March 25, 2017

September 29, 2016

Two Worthy Reads

Over at Mere Commentary, the blog of Touchstone Magazine, S. M. Hutchens reminds Christians that they are not to waste the pearls of the Gospel on those whose ears will not hear, or whose eyes will not see, but to reserve them for those who have not yet heard the good news and who still are open to receive it:

One should not assume that the irrational hatred seen so much these days against Christians comes from an ignorance of God, but rather knowledge of him. Europe and North America are not new mission fields but more resemble burned-over districts to which Christ has been presented in nearly every way imaginable to people who in increasing numbers are turning against him.  This does not mean there are not many to whom the good news in its purity still needs to be presented, for whom there is always a call to evangelistic work, but it would be a mistake to think that our culture has not been thoroughly evangelized, or that our main problem is ignorance of God rather than a rejected knowledge of him….

Be sure to go on over to Mere Commentary and read the whole piece; it’s just three paragraphs.

Then settle yourself in for a much longer, but very worthwhile read at the online version of Claremont Review of Books—a marvelous analysis of where we’ve gone wrong as a nation in the last 100 years, by Prof. Angelo Codevilla, who sometime back authored a widely-circulated article on “America’s ruling class”—a concept which he brings to fore again in his latest piece. Once more, a taste to whet your appetite (H/T: Christopher Johnson, of Midwest Conservative Journal):

Over the past half century, the Reagan years notwithstanding, our ruling class’s changing preferences and habits have transformed public and private life in America. As John Marini shows in his essay, “Donald Trump and the American Crisis,” this has resulted in citizens morphing into either this class’s “stakeholders” or its subjects. And, as Publius Decius Mus argues, “America and the West” now are so firmly “on a trajectory toward something very bad” that it is no longer reasonable to hope that “all human outcomes are still possible,” by which he means restoration of the public and private practices that made the American republic. In fact, the 2016 election is sealing the United States’s transition from that republic to some kind of empire.

Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory….

Be sure to allot time enough to read the whole piece. [Note: the articles he links to in his first paragraph—and I have incorporated the links in the excerpt above—are informative, also.]

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Of course, if you believe in Scripture, America is now under God’s judgment as a country and His hand of providence has been withdrawn.

[1] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 9-29-2016 at 01:26 PM · [top]

Jim, I think you are right.

[2] Posted by Br. Michael on 9-29-2016 at 01:35 PM · [top]

Jim and Br. Michael,

Given that your assumptions are correct, what are we to do beyond putting our whole trust in God?  I’m genuinely concerned about the concrete actions I should/need to take to provide for the safety of my family, while holding true to a Christian worldview and following Biblical principles.  Public education has become public indoctrination, and in my admittedly affluent, relatively homogeneous suburb, we have seen a recent increase in crime, particularly armed robbery.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but “preppers” are beginning to seem less crazy to me.  I see a fair number of comments criticizing if not outright mocking Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option.”  I would like to see the kind of theologically grounded, well reasoned, robust discussion of this issue on Stand Firm that I am used to seeing on a wide range of subjects.

[3] Posted by Daniel on 9-29-2016 at 07:00 PM · [top]

Daniel—I actually follow some prepper posters on YouTube, I find some of them interesting and thought-provoking.  (That’s just an aside, my post below is somewhat different.)

Interestingly, in the past few months there has been a LOT of talk about this in the Christian circles I am in (none of which, I would assert, are particularly fringe or crazy).  I’ll repeat and comment on several discussions I’ve been in in the past couple of weeks.

First, yesterday, in a Bible class I am taking, we have been studying First and Second Thessalonians and somehow the discussion got around to the Tribulation period (the Rapture and Second Coming are discussed by Paul in I Thessalonians 4).  The Book of Revelation indicates there will be a 7 year Tribulation before the Second Coming.  Some Christians think believers will be “raptured” (taken away to be with Jesus ) before the Tribulation Period (so called “Pre-Trib”).  Other Christians believe that Christians too will have to go through the Tribulation Period and will only be “raptured” at the Second Coming (“Post-Trib’).  Our teacher, a professor at a local Bible college, pointed out it is not clear in Scripture, and there are scriptures which can be interpreted one way and others another.  His point was that God is deliberately keeping that unclear, although we know Jesus wins in the end.  If somehow we “knew” we were not going to have to go through the Tribulation period, that would make us complacent.  So, he said, even if we hope it will be “Pre-Trib”  we need to live like it is going to be Post-Trib, that is that we will have to go through the end times persecution.  Another observation was that we Christians in the West/America have had it really easy for many years (unlike Christians in other parts of the world) but that may be about to change and we’d better get ready.

A second example that just came up was a discussion at an elders’ meeting at out church where we got to talking about the Book of Daniel and the Jews in captivity in Babylon.  Daniel and other Jews mentioned kept their allegiance to God, despite fear of death, and God saw them through that.  But God also writes in Jeremiah:  “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. *But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.*”  (Jeremiah 29:4-7).  And Daniel basically always tried to act in a positive way towards Babylon, as much as he could without compromising his loyalty to God.

A final example is that our senior pastor just began preaching from the Book of James, a theme of which is the early church living in times of persecution and being surrounded by idolatry.  We’re just starting out so I can’t report much, but it seems like reading the Book of James may be helpful in advising in how to live (of course as well as the rest of scripture).  And our pastor preached that the Christian life is about trials and tribulations, and as painful as they seem, they make us and the church stronger.

If I might just distill from these three things, this would be my takeaways.  One, we may very well be entering into a dark time, but that is what we as Christians are told will happen and that is precisely our mission as Christians.  Two, we are not to hide, but to live out our lives as followers of Jesus more and more.  In a dark world, our mission as ambassadors of Christ becomes all the more important, and we need to continue,  as much as we can without compromising our values, to engage with and pray for and work for the welfare of the society around us.  As the world gets darker, folks are going to be looking more and more to us, hopefully, as salt and light, and we need to be reflecting Jesus.  Three, the church and Christians do not become stronger without trials and tribulations.  In a satisfied and complacent world, there is no need for Christ.

So this would seem to militate at least in part against the “Benedict Option” of just withdrawing from society and forming “monastic” societies.  That doesn’t mean we are are not to live differently and be different, but we are called to be “in the world but not of the world.”  (See e.g., John 17:14).  So our continuing to live our faith out should make us more and more “peculiar” as things become more wicked.  That may also set up us for persecution, but again that is what Christians are called to do, be witnesses in the midst of persecution.

Apart from this, we are starting to change the focus of our church.  We are changing from being “attractional,” from just trying to bring people in on Sundays or otherwise for worship and teaching, to being “missional,” that is, us going out into the community and engaging in missions work in our immediate community—not so much just preaching to the unsaved but instead doing and living out the Gospel.  (Yes I know the whole attractional vs. missional thing sounds real church-trendy which actually makes me a little uncomfortable, but I understand the concept, which is that instead of retreating into our shell we are going to push back).

Anyway, that’s my own read.  For an opposite viewpoint, you might want to watch this for info:  (Warning: this guy is definitely not an orthodox Christian and some of their stuff sounds pretty cultish—he says they are not “Christians” but “New Testament Jews”—but he does make the opposite argument pretty well and is actually a fairly rational and persuasive guy.)

I throw all this out to start the discussion.  And I don’t claim to be pure and committed in this—as I may have posted here, my wife and I have had a number of semi-serious conversations the last year or two about packing up and moving to Korea, which to us seems right now like a more rational, prosperous and healthy country than the U.S. is.

[4] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 9-29-2016 at 08:39 PM · [top]

We need to change what we can - our churches. Christianity is failing because our churches are failing. The rector of my neighbor parish told a member that there was no use to do anything because the mainline church was dying. I do not go there.

[5] Posted by Pb on 9-30-2016 at 09:07 AM · [top]

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