of the World News Group’s office in the heart of our nation’s Capitol is a milestone in the history of its labors to bring excellent journalistic content to America from a Christian worldview.
The achievement is monumental. It may not be as monumental as Washington’s towering obelisk or Jefferson’s majestic dome, or the lofty tholos of the US Capitol Building that upholds Freedom donned with her helmet and eagle pinions. But our setting apart of this place of work and service for the Kingdom of God does cry out for some rhetorical flourishes.
Lincoln captured the solemnity of his address at the hallowed ground of the Gettysburg Battlefield by turning the attention of his audience to what had transpired “four score and seven years” earlier.
So perhaps that’s a good way to begin my remarks. So here goes. Four score and seven years ago the fathers of the digital age brought forth upon our world’s continents a new notational system dedicated to the proposition that all computation could be done by digits—zeroes and ones—from a hypothetical device called a Turing Machine, named for the one who conceived it, Alan Turing.
Little did they know then that the application of Turing’s insight 87 years ago in 1936 would lead to the birth of the computer, the digital age, the instant communication of satellites and smart phones as well as the ability of World News Group to stay abreast of breaking stories from catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey, the grinding bloody war of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the thrill of victory with the demise of the Supreme Court’s deadly Rowe V. Wade decision.
In a sense, World does not need to be in the shadow of the nation’s capitol to do its deeply needed and highly valuable work, but it is truly strategic to be here. This is because the sweeping power of the digital revolution can never cancel out the reality that real flesh and blood people are relational and gain insight by being on site.
Here in Washington DC, like St. Paul, the ancient apostle to the gentiles, our news teams will engage the fray of our globe’s Areopagus to represent the God who made the world and everything in it (Acts 17:24), to explain His ways, His Word and His wisdom. They will do so amid those who don’t even seek to find this profoundly knowable yet by and large unknown God. A Christian voice and a faithful presence is emphatically needed among Washington’s stoic, epicurean, Marxist, materialist, post-modern, hedonistic and atheistic philosophers. Especially among partisan journalists that strive to control the sound-bites snatched from the corridors of power and deliver them to newsrooms around the globe to shape the minds of millions who all too often have been educated out of their heritage.
World from its beginning has been called to present the abiding relevance of the wisdom of the ages bequeathed to believers from America’s Judeo-Christian founders and from the Scriptures that those founders read, applied and cherished. So to hallow this ground, or this space, to borrow again from Lincoln, we do well to consecrate this office with the timeless wisdom of those who’ve gone before us to create the American story.
Let us then consecrate this space in the heart of national power and international influence by the benediction of founders, framers and fashioners of the freedoms we follow in the faithful ministry of World. In Psalm 72, King Solomon brings 18 blessings with the word “may”. For the sake of time, I offer only ten.
- May this be a place where Sam Adams’ vision for America as a nation under the sovereignty of God again ring out loudly even as they did on the steps of what we call today Independence Hall in Philadelphia on the eve of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on August first 1776, when he declared, “This day, I trust the reign of political Protestantism will commence. We have explored the temple of royalty, and found that the idol we have bowed down to has eyes which see not, ears that hear not our prayers, and a heart like a nether millstone. We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming the freedom of thought, and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come.”
- May this be a place where it is never forgotten what a privilege it is to have self-government, what John Jay called Heaven’s favor. He wrote, “The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon and choosing the forms of government under which they should live.”
- May this newsroom be a center for remembrance of the centrality of character in those who lead. Presbyterian patriot and minister, John Witherspoon asserted, “The people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive or judicial branches.”
- May this office ever be a place where the profound importance of a theistic world view for the nation’s well being is indelibly on display. James Madison explained, “The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources.”
- May this Washington bureau of World News never lose focus on family health as an essential concern of wise national government. The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut provides a historic illustration of this in its first Article: “That the Scriptures hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duties which they are to perform to God and men, as well in families and commonwealths as in matters of the church.” And this was echoed later by the father of the American Revolution Sam Adams when he insisted, “I could say a thousand things to you, if I had leisure. I could dwell on the importance of piety and religion, of industry and frugality, of prudence, economy, regularity and even Government, all of which are essential to the well being of a family. But I have not time. I cannot however help repeating—piety, because I think it indispensable. Religion in a family is at once its brightest ornament and its best security.”
- May this center for journalistic leadership in Washington never forget what this city’s namesake proclaimed concerning the necessity of religion for morality in his farewell address as our first president under the Constitution: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.” President Harry Truman agreed: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!”
- May the emphasis on the sanctity of life continue to be a theme of this outpost of the journalistic message of World. President Ronald Reagan declared this with a voice of conviction that must resonate here: “Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.”
- May the deadening force of monolithic Leftism with its cancel culture, ad hominem irrationality and suppression of reason and logic never find a foothold here, because the great freedom of the First Amendment is celebrated and defended: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
- May concern for children and future generations be the abiding legacy of World’s Washington-based headquarters in keeping with the First Continental Congress in 1774 that proclaimed, “It is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves and posterity, by all lawful ways and means in our power to maintain, defend and preserve these civil and religious rights and liberties for which many of our fathers fought, bled and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations.”
- And finally, may it ever be the quest of World’s Washington office to move men to act, to be salt and light and to make a difference for good as Sir Edmund Burke so famously said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
With these benedictions from American history, I conclude with Scriptural truths that I pray will ever guide the work that is done here:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16).
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
May you ever be “blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:15).
Indeed, may the Washington office of World shine as lights in the world so that by His grace four score and seven years into the unseen future from now in 2110, deep into the by then long history of the digital era, and the rise and perfecting of artificial intelligence, holograms, and quantum computers, the ancient message of Paul and the Areopagus will still ring true as its theme: “This I proclaim to you—The God who made the world and everything in it, the one who is Lord of heaven and earth.” Amen.