Thursday, August 26, 2010

College and the Christian

 Roy Atwood writes in a recent blog post that "Education is a religious act."  Few Christians really grasp this concept, many surely believe it hyperbolic.  I graduated from a Christian college and was largely disillusioned by the experience.  My impressions of that particular Christian institution were very mixed.  On the one hand, the college was explicitly Christian in creed, but thoroughly compromised doctrinally and practically.  I had many wonderful professors who taught as Christians.  However, the tide of the institution increasingly mingled idols worship with the worship of the One True God.

This experience led me to later believe that secular universities offered a more fertile environment for Christians.  I believed this bizarre and ironic argument because the false piety of a so-called Christian college could do so much damage to the spiritual life of young Christians.  I experienced and saw this myself.  Yet paradoxically I saw vibrant Christians come out of secular universities supported by campus ministries such as Campus Crusade for Christ and Navigators.  I thought that intentional pursuit of Christian community in an otherwise hostile education environment could foster true spiritual growth and life.

Yet articles like Bill Savage's demonstrate the great danger involved in sending our young people to universities hostile to Christian belief.  Savage writes:

"The children of red states will seek a higher education, and that education will very often happen in blue states or blue islands in red states. For the foreseeable future, loyal dittoheads will continue to drop off their children at the dorms. After a teary-eyed hug, Mom and Dad will drive their SUV off toward the nearest gas station, leaving their beloved progeny behind.


And then they are all mine."

Atwood and Mohler both write more eloquently and succinctly on the issue, so I'll leave them to argue the points.  Do not surrender your children's education to pagans before thinking very carefully about the implications of such a decision.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Economic Collapse Going Mainstream?

 I don't know much about Tony Robbins, but most know of his reputation as a self-hep guru.  Watching these two videos give me a measure of respect for his intelligence and integrity.  Is Tony Robbins "mainstream?"  Perhaps.  He's certainly more mainstream than the fringe economic collapse blogs that are all over the internet.

Robbins claims to have connections to highly intelligent and wealthy investors that are "in the know."  But in reality, there are plenty of people saying the same things Robbins says in these videos--he's just a more popular figure than most make the same arguments.  

As I said in a previous post, it is not too late to shelter yourself from the coming economic collapse.  It is coming, and it will be devastating for those with their money in the stock market.





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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hugh Hewitt Interviews Peter Hitchens

Doug Wilson linked to this interview of Peter Hitchens by Hugh Hewitt.  I highly commend the interview.  It is excellent stuff.  I've got The Rage Against God on my reading list, and hopefully I'll get to it in the next couple months.  

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Two Pieces of Bad News for the Economy

The media has been following the script given them by mainstream economists and politicians.  The mantra has gone from "green shoots" to "welcome to the recovery."  Meanwhile, those that were really paying attention recognized that the positive spin was either based on ignorance or deceit.  There are two pieces of bad news today that have surprised some, but again, those paying attention saw this coming.

Item Number 1:
The sales of existing homes in July are the lowest on record.  June was a really bad month, but July was even worse.  Look at the drop in the graph below between June and July.

That is a startling drop.  The first-time home buyer tax credit is now history.  Those that were thinking about buying a home have likely already bought one in order to take advantage of the tax rebate.  Prices have remained more or less stable--likely due to the tax rebate that bidders used to bid against one another. 

Take a look at this graph as well, which shows the "Total Loan Balance That Will Experience Payshock."  It is clear in this graph that things are only going to get worse from here.  There may be a lull in a few months, but come next summer things will become disastrous.

Here is a more thorough report.  The news about the housing sector is bad enough, but add this to the realization of what Item Number 2 will bring...

Item Number 2:
Check out this article about the three-headed tax monster that will assault America on January 1st.  The lowest tax bracket currently at 10% will go up to 15% and each subsequent bracket will go up by 3%, with the top tax bracket going up 4.6% to 39.6%.

Perhaps the biggest shock will be to your W-2 at the end of the year when your taxable income will include your employer's medical expenses on your behalf.

Those that talk of a double-dip recession fail to grasp that there has been no recovery nor will there be for at least two years.  2011 will likely be devastating for a large portion of American population.  Those on the margins after the initial economic shock will fall into bankruptcy and financial despondency.  Those that have struggled to keep up with their mortgage payments the last few years will likely be forced to walk away as many before them.  The housing market will be in disarray for years, and the American economy will be in shambles until the political class is replaced by men and women of integrity and wisdom.

It isn't too late to get in on gold and silver to protect some of your wealth from the destruction to come.



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Friday, August 20, 2010

Buckley vs. Paul

In 1988, Ron Paul was a guest on William F. Buckley's television program Firing Line.  At the time, Paul was running for President on the Libertarian ticket.  These four videos are a remarkable contrast between conservatism and libertarianism.  I think it is important to note that Christians ought not subscribe wholly to any of the world's political philosophies, as they are fundamentally humanistic.  Having said that, I think it is clear that Paul espouses the philosophy more in line with Christian teachings than Buckley. 




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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Inflation, Sound Currency, and the Law of God

“What do we find in this present-day America, in which the achievements of centuries are so rapidly being lost and in which that liberty which our fathers won at such cost is being thrown away recklessly by one mad generation? I think the really significant thing that we find is that America has turned away from God. In the political and social discussions of the day, God’s law has ceased to be regarded as a factor that deserves to be reckoned with at all. That is true in regard to the higher ranges of human life; it is also true in regard to that mammon in which our Lord said a man must be fruitful if he is to be faithful in higher things. We hear much about mammon today: We hear much about the currency; we hear much about the question whether what is euphemistically called a “managed currency” is or is not economically more advantageous than the gold standard. But the sad thing is that in all this discussion we hear little about simple honesty, which is the law of God. I can remember when I had a certain patriotic pride in the good faith of the United States government, in those bygone days when the phrase “sound as a dollar” had not yet become jest. The United States government, in its business dealings, seemed to me to be the very embodiment of integrity; I regarded it as almost inconceivable that it would repudiate its corporate obligations. Yet today it has done just that. Of course, there are times when a government or an individual must fail to meet obligations. That is when the government or the individual is bankrupt, when the government or the individual acknowledges the justice of the obligations but is under the necessity of pleading that they cannot be met. I am not saying, therefore, that when a country goes off the gold standard it is necessarily acting dishonestly. But it is not such an honest bankruptcy which we have in the United States at the present time. On the contrary, what we have is a very ruthless application of the devil’s principle that “might makes right.” Look at the United States gold certificate, if you can find one somewhere in a museum today without being put in jail for looking at it. Upon it the United States government promises to pay very specifically not in some other currency but in gold. It is a solemn obligation of the United States. It is a solemn contract—not of any individual, but of the United States government—a contract to the fulfillment of which the honor of the American people is pledged, a contract with the holder of the note. Today not only is that contract not fulfilled, but the holder of the contract is threatened with imprisonment unless he hands over to the defaulting party the contract itself.

I tell you, my friends, there are many things that are uncertain about the future, but of one thing we can be sure: A nation that tramples thus upon the law of God, that tramples upon the basic principles of integrity, is headed for destruction unless it repents in time… But the real reason why young men fall into crime is that the law of God is so generally disobeyed. When the government itself lends itself to a sort of glorified robbery, what can be expected from the impressionable youth of the day? If solemn contracts, public and private, are mere scraps of paper, if sheer power is everything, if that principle is operative in high places, who can wonder if it is put into operation also in individual lives? The real evil is the same in both cases. The real evil is the ruthless disregard of the law of God.” --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State pages 139-141


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Freedom's Dependency

"I believe in a judiciary not cooperating with any economic or social programs (as President Roosevelt has intimated that the judiciary is doing now) but a judiciary resolutely refusing to cooperate, a judiciary quite independent of popular clamor, unswerved by any plea of necessity, interpreting the law and the law alone, upholding the high principles of the Constitution through fair weather and foul, guaranteeing to the humblest citizen his inalienable rights against Congress and against the President and against the overwhelming weight of temporary public opinion.

“Today this American liberty of ours is very rapidly being destroyed. In the process of its destruction, we are learning something that we ought to have known perfectly well all along--namely, that freedom is dependent ultimately upon what is in the hearts of the people. Freedom is not safe if it is written only with ink in the Constitution. It must be written also in the fleshly tables of the heart. No country can be permanently free unless the love of freedom is ingrained in the very souls of its people." --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State pages 137-138


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Monday, August 16, 2010

Christian Education, Part II

"I can see little consistency in a type of Christian activity which preaches the Gospel on the street corners and at the ends of the Earth, but neglects the children of the covenant by abandoning them to a cold and unbelieving secularism. If, indeed, the Christian school were in any sort of competition with the Christian family, if it were trying to do what the home ought to do, then I could never favor it. But one of its marked characteristics, in sharp distinction from the secular education of today, is that it exalts the family as a blessed divine institution and treats the scholars in its classes as children of the covenant to be brought up above all things in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State page 82

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Christian Education

"It is this profound Christian permeation of every human activity, no matter how secular the world may regard it as being, which is brought about by the Christian school and the Christian school alone. I do not want to be guilty of exaggeration at this point. A Christian boy or girl can learn mathematics, for example, from a teacher who is not a Christian; and truth is truth however learned. But while truth is truth however learned, the bearing of truth, the meaning of truth, the purpose of truth (even in the sphere of mathematics) seem entirely different to the Christian from that which they seem to the non-Christian; and that is why a truly Christian education is possible only when Christian conviction underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life--those are great central convictions that underlie the Christian school." --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State page 81
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Keep the Bible Out of Public Schools

“…if the law of God is proclaimed in public schools to people of different faiths, it is bound, in the very nature of the case, to be proclaimed with optimism; and if it is proclaimed with optimism, it is proclaimed in a way radically opposed to the Christian doctrine of sin. By hypothesis it is regarded as all that good citizens imperatively need to know; they may perhaps profitably know other things, but the fundamental notion is that if they know this they know all that is absolutely essential. But is not a law that is proclaimed to unredeemed persons with such optimism at best only an imperfect, garbled law? Is it not very different from the true and majestic law of God with its awful pronouncements of eternal death upon sinful man?

The answer to these questions is only too plain. A proclamation of morality which regards itself as all that is necessary—which regards itself as being capable at the most of nonessential supplementation by additional motives to be provided by Christianity or other faiths—is very different from that true proclamation of the law of God which may be a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ. It is not merely insufficient, but it is false; and I do not see how a consistent Christian can possibly regard it as providing any part of that nurture and admonition of the Lord which it is a duty of every Christian parent to give to his children.

What other solution, then, has the public school to offer for the problem which we are considering just now? Well, many people tell us that the reading of the Bible can be put into the public schools. Every educated man, we are told, ought to know something about the Bible; and no intelligent, broad-minded person—whether a Christian or not—ought to object to the bare reading of this great religious classic. So in many places we find the Bible being read in public schools. What shall we say about that?

For my part, I have no hesitation in saying that I am strongly opposed to it. I think I am just about as strongly opposed to the reading of the Bible in state-controlled schools as any atheist could be.

For one thing, the reading of the Bible is very difficult to separate from propaganda about the Bible. I remember, for example, a book of selections from the Bible for school reading which was placed in my hands some time ago. Whether it is used no I do not know, but it is typical of what will inevitably occur of the Bible is read in public schools. Under the guise of being a book of selections for Bible reading, it really presupposed the current naturalistic view of the Old Testament Scriptures.

But even where such efforts are avoided, even where the Bible itself is read (and not one of the current mistranslations but in the Authorized Version) the Bible still may be soread as to obscure and even contradict its true message. When, for example, the great and glorious promises of the Bible to the redeemed children of God are read as though they belonged of right to man as man, have we not an attack upon the very heart and core of the Bible’s teaching? What could be more terrible, for example, from the Christian point of view, than the reading of the Lord’s Prayer to non-Christian children as though they could use it without becoming Christians and as though persons who have never been purchased by the blood of Christ could possibly say to God, “Our Father, which art in Heaven”? The truth is that a garbled Bible may be a falsified Bible; and when any hope is held out to lost humanity from the so-called ethical portions of the Bible apart from its great redemptive core, then the Bible is represented as saying the direct opposite of what it really says.

So I am opposed to the reading of the Bible in public schools. As for any presentation of general principles of what is called “religion,” supposed to be exemplified in various positive religions, including Christianity, it is quite unnecessary for me to say in this company that such presentation is opposed to the Christian religion at its very heart. The relation between the Christian way of salvation and other ways is not a relation between the perfect and the imperfect, but it is a relation between the true and the false. The minute a professing Christian admits that he can find neutral ground with non-Christians in the study of “religion” in general, he has given up the battle; he has really, if he knows what he is doing, made common cause with that syncretism which is today, as it was in the first century of our era, the deadliest enemy of the Christian faith.” --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State pages 77-80


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Transcendant Law

“Moral standards were powerful only when they were invested with an unearthly glory and were treated as quit different in kind from all rules of expediency. The truth is that decency cannot be produced without principle. It is useless to try to keep back the raging sea of passion with the flimsy, mud embankments of an appeal to experience. Instead, there will have to be recourse again—despite the props afforded by the materialistic paternalism of the modern State—to the stren, solid masonry of the law of God. An authority which is man-made can never secure the reverence of man; society can endure only if it is founded upon the rock of God’s commands.” --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State pages 62-63

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gospel Hegemony

“Christianity is the proclamation of an historical fact—that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Modern thought has no place for that proclamation. It prevents men from listening to the message. Yet the culture of today cannot simply be rejected as a whole. It is not like the pagan culture of the first century. It is not wholly non-Christian. Much of it has been derived directly from the Bible. There are significant movements in it, going to waste, which might well be used for the defense of the Gospel. The situation is complex. Easy wholesale measures are not in place. Discrimination, investigation is necessary. Some of modern thought must be refuted. The rest must be made subservient. But nothing in it can be ignored. He that is not with us is against us. Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough; intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.” --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State page 57

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Religion and Culture

“The problem is made for us the more difficult of solution because we are unprepared for it. Our whole system of school and college education is so constituted as to keep religion and culture as far apart as possible and ignore the question of the relationship between them. On five or six days in the week, we were engaged in the acquisition of knowledge. From this activity the study of religion was banished. We studied natural science without considering its bearing or lack of bearing upon natural theology or upon revelation. We studied Greek without opening the New Testament. We studied history with careful avoidance of that greatest of historical movements which was ushered in by the preaching of Jesus. In philosophy, the vital importance of the study for religion could not entirely be concealed, but it was kept as far as possible in the background. On Sundays, on the other hand, we had religious instruction that called for little exercise of the intellect. Careful preparation for Sunday school lessons as for lessons in mathematics or Latin was unknown. Religion seemed to be something that had to do only with the emotions and the will, leaving the intellect to secular studies. What wonder that after such training we came to regard religion and culture as belonging to two entirely separate compartments of the soul, and their union as involving the destruction of both?” --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State pages 46-47

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Law of God

“At the present time, the existence of law is being denied. Men no longer believe that there is such a thing as a law of God, and naturally they do not believe that there is such a thing as sin. Thoughtful men, who are not Christians, are aware of the problem that this stupendous change in human thinking presents to the modern world. Now that men no longer believe that there is a law of God, now that men no longer believe in obligatory morality, now that the moral law has been abandoned, what is to be put in its place in order that an ordinarily decent human life may be preserved upon the Earth? It is impossible to keep back the raging seas of human passion with the flimsy mud embankments of an appeal either to self-interest, or to what Walter Lippman calls “disinterestedness.” Those raging seas can only be checked by the solid masonry of the law of God.

Men are wondering today what is wrong with the world. They are conscious of the fact that they are standing over some terrible abyss. Awful ebullitions rise from that abyss. We have lost altogether the sense of the security of our Western civilization. Men are wondering what is wrong.

It is perfectly clear what is wrong. The law of God has been torn up, as though it were a scrap of paper, and the inevitable result is appearing with even greater clearness. When will the law be rediscovered? When it is rediscovered, that will be a day of terror for mankind; but it will also be a day of joy, for the law will be a schoolmaster unto Christ. Its terrors will drive men back to the little wicket gate and to the way that leads to that place somewhat ascending where they will see the Cross.” --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State pages 41-42


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The Depreciation of the Intellect

“The depreciation of the intellect, with the exaltation in the place of it of the feelings or of the will, is, we think, a basic fact in modern life which is rapidly leading to a condition in which men neither know anything nor care anything about the doctrinal content of the Christian religion, in which there is in general a lamentable intellectual decline.” --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State page 9

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Primacy of Doctrine

“When one is asked to preach at a church, the pastor sometimes asks the visiting preacher to conduct his Bible class, and sometimes he gives a hint as to how the class is ordinarily conducted. He makes it very practical, he says; he gives the class hints as to how to live during the following week. But when I for my part actually conduct such a class, I most emphatically do not give the members hints as to how to live during the following week. That is not because such hints are not useful, but because they are not all that is useful. It would be very sad if a Bible class did not get practical directions, but a class that gets nothing but practical directions is very poorly prepared for life. And so when I conduct the class I try to give them what they do not get on other occasions; I try to help them get straight in their minds the doctrinal and historical contents of the Christian religion.

The absence of doctrinal teaching and preaching is certainly one of the causes for the present lamentable ignorance in the church. But a still more influential cause is found in the failure of the most important of all Christian educational institutions. The most important Christian education institution is not the pulpit or the school, important as these institutions are; it is the Christian family. And that institution has to a very large extent ceased to do its work. “ --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State pages 7-8


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Christianity and The Intellect

“It is a great mistake, then, to suppose that we who are called “conservatives” hold desperately to certain beliefs merely because they are old, and are opposed to the discovery of new facts. On the contrary, we welcome new discoveries with all our hearts, and we believe that our cause will come to its rights again only when youth throws off its present intellectual lethargy, refuses to go thoughtlessly with the anti-intellectual current of the age, and recovers some genuine independence of mind. In one sense, indeed, we are traditionalists; we do maintain that any institution that is really great has its roots in the past; we do not therefore desire to substitute modern sects for the historic Christian church. But on the whole, in view of the conditions that now exist, it would perhaps be more correct to call us “radicals” than to call us “conservatives.” We look not for a mere continuation of new power; we are seeking in particular to arouse youth from its present uncritical repetition of current phrases into some genuine examination of the basis of life; and we believe that Christianity flourishes not in the darkness, but in the light. A revival of Christian religion, we believe, will deliver mankind from its present bondage and, like the great revival of the sixteenth century, will bring liberty to mankind. Such a revival will not be the work of man, but the work of the Spirit of God. But one of the means which the Spirit will use, we believe, is an awakening of the intellect. The retrograde, anti-intellectual movement called Modernism, a movement which really degrades the intellect by excluding it from the sphere of religion, will be overcome, and thinking will again come to its rights. The new Reformation, in other words, will be accompanied by a new Renaissance; and the last thing in the world that we desire to do is to discourage originality or independence of mind.” --- J. Gresham Machen, Education, Christianity, and the State pages 5-6

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Monday, August 09, 2010

The Betrayal of the UN

A quarter of a century ago, in the great hopes of mankind, the United Nations Organization was born. Alas, in an immoral world, this too grew up to be immoral. It is not a United Nations Organization but a United Governments Organization where all governments stand equal; those which are freely elected, those imposed forcibly, and those which have seized power with weapons. Relying on the mercenary partiality of the majority UNO jealously guards the freedom of some nations and neglects the freedom of others. As a result of an obedient vote it declined to undertake the investigation of private appeals - the groans, screams and beseechings of humble individual PLAIN PEOPLE - not large enough a catch for such a great organization. UNO made no effort to make the Declaration of Human Rights, its best document in twenty-five years, into an OBLIGATORY condition of membership confronting the governments. Thus it betrayed those humble people into the will of the governments which they had not chosen."  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture

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The Irony of "Liberators"

Oh, that George W. Bush and his administration had studied their Solzhenitsyn Reader!


"...we are threatened by destruction in the fact that the physically compressed, strained world is not allowed to blend spiritually; the molecules of knowledge and sympathy are not allowed to jump over from one half to the other. This presents a rampant danger: THE SUPPRESSION OF INFORMATION between the parts of the planet. Contemporary science knows that suppression of information leads to entropy and total destruction. Suppression of information renders international signatures and agreements illusory; within a muffled zone it costs nothing to reinterpret any agreement, even simpler - to forget it, as though it had never really existed. (Orwell understood this supremely.) A muffled zone is, as it were, populated not by inhabitants of the Earth, but by an expeditionary corps from Mars; the people know nothing intelligent about the rest of the Earth and are prepared to go and trample it down in the holy conviction that they come as "liberators"."  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture

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Friday, August 06, 2010

The Spirit of Munich

"The spirit of Munich has by no means retreated into the past; it was not merely a brief episode. I even venture to say that the spirit of Munich prevails in the Twentieth Century. The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles. The spirit of Munich is a sickness of the will of successful people, it is the daily condition of those who have given themselves up to the thirst after prosperity at any price, to material well-being as the chief goal of earthly existence. Such people - and there are many in today's world - elect passivity and retreat, just so as their accustomed life might drag on a bit longer, just so as not to step over the threshold of hardship today - and tomorrow, you'll see, it will all be all right. (But it will never be all right! The price of cowardice will only be evil; we shall reap courage and victory only when we dare to make sacrifices.)" Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture

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The Oppresor's Baton

"The young, at an age when they have not yet any experience other than sexual, when they do not yet have years of personal suffering and personal understanding behind them, are jubilantly repeating our depraved Russian blunders of the Nineteenth Century, under the impression that they are discovering something new. They acclaim the latest wretched degradation on the part of the Chinese Red Guards as a joyous example. In shallow lack of understanding of the age-old essence of mankind, in the naive confidence of inexperienced hearts they cry: let us drive away THOSE cruel, greedy oppressors, governments, and the new ones (we!), having laid aside grenades and rifles, will be just and understanding. Far from it!... But of those who have lived more and understand, those who could oppose these young - many do not dare oppose, they even suck up, anything not to appear "conservative". Another Russian phenomenon of the Nineteenth Century which Dostoevsky called SLAVERY TO PROGRESSIVE QUIRKS." Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

Pseudonyms

"Our Twentieth Century has proved to be more cruel than preceding centuries, and the first fifty years have not erased all its horrors. Our world is rent asunder by those same old cave-age emotions of greed, envy, lack of control, mutual hostility which have picked up in passing respectable pseudonyms like class struggle, racial conflict, struggle of the masses, trade-union disputes." Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture

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"Civilized" Christianity

"People desire false teaching because it enables them to absolutize contingent systems to which they have given allegiance. They seek religious leaders who will bless their idolization of the nation, or the state, or the unrestricted pursuit of wealth or power, or the acting out of their hatred and ressentiment through humanitarian policy. The “relevant” theologies of both left and right confer the baptismal sprinkle on their respective portions of the cultural and political spectrum. A sterile religious conservatism idolizes nineteenth-century culture in all its expressions: its hymns, its education, its enemies, its vocabulary, and that is why it sounds like a museum piece. A sterile liberalism idolizes the present, triumphantly brandishing its progressive credentials just as their destructiveness and vacuity are becoming evident even to many who once took them seriously. It only remains for some element in the church to baptize futurism, and thereby put the capstone on its folly. All these illegitimate associations serve to “civilize” Christianity and thereby make it fit for nothing the apostles would have recognized.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 255-256).

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Subtle Idols

“Idols are hard to identify after they have been part of the society for a time. It became “normal” for the people of Jerusalem to worship Molech in the temple, and it seemed odd that people calling themselves prophets should denounce the practice. Molech was part of the establishment religious scene, one that had directed the national cult throughout living memory. The idol was supported by all the “best” elements of society, the political, economic, and religious power structure. The prophets denounced the powerful, wealthy, and respectable, not because there is anything inherently wrong with those attributes, but because in that society people so described organized and validated a system of idol-worship and injustice. That is why the vocation of prophet is so unpopular and so hazardous. The contemporary church, in contrast, for the most part has made its peace with this society's "best." In a society in which idolatry runs rampant, a church that is not iconoclastic is a travesty. If it is not against the idols it is with them."  (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 254).

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Hugh Hewitt and the Ground Zero Mosque

Doug Wilson has dressed down Hugh Hewitt's remarks concerning New York City giving permission for the construction of a mosque blocks from the World Trade Center ruins.  His thoughts are better than mine on the topic.  I encourage you to read them.

But Wilson didn't comment on another portion of Hewitt's post.  Hewitt writes:

If the City of New York will not protect the property from politicization or the use by any religious group, then the federal government ought to use its spending power to secure the result.  Federal laws routinely interfere with the use of private property and the decisions of state and local government --see, for example, Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act-- and the federal government has every right to closely patrol the purposes to which the Ground Zero area will be put.  It was a national trauma, felt most intensely and uniquely in New York, but there is an issue here for every American.

Hewitt's advocacy of federal intervention in the matter of New York City zoning and construction demonstrates sufficiently the supremacy of federal power in Hewitt's ideology.  Hewitt is a nationalist and any advocacy of states rights (or Constitutional limits upon government) must be regarded with great skepticism.  Hewitt legitimizes federal power against all other forms of power.  This dangerous precedent is destructive of liberty and must be opposed. 


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Civic Religion

"A religious statement, on the other hand, which says, 'do not be conformed to the values of society' swings an axe at the trunk of civil religion. Civil religion eases tensions, where biblical religion creates them. Civil religion papers over the cracks of evil, and biblical religion strips away the covering, exposing the nasty places. Civil religion prescribes aspirin for cancer, and biblical religion insists on the knife" (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 252).

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Good Theology is Critical

“Theological decrepitude seems to be the inescapable accompaniment to, if not a major cause of, ecclesiastical debasement. The religious revival under King Josiah came after the pentateuchal writings were recovered; thus the idolatry that preceded it occurred without the theological underpinnings that the law could have provided. The vacuity of the social gospel, which considered ameliorative action a fair exchange for theological understanding, almost ensured that humanitarian activity would become a substitute for what was peculiarly Christian.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 239).

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Historicism in the Church

“Passively accepting domination by the outside culture is probably related to an implicit historicism into which the church intellectuals have fallen. The historicist mentality finds it difficult to consider the possibility that a dominant trend may be evil, and thus stands ready to embrace anything that will confer contemporaneity on itself.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 237).

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Do Not Conform Yourself...

“Ecclesiastical structures that depart from the faith do so by the loss of distinctiveness, the gradual conformation of their thought and life to that of the larger community. Sociological observations confirm that, by and large, the religious institutions of the United States do not teach values that are distinctive to their own traditions but rather use religious terminology that ratifies the values of the broader society. There is little to distinguish what the churches say from what other institutions teach, and wea are left therefore with only an indistinctive religion-in-general. The public school, for example, will be found to be teaching little that is different from the ecclesiastical structure. Survey information suggests that people brought up in such churches, and the clergy trained to work in them, find that traditional Christian doctrines seem implausible. They are so accustomed to deferring to society’s norms as their norms that anything else seems odd.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 235).
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Free Indeed

“When Jesus spoke about the truth’s making men free (John 8:32), it was in the context of faith and discipleship and had nothing to do with the reasons these words are inscribed on the lintels of twentieth-century American libraries. Christian freedom stems from the separation of the creation and the Creator; from the repudiation of a demiurge that binds man to the ground of his being ; from the rejection of determinisms and the affirmation of responsibility; and from the limitations on Caesar, the declaration that he is a creature, and the removal of the divine status that he continually seeks to acquire. Christian liberty rests on the foundation that man’s responsibility to God may not be abridged or compromised by lesser loyalties. This is the conviction that made it possible for Peter to say that he would obey God rather than man, and thus relativizes all human powers. When loyalty to God disappears, there is no longer a barrier to an omnicompetent state. Social democracy makes society increasingly dependent upon the state for continued sustenance, thereby cementing its bondage. That is the wisdom in Chesterton’s definition of despotism as a “tired democracy.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 228-229).

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