Responsible Citizens

America Is a Good Country


President Trump and Senator Sanders have radically different political philosophies about what constitutes a good country. Let’s examine.

The United States is a country because it has a defined territory, a defined citizenry, a government that writes its own laws and policies as well as enforces them, and a system to defend its territory, its citizens, and its way of life. It is a country.

So, what makes a good country? That is the question typically debated during most national elections. And the lines are drawn according to how much candidates believe people should be responsible for themselves, or how much government should be responsible to care for people. In the United States right now, typically the Republican Party wants to give as much responsibility to individuals as is reasonable, while the Democrat Party wants the government to provide more supervision, direction, and goods and services. This debate is healthy and should continue. But in the midst of these deliberations, consider the four criteria I use to determine the quality of a country:

  1. The direction of immigration. Look which direction people are flowing. Are they trying to get into a country or out of a country? Most people care fundamentally about their own welfare and that of their families. Therefore, an easy means of evaluating the quality of a country is simply the flow of immigrants. During the last century, people were willing to risk their lives to escape communist countries, (which typically called themselves Socialist Republics), and countries dominated by religious fundamentalists (typically Islamic) or malevolent dictators. In general, they were seeking political, religious, and economic freedom, and governments that protect individual civil liberties. Right now many immigrants want to get into the United States, Commonwealth countries, and Europe. The direction of immigration gives us a good measurement. On this scale, the United States certainly passes the test as a good country for all races and economic groups.
  2. Religious Freedom. Most people want the freedom to worship, or not worship, without government involvement (except for the protection of that freedom). Most want to be able to worship according to their own conscience, and in order to protect this freedom for all, they should be willing to respect the way others choose to worship. Most countries influenced by Judeo-Christian values protect the freedoms of those of differing faiths to represent their faith, as long as they never use the power of the state to force others to practice their faith. Violence, threats of violence, or restrictions on other freedoms to manipulate whether or not a citizen adheres to certain religious practices are not characteristics of a good country. The protection of religious freedom is the second measure I use. And on this scale, the United States passes the test.
  3. A government by and for the people. Communist and extreme socialist movements emphasize that they promote the protection and well-being of common people, but instead they often result in people being enslaved by their government. So, a government by and for the people allows for common people to elect those they believe will best represent and lead them. And those who are elected are supposed to be public servants, not lords over others. On this scale, the United States passes this test the vast majority of the time. However, we must continually be on guard against those who want unnecessary government control over our lives, our economy, or our goods and services. On this scale, the United States still passes this test, though I am apprehensive about the future.
  4. An economic system that provides the freedom for people to excel or not, and provides maximum goods and services for the most people. To date, a regulated free-market capitalist system makes available the most goods and services at a reasonable price to the most people compared to any other economic system. More people are better off with this economic system than any other system developed to date. Critics of this system accuse it of being inherently unequal, and it is, just as we are all inherently unequal (see my blog, Is Equality a Myth?). This system rewards service and does not reward an unwillingness to serve others. In other words, those who provide more goods and services to others prosper more than those who don’t. And those who competently carry more responsibility prosper much more than those who don’t. Among other responsibilities, our citizen lawmakers promote equal opportunity,  encourage innovation by protecting profits earned by developing new goods and services (copyrights and patents), and protect the rewards earned by those who carry responsibility. On this scale, right now the United States passes this test.

These four ideas are my criteria for a good country. And when any nation embraces these ideas, the Gross National Product flourishes, unemployment rates decline, educational opportunities increase, health services improve, and the general happiness of citizens increases.

So, does America need to change? Not fundamentally.

Does America need a revolution? No—our fundamental ideology is good.

Does America need to go a different direction? No – based on the lessons we’ve learned in the last one-hundred years, we are headed in the right direction.

I never cast my vote based on whether I personally prefer someone or not. Governments are based on political philosophies, so I vote for the person who embraces the political philosophy that has given the most people a better life over the previous 100 years. I think this leads to an obvious choice in our current political climate. 

Once our votes are cast, then each can make choices that will compliment our vote —  we can improve ourselves. We can make choices that will empower us to help ourselves and others instead of making us dependent on others. Most of us can read good blogs (like this one!) and good books that will inform our thinking. We can become more responsible for ourselves and get training which will allow us to serve others. And we can get more involved with a good, life-giving local church so our personal integrity and our understanding of serving others improves. By doing these things, our personal prosperity will have a better chance of strengthening which will provide security for us, our loved ones, and our friends. We Americans already live in a good country, and by doing these things, we can make our world even better.

Just my two cents.


Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at



Answers from the Pastor's Pen

Is Trump the Antichrist?

I received an e-mail from a journalist asking, “Ted, do you think Donald Trump is the anti-Christ?”

I chuckled thinking that in my lifetime someone, somewhere has accused every President and Pope of being the Antichrist. And now, with fear being generated from terrorism and political confusion, it’s inevitable that people will start thinking in terms of the end times again.

In my response to the journalist, I explained that there are many antichrists, and then gave him four Scriptures to examine:

  • “Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come” 1 John 2:18.
  • “And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist” 1 John 2:22.
  • “ But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here” 1 John 4:3.
  • “ I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist” 2 John 1:7.

Undeterred, the journalist pressed further saying he wanted to know if Trump could be the one Antichrist referred to in the book of Revelation (see Revelation 19 and 20). I told him that certain Christian Bible teachers continually point to current events believing they prove that the return of Christ is imminent; yet many of their predictions have not come true. Then I told him that Jesus’ comment in Matthew 24:14 makes me think we have more work to do here on the earth before the Antichrist will surface.

Jesus said,

‘And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”

This verse has been taught two different ways:

One emphasizes the word “nations” could also be translated “people groups” or “ethno-linguistic groups,” which are groups of people who have their own ethnicity and language. In other words, for this Scripture to be fulfilled, there has to be a witness for the Gospel within every people group on the planet, and then the end will come. As a result, many strategic churches and missions organizations have made lists of the remaining unreached people groups and identified them for focused prayer, evangelism, and church-planting. Because of these efforts, the list of unreached people groups is getting smaller. But there are still unreached groups.

Another interpretation of this verse is that the Gospel will circle the globe, and then the end will come. Advocates of this position emphasize how the Gospel launched in Jerusalem, spread throughout the Middle East, then expanded to Europe and portions of Asia and northern Africa, then to the Americas, the rest of Africa and Asia, and is currently growing rapidly in China and India, with the expectation it will return to Jerusalem through Chinese and Asian missionaries. Thus, the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout (around) the whole world.

The modern Sunni – Shia conflict in the Middle East that is terrorizing the region and much of the world is a strong geographical, political, and theological barrier between the Chinese and Asian Christian missionaries and Jerusalem. If this interpretation is correct, it would highlight the significance of this conflict as an attempt to slow or block the completion of this biblical prophecy.

Both of these interpretations are closer than ever to being fulfilled. However, today neither of them are complete. Thus, it’s my guess that the end times figure, the Antichrist from the book of Revelation, is not currently on the scene. As a result, for this and many other reasons, I don’t think Trump is the Antichrist.

I concluded my email exchange with a dissatisfied journalist. Just as many friends of mine have been disappointed that the Lord has not yet returned, so this journalist seemed dismayed that his story idea lacked foundation. (I hope he doesn’t find someone that will agree with him about Trump and use his material as a basis for an upcoming article.)

I do believe that we are in the last days, and that the return of Christ is closer than it’s ever been. I also believe that we don’t know everything about the second coming of Christ, just like the first century Bible scholars who didn’t recognize Christ the first time. Thus, my admonition is that we all need to live our lives as if Jesus is returning today, but plan our lives as though he will not return in our lifetimes. That way we will conform to Jesus’ command to always be ready, while avoiding foolish speculations that keep us from fulfilling our present duties.

(All of the italics and bold emphases in above Scriptures are mine.)


This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at