Archive for the ‘Responsibility’ Category

A Grievance Mentality

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Recently I was invited to join the Harvard Loser’s Club. This is an exclusive club, very exclusive. It is populated by Harvard graduates whose income is near or below the poverty line.
First, I am not technically a Harvard graduate. I know I am considered an alumni because I was a Charles E. Merrill Fellow (some think this is a greater honor than a degree) and I transferred to Princeton Seminary when I was a senior at Harvard Divinity School.
Secondly, I am not a loser. Dull, maybe, at times, I am sure my wife would say. But not a loser. I would love to attend the “Dull Men’s Club” that meets regularly in Pembrake, MA, south of Boston (Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2012, p. 1). They discuss such interesting subjects: Attendees have studied park benches around the world; leaf raking techniques. In one meeting they debated for 2.5 hours the best way to put toilet paper on the roll, over or under. Now that is an arresting subject! Sure interests me!
The problem is that losers and dullards have a tendency to define themselves according to what they are not, by what they don’t have rather than what they have. I call this a grievance mentality.
In 2017, we must be careful not to define ourselves according to what we are not, by what we do not have, by what we dislike rather than what we like. Let me explain.
Many social movements begin with a righteous cause but over time develop a grievance mentality against their opponents. For instance, the Civil Rights movement began in sincerity and earnestness that was righteous and good. It checked the unbridled racism that was polluting our nation. But eventually, Professor Shelby Steele in White Guilt argues, progress was slowed and then stopped by two things: African-American fears of whites and white guilt feelings that brought change in the socio-political realm but changed no hearts.
One reviewer explained:

The author [Shelby Steele] frames his book around a drive up the California coast during which he pondered the Bill Clinton–Monica Lewinsky affair. Why is it, he asks himself, that President Eisenhower would have been drummed out of office for a sex scandal like Clinton’s, while Clinton would certainly have been impeached if he had used the racial slur Eisenhower allegedly employed on the golf course? The answer, Steele asserts, is a fundamental change in American culture. The success of the civil-rights movement in the 1960s showed that America’s power structure lacked moral authority. For white Americans, the only way to regain that authority has been to “disassociate” from racism, which Steele says is now more frowned upon than adultery. The result has whites straining to appear benevolent toward blacks, while African-American leaders take advantage of “white guilt” to gain handouts such as affirmative action. Steele, who made the same points in his National Book Critics Circle award-winner The Content of Our Character (1990), contends that white liberals see blacks for their skin color instead of their individuality. (“Most of today’s conservatives,” he contends, “sound like Martin Luther King in 1963.”) Black leaders, on the other hand, fail to call upon African-Americans to exercise personal responsibility. Steele has some noteworthy insights into the ways blacks and whites relate, but his arguments suffer from his tendency to establish and then gleefully demolish straw men and from his sweeping generalizations based on personal experiences. Steele claims, for example, that the racial discrimination he encountered as a child did little to harm his self-image and then applies his experience to all blacks. This is the same form of argument he finds offensive in others.

Will we define ourselves as a rejection of other educational movements or will we embrace the iconoclastic future God has called us to grasp? We must be careful to avoid all roots of bitterness as we examine our future. There are great dangers in forming and maintaining a cultural movement based on dislikes and anger rather than approbation and affirmation of new possibilities. We are children of the living God! We are not afraid of any world view, any sociological theory, any scientific theory. We choose to define ourselves by what we are—not by what we are not.


Monday, November 30th, 2009

Finally, what does it mean to the future of America to have 4 million of its best, brightest, and spirit filled students graduating from the most prestigious universities in the world? What will it mean to have four million new business persons, artists, authors, military officers, business leaders, and government leaders who are spirit-filled evangelical Christians? I can feel the ground shaking!!!!


Friday, November 27th, 2009

Practically speaking:

  • Find a local church before you go to college. Go to the first service you can.
  • Parents should meet the local pastor and introduce themselves.
  • Participate in a local Christian group—Navigators, Inter-varsity, et al. But that does not substitute for a local church.
  • Purpose to live a Godly life before you face temptation.
  • Set up a study schedule that is a priority only behind your devotional life.
  • Practice courtship.
  • Expect persecution. The main persecution you will receive will be about your profession that Christ is the only way, the only truth, the only life.
  • Summer school can be a spiritual and financial opportunity for you. You can participate in mission trips that may count for academic credit and may also help you grow spiritually. Also, summer school may be a cost-effective way to accelerate your college experience and thereby save money for you and your parents.
  • Avoid all appearance of evil.
  • Write from a Christian perspective but do not allow your confessional stand to be an excuse for shoddy work.
  • You will probably not be able to choose your roommate before you first arrive. But you can choose your roommate for your sophomore year. Choose wisely.
  • Pray for your unsaved friends.
  • Know the Truth.
  • Live the Truth.
  • Work hard and be the best follower of Christ that you can be!


Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Next, once we understand the world to which you are called there are several things I want to see happen to you.

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)

Refuse to be absorbed into the world but choose to be a part of God’s kingdom. 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 musmust live a hopeful life.

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). Evangelicals know that we are crucified with Christ, yet it is not we who live but Christ who lives in us (Gals 2:20).

Never ever 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). How long can you wait? How long can you persevere? What is your threshold of obedience?

The following are ten moral issues that must be clear in your mind before you go to college:

  • Punishment and blame: What is fair punishment? Do you accept your authority’s right to enforce laws?
  • Property: What is property and who owns it?
  • Affiliation roles: What is a family? What are the motivations and obligations of a good family/ community member?
  • Laws and statues: When if ever should laws be disobeyed?
  • Life: What makes life valuable? Is life inviolable?
  • Truth & Contracts: What is the truth? Why is truth telling valuable? Are there inviolable covenants that human beings must make?
  • Government: What is a good citizen?
  • Social justice: What are basic political, economic, and social rights?
  • Sexuality: Is sex merely a biological response or is it related to religious or social guidelines?


Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

If we are confused about what is right and wrong, about individual responsibilities, we are even more confused about toleration. S.D. Gaede, When Tolerance is No Virtue, says . . . “In our culture, there is considerable confusion about how we ought to live with our differences and a cacophony of contradictory justifications for one approach as opposed to another. All appeal to the need of tolerance, but there is nothing like common argument on what that means. The question our culture raises by nature and development is what is truth and what can we believe? Our culture doesn’t know the answers. In fact, we have lost confidence in truth and have come to the conclusion that truth is unattainable. Thus, tolerance moves to the forefront.”

Finally, in the years ahead, there will be real confusion about sexual roles. Sir Arnold Toynbee says . . . In the nineteen forties Toynbee studied civilizations and came to the following conclusions: Based on his study of twenty-one civilizations Toynbee found that societies in disintegration suffer a kind of “schism of the soul.” They are seldom simply overrun by some other civilization. Rather, they commit a sort of cultural suicide. Disintegrating societies have several characteristics, Toynbee argues. They fall into a sense of abandon People begin to yield to their impulses-especially in the sexual area. They also succumb to truancy that is escapism seeking to avoid their problems by retreating into their own worlds of distraction and entertainment. There is a sense of drift as they realize that they have no control over their lives. Consciousness is adrift, unable to anchor itself to any universal ground of justice, truth on which the ideals of modernity have been founded in the past.

Evangelicals, therefore, must not merely talk the talk. They must walk the walk. They are seeking to create an alternative community of hope. We/they are sabotaging the conspiracy of hopelessness and self-centeredness that is so pervasive in our nation. Bring on the revolution!

Confusion About Responsibility.

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

One of the greatest problems in this generation is confusion about individual responsibility. Perhaps the problem began with Freud who told us that feelings of guilt were a sign not of vice, but of virtue. That our problems stemmed from our mothers, not from our sin. Perhaps our problem began with Goethe whose Faust escapes the consequences of his sin by sincerity and good naturedness, poor Gretchen aside. Look at the evolution of the American understanding of hero:

a. Traditional John Wayne . . . A moral, golden rule, hero. He was never immoral. He always did the right thing.

b. Modern Clint Eastwood . . . Eastwood is tough. “Make my day” world. Doing something invites any appropriate response–as defined by offended person.

c. PostChristian Tom Cruise . . . Cruse is selfish but moral. Commits adultery and lies for the sake of good things in The Firm. But there is a hint of morality.

The Christian homeschooler must be responsible before God. Every thing must be do to His glory.

Confusion about responsibility is only one confusion. Confusion about what toleration is also everywhere. S.D. Gaede, When Tolerance is No Virtue, says . . . In our culture, there is considerable confusion about how we ought to live with our differences and a cacophony of contradictory justifications for one approach as opposed to another. All appeal to the need of tolerance, but there is nothing like common argument on what that means. The question our culture raises by nature and development is what is truth and what can we believe? Our culture doesn’t know the answers. In fact, we have lost confidence in truth and have come to the conclusion that truth is unattainable. Thus, tolerance moves to the forefront. C. K. Chesterton wrote: Toleration is the virtue of the man without convictions. The Christian Response: A. We need to understand the culture in which we live–one in which relativism is growing which leads to injustice. B. We must know what is right and do it. C. We must seek justice–we cannot turn a blind eye to the injustices related to multi-culturalism. D. We must affirm truth and not tolerate relativism. E. The church must be who it is–it must express its convictions about truth and justice and practice and express tolerance (i.e., love) to the multi-cultural body of Christ.