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.

Greek Heroes vs. Hebrew Heroes

These are the notes I made for a presentation to a theological discussion group. They’re raw, but I think you will get the point.

 

Recently I was reading an essay by a historian who said the following, “The Greeks invented hero-based history.” That is to say, to study history by studying great leaders was invented by Herodotus, Plutarch, and Thucydides. That statement floored me. As I am studying through Judges, I wanted to show that Yahweh invented the study of history, and if we’re talking about civilizations, the Greeks likely gained what they learned about this historical method from the Jews.

The book of Judges is a book of heroes; the term “judge” can mean leader in more than a judicial sense. These heroes are great leaders but none can truly lead reformation in Israel (because Reformation begins in the house of God, a.k.a. the Levites).

The word “hero” comes from the Greek word “heros” which means “great warrior, defender, or protector.” The historian Thomas Carlyle developed an entire theory of heroes, saying that great men move events in history. He published a book, On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, that listed six types of heroes: The hero as divine, the hero as prophet, the hero as poet, the hero as priest, man of letters, and king. Another book, entitled The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama, by Lord Ragland, listed 22 elements of a hero in ancient literature. Our own good teacher, Dr. Leithart published a book on the subject entitled Heroes in the City of Man, a study in Greek literary heroes.

The main difference I see between the Greek view of heroes and the Hebraic view (if you could even call it a view) is the Greeks view heroes as the makers of their history, whereas the people of Yahweh understand that Yahweh providentially guides history while raising up men and in some cases women to complete His work.  Most of the Greek heroes are men whose strength and power to perform bold exploits. Men like Hercules, Theseus, Achilles, and Odysseus all were warriors, most of whom defeated terrible enemies and protected their people. Alexander the Great held Achilles as one of his primary examples. The Greek heroes are ends in themselves, that is they accomplish their work and things go back to normal. The Hebraic view of heroes is that they work toward the fulfillment of Yahweh’s purposes. There are similarities in the two civilization’s views of heroes, but they are not working toward the same ends. All the heroes in the Old Testament are shadows of the one true warrior and protector of God’s people: Jesus the Messiah. (more…)

He was a good one

Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of ChristendomDefending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom by Peter J. Leithart

Recently I finished Peter Leithart’s book, Defending Constantine. It is a scholarly work that describes how Constantine operated as emperor. It begins as a biography, explaining the setting of ancient Rome and how Constantine came to power. After the biography, Dr. Leithart approaches the questions many have raised over the years about the rule of Constantine. He provides a good summary of the sources on Constantine’s life and discusses the disagreements among historians with erudition. However that is not the primary focus of the book. The focus is to answer an age-old critique. (more…)

It’s time to die

You can find a plethora of statements as to why Mitt Romney lost the election last week.  Most of them tend toward calling Republicans to embrace amnesty for illegal aliens to needing to be more hawkish militarily (I guess we’ve been too timid in our method of forcibly spreading democracy around the world).  Others are still longing for the return of a new Ronald Reagan.  Therein lies a serious problem.

Peter Leithart diagnoses the problem of wanting to return to the days of Reagan. (more…)

Why vote?

I’ve struggled recently with how I would vote in the presidential election.  It’s not a choice between the main two candidates.  I wouldn’t vote for President Obama if you paid me (and that’s a real possibility in some states).  Romney isn’t that great either.  He doesn’t carry much water for real conservatives, despite a promising VP candidate.  What’s a Christian to do?

Enter Peter Leithart.  In a short three paragraphs, he puts a slant on voting that I’ve not thought of.

“It is preferable, however, for political activists to demystify and de-moralize voting so that we can recognize that we campaign and cast votes for the sake of access as much as for the sake of principle.  Not that we should campaign or vote for candidates that will pursue policies that we abhor.  But if a vote is a bid for access, it’s easier to accept the (inevitable) fact that we vote for the least bad candidate.”

This puts into words why I will most likely vote for Mitt Romney.  I don’t have faith in him, but I do believe he will provide Evangelical Christians access to him that we’ve not had with the current administration.  Again this is not to put faith in a man; our faith can only be in God.  But it helps me look at the political process in a better way.

God-honoring hymns and eternal predestination

I recently read two articles on the need for stronger church music.  This has been an issue close to my heart for some time, having tired of  squishy gospel songs from the twentieth century (and earlier).  The first is from Peter Leithart writing for First Things online.  His article is entitled “Songs of the Church Militant.”  The other article is from an Asian Anglican, Lue-Yee Tsang.  It is about how worship must accord itself to the Word of God and not to artistic license.  It may sound sound odd coming from an Anglican who doesn’t follow the regulative principle, but when he’s saying stuff like this, I’ll read it no matter who he is.

On a separate note (no pun intended), there are questions in Calvinistic circles about the extent of God’s predestination and how it relates to each of us.  More to the point, how is God sovereign and not the sinful in condemning some to hell?  It was encouraging to me that John Calvin faced that same question many years ago.  Paul Helm discusses how Calvin dealt with the issue here.  It’s pretty good reading.

Giving the world a reason to worry

Peter Leithart has an excellent message to the Church in a recent blog posting.

“When the Philistines capture the mighty Samson, he seems tame enough.  They mock and abuse him until the Spirit of Yah returns and Samson pulls down the house.

When the Philistines learn that the ark of God is in the Israelite camp, they’re terrified that “mighty gods” contend with them.  But when the capture the ark, it seems pretty tame too.  Then Dagon pays homage to Yahweh’s throne, and plagues and deadly confusion follow the humbled ark goes.

No wonder the Philistines worry to Achish when they discover David and his warriors marching among the Philistines to fight Saul.  He looks plenty safe, but he could turn out to be a Samson or an ark.

The church has the Spirit of Samson; the church is the earthly throne of God; the church is led by the greater David.  She looks weak, but Philistines are right to worry.”

No wonder the world wants the Church to shut up about everything and keep to herself.  She’s a direct threat no matter how weak she appears.