Archive for the ‘ Christians & Culture ’ Category

The Latest Threats to Education

The fallout from the Supreme Court same-sex marriage pronouncement continues. I’ve often commented on how education will be affected, all the way from elementary school through college. Two examples.

NEA LogoFirst, the National Education Association (NEA) held its annual meeting in Orlando this past week. That organization is far more associated with radical ideology than genuine education, and has been for most of its history. For years, it has advocated every Leftist idea and has trashed Christian beliefs.

This year, a resolution passed that called upon its state affiliates and members to develop educational materials to counter all religious freedom restoration acts. The goal is to brainwash the children into the new “truth” of acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and to portray Christians as the primary opponents of equality.

Also at this meeting, one of the speakers, a woman, used her time at the microphone to propose marriage to her female partner.

No alternate voice was allowed to be heard at any time during this annual meeting. That’s not unusual for the NEA. It’s not really an educational organization; it’s a lobbying group bent on destroying what education ought to be.

Barry LynnThen, on the college and university front, Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State came out in favor of eliminating all federal student loans and other federal government funding to Christian educational institutions that don’t make provision for housing same-sex couples.

Lynn stated,

I would not want to be a person at a fundamentalist academy who is trying to defend the practice, that is taking a reasonable amount of government funds and refusing to allow a same-sex married couple to live in the married student housing. I think even now, that would be on the edge of the indefensible.

Lynn, by the way, has been around a long time and uses his credential as a minister in the United Church of Christ as leverage to get what he wants. For those who are unfamiliar with that denomination, it is one of the most liberal in existence, and has cut itself off from real Christianity.

Personally, I don’t think Christian colleges and universities should be part of a government funding system anyway. However, this is a direct attack, knowing that since most of those colleges have decided to wed themselves to the system, it will lead to severe economic hardship and the closure of many of the colleges.

That is the ultimate goal.

These are only the beginnings of what we will see in the coming days. It is a time of testing for Christians. We will find out who is really part of the Bride of Christ and who is only a wedding crasher. Only those truly devoted to their Savior will stand.

A Time for Boldness

Supreme Court aside, we are changing as a nation regardless. For years, conservatives have comforted themselves by saying that the majority of Americans still hold to traditional morality despite the trend of the government and the media, yet if polls are to be believed—and there is always a caution with that—the majority may no longer be tied to the Biblical values that have characterized our national framework of thinking. We may be on the verge of a radical transformation.

Self Identify

Even though this development is due primarily to a loss of our Biblical foundations, it has been helped along considerably by approval from the top of our government:

Bigot

The radical shift has manifested itself most prominently on the issue of homosexuality, of course. And let’s be honest—same-sex marriage was merely the window dressing for a movement that doesn’t believe in marriage at all, and that seeks the removal of all Biblical morality from our culture. It is every bit as totalitarian in nature as the terrorist threat we face:

Convert

The breeding ground for all of this is the education system. We can complain all we want about how terrible it is and how America’s children are not being educated, but I believe it actually is accomplishing the purposes of those who are directing this system. The goal for many in the educational establishment is to create a generation without any real knowledge of or appreciation for history, government, and Biblical morality.

It begins at the secondary level and extends all the way through college. Take, for instance, the pronouncement by Janet Napolitano, who now heads the University of California system, as to what professors are allowed or not allowed to say:

That Stupid

This radical transformation of our society is pervasive, and it will take a major effort on our part to forestall this transformation. Politics and government are not the primary means for reversing the trend, but they do reflect who we are as a people. If we really want to see a change, we need to redouble our commitment to the real transforming power: the true Gospel message that changes hearts and minds. When we do that God’s way, we will see changes take place in the society overall and the government specifically.

Christians need to take their message to the nation more boldly than ever. We need to stand firm and be wise in how we communicate. We need to vote accordingly. Now is not the time to retreat into a shell; rather, the battle is upon us, and we need to call upon the Lord for the courage to wage it.

Homosexuality & Biblical Truth

I normally follow the Biblical pattern of a day of rest for this blog on Sundays. However, in light of the Supreme Court’s abominable decision on same-sex marriage (oxymoron alert!) this past Friday, I just want to use this space to offer some Biblical reminders.

The first one comes from Romans, chapter one:

Romans 1For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. . . .

Professing to be wise, they became fools. . . . Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie. . . .

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

In the first chapter of I Timothy, we read,

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious . . . for immoral men and homosexuals . . . and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.

And in I Corinthians, chapter 6, we are told,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.

The next part, though, is encouraging:

HolinessSuch were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Our message needs to be twofold: clearly spelling out the sinfulness of homosexuality and how it separates the sinner from God, along with the stark truth that people can come out of that sin and be sanctified in Him and become part of His kingdom.

But one must “come out” first. It is a choice, not the result of one’s genetic code.

That’s not a message our current generation wants to hear, but Christians need to be faithful to this truth, even if that steadfast faithfulness leads to persecution. We must obey God rather than men.

Lewis, Learning, & War (Part Two)

C. S. Lewis 2C. S. Lewis’s ruminations on the need for learning, even during times of war or other periods of great stress, in his “Learning in War-Time” essay, are so fulsome that it requires more than one post to cover his key points. This installment focuses on the life of the scholar, so it has special meaning to me.

“The intellectual life,” Lewis explains, “is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us.” He then points out the greatest danger on this road:

Of course, it will be so only so long as we keep the impulse pure and disinterested. That is the great difficulty. As the author of the Theologia Germanica says, we may come to love knowledge—our knowing—more than the thing known: to delight not in the exercise of our talents but in the fact that they are ours, or even in the reputation they bring us.

Let me interject here that I realize this danger clearly in my own life. It’s so easy to write something and hope that it will get published and solidify one’s reputation as a scholar “with something important to say.” I have to go back to the Lord continually to keep my heart right on this point. Sometimes, when we achieve our goals, we are at the height of the danger. As Lewis notes,

Every success in the scholar’s life increases this danger. If it becomes irresistible, he must give up his scholarly work. The time for plucking out the right eye has arrived.

Yet we are not to allow the threat to keep us from pursuing God’s call on our life, as long as we keep our hearts right before Him. And God does want His people in this field, able to answer challenges and help direct the thoughts of others:

To be ignorant and simple now—not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground—would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen.

Then comes the phrasing I have seen others refer to most often in this essay:

Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

As a historian, I appreciate, in particular, his next few thoughts:

History CloudMost of all, perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion.

Probably the second-most quoted portion of this essay comes next:

A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.

Shall we now add “the Facebook postings and Twitter tweets” of this newest age?

Yes, we need a sense of history to see the full context of the drama playing out in our day. Thanks to Lewis, we have that reminder today.

Social Justice, White Privilege, & Microaggressions

Three terms have lately become a more regular part of our cultural and political vocabulary: social justice, white privilege, and microaggressions. Are they valid concepts or masks for a radical agenda? I would like to explore them a little today.

“Social justice” is the oldest of the terms, at least in modern usage. Take the words strictly as words, and there’s no problem with them. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who isn’t in favor of justice in society. But those who use this term the most have a very specific meaning for it that either excludes or minimizes other applications.

Social JusticeFor instance, social justice, more often than not, seems to be little more than a new way of saying the government needs to redistribute income. The only people who are lacking in social justice, according to this view, are the poor, the marginal, the ones left behind economically.

The Religious Left has picked up on this and has used it as a hammer against those on the conservative side of the political spectrum, especially Christians who believe in limited government, personal responsibility for one’s place in society (through decisions one has made, for good or ill), and traditional Biblical morality.

I find it telling that those of the Religious Left are more exercised over income inequality than stopping the horror of abortion or standing firm on Biblical standards of sexual conduct and marriage.

Social justice, in my view, is a term that has been hijacked by those who continue to harbor a Marxist view of the world and who place material well-being ahead of the more significant spiritual truths. That’s why it’s a term I hesitate to use.

White privilege is an accusation I could better understand if we still lived during those times when blacks were either held in slavery or discriminated against through Black Codes or Jim Crow laws. But we don’t live there anymore.

We have a president who is black (well, half-black, at least) and the multitude of minorities who are now very wealthy through either athletics, the entertainment media, or via the political route is prominent in our land.

Got PrivilegeOne cannot legitimately blame any so-called white privilege for Baltimore’s woes, for one example. Blacks dominate the politics of that city, and the policies they have promoted have certainly enriched those who are in the seats of power, but not so much the general population. Government programs that came to the forefront beginning in the 1960s have decimated the black family and are a primary reason that approximately 70-plus% of children now grow up in the inner cities without a father in the house. Poverty follows in that wake.

I recall when I applied for a professorship at one Christian university back in the 1990s. I did get an interview and was flown out to the university, but when I got there, I was informed that the only reason I even got the interview was that they couldn’t find a woman or minority for the position. I felt so wanted. White privilege?

By the way, I didn’t get the position.

The cry of “white privilege” emanates more from a desire to keep the flames of racial animosity alive than from the reality of America in 2015.

Then there’s this new word, made up out of thin air: microaggressions. What are they? Actions that can be interpreted as aggression toward different races, genders, etc., that the aggressor doesn’t even realize are aggressions. In other words, you can do or say something that is perfectly innocent in your own mind, but as long as someone else feels slighted by what you have said or done, you have committed a “microaggression.”

According to the American Psychological Association: “Some racism is so subtle that neither victim nor perpetrator may entirely understand what is going on—which may be especially toxic for people of color.”

Well, if it’s so subtle that neither the victim nor the perpetrator is aware of it, who is being harmed?

Janet NapolitanoHere’s where the concept of microaggressions has led us: Janet Napolitano—remember her as the former head of Homeland Security?—is now president of the University of California system. She has now told professors they must not say the following things because they are all considered microaggressions:

  • America is the land of opportunity.
  • There is only one race, the human race.
  • I believe the most qualified person should get the job.

Yes, this is what we have come to.

We now have social justice warriors who are quite selective about who should receive justice (based on their Marxist philosophy—even if they don’t realize the source).

We have racial agitators that keep the flame of bitterness burning bright through charges of “white privilege,” while simultaneously enriching themselves as the champions of the underclass.

And now we have total inanity with microaggressions, which attempt to make everyone feel guilty when they have done nothing wrong.

Some terms only make things worse. We need to change both the tone and the language of our national conversation.

Lewis, Learning, & War (Part One)

C. S. Lewis with BookI believe I’ve read most of C. S. Lewis’s essays sometime during my life, but some of them I read so long ago I have forgotten the pearls within. I recently re-read his “Learning in War-Time” reflections as Britain was engaged in WWII and was reminded why others have commented on it so often.

The big question he asks and attempts to answer is why should people continue to be interested in what are considered the normal, routine matters of life when the whole fate of Europe may lie in the balance of the outcome of the war. Why focus on learning, philosophy, history, and similar pursuits when others are sacrificing their lives on the battlefield? “Is it not like fiddling while Rome burns?” he asks.

His response undoubtedly shocked some people when he stated, “The war creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.” Lewis then adds a large dose of common sense:

Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun.

He doubles down on that premise as he continues:

We are mistaken when we compare war with “normal life.” Life has never been normal. Even those periods which we think most tranquil, like the nineteenth century, turn out, on closer inspection, to be full of crises, alarms, difficulties, emergencies.

As a historian, I can vouch for the accuracy of Lewis’s statement. I’m aware of periods in American history that are usually considered peaceful, but if examined in greater depth, one finds turmoil always bubbling under the surface, if not openly. Lewis further notes,

C. S. Lewis 12Plausible reasons have never been lacking for putting off all merely cultural activities until some imminent danger has been averted or some crying injustice put right. But humanity long ago chose to neglect those plausible reasons. They wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes.

It is no different for the Christian, Lewis concludes:

An appetite for these things exists in the human mind, and God makes no appetite in vain. We can therefore pursue knowledge as such, and beauty as such, in the sure confidence that by so doing we are either advancing to the vision of God ourselves or indirectly helping others to do so.

I like this splash of reality from Lewis. It’s worth contemplating today.

Charleston: Tragedy, Hope, & a Warning

AME ChurchMost Americans, I believe, have been shocked and grieved by the murders in the Charleston AME church. Nine members of the predominately black church were simply attending a Wednesday evening Bible study/prayer meeting before they were killed.

Clementa PinckneyAmong the dead was the pastor of the church, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina state senator. From all accounts I’ve heard, he was a genuine Christian man. The consolation, of course, is that he and the others who were dedicated to the Lord are now in His presence.

Dylann RoofThe perpetrator, Dylann Roof, based on all the evidence thus far, is a confirmed racist who seems to believe that blacks are taking over the country. Reports also indicate that he is a drug addict. His actions were planned well in advance; he didn’t even live in Charleston, and why he chose to target this particular church is still unknown.

What are the bright sides of a story like this? First, it appears that the Charleston community, black and white, have come together in unity over this heinous act. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any movement toward violence. Rather, a spirit of harmony and prayer is dominating.

Tom Frady & Debbie DillsSecond, it’s fascinating how Roof was captured. A woman in North Carolina, Debbie Dills, had been watching Fox News yesterday morning and had seen pictures of the car and Roof. As she was driving to work, she realized a car in front of her with South Carolina license plates matched the description. She pulled up beside the car and noticed that the driver looked just like the photo on TV.

At that point, she called her supervisor, Tom Frady, at the florist shop where she works. He stayed on the line with her until the police were contacted and took over. The entire time, she continued to tail the car.

I saw her interviewed this morning on Fox, and she is a deeply committed Christian who gave God all the praise for allowing her to play a part in the capture of this fugitive. So, out of tragedy, we have another testimony of how the Lord can work through an individual to bring justice.

Yes, this was a racial incident. It is to be condemned as such. It also has another element to it that we need to be aware of—it was an attack on churchgoers within the building. While that part may have been incidental in this case, I have often wondered how long we are going to continue to feel safe in our churches. There is a militant anti-Christian segment of our population—both atheist and Islamic extremist—that knows churches are soft targets. It’s hard to imagine this event won’t embolden them.

Christians need to stand together and remain faithful to the message of redemption from sin. We also need to be alert to the rising hostility toward our beliefs. Things are changing in America, and those changes are a portent of the dangers we may face in the not-too-distant future.