on August 16th, 2008
Are Christians supposed to align themselves with political parties? Many say that the only real Christian stance is to be unaffiliated with a party because that would be tying God to a human organization that is oftentimes corrupt. The fear is that becoming identified with a particular party will besmirch the reputation of the faith when that party does something wrong.
I understand the sentiment. I want to be known as a Christian first, an American second, and a member of a political party third. Yet, if we are to be salt and light, how can we remain aloof when there is so much at stake in our society?
I look at the platforms for the parties and I must support the one that is closest to Biblical principles. Currently, I am faculty sponsor for College Republicans. I spoke last week at the local Republican Club. The Republican platform is pro-life and generally more amenable to the morality that I wish to see prevailing in our country.
Yet I do have a former student who is now working for a Democrat at the state level. She says he is very conservative, so she can do so. I have a friend who is running for a state senate position as a Democrat. He is pro-life, pro-second amendment, and says he chose to run as a Democrat because the Republicans in his district were not open to him.
I don’t want to say that either of these friends has chosen wrongly. How will the Democratic party ever change unless people work within it to make changes? Yet I also know that the national Democratic party is solidly pro-abortion (euphemistically called pro-choice), generally in favor of homosexual marriages, and promotes economic policies that I consider to be contrary to Biblical principles. If I support those who are part of this overall platform, am I doing wrong, even though they personally are in agreement with me?
I offer this as a genuine question. I welcome your comments.
on August 15th, 2008
I am very concerned that Christians live up to their profession of faith. I want to share thoughts on walking the walk and being sure that our walk matches our talk. Partial or weekend Christians are oxymorons; they simply don’t exist. The Christian life, though, is not hard, not if you are truly motivated by love for God and gratitude for what He has done for you in Christ. It is a response of love, not a grit-your-teeth-I’ll-do-this-or-die-trying ordeal. We love because He first loved us.
Christians throughout the world often have to face the prospect of martyrdom for their beliefs. What would it be like to be a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Iran? What if, by law, you were told you could not share what you believe on pain of death? In certain countries, anyone who converts to Christianity from Islam has a death sentence already decreed against him.
I would welcome any comments on this, as well as any personal experiences or accounts of others who have had to face this attitude.
Do you see any of this surfacing in America at this time?
Early Christian Martyrs
on August 14th, 2008
- Charles Finney: Greatest Evangelist of the Second Great Awakening
In addition to commentary on politics, government, and history, I want to offer what I hope will be insights into the larger culture of our society, always through the prism of a Biblical worldview.
Charles Finney was one of the most effective evangelists of the nineteenth century. His impact went beyond just tallying the number of converted people. Instead, his converts understood that being a Christian means taking the grace of God into the world. Redeemed people are the key to redeeming the culture of a society.
Finney introduced some new methods in his evangelistic endeavors. He created the “anxious seat,” which was a bench up front that people could come to after the service if they were “anxious” for their souls. This was the beginning of the altar call.
He also allowed women to pray in church publicly. That was a great source of controversy.
When he was asked to be the professor of theology at a new college in Ohio, Oberlin College, he told the trustees that he would not take the position unless they agreed to allow blacks to attend class along with the white students. They agreed, and Oberlin became the first college in America to have men, women, and blacks in the same classroom.
The one danger I see in some of Finney’s followers was a tendency to make their societal cause more important than the gospel. Theodore Dwight Weld, for instance, seemed (at least from my perspective) to put the abolition of slavery in the preeminent position, relegating the gospel to secondary status.
The question is this: Are Christians doing that today? Do you see any evidence of this? Are we generally balanced in our approach to changing society or do we put individual causes ahead of the primary mission, which is to lead people into reconciliation with God?
on August 13th, 2008
I am busily developing a new course for SEU called “Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism.” I hope to teach it next spring. It will be an ambitious project because there is so much to include. Originally, I had decided to do a course on Reagan only, but the more I thought about it, I realized I cannot treat him separately from the development of the conservative movement. Therefore, one of the books in the course will be George Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. It will be a challenging book for some of the students, but well worth it if they persevere. I will also use Reagan’s personal memoir, An American Life. Students will then choose two more books from a list of possibilities I will give them and write critiques of both. Overall, they should come away from this course with a well-rounded view of how conservatives, and Reagan in particular, have affected policy and culture.
Reagan Addressing the American People on the Economy
on August 12th, 2008
I will be offering thoughts regarding any period of history and the individuals who helped make history. In addition, I will include commentary on the historical profession. Below is one of my favorite historial figures, Whittaker Chambers. He is not well known to the general public, but was greatly influential as a founder of modern American conservatism. His book, Witness, is an autiobiography of monumental significance, both for its analysis and its writing style. I have used Witness in courses for 19 years; students, generally, are overwhelmed by its grace and power. This past year, for the first time, I was able to teach a full semester on Chambers and his writings, which also included a treatment of communist ideology, the historical background for the events in his life, and ultimate demise of communism in the USSR. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed teaching a class more.
Whittaker Chambers Testifying against Alger Hiss