Freeing the Public Mind

In 1924 in a speech at the unveiling of the Equestrian Statue of Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury, President Coolidge remarked on the generation that secured the United States’ independence:

It is of a great deal of significance that the generation which fought the American Revolution had seen a very extensive religious revival. They had heard the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. They had seen the great revival meetings that were inspired by the preaching of Whitefield. The religious experiences of those days made a profound impression upon the great body of the people. They made new thoughts and created new interests. They freed the public mind, through a deeper knowledge and more serious contemplation of the truth. By calling the people to righteousness they were a direct preparation for self-government. It was for a continuation of this work that Francis Asbury was raised up.

The religious movement he represented was distinctly a movement to reach the great body of the people. Just as our Delcaraationof Independence asserts that all men are created free, so it seems to me the founders of this movement were inspred by the thought that all men were worthy to hear the Word, worthy to be sought out and brought to salvation. It is this motive that took their preachers among the poor and neglected, even to criminals in the jails. As our ideal has been to bring all men to freedom, so their ideal was to bring all men to salvation. [emphases mine]

The connection between salvation and freedom, in that order, is foundational. Free societies are made up of free men in Christ, and this was publicly recognized by a President less than a century ago! Is it any wonder that this republic was founded by men like Washington, Adams and Madison, and not like Bush, Clinton, and Obama? Could there be a greater contrast between the way Obama’s rose to political power voting “Present” in the Illinois Senate and the risk of life and fortune our founding fathers endured in the American Revolution? George Whitefield has been called “a second GW” for good reason because he, by God’s grace, helped create and shape a people with an understanding and desire for freedom. It’s certainly possible for unconverted people to enjoy the freedoms of a Christian society (or what’s left of one in our case), but that’s not how such societies are created (n.b. Middle East meddlers). For this we need a great company of preachers with the hammer of the word of God. Every Tea Party and political mama-bear grizzly needs to know this. We don’t return to Constitutional sanity without first returning to biblical bedrock.

Immodest Daughters

Jennifer Moses comments in her recent WSJ article Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That on the regrets of her generation and witnessing the next repeat them:

Still, in my own circle of girlfriends, the desire to push back is strong. I don’t know one of them who doesn’t have feelings of lingering discomfort regarding her own sexual past. And not one woman I’ve ever asked about the subject has said that she wishes she’d “experimented” more.

As for the girls themselves, if you ask them why they dress the way they do, they’ll say (roughly) the same things I said to my mother: “What’s the big deal?” “But it’s the style.” “Could you be any more out of it?” What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular?

And what mom doesn’t want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.

In recent years, of course, promiscuity has hit new heights (it always does!), with “sexting” among preteens, “hooking up” among teens and college students, and a constant stream of semi-pornography from just about every media outlet. Varied sexual experiences—the more the better—are the current social norm. Continue reading

Start Small

“In the Christian community thankfulness is just what it is anywhere else in the Christian life. Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far form what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 29.

Too missional for abortion?

“The number one social justice issue for African-Americans in New York City is abortion. Period.”, says Anthony Bradley at the worldmag blog. And this is exactly right. Anyone who thinks they are about justice of any kind, much more social, and does not have abortion at center of their concerns is kidding themselves. Bradley points out New York City’s appallingly high rate of 41% of all pregnancies ending in abortions, and the higher 59.8% rate for blacks. This is self-inflicted genocide happening in every city.

Hat Tip: BE

Brief Review of Generous Justice

Generous JusticeGenerous Justice by Timothy Keller My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Keller does a good job of identifying the need for all Christians to give as God has given to them, undeserving and rebellious people. He identifies different causes of poverty and injustice: individual sin, natural disaster (what insurance policies used to call “Acts of God”), and systemic oppression. Unfortunately he is unable to identify true systems of systemic oppression (e.g. institutions that sustain poverty and promote injustice and dependence). For example, instead of seeing the enormous moral, financial and educational failure of government schools, he recommends reforming them. The ravaging idol of secular statism (which claimed over 170 million lives in the 20th century) is an elephant that never gets touched. There are also some weird points, like saying Peter was “taught about the sinfulness of racial and ethnic bias (Acts 9:34)” (p123) and referring to the sacrificial system, a great resource for understanding justice, actually, as “an eye-glazing number of diverse rules” (p39). Peter wasn’t a racist before Acts 9:34, sheesh. The call of this book is good, but those who take it up need to go elsewhere for how to understand and do justice.

Wheels Full of Eyes

“You will say this morning, Our minister is a fatalist. Your minster is no such thing. Some will say, Ah! he believes in fate. He does not believe in fate at all. What is fate? Fate is this–Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, Whatever God ordains, must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains anything without a purpose. Everything in this world is working for some one great end. Fate does not say that. Fate simply says that the thng must be; Providence says, God moves the wheels along, and there they are. If anything would go wrong, God puts it right; and if there is anything that would move awry, he puts his hand and alters it. It comes to the same thing; but there is a difference as to the object. There is all the difference between fate and Providence that there is between a man with good eyes and a blind man. Fate is a blind thing; it is the avalanche crushing the village down below and destroying thousands. Providence is not an avalanche; it is a rolling river, rippling at the first like a rill down the sides of the mountain, followed by minor streams, till it rolls in the broad ocean of everlasting love, working for the good of the human race.   The  doctrine of Providence is not, that what is, must be; but that, what is, works together for the good of our race, and especially for the good of the chosen people of God. The wheels are full of eyes; not blind wheels.”

–Charles Spurgeon

Get Ready for a 13lb Baby

The first birth I saw was not live but via that infamous high school biology video, the one where someone in the audience inevitably passes out. One girl did that year. This is always funnier than sad due to the fact that everyone just watched a person push another person, smaller but not reasonably small enough, out of her body. The woman groans, works and writhes until a new life breaches. It’s astonishing the mother is alive afterwards–something far more common in the past century–and even more astonishing that now she now cries not because of the agony that is finally over, but for overwhelming joy of what just came of that agony.

The Apostle Paul says that creation eagerly longs for the revealing of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19). Salvation is not simply occurring in the hearts of individuals while the rest of the earth waits around to be destroyed. Rather, all the earth (and beyond) is doing something in anticipation of final redemption, and that something is “groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Rom. 8:22). The creation has hips, and those hips are for birthing.

But isn’t Paul simply talking about believers eagerly looking forward to the conversion of others? No. We do this also, but it’s bigger than us. “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of  the   Spirit,  groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (8:23). Don’t feel left out. You are included and your body will be redeemed along with “creation itself [which] will be set free from its bondage to decay” (8:21).

The girl who hit the linoleum floor in biology class can’t be blamed. She had a weak stomach and no eyes for blood. We, however, don’t go to the nurse’s office so sympathetically. Paul is clearly saying that the world is pregnant, and as the saying goes, not a little bit. What is happening? According to some, the world is one giant miscarriage. God tried. He gave Adam and Eve everything they needed to succeed but they flubbed it. He wanted the human race fruitful and multiplied, loving and enjoying him and cultivating the earth. But that tubed. And now what we really need is a little more trauma in the Middle East for the rapture to begin so we can get out of the Hell here. This is easier than getting the Hell out, easier than enduring another contraction. Those hurt. There’s conflict. And fluids spill.

According to another view, what does pregnancy have to do with birth? What does the reign of King Jesus have to do with his kingdom here? I know, let’s multiply kingdoms (but leave out mention of other kings). Let’s give Jesus dominion over spiritual things in the church but that’s it. The word of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover that one puddle in my otherwise bone dry backyard. There’s the already, the not yet, and never shall there be any historical progression between the two. The baby might be further developed in week 26, but it might not. This view ignores the fact of maturity, the miraculous development of a fetus, the sure spread of the kingdom of God, the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

In God’s world, pregnancy has everything to do with birth. “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:24-25). The creation isn’t laboring in vain, but preparing for a glorious birthday. Preparing for a successful birth is different than insisting on a painless one. Since the fall, pain in childbirth is multiplied (Gen. 3:16). Unless a seed goes into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Tertullian was right to say the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. If this is true, and it is, and there were more Christian martyrs in the last hundred years than in the rest of the church’s history combined, then we have much to be encouraged by. But don’t be fooled. Braxton Hicks hurt, but they’re not the end. There is still much growing to do, far more knitting in the womb before the canal. This is going to be a big baby.