Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

More Trouble with Evolution (cont.)

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

The four epochs above manifested seven basic world views. The world view are best discerned through works of art and of literature. The world view of an artist/writer is a reflection of how the author expresses his views on essential issues like: God, Man, Morality. The following are seven world views found in art and literature:

Theism: God is personally involved with humankind. Theism argues that the universe is a purposive, divinely created entity. It argues that all human life is sacred and all persons are of equal dignity. They are, in other words, created in the image of God. History is linear and moves toward a final goal. Nature is controlled by God and is an orderly system. Humanity is neither the center of nature nor the universe, but are the steward of creation. Righteousness will triumph in a decisive conquest of evil. Earthly life does not exhaust human existence but looks ahead to the resurrection of the dead and to a final, comprehensive judgement of humanity (adapted form Carl F. H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief). This is the only viable world view until the Renaissance. Examples: Homer, Virgil, C. S. Lewis, A. J. Cronin, Tolkien.

Deism: God was present, but is no longer present. The world is like a clock wound up by God many years ago but He is now absent. The clock (i.e., the world) is present; God is absent. Still, though, Deism embraced a Judeo-Christian morality. God’s absence, for instance, in no way mitigated His importance to original creation. He was also omnipotent, but not omniscient. His absence was His decision. He was in no way forced to be absent from the world. He chose to assume that role so that Socratic empiricism and rationalism could reign as sovereign king. Speculative Theism replaced revelatory biblical Theism. Once the Living God was abandoned, Jesus Christ and the Bible became cognitive orphans (Carl H. Henry). Examples: Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson.

Romanticism: Once Americans distanced themselves from the self-revealing God of the Old and New Testaments, they could not resist making further concessions to subjectivity. Romanticism, and its American version, Transcendentalism, posited that God was nature and “it” was good. The more natural things were, the better. Nature was inherently good. Nature alone was the ultimate reality. In other words, nature was the Romantic god. Man was essentially a complex animal, too complex to be controlled by absolute, codified truth (as one would find in the Bible). Human intuition replaced the Holy Spirit. Depending upon the demands on individual lives, truth and good were relative and changing. Romanticism, however, like Deism, had not completely abandoned Judeo-Christian morality. Truth and the good, although changing, were nonetheless relatively durable. Examples: James Fenimore Cooper, Goethe.

Naturalism: If God exists, He is pretty wimpish. Only the laws of nature have any force. God is either uninterested or downright mean. All reality was reducible to impersonal processes and energy events (Carl F. H. Henry). All life, including human life, was transient. Its final destination was death. Truth and good, therefore, were also transient. They were culture-conditioned distinctions that the human race projected upon the cosmos and upon history (Carl F. H. Henry). This maturation, as it were, of the human race, necessitated a deliberate rejection of all transcendentally final authority. Examples: Joseph Conrad, Stephen Crane.

Realism: Akin to Naturalism is Realism. Reality is, to a Realist, a world with no purpose, no meaning, no order. Realism insists that personality has no ultimate status in the universe, but is logically inconsistent when it affirms an ethically imperative social agenda congruent with universal human rights and dignity. Realism, then throws around terms like “dignity” and “human rights” and “power.” What Realists mean, however, is that these concepts are real when they fulfill a social agenda that enhances human dominance over the universal. Thus, Realism believes in a world where bad things happen all the time to good people. Why not? There is no God, no ontological controlling force for good. The world is a place where the only reality is that which we can experience, but it must be experience that we can measure or replicate. Certainly pain and misery fit that category. If an experience is a unique occurrence (Example: a miracle) it is not real. Examples: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Absurdism: A modern movement where there is neither a god, nor any reason to have one. Everything is disorganized, anarchy rules. There is a compete abandonment of explaining the cosmos and therefore an abandonment of being in relationship with the deity. It is not that Absurdists are unsure about who creates everything, or in control of everything. Absurdists simply do not care one way or the other. Examples: John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Existentialism: The submergence of God in overwhelming data and in experience is the first step toward putting God out to die. Truth is open to debate. Everything is relative. A very pessimistic view. Examples, Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, and Jean Paul Sartre.

More Trouble with Evolution . . .

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

From Aristotle vs. Plato a panoply of world views evolved in four main epochs. The following are characteristics of each epoch:

Classical Theism:
Ancient Times to Augustine
Pernicious gods involved in human affairs
Christian Theism: Augustine to Goethe
Loving God involved in human affairs
Modernism: Goethe to Camus
Faith in science
Post-Modernism: Camus to Present Authors
Faith in experience; suspicious of science

Most of you have not heard of this particular world view paradigm.  It is called a cultural world view paradigm (as contrasted to a socio-political paradigm).  Both are useful.  Both are accurate. However, most Americans obtain their world views from culture, not from scholarship and education.

While socio-political descriptions of world views are completely accurate, they are not used by American universities or the media at all.  When have you hear the word “Cosmic Humanist” used on television?  In a movie?  Very few people use this terminology in the real world.  Therefore, if Christians wish to be involved in apologetics they must use a language that the unsaved can understand.  Chesterton once lamented that Evangelical Christians are like Americans who visit France.

Chesterton generalized that Americans, by and large, speak their words slower, articulate their words more carefully, and speak fewer words to complete a thought.  However, what they should do, Chesterton argues, is to speak French in France!  If we believers want the world to hear us we need to speak their language.

What Time is it?

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
The Modernist movement, at the beginning of the 20th century, marked the first time that the term “avant-garde“, with which the movement was labeled until the word “Modernism” prevailed, was used for the arts. Surrealism was the “the avant-garde of Modernism”.
Art historian Clement Greenberg  states, “The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence. The philosopher Immanuel Kant used logic to establish the limits of logic, and while he withdrew much from its old jurisdiction, logic was left all the more secure in what there remained to it.”  Modernism, in its attempt to attack everything traditional, created an autocratic liberalism.
In 2013 we live with the consequences of this liberalism.  We presume to know more than we know; to solve problems we cannot solve.  Along the way we have lost perspective on what time it is.  As I have mentioned several times, I love to swim at the YMCA. As my body shape attests, such lugubrious activity to my comfort, but laudable activity to my blood pressure, has done little to help me shed unhealthy pounds. But I do it almost daily. Today, I went swimming. There are two clocks in the pool area: One is located at the beginning of the swimming lanes; one at the end. The one at the beginning is 8 minutes slower than the clock at the end. So, quite literally, I begin at one time–say 4:00PM and I end the lane swim at 4:12PM (It takes me 4 minutes to swim the lane–I know! I am slow!). I love this arrangement. I only swim about 1/2 hour so as long as I start at the time on the beginning clock and end on the time at the ending clock I cheat time out of 8 minutes. I ignore the beginning clock and only look at the ending clock. Sometimes I think our government thinks it can cheat time by playing with the clocks. But it never works. Sooner or later, when I think it is 4:30 and time to quit, I happen to look at the beginning clock and see that it is only 4:22. I live in a sort of blissful ignorance . . . but sooner or later, I will have to realize the real time and that will be a hard thing. Sometimes I wonder if we really know what time it is . . . just thinkin.

The Best of the Best

Thursday, March 28th, 2013
In  September, 1976 I sat in Harvard University Chapel and heard Pastor Peter Gomes, the Harvard University Chaplain, tell us that we were the best of the best.  The hope of America and the world.  I and I suppose other Harvard souls were awfully glad to hear that.  We certainly wanted to think we were the best.  Like I enjoyed doing all over Boston, we wanted to flash our Harvard IDs to God and hope that He was impressed.  It turned out He wasn’t but that is another story.
Pastor Gomes told us to look around and see who the next president, governor, great author, and theologian would be.  As one professor quipped, “there are those who go to Harvard, and
those who don’t.”  Why, on that day, should I, a born again, evangelical, be greatly concerned?
British writer Virginia Woolf’s assertion that “on or about December 1910, human character changed” is all so true. About that time, Modernism emerged as the primary social and world view in human history. Modernism aims at that radical transformation of human thought in relation to God, man, the world, and life, and death, which was presaged by humanism and 17th century philosophy (e.g., Immanuel Kant), and violently practiced in the French Revolution.  French philosopher J.J. Rousseau, was the first to use the term but it will not blossom fully until the 20th century.
If the world view deism suggested that God was out to lunch, Modernism, a cousin of naturalism, suggested that God was absent altogether.
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is cultural tendencies originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The world, including America, had rapidly changed from an agrarian to an urban society in one short generation.
Modernism fervently believed in science and technology.  It was an optimistic vision of the future. It was also a revolt against the conservative values of limitation and pragmatism.  The trademark of Modernism was its rejection of tradition. Modernism rejected the lingering certainty of Enlightenment epistemology and also rejected the existence of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator God in favor of human progress. The first casualty of this Quixotic thinking was Judeo-Christian morality.
Modernism was universal in its rejection of everything conventional.  Literature, art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were all targets of this surprisingly arrogant movement.  Perhaps no social movement has been so confident in its moral ambiguity, as Modernism was.
The poet Ezra Pound‘s 1934 injunction to “Make it new!” was paradigmatic of the movement’s approach towards the obsolete. And Pound is a good example of the paradoxes inherent in Modernism.  On one hand, Pound embraced a new understanding of human liberty and free expression while embracing nascent totalitarianism and anti-Semitism.  Pound, like so many Modernists, felt he could separate his ethics from his world view.  This delusion would have disastrous consequences. Adolf Eichmann had a similar view in Nazi Germany and designed and implemented the Holocaust.

Going Against the Grain: Rewriting History

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

My adopted, six week old African-American daughter Rachel clung to her new mother as she suspiciously surveyed her new father.  I was uncomfortably Caucasian.

While my wife Karen has several adopted siblings of sundry nationalities and racial mixtures, I had never know anyone who was adopted–of any race.  Now I was the father of a child who looked very much like a group of people whom I had been taught to hate.

I grew up in the segregated South. Racism was an old acquaintance of mine.  A sepulcher from whose shadow I could not escape, whose curse even a love for my new daughter could not seem to extinguish.

As surely as all people have been affected by racism, racial reconciliation is a task for all people. No one in American can escape the consequences of racism. It is about people with hopes and dreams and visions that are never realized.  Racial reconciliation also is a dream and vision that we must all cast.

My friend Thomas was a victim of racism.  He was told that black boys do not go to white colleges.  My friend Dwight dropped his head in shame when an elder blocked his path and told him n—– were not welcome at our church.   My friend, Craig, however, was also a victim of racism.  He threatened to castrate a young black man who vacated the balcony in the Malco Theater and sought a better seat in the back of the white only lower section.  Craig and I were perpetrators and victims, however, Dwight and Thomas were only victims.

But I knew the first time I met Rachel, no matter how uncomfortable it might be, that it was time that part of my history was changed.  It was time that racism in my life died.

Rachel was my promised land.  She was my new time, my new land, my new chance.  She was more than my daughter: she was God’s invitation to me to experience wholeness and new life.

Theologian Walter Brueggemann in his commentary on Genesis argues that Abraham, when he accepted God’s call, entered a new history.   Racial reconciliation calls us all to a new history.  The new history is without link to the old.  The new history begins with a call for all of us to repent and a summons to leave old comfort zones and to go somewhere we are not to become someone who I once was not.   In my life this new call was a second call. A new birth.

Homeschooling is like that.  A call to a new life.  A new history. An alternative track.

Through Rachel God called me to an alternative life, a life that is the antithesis to the cold, barren one based on hatred and mistrust.   My first destination was the wilderness.  The wilderness is a place of diminished resources and manna but it offers greater possibilities than the comforts and the garlic of Egypt.   We who live Ur and seek the Promised Land will–as I have found–experience some obstacles.  We too will have our faith tested, our memory of God’s deeds questioned.

In my case, Rachel was engrafted into my genus, into my family line.  My great-great-great Uncle Howeard was a slaveowning Confederate soldier. His great-great-granddaughter is an ancestor of slaves.  Progress.

When I grasped Rachel in my arms I rewrote history.  I ended a curse too.  From that time, to forever, my family has an African-American in its history.

When I look at my youngest son, a Stobaugh with all his Caucasian tint, I see a better version of myself.  Peter, my son, has three older African-American siblings.  He was homeschooled with, he lived his life with, his siblings are, African-Americans. There is not a hint of racism in my white boy.  The curse is ended. Progress.

Perhaps, saints, that is the best we can do in our home schooling—write a new history for our children.  End those curses.  Give them a new history of hope.

Masters of disguise

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Last week I was reading the New York Times and, being somewhat bored, I visited the “dining” section. I love to compare the culinary offerings in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to New York City, New York. Of course, we don’t have the Red Rooster Harlem, serving gourmet Southern cuisine — what an oxymoron! — but we do have Hong Kong Buffet that lovingly serves amuse-bouche fried cheese sticks, a Johnstown favorite.

I remember attending my son’s wedding reception, so wonderfully hosted by his Indianapolis in-laws. There was a nice man with white gloves standing next to me. Not sure why he was there, I tried to shake his hand which he politely did but kept standing there. I was handed a warm cloth by a man wearing white gloves. I wasn’t sure what he wanted me to do with it — I am embarrassed to tell you what I do with small white clothes—but I saw that most folks were wiping their hands, and some pioneering souls were even wiping their faces. I, being a real trailblazer, went further. I wiped my hands, my face, nose, and when I was moving on to my ears my wife Karen stopped me with a glaring frown. I guess those things are not for ears.

Next, the nice man with a towel on his arm offered me one little bread roll that he parsimoniously placed on a plate that swallowed the pathetic thing. The nice man, no doubt discerning my disappointment, asked me if I wanted a couple more rolls, but my sweet wife, who occasionally helps me out this way, with somewhat too much enthusiasm replied, “No.” Next the waiter — what was he really? — gave me something that looked a lot like a salad except that it had all kinds of red stuff, allegedly lettuce. It looked nothing like my personal favorite — an iceberg wedge smothered in real blue cheese dressing. I gratuitously gave my salad to my wife, hoping she would reciprocate by giving me her pigs in a blanket and rigatoni that every Johnstown wedding sports — but do you know what? Apparently these poor Indiana people have not yet discovered these foods of the gods. There were no pigs in a blanket and rigatoni at this Indianapolis wedding. I suppose nobody told these poor folks that wedding cuisine always includes these two items. In fact, if food has two motifs, if life is full of motifs, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, one fills one’s wedding reception and life with simple, tasty metaphors.

I am an inveterate Johnstown cuisine lover. My love affair, my wife Karen would say, has put 80 pounds on me in the last 21 years, but she is being ungenerous since I mostly eat her wonderful cooking. And what fine cooking it is! I remember the first meal Karen cooked for me in 1977. It was broiled chicken seasoned with salad dressing and boiled broccoli seasoned with lemon pepper. Until then, I had never eaten broiled chicken — my chicken was always fried — unless Big Momma served her famous chicken and dumplings. After that inaugural advent, I never had fried chicken again! Broccoli, southern style, was cooked longer than it took General Grant to capture Vicksburg, and I had heard of pepper (and used it liberally after I coated everything with salt) and lemons (which I put in my sweetened ice tea) — but never both together. Actually, my first meal was pretty good as were the next 33,000 or so she has cooked for me — my expanding waistline is a testament to my thorough conversion to Nouveau Yankee cuisine. Yummy good!

Well, anyway, the New York Times article argues that finally — finally — there is a vegetarian burger that rivals the most delicious Whopper or Quarter Pounder. Apparently, while the rest of us languish in the throes of the new Angus Quarter Pounder, inventive New York chefs have been working tirelessly to create the penultimate veggie burger. Food reviewer Jeff Gordinier is veritably overcome with joy when he writes “Veggie burgers . . . have explored into countless variations of good, and in doing so they’ve begun to look like a bellwether for the American appetite.”

Bellwether for the American appetite? Excuse me, but I doubt it. Can you imagine cruising through the MacDonald’s drive through and asking for a veggie burger with fries and milk shake? Hmm. . . .

But excuse me. I respect vegetarians. More power to you. But why do you want to copy my food? Do I try to copy yours? Respectfully, I doubt, even in NYC, that one can find broccoli and asparagus that will match the effervescence of a Quarter Pounder with cheese. Nonetheless, “There is something very satisfying about holding one’s dinner in one’s hand.” Indeed. But it can’t be done. Not really. A meatless burger is an oxymoron and it can never be a dinner.

And here is another oxymoron — and this is where I am taking this — our society is desperate to emulate the Christian life. The Christian life, like the hamburger, is genuine, real, juicy, and full of protein. Lived in the right way, it can bring great life to a person and to his world. And it cannot be replaced by good feelings, good intentions, or other existential offerings. As Tolstoy writes in War and Peace, “Let us be persuaded that the less we let our feeble human minds roam, the better we shall please God, who rejects all knowledge that does not come from Him; and the less we seek to fathom what He has been pleased to conceal from us, the sooner will he vouchsafe its revelation to us through His divine Spirit.”

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” ~ John 14:6

Twitterization of our culture

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

In Newsweek recently there was an article called “I Can’t Think.” It is about the fact that we are overloaded by information. The Twitterization of our culture has revolutionalized our lives, but with an unintended consequence — our overloaded brains freeze when we make decisions,” journalist Sharon Begley writes. Begley warns us that we are overloaded with information, choices, and alternatives. When we have so many choices, we are unable to make any choice at all. As a result, when we finally do respond “the ceaseless influx trains us to respond instantly, sacrificing accuracy and thoughtfulness to the false god of immediacy.”1

In other words, we respond out of exigency and expediency and not out of thoughtfulness and care. We choose the quick not the right, the convenient not the just.

George Loewen of Carnegie Mellon University warns that “getting 30 texts per hour up to the moment when you make a decision means that the first 28 or 29 have virtually no meaning.”2 Immediacy dooms thoughtful deliberation.

Another casualty is creativity. Creative decisions are more likely to bubble up from a brain that applies unconscious thought to a problem, rather than going at it in a full-frontal, analytical assault. So much for making decisions in the shower or on a quiet walk. We swamp ourselves with text messages and twitter and IMs. We don’t need to reflect on a problem — we can google our crisis away with 100s of hits.

Oh, that it were so! No one, my friend, can put humpty together again but the Maker. Yes, God. Unless we can Twitter our way to the Holy Spirit or text God we might be in trouble. We will not be able to send an SOS out on Facebook to solve our sorry lives — we need a direct, old-fashioned touch of God. In the midst of so much information the thing that really matters, we discover, is WHO we know and not WHAT we know. Well, all this information is only information, after all. Aha! Our epistemology will take us no further than our metaphysics.

How can you protect yourself from having your decisions warped by excess information? Ms. Begley suggests we take our e-mails in limited fashion, like a glass of wine before bedtime. She wants us to control our access to Facebook — only twice a day.

Silly me. May I suggest an alternative? Why not turn off the computer. And pick up your Bible. And read it.“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12

Elisha’s Tears – Part II

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

“I weep because I see what you will do to Israel . . .”

–2 Kings 8

2 Kings 8:7-29

 

WHAT ARE WE THEN TO DO?

To a large degree, we are to do nothing.  We are to wait.  The Hebrew  understanding of “waiting” is “to stand firmly and actively watch God’s will be revealed.”  The Greeks and the Romans and some of us today tried to build society upon their gods.  But these gods will not be big enough because they are finite, limited.  Even mighty Rome, with all its power, did not have satisfactory answers to the questions plaguing humankind.  So they fell.  They are finished.  They were Hazael.

But we serve a God who never slumbers or sleeps.  A God who in a blink of an eye created the universe.  A God who has no beginning nor an ending.  A God, also, who loves us enough to send His only begotten Son to die for us . . . that is one response to Hazael–embrace the Son of God as our Savior–do not rewrite the rules of the game–play another game!

When the three young students refused to worship mighty Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar they were thrown into the fiery furnace (see Daniel).  “We believe God will deliver us,” they said.  “But even if we die, we shall not worship you.”

Home schoolers, are we willing to stand firm in our faith no matter what the cost?  If we are, then Hazael shall not have our souls . . . even if someday he takes our lives.

Will we stand with Joshua on the edge of the Promised Land and proclaim: “You may follow whom you will but as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord!”

As Elisha weeps, he stands with saints of all ages–he stands on Carmel with Elijah–with Moses on Horeb–with Abraham on Moriah–and he asks us again, “If Baal is god then worship him; if God is God worship Him! But choose ye this day . . .”

I know that it seems that we are looking into the face of Hazael . .  . and we are.  But let us stand–as countless saints before us stood–let us stand firm and choose life this year. . . eternal life!  If the present home school movement does nothing else let us call our nation to be hopeful in the face of Hazael because . . . our Redeemer liveth!

References include: New International Version Study BibleHow Should We Then Live? by Francis A. Schaeffer, and Pulpit Digest.

Elisha’s Tears – Part I

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

“I weep because I see what you will do to Israel . . .”

–2 Kings 8

2 Kings 8:7-29

 

At times we  are called on to deliver messages we do not want to deliver.  When Elisha was sent to Syria By God, he met Hazael.  As he looked into the face of this future rule of Syria, Elisha saw how much Israel would suffer at Hazael’s hand in the future.  No wonder the prophet, who loved his people, wept.  It is always good news to hear that a sick man will be well . . . unless the man who gets well will kill your children.

Elisha wept . . .

After September 11, 2001,  we in America are especially somber.  I am not in anyway mitigating the horrendous crime that was committed on September 11, 2001.  It was a great disaster.  However, may I suggest, that we have looked into the face of Hazael.  We are both the perpetrators and the victim in our present situation.

In our own country, at the beginning of the millennium, in spite of unprecedented prosperity, we see the seeds of our destruction everywhere.  Increased crime, poverty, and unemployment.  Hopelessness and domestic violence. Some of us wonder whether our American covenant is being recklessly compromised by some leaders who are choosing to condone practices that we see as immoral. We see Hazael.  He will survive . . . but will we?  Will the American dream survive?

Edward Gibbon in his seminal work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire says that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end.  First, a mounting love of affluence.  Second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor.  Third, an obsession with sex.  Fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity.  Fifth, an increased desire to live on welfare.  Sound familiar?  Are we looking at Hazael?

That must have been the way the disciples felt.  Only three years with Him.  Three short years.  And while his work seemed to fall on deaf ears, the evil Romans prospered.  Caiphas prospered.  Herod prospered.  Evil would win after all . . . and Elisha wept.

Jesus wept too.  In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus spent the last night of His life. Alone.  He had to die.  He knew it.  And He was so afraid that He wept blood.  Sometimes I think we make the cross into something less than it was.  It was a horrible death.  To wear a cross, for instance, in Jesus’ day, around one’s neck was like wearing an electric chair around our neck today.  No, Hazael will live.  Jesus will die.  And Elisha wept. . .

Elisha began his ministry during the last half of the ninth century B.C.  Leaving his parents’ farm in the upper Jordan valley, he trained under Elijah for several years, then served in the northern kingdom for over fifty years.

Elisha was not isolated and unpredictable as Elijah often was.  Instead, he spent time with people, sharing meals and staying in their homes.  He traveled throughout the kingdom on a donkey, visiting villages and the communities.  Elisha’s miracles among these people reflected a deep compassion for the poor and needy.

Despite his loyalty to Israel, Elisha relentlessly fought against the idol worship of her kings.  Obedience to God’s instructions took him as far north as Damascus, where he appointed the Syrian king who would eventually oppress Israel.  A similar mission in Israel brought the downfall of her evil kings and a massacre of the prophets.

But, Elisha knew all too well, that Hazael would live and someday he would destroy his nation.  The rich and the poor alike would suffer.  They would suffer because the nation was evil. . .  was unfaithful to God.  And Elisha wept . . .

Harvard and Heaven: Prospering in the Secular University – Part II

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

The university, if it has any value, must be involved in the communication of immutable, metaphysical truth.   The American secular university is not about to accept such limits. It recognizes no citadel of orthodoxy, no limits to its knowledge.  But, like Jesus reminds Thomas in John 14, our hope lies not in what we know, but most assuredly whom we know.

Most secular universities have concluded that abstract concepts like grace, hope, and especially faith are indefinable, immeasurable, and above all unreasonable.  Not that God or the uniqueness of Jesus Christ can be proved, or disproved.  There are certain issues which the order of the intellect simply cannot address, so we must rise above that to the order of the heart.    Faith is our consent to receive the good that God would have for us.  Evangelicals believe that God can and does act in our world and in our lives.  Human needs are greater than this world can satisfy and therefore it is reasonable to look elsewhere.  The university has forgotten or ignores this fact.

That is all changing—and partly due to the popularity of the American home schooling movement.  In massive numbers the American home school movement—initially and presently primarily an evangelical Christian movement—is depositing some of the brightest, capable students in our country into the old, august institutions like Harvard.  And, what is more exciting, the flashpoint of cultural change is changing from Harvard, Princeton, Darmouth, and Stanford to Wheaton, Grove City, Calvin, and Liberty (all evangelical universities).  Before long the new wave of elite culture creators will be graduating from American secular universities and Christian universities and they shall be a great deal different from the elite of which I was a part in the middle 1970s.   I am not saying the secular university will change quickly—intellectual naturalistic reductionism makes that extremely difficult.  However, I do see the whole complexion of university graduates to change significantly in the next twenty years.  Never in the history of the world has such a thing happened.

Young people, make sure that you know who you are and who your God is.   “By faith, Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” (Hebs.  11:24) Theologian Walter Brueggemann calls American believers to “nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.”

Refuse to be absorbed into the world but choose to be a part of God’s kingdom. There is no moderate position anymore in American society–either we are taking a stand for Christ in this inhospitable culture or we are not.

You are special and peculiar generation.  Much loved.  But you live among a people who do not know who they are.  A people without hope.   You need to know who you are—children of the Living God—and then you must live a hopeful life. Quoting C.S. Lewis, we “are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”

Take responsibility for your life. Moses accepted responsibility for his life.  “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” (Hebs. 11: 25)  If you don’t make decisions for your life, someone else will.

Get a cause worth dying for.  Moses accepted necessary suffering even unto death.  You need a cause worth dying for (as well as living for). “He [Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Hebs. 11: 26).  We are crucified with Christ, yet it is not we who live but Christ who lives in us (Gals 2:20).

Finally, never take your eyes off the goal.  “By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” (Hebs. 11:27).  What is your threshold of obedience?

Young people, if you are part of this new evangelical elite, you have immense opportunities ahead of you.  A new Godly generation is arising.  You will be called to guide this nation into another unprecedented revival.  We shall see.