Croatians Vote to Ban Gay Marriage
Worth bookmarking Croatia on Google maps as we may all have to live there soon. Now watch as homosexual jackboots from all over the world try to overturn a 65% vote to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
Ann: “Marriage isn’t a lovey-dovey thing, y’know, for 80 years, you learn to accept one another’s way of life…Devote your time to understanding one another, really, that’s the whole thing.
John: “We always hold hands…Well, we just take things as they come, and we’re contented, and we have lovely family to support us…Be content with what you have and what you’re doing…The key is to always agree with your wife.” (I think that’s a joke).
Why We Hate
Hope you didn’t get whiplash there; from beautiful love to ugly hate in just a few pixels. In this study of the Bosnian genocide, psychologists ask, “Why do humans do such terrible things to each other? What makes us capable of torture, war, and genocide?” This study answers “Evolution!” It’s not a new insight. For years Christians have been arguing for a necessary connection between genocide and a belief in evolution.
The Quest to Turn Computers into Creative Artists “With the London Symphony Orchestra performing machine-written symphonies, Amazon selling books written by algorithms and film-makers scripting screenplays after conversations with a PC, are computers evolving from being a mere tool into becoming a creative force in their own right? For example, a new experiment by Volkswagen creates music based on a car’s speed, steering and whether it is in the city or countryside.”
It would appear that one of the main drivers of this work is the desire to create a creator. Does that not so clearly reveal the image of God in man? The Creator who created us to create has created us to create creators too.
Speaking of creativity, a new wireless device has allowed paralyzed people to drive a wheelchair simply by moving their tongues. Can’t help but think how much this imaginative ingenuity in the service of others pleases God.
It’s a bit scary but take a look into the future with 5 Visions for What Families Will Look like in 2030. Instead of responding with just critique and judgment to all the new “family” arrangements that people are actively choosing (and in many cases suffering passively), Christians have to demonstrate in everyday living why the Christian family is the best way to live.
Atheism is Boring
Turns out even atheists think that Atheism is Boring and need to spice it up their new “megachurch” a bit. Atheist pastors “choose to deliver an inspirational message rather than proclaim an anti-God talk. One of their ministers denies “that the congregation is just full of religion haters.” Instead, he says, they “want to be in a community that will inspire them to love, not hate. They want to be good, to live compassionately in a challenging and often hostile world. They want their children to grow up within a community that cares for them and will help them develop a positive value system by which to live. They want to change the world and make it better.” I join Danny in utter bafflement and bewilderment at why any atheist thinks starting an atheist church is a good idea.
War on Women
There’s a “War on Women” alright. It’s just that the war is not being waged by Republicans or Calvinists, but by Liberal Evangelicals. That’s a bit overstated and the article is also on the sensational side, but still worth a read. Most Tweetable line in this report on the recent Q Focus “Women and Calling” Conference is “Gender roles do not equate to gender discrimination.” As Dr Janice Shaw Crouse said, “There is a huge difference, however, between the Biblical principle of equality — by which God created all of us as equal — and the radical distortions of the radical feminist principles that push hatred of masculine traits and try to get rid of the differences between women and men.” Some good quotes from Kathy Keller too, although the post in general is
I’d always thought the Book of Psalms was an undiscovered treasure in much of the Church. But I never thought that it would break the record for a printed book ($14.2 million) at an auction yesterday. Like the Psalmist, I still think it’s underpriced (Ps. 19:10! You can read more about the history of this particular Psalter here.
Saved Without Faith
Many of us have admired Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Dr Charles Krauthammer for his media-savvy political analysis. In What’s the Matter with Krauthammer? Nicholas Hahn gives some fascinating insight into Krauthammer’s Jewish background and his present spiritual state. His most revealing comment: “Judaism does not insist on theology. Judaism is a religion of good works, not of belief. You don’t have to have a belief to be saved,”
Funeral for TV
Boy, am I glad I never made it in TV because TV is Dying and Here are the Stats to Prove It. The graphs and figures are really quite incredible. I wonder how long until they’ll be saying the same about the Internet?
It’s easy to criticize Obamacare, both in its principles and practices – in fact, it’s doing a good job of criticizing itself these days. But what about the far more difficult work of constructing an alternative? There’s no question that at least some of the motivation behind Obamacare was good – the desire to reduce costs, widen access, and help those with pre-existing conditions. So how would a Christian healthcare alternative (ChristCare?) grapple with these problems? Let me propose twelve biblically based principles.
1. Charity: As part of our Christian duty to love our neighbor as ourselves, ChristCare would provide some level of healthcare for those who are uninsured or uninsurable. Although none would be denied basic healthcare, a just distinction in services offered would be made between those who are sick and poor through no fault of their own and those whose personal choices have made them ill.
2. Responsibility: ChristCare would call people to take personal responsibility for leading a healthy lifestyle. It would prioritize health education, disease-prevention, and financially incentivized accountability.
3. Reality: We cannot all get access to every medical treatment. Just because a drug is available does not mean its affordable. Just because something can be done does not mean it should be done. We need to recognize that we are mortal, that we are not going to live forever, and we must also learn to live with some measure of pain and discomfort at times. Otherwise, we could easily spend every last cent on medical treatment. ChristCare would propose realistic basic levels of care for different ages and illnesses.
4. Liberty: Although basic levels of care would be available for all, ChristCare would allow people the freedom to choose the level of health care and cost that suit their situation and circumstances.
5. Morality: ChristCare would not fund birth control or abortion. It would also reduce expenditure on diseases that have been brought on by sexual immorality, drug abuse, and other sinful choices.
6. Efficiency: ChristCare would be vigilant in driving down waste, inefficiency, and corruption in the provision of medical services and the associated administration.
7. Locality: As the “cultural mandate,” Babel, and the Great Commission demonstrate, God opposes centralization. Probably due to the increased dangers of corruption, God encourages the spread and sharing of power. Churches, schools, and other local organizations would be encouraged to be involved in health education and even the provision of some basic services.
8. Fallibility: While holding doctors and nurses accountable for serious malpractice, ChristCare would accept that a level of mistakes and errors are always inevitable in a fallen world and would implement policies that would minimize lawsuits and reduce excessive compensation payments.
9. Simplicity: Obamacare’s major accomplishment to date has been to make an already complicated healthcare system even more so. My wife is a doctor and even she is frequently baffled by the complexity of the American healthcare system. For even the simplest of procedures there seems to be a blizzard of paperwork and bills. ChristCare would aim for a streamlined simplicity.
10. Honesty: Hospitals seem incapable of estimating even to the nearest thousand dollars the cost of routine operations and even of basic tests like colonoscopies. Ask for a quotation and you’re told you have to phone about a dozen hospital departments to figure out everyone’s slice of the pie. This lack of transparency means that patients cannot compare prices in a way that would create a competitive market. ChristCare would be open, honest, and transparent about costs in order to drive prices down.
11. Equity: Without going down the Obamacare route of national price controls, there needs to be some way that patients can get redress when overcharged for medical services. Recently my wife had to take our baby to the local children’s hospital. She was there for about 20 minutes, questioned by a nurse for about 5 minutes, and the baby examined by a doctor for about 2 minutes before being given the all clear. Cost? $750! Thank you. Don’t mention it. ChristCare would establish independent mediators to advocate for patients and establish fair pricing.
12. Spirituality: ChristCare would take the spiritual dimension seriously and provide holistic care for the body, the mind, and the soul.
These are only principles of course; the practical details would take a huge amount of time and thought to work out. (See Dr Carl Ellis Jr.’s Alternative HealthCare System for a much more detailed proposal). However, by measuring every proposal and practice against these principles, I believe we would get much closer to a universal and affordable healthcare system.
I know, I know, that’s a perverse and twisted reaction; but it eventually passes, sanity and reason return, and I try to listen for the truth in the midst of all the over-sensitivity.
So let’s examine these terrorizing and terrifying words to see if we should drop them, modify them, or indeed say them more than ever!
1. “The Bible clearly says…” Apparently the age of IT and social media has turned millions into Bible scholars who don’t need to hear about the Bible’s clarity and who don’t believe the Bible is clear on much at all. Millennials want a lot more hesitation, qualification, humility, and admissions of fallibility in pastors’ sermons. It’s claimed that this will build greater trust in the Bible!
I agree that where the Bible is not dogmatic, the preacher should not be dogmatic. I also agree that way too many pastors claim the Bible’s clear support for what are often just personal preferences and prejudices. However, there is plenty that the Bible is crystal clear on, no matter how much people try to muddy the waters or blunt the blade. In these areas we must insist on the clarity and authority of Scripture.
Verdict: Say it, and say it loudly and authoritatively, but reserve it only for areas that are indeed clear.
2. “God will never give you more than you can handle” Millennials object to this because they say it implies that if you can’t handle life, if you need outside help (e.g. friendship, therapy, etc), then your faith is not strong enough.
If millennials understand the phrase in this way, then I can understand why they hate it.
I actually dislike this phrase too, but for different reasons. God often gives us more than we can handle, in order to make us feel our need of Him, His Church, His people, etc.
Verdict: Retire the phrase, but for Murray rather than millennial reasons.
3. Love on (e.g. “As youth group leaders, we’re just here to love on those kids.” They find this creepy and and troubling. “We may understand that we need help, but we certainly don’t want to be anyone’s project or ministry…It may just be semantics, but being loved on feels very different than being simply loved. The former connotes a sudden flash of contrived kindness; the latter is simpler…but deeper.”
I’m with them on this, although I’m not sure I can reason it out as well as they do. It just gives me the creeps.
Verdict: Take it to the trash.
4. Black and white quantifiers of faith, such as “Believer, Unbeliever, Backsliding” “Millennials are sick of rhetoric that centers around who’s in and who’s out. We know our own doubtful hearts enough to know that belief and unbelief so often coexist….We want to be accepted, not analyzed.”
There’s a lot of misunderstanding here. Of course, unbelief exists even in the strongest believer’s life. However, the Bible is very clear (Did I just write that? I think I hear millions of millennials stampeding to the hills)…Yes, the Bible and Jesus are very clear that there are only two gates, two roads, two destinations, and that we are to analyze or examine our selves to see if we are in the faith. Sermons help us to do that.
Verdict: We need more of this black and white clarity, not less. But preachers need to be skillful spiritual surgeons to ensure that they do not break the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax.
5. “God is in control . . . has a plan . . . works in mysterious ways” Millennials believe this but don’t want to hear it, especially when things go wrong in their lives. “We are drawn to the Jesus who sits down with the down-and-out woman at the well. Who touches the leper, the sick, the hurting. Who cries when Lazarus is found dead…even though he is in control and has a plan to bring Lazarus back to life.”
They have a point here. The sovereignty of God is a glorious truth, but Christians often do toss it out way too quickly and tritely when they should be weeping with weepers. Cue the best line in the whole article: “The Jesus we read about enters into the pain of humanity where so often the church people seem to want to float above it.”
Ouch! Painful truth.
Verdict: Keep it, but delay the use of it.
So, thank you millennials for your honesty and your challenges. We want to learn from you and love you.
But we also hope you will learn how to learn from us; and even learn how to love us too. Cliches and all.
The mainstream media’s demonization of Christians continues apace. Over at The Washington Post, the Rev. (yes, the Rev.) Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite argues that Christians have nothing to fear from Halloween. Instead, she says we should be afraid, very afraid, of evangelical Christians. Yes, it appears that the most frightening bogeyman, the foulest fiend is anyone who actually believes the Bible. She goes on to list the greatest ghouls and most petrifying zombies of our day:
1. Christian dominionism: I have no idea what the Reverend lady means by this, and it would appear neither does she. In a remarkable feat of logical gymnastics, she somehow manages to jump from praying “Thy Kingdom come” to support for restarting the Confederate war. Oh, and Christian dominionism is also to blame for the recent government shutdown! If only Christians realized how powerful they were.
2. Hell and damnation: The Rev. Thistlethwaite is terrified of hell and damnation, which is strange given that she says they don’t actually exist. But as such beliefs ”help to create and sustain ‘hell on earth’ for many and “contradict God’s love and mercy,” they have to go. And who are we to argue, especially given that her source is the esteemed and infallible Rob Bell.
3. Women should submit: OK, by this point, I’m laughing out loud. I quickly check that it’s October 31 and not April 1. Apparently, submission “is institutionalized violence” and largely to blame for domestic abuse. I didn’t realize but apparently I believe in “Just Battering” because I believe Ephesians 5:21-33. “The front door of such a ‘religious’ home becomes a doorway to violence.” Hope my wife doesn’t read this.
4. God versus Evolution: Poor Rev. Thistlethwaite has apparently led a rather sheltered life. Although a former President of Chicago Theological Seminary, the blood-soaked streets of Chicago don’t even compare with the horror of, wait for it, The Creation Museum. Reader Discretion Warning: Read on only if you are over 18 and have a strong nerve. You ready? OK, here it is. She says, “One of the scariest places I have ever been was the Creation Science Museum in Kentucky.” Now please, stop rolling in the aisles. And once your sides have stopped splitting get this, young-earthers are also to blame for global warming, or “global weirding” as the clever Rev. puts it.
5. God Doesn’t Love You If You’re Gay: You were waiting for this weren’t you. Only surprise is that it’s not #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5. Another spectacular leap here for the athletic Thistlethwaite, this time sensationally cavorting from the belief that homosexuality is a sin to killing gays by forcing them to swallow bottles of pills and jump into nooses.
I feel so sorry for this poor woman. She says that these things “really scare me, not only this week but all year through.” What a tragic, terrible, and terror-filled life. Thankfully, however, our trembling philosopher-theologian has a perfect solution to this terror-filled existence.
Because, as she argues, “There’s so much that’s really terrifying in our world, Halloween shouldn’t be scary any more.”
I try to make Halloween fun for my children and now my grandchildren. Some candy (along with healthy snacks!), fun costumes and community events are a great way to have family fun. I think Halloween should be fun because there are too many really scary things in our world for kids and the adults who care about them.
“Healthy snacks!” Bet her house will be popular tonight.
And whatever you do, don’t, don’t, don’t even think about dressing up as an evangelical Christian. Especially if you’re in the Chicago area. I wouldn’t want you to spoil the ridiculous Reverend’s night.
A recent survey found that only one in 20 people could name all ten commandments, and that 62 per cent of respondents did not know the tale of the Prodigal Son.
Odone basically counsels the Church of England to abandon their proposed remedy of inviting adults to enrol in a “Pilgrim” course, a kind of Sunday School for grown-ups, because the only people who’ll come are the elderly who already know their Bibles.
Instead, Odone calls the church to invest in Christian schools by teaching all grades the Bible’s stories and morals, and to fight back against those who want to shut down Christian schools as “divisive,” or dilute the teaching to avoid being “exclusive.”
Without this backbone of biblical knowledge, “Christians will become a community filled with ignorant and therefore insecure men and women. They will feel threatened both by secularists and the followers of other religions.”
Odone contrasts the ignorance of Christians with the Muslims and Jews who do know their Koran and their Torah, thus strengthening their sense of identity. She concludes with this rallying cry:
For too long, Christians have been on automatic pilot: they were the majority, that’s all they needed to know. Well, they have been proved wrong. Their way of thinking and their way of life is now under threat everywhere. In the Middle East and Africa, they face vicious persecution, as we have seen with the recent tragedies in Nairobi and Peshawar. But in the West too, as I argue in my e-book, “No God Zone,” they face discrimination. Laws and social stigma are used against them. It’s time to fight back – by reclaiming our heritage, including above all the Bible.
Although writing in a UK context, most of what Odone says is relevant in the USA too. I disagree with her defeatism about reaching the Moms and Dads of today and focusing instruction and evangelism only on their kids. Let’s continue to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible to reach and transform even the most untaught and unholy. From what I’ve seen, evangelism that bypasses parents has limited and short-term effects. Without parental interest, support, and commitment, child evangelism’s effects last only as long as childhood.
She’s right, though, that the “Pilgrim” course is not the best vehicle for reaching the masses (the name is a marketing disaster for a start – probably designed by an aging hippy bishop), but other “stepping-stone” courses such as Christianity Explored have been very successful in bridging the gap between the church and our secular culture, and communicating the content and message of the Bible in an accessible way.
In addition to widespread biblical illiteracy, I believe that the increasing discrimination that Odone identifies at the end of her article is the greatest barrier to the future spread of Christianity in the West. She’s right, laws and social stigma are being used against us in an unprecedented way. I don’t think many Christians yet realize the extent to which the gay hobby has managed not only to de-stigmatize homosexuality, but also to stigmatize Christianity and Christians in the process.
Via education, politics, judicial decisions, movies, TV sit-coms and chat-shows, the rising generation are being gradually but powerfully persuaded to view evangelical christianity with the same horror that we would rightly associate with joining the Ku Klux Klan.
Which is not dissimilar to the stigma the first Jewish converts faced when turning to Christ as Savior. These were the worst of times, but also the best of times for the Christian church.
May God give us apostolic courage and faith, and above all an outpouring of the Spirit of Pentecost that we may not only spread the truth but stand for it regardless of consequences.
Brandon Todd is one of the shortest men in the world that can dunk basketballs. In this video he explains how and in the process teaches us four life lessons.
Failure is essential for success: ”I failed so many times, it makes my stomach hurt…Everybody fails. The only way to get to succeeding is failing. You have to learn how to succeed. It’s just that simple. It’s not easy.”
Don’t always take the easy road: “Just because the road you choose doesn’t have pavement on it doesn’t mean you’re not to walk down it.”
“Overnight success” results from years of hard work: “Anything is possible. Anything. I’m just a small town kid from Ohio. My grandfather and my mother tell me, “Work hard, work hard, work hard, work hard.” And you’re like “Yeh, but nothing”s happening,” and then “Boom!” It’s possible.”
If Brandon Todd does this to dunk a basketball, how much more intense and intentional should Christians be in their callings and service: ”I had to do so much ridiculous training and hours and hours of jumping, lifting, and throwing stuff, just to put a little basketball inside of a cylinder that’s 10ft off the ground. And it’s still only worth 2 points. I wanted to put myself through all this pain and anguish for that one moment.”
“More and more men are choosing not to go to school, not to get a job, and not to get married. If similar numbers of women were doing the same, someone would raise the alarm, but since men are the ones opting out, the problem has been mostly met with silence.”
So says Dr Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike, in which she argues that men are acting entirely rationally in response to the lack of incentives society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands and providers. In the video below, she presents six reasons why men are opting out of marriage:
They’ll lose respect
They’ll lose out on sex
They can lose their children and their money
They can lose their space
They can lose their freedom
The single life is better than ever.
Despite these powerful cultural trends, I still believe that a persuasive rational case can be made for marriage (see the early pages of Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage). However, this also demonstrates how a culture built on human reason rather than on biblical principles is always at risk of rapid disintegration.
While I’m on vacation over the next week or so, I’m taking a break from preparing Check outs and writing a daily post. Instead, I’ll be posting “The Best of HeadHeartHand,” a series of indexes to past blog posts under a number of headings including Counseling, Leadership, Preaching, etc. Yesterday I listed 140 articles on the Christian Life. Today it’s 100 or so posts of cultural commentary, including posts on posts on education, gay marriage, and politics.
Many pro-life supporters continue to be baffled and frustrated by the failure of their arguments to significantly shift public opinion against abortion. No matter how much biblical, medical, and scientific evidence we produce; no matter how minimally incremental our proposals to change the law; no matter how graphic the baby-images we produce; we don’t seem able to shift the needle.
Instead, we encounter even greater opposition and hostility. Vociferous and strident abortion rights campaigners like Wendy Davis are hailed as heroines for, wait for it, standing and talking for 10 hours to prevent even the slightest reduction in the term limits for abortions.
Energy and Dollars
Why? Why so much hatred for pro-lifers? Why so much unbridled celebration and joy over defeating any pro-life proposals? Why so much energy and and so many dollars poured into defending and even promoting abortion?
Though not true in every case, pro-life supporters have often failed to consider the powerful influence of guilt in motivating abortion rights campaigners and in explaining the media’s prejudice and bias against pro-lifers. Take this New York Times pieces as an example.
In My Mother’s Abortion, Beth Merfish explains why she sat with her mother and sister in the gallery of the Texas State Senate to support Wendy Davis in her filibuster against legislation that would limit abortions after 20 weeks.
My mother, Sherry Matusoff Merfish, sat and yelled in indignation beside my sister and me in the Senate gallery. She has two graduate degrees and has built an immensely satisfying career as a political fund-raiser devoted to the election of women who support abortion rights. She also embodies maternal warmth.
My mother chose to abort her first pregnancy, in 1972.
Beth’s mother’s pro-abortion career began with her aborting her baby. When she told her two daughters about her abortion on the eve of their starting college, “Her voice shook but never broke as she described her fear and her decision.” Beth describes her initial stunned reaction and then, eventually, her own conversion to the pro-abortion cause:
I was shocked: at 18, I naïvely believed that only other women — not my family and certainly not my mother — needed this right that our family had long supported. We had volunteered at Planned Parenthood and canvassed for candidates who supported abortion rights. My mother said she wanted to reassure me that I had no reason to doubt her support in any situation I might face in my own life. Although it took a few years for the shock to wear off, knowing made me even more proud of her and more determined to defend reproductive rights.
Beth’s mother recently told four other pro-abortion campaigners about her decision only to discover that they also had either had an abortion or close friends had.
If abortion rights campaigners and their media supporters were polled, I believe you’d find that a hugely disproportionate number of them have had abortions or have encouraged family members to have one. This alone can explain their zeal for their cause, and also the irrational and unreasonable hostility towards any and all pro-life people and proposals.
Rights and wrongs
If we’ve done something we know to be wrong, we can either confess it and find forgiveness through Jesus Christ, or we can try to persuade ourselves and others that what we’ve done is not wrong at all.
And when our powers of persuasion fail to silence our screaming conscience, we’ve got to yell back even louder by dressing up our wrong as a “right,” even as a virtue.
And if anyone comes along with any evidence, image, argument, proposal, or law that might awaken our muffled conscience, and stimulate painful guilt, we’re going to double down on our efforts not just to shut up our conscience but those who are prodding it too. And what “Texas Senate” joy and relief when we succeed.
Change laws AND hearts
While supporting every legislative means to reduce the number of abortions, we must remember that the law cannot shift guilt. Only the Gospel of Christ can do that.
We will never win the minds of our opponents until their hearts have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. And as every Christian knows, if there’s one thing more powerful and motivating than a guilty conscience, it’s a forgiven and cleansed conscience.
So, while proposing new laws with one hand, let’s offer new hearts with the other. While highlighting the guilt of innocent baby blood, let’s also highlight the guilt-cleansing power of Jesus’ blood.
Every 20-something deserves to know what psychologists, sociologists, neurologists and fertility specialists already know: Claiming your twenties is one of the simplest yet most transformative things you can do for work, for love, for your happiness, maybe even for the world.
Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist who works mainly with twenty-somethings. In this TED talk, she explains why our culture’s trivialization of the twenties is so damaging and then gives three pieces of advice to help twenty-somethings salvage their lives.
The Importance of the 20′s
There are 50 million 20-somethings in the USA (15% of the population)
80% of life’s most defining moments take place before age 35.
8 out of 10 of the experiences that make up your life will have happened by age 35.
First 10 years of a career has an exponential impact on how much money you areou are going to earn.
More than 50% of Americans are married, or are living with, or are dating their future partner by the age of 30.
The brain cuts of it’s second and last growth spurt in the 20’s as it re-wires itself for adulthood.
Personality changes more in 20’s than any other time in life
Female fertility peaks at age 28.
20’s are the critical period of adult development – not developmental downtime but a developmental sweet spot.
The Problem of the 20′s
Our culture has trivialized the defining decade of adulthood by speaking of “extended adolescence,” “the changing timetable of childhood,” “kidults,” etc.
Whereas Leonard Bernstein said “to accomplish great things you need a plan and not quite enough time” the 20′s have become about killing time and experimenting in relationships and careers. Many reach the end of their 20’s and have nothing to show for it.
Pushing stuff to 30’s puts a lot of pressure to get career started, marry whoever is available, and have kids, all in a much quicker period of time, with much more stress as well.
The Solution for the 20′s
Meg Kay says there are three things every 20-something deserves to hear:
1. Forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital. Do something that adds value to who who you are. Invest in who you might want to be next. Invest in a job or in a relationship. Identity capital begets identity capital.
2. The urban tribe is over-rated. Best friends are great for giving rides to airport but 20-somethings who huddle together with like minded peers limit what they know, who they know, how they think, how they speak , and where they work. The new opportunity or person to date usually comes from outside the inner circle, from weak ties, from friends of friends of friends.
3. You can pick your family. The time to start picking your family is now. Best time to work on marriage is before you have one. Be as intentional about family as about work.
The Gospel for the 20′s
Great advice from Meg, but let me add to the top of the list: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccl. 12:1). The 20′s are the time not just to find your identity, find your job, and find your future family. They are also the time to find the Lord. In fact, the teens are an even better age for that.
And if you’ve blown your 20′s, and even your 30′s, yes even every decade up to your 90′s, you can still get a clean slate, full and free forgiveness through Jesus Christ, as you prepare for eternity (1 John 1:9).
Of course, for too long successive governments have enacted and tolerated laws that are evil (such as the legalizing of abortion). What’s new in our day is that laws are being proposed and enacted that attempt to force Christians to give up core Christian doctrines (e.g. Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation) and ethics (e.g. biblical definition of marriage).
When the Government does this, it is crossing the line from being God’s servant to being God itself. When that happens, what should we do? Thankfully we have a biblical example of similar governmental usurpation of God’s place in Acts 4, when the Apostles were commanded to stop preaching Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation.
The apostle’s response was not a simple “No way!” Rather, it was a respectful and biblically reasoned “No!”
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).
Their “No” was framed as a question, appealed to the leaders’ knowledge of God, and explained the preaching of Jesus as something that they couldn’t help doing. But it was still a “No!”
When forbidden to preach Christ-alone-ism and commanded to preach many-ways-to-God-ism (or pluralism) we respectfully say, “No! And here are our reasons.”
1. Pluralism disobeys God What’s the first and greatest commandment? “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4-5).
It was first given to Israel as they prepared to enter a multi-faith environment, Jesus reiterated it in the midst of a similar multi-religious culture, and it remains the first and greatest commandment to this day. Everybody must have the God of the Bible as their only God and everybody should love that one God with everything they have.
Pluralism disobeys God because it says you can have any, many, or no gods and you certainly don’t need to love Him with everything you’ve got.
2. Pluralism diminishes Scripture Pluralism says that there are many paths to the top of the mountain. There’s a Jewish path, a Hindu path, a Buddhist path, etc., and we all meet up at the top in God. This diminishes, undermines, and rejects the Bible’s message that there is one path up the mountain and it’s Jesus Christ (1 John 5:12; John 14:6; 3:36).
Political leaders can pass as many laws as they like but they can’t change the truth of Scripture by legislation or by majority vote. They may decide that gravity doesn’t exist, vote against it, pass laws against it, and prosecute its supporters. But if any one of them chooses to jump out the window they’ll discover that no matter how public, vehement, and repeated their assertions, gravity is still very true.
3. Pluralism defies logic The future heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, is meant to take an oath to be the defender of the protestant faith. However, he’s decided that he wants to be simply “the defender of faith.” What kind of faith? Any kind of faith? There are people who still believe it’s OK to sacrifice children. Are we going to defend their faith?
Even secular journalists see the folly of this. Janet Daley of the Daily Telegraph wrote: “You cannot defend all faiths – at least not at the same time – because each has beliefs that render those of the others false.”
It’s not faith that saves but what or who faith is in. Many Muslims’ faith is stronger than many Christians’ faith. But no matter how sincere, zealous, vigorous, and confident faith is, if it’s in a falsehood it will not save. Thankfully, the weakest faith in Christ will certainly save.
4. Pluralism damages evangelism What motivated the New Testament apostles and evangelical missionaries through the centuries? It was the belief that Christ is the only way to be saved.
We’re not funding missionaries and doing evangelism because we think it’s a good idea, it’s a nice hobby, or it makes us feel good. It’s because, to put it bluntly, without Christ, you’re damned. And if we don’t believe that, then let’s stop all evangelism and outreach, and let’s call all the missionaries back and stop wasting our money.
But, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There is no other name in India, in Pakistan, in Iraq, or in Antartica. What about Afghanistan? No other name. What about the USA? No other name. No second name, no third name, no fourth name. No other name.
5. Pluralism despises our neighbor We’re being told today that preaching the Gospel is hatred. No, to be silent is hatred. To say nothing about Jesus to the perishing is hatred. To see someone in error and hold back the truth is hatred.
The second great commandment is “to love our neighbor as ourselves.” That’s why to every pious Hindu, orthodox Jew, secular atheist, sincere agnostic, radical Muslim, and nominal Christian, we tell you with a heart overflowing with love, Jesus is the only Name under heaven by which you can be saved.
6. Pluralism denies Christ The Apostle Peter had denied Christ in front of a little servant girl a few weeks before because he was so afraid of the religious and political leaders. Now he faces these same leaders and is again charged with knowing and preaching Christ.
What will he do? Is he going to deny Jesus again? Will he just use the general name “God,” and avoid offending his accusers?
No. From his “I don’t know the man” of a few weeks previously, he now preaches the Name above every name. What a moment! The denier of Christ becomes a spirit-filled preacher of Christ to the crucifiers of Christ (vv. 8-12).
And notice it’s not enough to say, “He is a Savior,” or even “He is my Savior.” No, “He is the only Savior.” The Savior that excludes all others. “Neither is there salvation in any other.” There are no options, no alternatives, no substitutes, no fall backs, no back ups.
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
OK, that’s a big claim. So let me limit it a bit. “The most disobeyed commandment in the church in the last four months.”
Now, let’s see, what happened four months ago?
Oh, yes, President Obama won re-election.
But what’s that got to do with any commandment?
Well, try the fifth for size.
Honor my father and mother? Obama’s not my Dad.
No, but the fifth commandment covers all inferior-superior relationships, including that of citizen-President. As the Westminster Larger Catechism puts it:
By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth (A. 124).
Answer 125 goes on to explain that superiors like Presidents are called father and mother to make us more willing and cheerful in performing our duties to them, as if they were our parents!
It get’s worse, better, worse, whatever. Answer 127 tells us what honor we owe to the President:
All due reverence in heart, word, and behavior
Prayer and thanksgiving for them
Imitation of their virtues and graces
Willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels
Due submission to their corrections
Fidelity to, defense and maintenance of their persons and authority
Bearing with their infirmities
Covering them in love
Many Christians have shattered this commandment in a thousand pieces over the last four months, perhaps even over the last four years.
Sure, we must defend the sanctity of life and of marriage, but we must not do so at the expense of the fifth commandment. Since when do we get to pick and choose which commandments are most important and which are irrelevant?
Serious moral errors in some areas of government policy and practice are no excuse for failing to obey this commandment in all other areas.
Thankfully and mercifully, God offers forgiveness for this sin too – if we repent of it and believe in Jesus.
I’m guessing this will be the most unshared, unliked, and un-tweeted post I’ve ever written. But I’ll probably make up for that tomorrow when we’ll look at exceptions to the fifth commandment – what we should do when the Government tries to be God.
I hate writing about this subject, but with both French and British parliaments passing gay marriage laws in the past week, we’re reaching a no-turning-back point in our world. God is sovereign and specializes in last minute rescues, but barring a Mordecai-type intervention we might as well face up to the reality that gay marriage is coming down the pike at an unstoppable speed, and it’s going to impact many Christians in damaging and even destructive ways. While continuing to pray, preach, and campaign against this (read these nine words again), we must also ask how we can prepare for the collision in such a way that minimizes the carnage.
1. Prepare our children
Most of us try to protect our children from sexual information until they are mature enough to handle it, without delaying so much that they end up hearing it first from someone else. We also want to lay a solid foundation of teaching them about God’s beautiful design for sexual relationships before eventually explaining the various perversions of God’s order.
That privilege – of waiting until our children are old enough and of presenting the beautiful before the ugly – will be increasingly denied us by the normalization and display of homosexuality in the media, in schools, and in the malls. This is going to be tough, but we will have to teach our children much earlier and about much more than we would ordinarily choose.
2. Prepare to love
Though Christians are often accused of hating homosexuals, homosexuals harbor far more hate for Christians than vice versa. They really do hate us in a way I’ve never seen in any other group – way more than radical Muslims or even the secular humanist and communist groups of the 1970′s to 1990′s, and that’s saying something. They are our self-declared enemies and want to see our beliefs, words, and actions criminalized. They want to shut down our businesses, render Christians unemployable, and incarcerate our preachers.
In response, we must love them.
That’s going to be one of the hardest things we will ever do, as most of us will never have encountered such personal enmity from anyone. But we must beg for the spirit of Christ, who prayed, “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do.” We must graciously and gently good-news them and good-deed them, while being unflinching in our moral convictions.
We don’t need to prove our spiritual manhood by condemning homosexuality in every sermon and prayer. Keep the focus on the saving love of Christ, no matter how tempting it is to get into constant condemnation mode. Remember, there are probably homosexuals in most of our congregations. Try to win them, not beat them.
3. Prepare for jail I doubt most politicians really want lots of otherwise law-abiding citizens jailed for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding, or for preaching that homosexuality is wrong. Many do, however, want to create a climate of intimidation that will deter Christians from doing such things. If the UK pattern is a model – and it looks as if US campaigners are using the same playbook – they will pass “hate-crime” legislation, press charges against us, shame us in the media, stigmatize our businesses and churches, threaten us with the loss of our children, and impose substantial fines, all in the hope to scare us into silence. But when none of these things move us, the legal penalties will intensify until eventually some of us, maybe many of us, will end up going to prison for it. We’d better get ready for that inevitable reality.
4. Prepare for betrayal
This is going to be a sifting time. Some Christians will cave. Prominent preachers will compromise. Famous Christians will distance themselves from believers who have fallen foul of homosexual campaigners. “What’s the point in going to jail? We can still preach the Gospel without ever mentioning homosexuality. We must be wise….etc.” There will be major Judas-type disappointments. The mighty will fall. But many humble unknown Christians will suffer honorably and beautifully and know the blessedness of being persecuted for righteousness sake.
5. Prepare a refuge?
This great nation was founded when a group of persecuted believers fled religious persecution to find and enjoy freedom of religion. It’s beyond ironic that the very same pilgrims would be among the first targets of this new “religious” persecution if they were alive today. If the current trajectory continues, we will look at one another and ask, “Where can we flee to?” Perhaps a State will come forward that will stand up to this tyranny and offer refuge to thousands of moral and spiritual refugees, aliens in their own land. Maybe another Mayflower will be required, perhaps many of them, this time to sail away from these shores in hope of finding freedom to worship and serve God according to His Word. But where to? Where is left? Russia? Which brings us to…
6. Prepare for eternity
The Bible makes clear, and history backs it up, that when a people goes down this route, it’s close to it’s end. It has run out of moral ground, it’s already over the cliff, and falling into the holy wrath of God. As country after country passes gay marriage laws, the end is coming closer and closer. If the USA falls, how far behind will God’s judgment be? The time is short and shortening. We need mercy, we need prayer, we need to plead with our family and friends to flee the coming wrath by fleeing to Christ the only savior of sinners – yes even homosexual sinners – that will come to Him for salvation.
In the meantime, let’s not give up and give in but continue to do all that we can to save our society and precious souls.
A food pyramid is a graphic way of displaying the recommended daily intake of different kinds of healthy food. The Apostle Paul drew a media food pyramid for us in Philippians 4:8, breaking down our media intake into six healthy categories:
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever thingsare pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
1. True not false: “Whatever things are true” Media lies are found on both the left and the right. Christians will often rightly protest at the bias of the mainstream media, and yet be completely blind to the bias that comes from the more conservative media outlets. But lies are lies regardless of whether they come from the left or the right.
We also have to be careful that we don’t over-expose ourselves to journalists who spend most of their time exposing the lies of “the other team.” Again this over-emphasis on falsehood only breeds cynicism, suspicion, and mistrust.
2. Noble not base: “Whatever things are noble” The media tend to publicize the vile and sordid side of life. Some of the most popular books over the past years have been childhood memoirs that describe the most horrific abuse and cruelty. 50 Shades of Grey, a trilogy of books that celebrate sadistic sex, has occupied the bestsellers list for months and months, drawing massive media attention and debasing old and young minds alike.
“Don’t do this to yourself!” appealed Paul. Bin the base and nourish the noble in your life. “Noble” means “majestic, awe-inspiring, worthy, and elevating.” It’s the word used to describe deacons in 1 Tim 3:8 and old men in Titus 2:2. It can be translated “gravity” and is the opposite of what is cheap, tawdry, and frivolous.
3. Right not wrong: “Whatever things are just” “Just” means what conforms to God’s law and standards, and describes right conduct in the whole of life. Does that sound like most sit-coms, soap-operas, and news features? Do the media celebrate right acts? Quite the reverse; they usually focus on sinful acts. Moral people don’t make the news and if they do ever appear in TV or on film, they are caricatured as out-of-touch or irrelevant.
4. Purity not filth: “Whatever things are pure” When was the last time you saw a film that celebrated chastity and modesty, or showed the beauty of Christian marriage, or that portrayed a normal functioning family. Immorality, abuse, fighting, murder, and weirdness rules the day. Filth floats to the surface while purity sinks without trace.
5. Beautiful not ugly: “Whatever things are lovely” “Lovely” things call and compel admiration and affection. It’s literally “towards love” and means whatever produces love, whatever moves towards love. Perhaps the best modern word would be “beautiful” or “winsome.” That’s hardly a word that comes to mind when surveying most TV listings or movie premieres. The ugly side of life seems to win the day as so many are fatally drawn to the darkness (John 3:19). Notice how many millions of views that “Fail” videos have on Youtube! See if you can find many viral videos that showcase the beautiful and the lovely.
6. Praise not complaint: “Whatever things are of good report” Focus on what is constructive rather than destructive, on whatever makes people exclaim, “Well done!” rather than what makes you and others say, “That’s terrible.”
As you sit at your dinner table, do you suggest topics that will show people up in a good light or in a bad light? Do you tell stories that will make your family praise God and others or in a way that will make them doubt God and criticize others.
Whatever x 6 There is much good in everyday life that should be acknowledged and appreciated, regardless of whether it is done or said by a Christian or not. Whether it’s a good product, a helpful service, a wise insight, a superb article, or a beautiful photograph, praise and celebrate it. Don’t look first for what you can critique, look for what you can admire. As Paul summed up: “If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
And his emphasis is not on the “not.” He’s not saying so much, “Don’t watch that, don’t listen to this, don’t think about that, don’t, don’t, don’t…” Rather it’s positive, “Do think, do focus, do fill your minds with the true, the good, the lovely, etc.” And let’s help our children to do the same. That’s a daily duty and a daily battle for which we need daily grace.
What old and new media sources and resources have you found that help you eat healthy?
If Friday had happened a hundred years ago, most of America would probably still not have heard of Newtown. A limited narrative of facts would eventually have trickled out across the country, and maybe even reach a few other parts of the world. Perhaps there might have been a brief paragraph in The London Times and a few other significant international newspapers.
What a difference a hundred years makes. Within seconds we know not only what happened in general but all the horrific specifics. Within minutes we have eyewitness accounts. Within hours we have photos and video. By the end of the day we have hundreds, maybe thousands of reporters swarming over the town. Press conferences are carried live; interviews with bereaved families and spared families fill the non-stop news cycle; the perpetrator’s evil mind and twisted past are dredged; amateur psychologists opine on the ravings and ranting of evil. Old and new media are drowning us in a deluge of frightful information and fearful images.
For most of us, it’s time to pull the plug and avert our gaze.
It is neither necessary nor wise for most of us to know all this horrifying information. What good purpose does it serve to hear or read exactly how the murderer went about his vile business, what was heard or seen in the classrooms and offices, how victims tried to defend themselves and others, etc? It is deeply damaging to our short and long-term mental, emotional, and spiritual health to expose ourselves to such bloodcurdling details.
I’m not saying we ignore what happened, nor that we shouldn’t sympathise deeply with the families and the community. I’m saying most of us need only know enough to pray intelligently for the needs of the survivors, their families, and the community. But most of us know way, way more than that by now, darkening our waking hours and disturbing our sleeping hours. I don’t think most of us realize the deep and damaging trauma we are inflicting upon ourselves.
Some Christians probably should know more, especially those whom God has specially called to interpret and explain these monstrous actions to the public and the church. But most of us don’t need to glue ourselves to TV and Internet news. Instead, we should actively shield ourselves and our families from much of it. If we wouldn’t read books or watch films that gave such details, why do it with real-life events?
Not necessary or wise I’m at the stage where I’m reading some headlines, and maybe the first paragraph of some reports. But that’s where I’m now drawing the line. For most of us it is not necessary or wise to watch the multiple funerals and memorial services, to read the latest insights into this evil mind, to watch crime scene reconstructions, or to listen to harrowing interviews with teachers and parents. It’s time to operate on a “need to know” basis.
And we shouldn’t feel guilty about it.
But we must pray. Indeed, we must pray for Newtown and the nation as we’ve never prayed before.
Can we have a voluntary moratorium on writing or speaking about homosexuality in Christian circles. It doesn’t have to be forever, but if we could have just a few weeks or even months without it being written about or preached upon, we would all be the better for it.
I think I was 14 or 15 before I heard of homosexuality (it wasn’t exactly a trending topic in Glasgow city schools!). I was maybe late teens before I heard it mentioned, quite obliquely, in a sermon. That kind of ignorance or denial is probably not healthy today. However, I sometimes wish for these days again rather than the other extreme where we cannot get away from it. The media shove it in our faces every day already. Do Christians need to be similarly obsessed?
Of course the subject needs to be addressed from time to time, especially when the militant gay rights movement is such a force in our society. However, it would be so good if we could get through a week now and again without having to soil our minds with it.
A clever devil
The devil is not stupid. He knows that the more people talk about homosexuality, the more it is normalized and becomes just another part of “ordinary” sinful society. The more we talk and write about it, the less shocking and the more “whatever” it becomes.
I imagine most homosexuals are delighted with the way Christians are helping to normalize conversations and discussions about this sin, especially without regard for the ages, innocence, and vulnerability of those who are present. I’ve lost count of the number of times Christian adults have talked about homosexuality in front of my little girls. It makes me so angry, because I want them to hear about healthy and beautiful sexual relations, long before being exposed to the most perverse and twisted – and I want them to hear it from me.
The Apostle Paul said of the unfruitful works of darkness, “For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret” (Eph. 5:12). If that verse doesn’t apply to some extent to this evil, I don’t know what it does cover.
The devil also knows that by exposing younger and younger children to the vocabulary and idea of homosexuality, that precious innocence is lost and curiosity is dangerously aroused. There are appropriate ages to introduce these things to children, and we should respect parents discretion on this. Can we not find euphemistic ways of talking about some sins, protecting young innocent minds among us, while the rest of us know what’s being talked about?
We’re going to have to fight some fearful battles on this front in the coming years. Homosexuals will not rest with the acceptance of gay marriage. They want to eliminate all criticism and disapproval of their sin, and they will not stop until they are not only tolerated or accepted but approved by all. However, do we really need to constantly fill the blogosphere, Christian magazines, Christian schools, our pulpits, and our family dinner tables with this?
I feel I’ve failed in this area too, and therefore I’ve now resolved to neither talk nor write about this subject more than is absolutely necessary, and always in appropriate forums and ways.
Why don’t you join me?
Christian bloggers, writers, editors, teachers, and preachers, can I appeal to you? Please give us a break from mentioning homosexuality. Even for a month. Give us something positive and wholesome to think about. Give us Jesus.
My friend Andrew Murray (no relation) is manager of Bethany Christian Trust, a charity for the homeless and vulnerable in Aberdeen. Some years ago, when he stood as a Conservative candidate for election in Edinburgh, he gave this speech (slightly edited here) on “What is a social conservative?”
The conservatism I believe in is often termed social conservatism and it can be summed up under six headings;
Firstly, I believe in the traditional Family and the Home as one of the principal symbols of social conservatism.
Social conservatives generally believe in the traditional view of the family as the basic building block of any stable society. While acknowledging that many families don’t always work out as planned, I believe that a solid, stable family is the best environment for children to be brought up. It is their first school where they are taught basic values. We are relational beings and the family is the place where we learn our social skills, our respect for authority and hopefully some good manners.
As any social worker will tell you, the attachments made in the first few weeks and months of a child’s life will affect their experience of relationships for the rest of their lives. For social conservatives the family is the most tried-and-trusted institution. It offers the kind of multidimensional care that the feed-and-forget state cannot. To quote John Hayes MP;
…government can undertake some functions undertaken by a family or a community. The state, or market, can replace the breadwinning role of a father, but it can’t tuck a child into bed at night….
Secondly, I believe conservative Values
It is hard to imagine a Conservative leader today standing up at the Party Conference and saying that the first of the Party’s main objectives is ‘To uphold the Christian religion and resist all attacks upon it’as Winston Churchill did in 1946. Politics needs a moral context.
Beliefs such as capitalism without a moral context simply descend into the celebration of self interest. Policies need to follow principles not focus groups and polls. Values such as justice, equality, decency, respect, compassion are not formed in a vacuum. When political leaders believe that they are the supreme power in a nation, and have no higher power to which they are accountable, it can lead to disastrous consequences. There must be a divine standard to which we measure all our actions. As Lord Hugh Cecil has said:
Religion is the standard by which the plans of politicians must be judged, and a religious purpose must purify their aims and methods. Emphasising this truth, Conservatism will be the creed neither of a superfluous faction nor of a selfish class.
Thirdly I believe in Realism, Pragmatism and a Limited Role for the State.
I reject the left wing idea that through social engineering and just the right amount of funding, a utopia is attainable. Stalinist Russia is surely all the evidence we need that a utopian society is a socialist fairy tail. To quote the Conservative researcher Michael Veitch:
For the Conservative, an appreciation of the fallen nature of mankind has led to an understanding of the appropriate view of the state. Because people are flawed, it is futile for the state to seek to bend their wants and desires to its will – a common mistake of the Left through the ages. Furthermore, because man is a flawed being, it follows that the state – a man made institution – is equally flawed. History bears witness to the fact that it is therefore folly to place too much power into the hands of the government.
Conservatism is not controlled by an ideology like socialism. As conservatives we seek to pragmatically solve problems based on knowledge, realism, and tried and tested conservative values.
Fourthly, I believe in Responsibility
Many Conservatives talk about economic and social freedom, but freedom with no limits leads to chaos. Social conservatives believe in personal, community and corporate responsibility. The more people take responsibility the less the state needs to get involved. Responsibility cannot be legislated, it must be taught primarily through the family as children are brought up, and local communities taking responsibility for their more wayward members. Margaret Thatcher in her now famous quote on society can say it better that I can:
We’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. They’re casting their problems on society. And you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.
Fifthly, I believe in Compassion
Unlike the top down solutions of the left, conservatives understand that real compassion can only be communicated through people at a ‘grass roots’ level.
The conservative approach to compassion is distinctive. We understand that the institutions of civil society form the soundest basis for a caring society. School choice, zero tolerance of crime and a safety-net approach to welfare are other favoured hallmarks. To quote John Hayes MP:
The state and the market are one dimensional – providing material care. They don’t provide the personal touch. Someone down on their luck doesn’t just need money dispensed from behind a plastic screen. He also needs encouragement, friendship and hope. He needs to know that someone is in his corner. He needs help to walk tall again.
Lastly, I believe in Tradition
Social conservatives do not look around for the latest political fad and do not collapse at the first challenge of political correctness. Our principles and beliefs are grounded in something stronger and deeper than passing fads. As Edward Leigh MP has said:
Tradition is accumulated wisdom. Established customs and practices have stood the test of time, and should be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations.
In closing, let me summarise social conservatism with this excellent quote from Russel Kirk in The Conservative Mind:
“Conservatives generally believe that there exists a transcendent moral order, to which we ought to try to conform the ways of society.
Conservatives uphold the principle of social continuity. They prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know.
Order and justice and freedom, they believe, are the artificial products of a long and painful social experience, the results of centuries of trial and reflection and sacrifice.
Conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability. Human nature suffers irremediably from certain faults, the conservatives know. Man being imperfect, no perfect social order can ever be created.”
It’s not easy to produce a Christian video curriculum on any subject these days. With so much exposure to mass media and the vast resources at these producers’ disposal, it’s extremely difficult for Christians with limited budgets, limited equipment, and limited audiences to get anywhere close to matching the production quality that people are used to.
Freezing and forgetting
Most people don’t realize how hard it is to talk to camera in a lively and gripping way that doesn’t come across like really poor acting. When you’re in a studio with half a dozen guys pointing various cameras, lights, and recording equipment in your face, it’s a great recipe for freezing and forgetting your lines.
The camera also has a way of revealing what a boring person you are! Again TV personalities have a lot to answer for. They are so excessively pumped and energized that they make even normally lively people look like the walking dead. To come across as “normal” by TV standards, you’d almost need to have an electric current running through you.
There’s also the challenge of doing something more than just a talking head in a studio without the video images taking over from the teaching content.
Impressive content and production
In spite of all these obstacles, I was hopeful that R.C. Sproul Jr’s new Ligonier teaching series, Economics for Everybody would make the grade. And it does. I was impressed with the production quality, the combination of teaching content and film extracts, RC’s lively presence on camera, and the skill with which he simplifies economics so that everybody can understand and relate to it. I liked his basic analogy, that the way we all handle money in our everyday life is a small picture of the greater economic forces and issues that businesses and government have to face. Economics for Everybody is for everybody.
My teenage boys and I started the curriculum last week and I thought I’d post their initial thoughts after a completing a couple of lessons, with a fuller review from us all when we finish it.
R.C. Sproul Jr. presents Economics in a very entertaining, gripping way that is bound to immediately grasp the listener’s attention. His study guide is clearly informative and has some personal questions with which the reader can examine his or her response. Using illustrations he promotes the biblical truths of economics including topics such as where has economics come from, where did it begin, and how can we use it to further God’s kingdom.
I thought that the way this film is presented is a unique idea. Particularly favorable are the frequent switches from the speaker to film examples from times past. The content is a biblically founded guide to using Economics in today’s day and age. Although concepts we rarely talk about, the ideas given should definitely be put into practice more. The liveliness of R.C. Sproul Jr. keeps the viewer’s mind firmly concentrated on what is being taught. I found the layout of the study guide a bit hard to follow, but it provoked lots of genuine questions for discussion.
Economics for Everybody: Applying Biblical Principles to Work, Wealth and the World. Twelve 23-minute messages (over four hours of teaching) plus study guide for $36.Buy from Ligonier.