Posts belonging to Category Culture



New perspective on money?

Follow The Money: The Money Trail Through HistoryFollow The Money: The Money Trail Through History by Ruben Alvarado

I was surprised at how much I gleaned from this book. The author does a good job in establishing how money has been used throughout history. It begins with the ancients, follows the Assyrians and Babylonians, to the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and on down to the feudal system of Europe until today. Special attention is given to the United States, as it has been the primary financial powerhouse of the world since WWI. The interesting figure in the book is the economist James Steuart, whose views of money and credit are little known today. It is somewhat technical at times and I had to reread spots, but it was worth it.

May there be many more

It was with great regret that I learned of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He was a great jurist, and an even greater Christian. He was a stalwart warrior for the truth and fought for the textual interpretation of the Constitution over against the “living” view of the Constitution.

I’ve always appreciated his stance in the face of tornado-like cultural winds, but  I’ve also come to appreciate his ability to communicate. He reminds me of a slightly acerbic version of G. K. Chesterton, lacerating foolishness with a poetic style of writing that few judges at any level have ever possessed. He could make you smile as you read his opinions; that is rare. But he could also speak. He was eloquent in his description of the Constitution. This particular speech is a great example of his views contrasting the conservative vs. socialist views.

His strong Christianity was not as well known, but still present. He was a faithful Roman Catholic until the day he died. His was not only a Christianity of the mind but also of the heart (as this story tells). As with all great Christians, his beliefs transcended denominational boundaries; he loved hearing the gospel  and wanted the news of Christ’s death and the resurrection proclaimed to unbelievers no matter who presented it, as this letter written to a Presbyterian pastor indicates.

Finally, he was a prophet. He understood the times better than most and could tell where the United States is headed in the future apart from reformation. Prophets are rarely appreciated (a brief look at twitter regarding his death will vindicate that statement), but he didn’t care. In fact he didn’t see himself as a great man, but as a sinner who hoped in God’s mercy and believed it was his responsibility to stand for truth wherever God placed him. This exhortation he gave to a group of believers in Denver is a fitting way to summarize his Christianity

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed. Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ’s sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

May God raise up many more like him in the coming age. May he rest in peace.

 

Would that all clerks were so bold for Christ

Two of my favorite writers, Peter Leithart and Doug Wilson have written about the Kim Davis situation in Kentucky. Pastor Wilson wrote of the importance of viewing this not as a religious vs. secular case, but a religion A or  religion B case. Dr. Leithart wrote about how the case could give a wide degree of religious liberty in time, but too many on the right and the left have been quick to speak against her.

Those articles are worth reading, and for myself I would add that I appreciate Mrs. Davis. There is much misinformation and disinformation about her (such as the fact that she has been married four times, all of which took place before she became a Christian). She is under attack because she is standing for her constitutional rights. Yes I said constitutional rights. The first amendment gives someone the freedom from having to endorse what they believe is wrong, and having your name appear on the bottom of a homosexual marriage license is in her mind (and mine) an endorsement. It is no different than me endorsing a check to a friend that I know he would use to pay for a prostitute. I wouldn’t do that and she should not be forced to either. The question isn’t why did she do it. It is, “Why isn’t any other county clerk willing to do this?” The answer is that we are, by and large, cowards. We can’t imagine doing anything that won’t at least gain us immediate martyr status with “our”crowd.

At this point I am going to suggest something that I’ve not heard anyone say: please pray for Kim Davis. She is the scourge of the left (understandable) and right (crazy!). She needs strength, patience, and continued grace in the face of spiritual and emotional assault. Pray that God would send her encouragement and wisdom (James 1:3-8). Pray that God would raise up many more men and women like Kim Davis in positions of authority who will stand in the power of the Spirit. And finally, pray that God would give us all courage to stand for righteousness in the face of trials.

Those things that remain

A world is dying. That’s how it feels at least. Recently I spoke to an elderly friend in central Europe whose local church was shut down by the state. The reason: the church was not making a profit. The church is small and mostly an elderly congregation and facing liberalizing tendencies within its leadership. It is indirectly controlled by the state and, while it could make ends meet, didn’t bring in enough to the coffers of the larger denomination.

The church now sits vacant, with a “For sale” sign in front. “It isn’t just our church,” my friend said, “churches are closing down right and left.” “The Roman Catholics are worse off than we are. They are closing many many churches in the area. It’s not just in Europe. One very old church in my area, less than five years removed from building a new building in a nice area, closed its doors. I don’t know the story but I could guess: internal problems that no one could/would deal with.

It’s discouraging to hear of such situations. Long-established churches are closing in Europe at a rapid clip. Many conservative congregations that remain open have been under siege for decades by liberal theology and can only find pastors that support heretical liberalism.

Despite the temptation to melancholy, hope remains. That is in the resurrection of Christ. I remember N.T. Wright quoting Leslie Newbegin when responding to the question as to whether he was an optimist or a pessimist, “I am neither. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.” I’m not saying it’s time to hold up in our enclaves and wait for death. I mean resurrection power remains.

The Spirit of God is alive and well within the body of Christ. The problem is that He is not working like we might wish or expect. We have been used to patterns in the past and He is not working in such a way now. What should we expect, He is a creator after all, not an imitator. He loves to show death and resurrection over and over, but it does not look the same. The patterns in the Bible continue (exile and return, creation and new creation, death and resurrection, etc.) but there are always tweaks. To use a poor metaphor, it’s like a football coach with a specific number of offensive plays, but he runs them from so many formations, sets, and motions that it’s impossible to guess what he will do next.

I can struggle at times because being a Christian today looks so different than it did twenty or thirty years earlier. Satan’s assaults are coming from different directions. The reliable forts that existed in my grandmother’s generation (strong family bonds, neighborhood involvement, community-wide church involvement) are being removed.

So what is there to do? As our Lord said to the church at Sardis, “strengthen those things than remain.” There is much to fight for. Marriage is not dead; we must continue to fight for it. The blood of millions of aborted babies cries out. Will we continue to pray and give and work to end the slaughter? Our children must be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord lest they fall into the hands of the enemy. There is evangelism and discipleship that must take place.

We don’t know how the Lord will accomplish His will, but we know it will be done. The fact that the battlefield terrain is different is no reason to become discouraged. God always preserves His remnant through judgment.  The question is, “Will I be a faithful servant until the end or will I remain in discouraged paralysis like the fearful servant?”

A few rays of hope


The Natural Family Where It Belongs: New Agrarian Essays
by Allan C. Carlson

This is a good sampling of Dr. Carlson’s work. It includes brief biographies, sociological research on the family, and historical overviews. It (as is normal for Dr. Carlson) is short on application, but does give hope for the future of the family.

View all my reviews

Where are we now?

“As I said the other day, when the Republican governor of Arkansas can flip-flop overnight when Wal-mart executives clear their throats, you know once and for all who wields the real power in the Republican Party.” – Rod Dreher, from The American Conservative

Engaged separation

Most of us are familiar with the warnings from Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Judges that if Israel didn’t remain a separate people in worship and live faithfully unto Him, Yahweh would give them into the hands of their enemies to be oppressed. What I didn’t know was that Jesus reiterated that warning in Matthew 5:13. There Jesus says His disciples are the salt of the earth. Then He says that if the salt loses its savor, it was good for nothing except to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. In other words, if God’s people in the new covenant age didn’t remain separate from the world in worship and obey His commands, they would be oppressed by God’s enemies just like old covenant Israel was oppressed when they were unfaithful.

But total separation is no option. Our standards are separate depending on how far away our civil realm has drifted from the law of God. But we must savor the world; if not we will be the slaves of our enemies.

Too many similarities

“We don’t see humanists bowing down to their gods, we but we do see them studying them, lecutring about them, writing books about them. and we don’t see Christians bowing down to the Lord either, but we do see them studying Him, preaching about Him, and writing books about Him.

Thus, there is indeed a big difference between ancient religions and modern ones. Ancient man primarily worshiped his gods, while modern man primarily studies his. This is true both of pagans and of conservative, orthodox Christians.” – James Jordan, Judges, God’s War Against Humanism, p. 35

Understanding America

The Patriot's Handbook: A Citizenship Primer for a New Generation of AmericansThe Patriot’s Handbook: A Citizenship Primer for a New Generation of Americans by George Grant

It’s hard to be excessively great or terrible when compiling essays on American history. Primary source essays and speeches are useful for many purposes, research being just one. But they can go further than that. If compiled properly, primary sources can paint a picture of history. There are many books that appear as a grab-bag of essays and speeches with no apparent rhyme or reason.

This book, edited by George Grant, is no such grab-bag. It combines poems, essays, speeches, and quotes from Americans throughout our history. (more…)

And don’t forget Richard Hooker

I’ve had some discussion with friends recently about the “Future of Protestantism” discussion at Biola University with Dr.’s Peter Leithart, Fred Sanders, and Carl Trueman. I listened to the discussion in its entirety and was impressed with portions of it; other portions were less inspiring. (If you haven’t seen it, you can go here.) I will give full disclosure to the fact that I attend church with Dr. Leithart and he is a mentor to me. I try to learn from him whenever I can. His gracious style is not just a public display; he is just as gracious in person as he is in public. I’ve read Dr. Sanders and Dr. Trueman before but have no personal contact with either one of them.

To begin with, I have long agreed with Dr. Leithart that the differences between modern-day Protestants and modern Roman Catholic theology is closer than many realize. That’s not to say that there is no difference; I despise the adoration of physical elements (also known as idolatry); think praying to Mary is useless (at its best); and believe that infused righteousness is no righteousness at all. That being said, I believe, along with all the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century, that  Rome is in some form a church. If you doubt this, let me ask you: were the churches at Laodicea, Thyatira, or Philadelphia real churches despite the great sin taking place in them? If you say, “No” then your standards for a church surpass that of Jesus Himself. Despite her sinful beliefs, Rome believes in the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the deity of Christ, the atonement once for all for our sins, and the resurrection of the body. They are a church.

In fact, they are closer to Protestant theology than before. That is not to say that efforts like these answer all the questions, but it is a start. And Dr. Leithart is not calling as much for hierarchical meetings on doctrine as decentralized meetings in cities and towns throughout the country with ministers working together for the good of the cities in which they minister. The prototype for this is from Pastor Rich Bledsoe in Boulder, Colorado. He divided the city into parishes and established pastor gatherings in each one. In these gathers pastors from all Christian churches would get to know one another. It is going well and is being attempted in other cities. This is on-the-ground unity; the type that is more in line with Scripture than top-down unity agreements that many times paper-over differences. (more…)