Posts belonging to Category Politics



Political implications of communion

When it comes to the problems of society, where are we to start?  There seems to be so much wrong that it is impossible to fix everything.  Thankfully God has revealed the place to start:  communion.  Peter Leithart had an excellent post at First Things on the political meaning of communion.  An excerpt:

“Lacking a rightly ordered Supper, modern Christians wrap nationalism in a veil of sanctity, with sometimes-horrific results. In the U.S., Christians are frequently urged to give political support to this or that variation of Americanism. There is no genuinely Christian alternative because the church has no defined public shape with the resilience to withstand the political forces that press in on us.”

His conclusion is equally forthright:

“All the cultural and political challenges that Evangelicals face come back to the Supper. It’s important to do it right, but it’s more important to do it and to do it together. Until we do, most of our cultural chatter will continue to glance harmlessly off our targets. Until we do, Evangelicals will flop and flounder with every cultural wind and wave.”

Definitely worth reading in its entirety.

The world of the orthosphere

I’ve recently come across a few interesting blogs.  These blogs are known as the “orthosphere”.  They represent a group of anti-modernists who support monarchy and a return to the days of masculine men, feminine women, stronger families, and respect for the Church.  Don’t think of the 1950’s.  Think of the 1150’s.

Before dismissing them out of hand, there are some things we can learn from them.  Most are either Roman Catholic or high church Protestants who want to rid the Christian world of its addiction to modernity.  They’re not asking for getting rid of machinery (at least I’ve not read about it yet) but calling to rethink how we use technology.  A good introductory article can be found here.  And the links to a few can be found here, here, and here.

Christian Stewardship

In a recent post some questions came up about what I mean when I refer to “stewardship” of the environment.  It has causes me to think more deeply about the topic, having investigated what others mean when they talk about Christians being stewards of the environment.  A few introductory comments are necessary.

First, our environmental beliefs must have the proper foundation.  That foundation must be God’s word.  If we start with the priesthood of (ever-changing) modern science, we’ll end up on a merry-go-round of reasoning that doesn’t slow down and never let’s you off.  Not that scientific study doesn’t have a place, it’s just not first place.

 

Second, a person’s eschatology matters in this discussion.  If you believe God will soon destroy the earth with literal fire, then who cares how we treat it.  (Additionally this would make God the biggest creation hater in history.)  However if you believe that God is graciously restoring the earth and is using His people in that task, it puts the discussion in a new light.  Incidentally this is not the say that one must be postmillennial to want to protect creation, but it does help.

Now as to what I mean by stewardship and taking care of the environment, I’m for it.  I know this needs explanation, so with the backdrop of those introductory remarks, here goes.  One author I read made a distinction between a cornucopian and environmental view towards creation.  The cornucopian view states that resources are limitless and we can pursue everything the earth has to offer with no thought toward the damage it may cause.  The environmental view states that our responsibility is to protect all parts of creation because we are parts of the larger processes of life.  Sadly many Christians since the industrial revolution have adopted the cornucopian view and called it subduing the earth.

The language of subduing the earth is from Genesis 1 and it is a part of our calling.  But it’s part of a larger calling to tend and have dominion over what God has created.  Before we can know what we’re called to do we must know who we are.  God created man as the crowning achievement of the universe.  He gave man rule and we must know that the rule God intended was one that mimics the way He rules.

Tending and dressing means that we must use God’s created elements in the way He intended.  For example God made cows to eat grass, yet many give their cows feed made of dead cows.  That’s not respecting creation, it’s abusing it.  Some people believe that we can pour whatever waste into the ground that we choose, whether chemical or natural and it’s no problem.  But God even required ancient Israel to dispose of human waste in a certain way because of the disease it could create.

 

Having said that, the clarion call of our age is that we’re not doing too enough to protect the environment and the answer is more government regulations based on the latest opinions of scientists (known as “research” in the more sophisticated parts of the world).  I appreciate scientific research but much of what passes as such today are cherry-picked facts intended to guilt the public into higher taxes and more regulations.

A godly view of the environment is neither cornucopian or environmental.  It understands that natural resources are not limitless nor are they to be locked away.  We are to tend and protect the earth as God’s stewards, while at the same time working to conform it to God’s purposes.

Christian Persecution

Pat Buchanan has recently written about the plight of Christians in post-Saddam Iraq.  If it was hard to be a Christian there before, it’s even more difficult now.

“Estimates of the number of Christians in Iraq in 2003 vary from 800,000 to 1.5 million. But hundreds of thousands have fled since the invasion. Seven of the 14 churches in Baghdad have closed, and two-thirds of the city’s 500,000 Christians are gone.

While Saddam Hussein, a secularist, had protected religious minorities, Muslim vigilantes — Shia, Sunni and Kurd, as well as al-Qaeda — have attacked the Christians who have endured kidnappings, pillage, rapes, beheadings and assassinations.And what has happened to this Christian community, which had lived peacefully alongside Muslim neighbors for centuries, must be marked down as one of the predictable and predicted consequences of America’s war in Iraq.”

If we were a righteous country, we wouldn’t pursue a foreign policy based on establishing democratic ideals, but on helping citizens in the kingdom of God.  When reformation comes, it will start in the churches and it will be demonstrated in every sphere of life, including a sanctified foreign policy.

In the meantime, pray for the Christians in Iraq.  They are facing persecution the likes of which hasn’t been seen in quite a while.

A Critic of the State

One of my favorite authors is C.S. Lewis.  His faithful witness to the joy of Christ, his defense of Christianity, and his excellent display of truth in fiction  (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, and Pilgrim’s Regress) have shaped my thinking is more ways than I can count.

When I first encountered him several years ago, I appreciated his apparent lack of trust in the state, but it was inconsequential at the time.  Recently, though, I encountered this essay (thanks to The American Conservative) in which David J. Theroux accumulates Lewis’ thoughts on the state.  You should read it for yourself, but in the meantime, let’s just say that Lewis is not a typical British liberal.

And that’s all the cattle He owns

This is too much to pass up.  If you were asked who owns the trees, you would say, “God does.”  Who owns the grass?  “God does.”  Who owns the water?  “The government does.”  Huh?  That’s right.  According to laws in some states, the government has the rights to the rainwater that falls on a person’s property.  It sounds preposterous, but it’s true.  People have been told they can’t collect rainwater because it may disrupt the flow of water into streams and rivers.  The government of Salt Lake City, Utah made an exception for a man to collect “their” rainwater. 

This is a direct claim of the state’s power over God’s.  It’s like saying, “He may own the cattle on a thousand hills, but that’s all the cattle He owns.”  Pretty soon we’ll be calling our President “The Messiah” too.

Engaging in (non-spiritual) warfare

I was reading in Amos 1, and was amazed at the curses pronounced upon the nations for the way they go about fighting their wars.  For example, verse 3, “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron.”  And verse 13, “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border.” 

It seems clear that war must be conducted in a certain way and only waged against enemy soldiers (as compared to killing soldiers and civilians).  Regardless of one’s opinion of the current wars, we’ve sinned in both of these areas in previous wars (Dresden, Hiroshima, etc.) and should repent.

A Cake Without Flour

A man walked into bakery and asked the baker to make a chocolate cake.  The baker replied that he could make it within one hour.  “Good,” the man replied, “except I don’t want you to use cocoa in it.”  The baker was confused.  “I thought you wanted a chocolate cake.”  “I do,” the man said, “just make a chocolate cake without cocoa.”  Then the man said, “And don’t use any flour either.”  “Now wait just a minute,” said the baker.  “You can’t have a cake without flour.  Flour is what makes the cake.”  “Well that may be, but I don’t want flour in the cake.”  “So let me get his straight.  You want a chocolate cake, but you don’t want me to use cocoa or flour.  “Sir, you don’t want cake, you want custard.” 

Why talk about a chocolate cake without cocoa or flour?  Because people want the benefits of a Christian society without wanting to confess Jesus Christ as Lord in the public square or base their laws on His word.  Wishing for a return to the 1940’s is not an option.  People in those generations were living off the remnants of a specifically Christian civilization built through men like Justinian and Alfred the Great.  It was not a perfect society, but we have been living off the blessings of their faithfulness for over a thousand years.   This type of civilization doesn’t arise from the ideas of Plato, Marx, or Hammurabi.  It only comes from the Trinitarian God and His word.  Asking for a chocolate cake without flour and cocoa is insane, but it is no less insane than wanting the benefits of a Christian society without acknowledging Christ as Lord over the state.

Did he just watch the news?

“It is the mark of our whole modern history that the masses are kept quiet with a fight. They are kept quiet by the fight because it is a sham-fight; thus most of us know by this time that the Party System has been popular only in the sense that a football match is popular.”–G. K. Chesterton

Family Economics

I’ve been meaning to add Kevin Swanson to the list of preachers you need to hear.  He applies all of God’s Word in his preaching and his radio show.  I was excited when I heard about the conference his group (Generations with Vision) held recently in Colorado.  The topic was “family economics” and it looked super.  It combines two areas which the public has long believed divorced from each other, despite the fact that the Greek work from which we derive the term economics (oikonomia)  meant the “management of a household”.  If you want to know how your family can bring economics under captivity to the Lordship of Christ, order the entire conference here.