Archive for the ‘ Christians & Culture ’ Category

In Support of Christian Higher Ed

Education CollageI remember my one experience teaching at a public university, which will go unnamed. I was an adjunct there for at least three semesters and thoroughly enjoyed the classes I taught. Student evaluations at the end of each semester were high, and it was my first taste of college-level teaching, prior to getting my first full-time position.

I recall fondly one student who walked out to the car with me after the last class session one time, telling me that what I had presented during class had changed his mind about abortion—he now saw how wrong it was.

Not so fondly do I recall one very loud and critical feminist whose age told me she was straight out of the 1960s, arguing vocally with me during class and then reporting me to the chair of the history department. The crux of her message to the chair was that I, with my conservative views, never should be allowed to teach there again.

The phone call I received from the chairperson, a woman I never met face to face, was cordial, to an extent, as I explained the perspective I brought to the classroom. She mouthed the right words, saying that all views should be allowed—after all, everyone believes in free speech, right?

I got off the phone thinking everything was fine. I was never asked to teach there again, despite the positive student reviews. One radical feminist got me tossed.

I can’t imagine what would happen to me today if I ever tried to teach at another public university. The attitudes have hardened considerably since the 1980s.

Back at College

This is why I’m so grateful that the Lord has opened doors for me to teach at Christian colleges and universities for the last 27 years. Yes, I’ve had my heartaches along the way, and, at times, I’ve joked that it’s one of God’s minor miracles that I still believe in Christian higher education.

Yet I’ve had the high honor of helping to direct the thinking and the lives of a few thousand students during this time. Also, I’ve been given wonderful opportunities to develop courses tailored to my interests: “Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism,” “The Witness of Whittaker Chambers,” and “C. S. Lewis: History and Influence,” to name a few.

The Obergefell decision is the latest threat to the liberty of Christian colleges to be what God has called them to be. We are at a critical junction in this nation with respect to the future of Christian higher education. Please pray for our liberty to continue unhindered, and pray that those involved with Christian education remain firm in the faith, never wavering from the truths in God’s Word.

The Christian Witness to the World

Presidennt, Pope, Prime MinisterThe arrival of Pope Francis in America takes me back in my thoughts to an earlier era when a pope who grew up under communism and understood the horrors of socialist practices worked with an American president who was a Protestant (with a Catholic father) and a British prime minister who was tutored all her early years by her Methodist shopkeeper father (and who later said that C. S. Lewis was one of her spiritual mentors) to overthrow the Soviet empire.

There’s an excellent book on that subject that I can highly recommend, appropriately titled The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister: Three Who Changed the World. It details how Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II worked together, both behind the scenes and in public pronouncements, to bring an end to one of history’s most brutal and atheistic regimes.

John Paul, because he grew up in Poland and saw Soviet socialism firsthand, recognized the evil in the system and sought to free his people. Reagan spoke often and eloquently on behalf of the Polish people and his partnership with Thatcher helped undermine the Soviet economy, leading to change.

It was a wonderful example of working together for the good of all, and each of the three leaders did so from their common Christian faith.

Pope FrancisThere are things about Pope Francis that I admire: his strong defense of the unborn and his obvious compassion for the poor top that list. Other things he says are more bothersome: his lack of understanding of how the free market and business works; his insistence that climate change is an undoubted fact; his misunderstanding of the Biblical roots of the death penalty for serious crimes.

Much of what he believes, I’m sure, is the result of his Argentinian background and the type of theology he imbibed there—the incursion of some Liberation Theology that, in fact, liberates no one from sin. Yet I don’t doubt the sincerity of his Christian faith, no matter my disagreement with how he thinks it manifests itself in society.

I am not Catholic and never will be. My Biblical beliefs lead me in a different direction. But I do maintain a great desire to work with all true believers.

William PennThe Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, wrote something that has always appealed to me. Penn had been persecuted in England and even thrown in prison at times, yet he seemed to harbor no resentment toward that Protestant Anglican establishment. Here’s what he said that I think is worth repeating:

He that suffers his difference with his neighbor about the other world, to carry him beyond the line of moderation in this, is the worse for his opinion, even though it be true. . . .

Since all of the parties profess to believe in God, Christ, the Spirit, and Scripture, that the soul is immortal, that there are eternal rewards and punishments, and that the virtuous shall receive the one, and the wicked suffer the other: I say, since this is the common faith of Christendom, let us all resolve in the strength of God to live up to what we agree in, before we fall out so miserably about the rest in which we differ.

Christians, especially in these perilous times, need to pull together and concentrate on our common faith and work to see it influence all of society. Catholics need to set aside any sense of being the only true Christian church and recognize other genuine believers. Protestants must not hold grudges toward the Catholic church for grievances, both real or imagined. We must love one another and seek to find the common ground that will protect us all from an ever-more-intrusive government. We must be public examples of the love of Christ, first toward one another, and then to the world.

Jesus said the world would know we are His followers by seeing the love we show to one another. It’s time to put that into practice now, more than ever.

Eric Metaxas’s Trump Bible

Eric MetaxasChristian author, speaker, and radio talk show host Eric Metaxas has become a leading evangelical voice in our day. He entered the national consciousness with a direct message a couple years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast.

I was deeply impressed by his book Amazing Grace, which painted an inspiring portrait of British statesman William Wilberforce, the man who successfully led the fight against slavery in the British empire.

Mextaxas also gave a stirring and insightful message to the Oxbridge Conference a year ago, an event sponsored by the C. S. Lewis Foundation. I was not there in person, but the YouTube video is available, and I highly recommend it.

When Mextaxas speaks, he mixes serious commentary with a wry sense of humor that carries his points well. That sense of humor has surfaced lately in his responses to Donald Trump.

When Trump declared the Bible was his favorite book but then wouldn’t (or couldn’t) come up with a single verse that had impacted his life, Metaxas developed what he calls “The Trump Bible.” He has been posting an ongoing series of verses in the way that Trump might want them to appear in Scripture.

Keep in mind that humor only really works if it is close enough to the truth to make you see the connection. Metaxas has mimicked Trump’s language so superbly that it’s not hard to hear him saying these things. Here is a sampling of what Metaxas offers as portions of “The Trump Bible.”

And Jesus went out into the desert. But he should’ve invested in hotels there. I mean, I’m killing it in Vegas. A LOT of money.

Love covers a multitude of sins. Sure. But you’d be nuts not to get a prenup. I mean, c’mon.

Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” And David said, “No, YOU are the man!” And they high-fived each other. It was fabulous.

Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old, but even young she was nothing to look at, so you can just imagine.

You’ve heard it said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but I say unto you, that’s lousy negotiating. Why break even?

Moses saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed, because, face it, the bush was low-energy.

I know a man who was caught up into the third heaven… Who’m I kidding? You knew it was me, right?

Paul? He’s ok…but I like missionaries who don’t get shipwrecked and jailed!

Nebuchadnezzar was the best. I mean, he built a giant golden statue of himself. He is an inspiration to me.

“Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus replied, “Again with the gotcha questions?”

On the other hand what did John the Baptist really do? Announced one Messiah? One? Are we serious?

I’m also glad to see at least one cartoonist has caught on:

Trump Bible

Humor. Sometimes it makes the case better than a serious critique.

America’s Jeremiah Moment

From the heart today. Well, everything I write is from the heart, but this one is burning within. I have been doing my best to warn conservatives—and Christian conservatives, in particular—about giving any aid, verbal or otherwise, to the candidacy of Donald Trump. Some of you, I’m sure, are tired of hearing my warnings.

No one has responded to my warnings with anger, I don’t believe, yet I’m still astonished by people I certainly love and respect giving room to Trump in the sense that they seem to enjoy his braggadocio and politically incorrect comments.

Yes, we do need someone with courage to speak up. We need those kinds of people in government at all levels. My concern, though, is that we are confusing Trump’s self-aggrandizement with Biblical courage.

In my spirit, I’m coming to the place where I believe America is now experiencing its Jeremiah moment. We are at a crossroads in a way we never have been before. The Obama administration has openly advocated the killing of unborn children, has led the way in the destruction of marriage, has done its best to destroy the economy, and has put America in a weakened position around the world.

What is needed at this critical juncture is not a man who brags about how much money he has made, who claims to be smarter than everyone else, and who strikes back at any criticism by calling his critics names: losers, stupid, third-rate journalists, bimbos, etc.

JeremiahRather, we need a chorus of Jeremiahs throughout the nation calling people to repentance and humility—the very last things one would associate with Donald Trump.

Jeremiahs are not usually treated well. The Biblical Jeremiah got on people’s nerves; they kept telling him to be quiet, don’t stir up trouble. Yet he continued on, despite his own inner desire to stop. There was a fire from God in his bones that wouldn’t allow him to back off.

Jeremiah’s message was dire, but if you look closely, his main theme was that the nation needed to humble itself before God. Only through a humility that led to genuine repentance would Judah have any hope for the future.

That’s where America is right now. Our only hope is in a thorough repentance that begins with God’s own. Those who call themselves Christians must see clearly now as never before. We can’t let ourselves be caught up in a reactionary attitude that gives credence to any politician who makes us feel better because he “fights back.”

So I don’t write my warnings about Trump out of any kind of spite toward him personally or just because I’m on my own little hobby horse. I’m truly fearful of what a Trump presidency would bring. I fear it would be no better than a Hillary Clinton presidency, and I don’t think God will bless either choice.

I will continue to write and express my deepest concerns. I will attempt to do so in a redemptive manner, not merely offering denunciations. But the truth needs to be spoken. Our reception of that truth needs to lead us all into a personal examination of our faith and the kind of response God now requires.

This is our Jeremiah moment. How will we respond?

Kim Davis vs. the Real Lawbreakers

Kim DavisSo Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who doesn’t want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is now in jail, put there by a federal judge who previously forced high school students into diversity training to try to convince them that opposing homosexuality is wrong.

This is all part and parcel of how our world has turned upside down.

Davis, a Christian who simply doesn’t want her name on the licenses as the government official authorizing same-sex marriages, is allowed no accommodation at this point. The radical agenda cannot brook any opposition, so it’s off to jail she goes.

This is the most egregious example of selective outrage and hypocritical use of penalty that I’ve witnessed in quite some time.

I do understand the argument that the rule of law must be obeyed. In fact, I’m one of the staunchest supporters of the rule of law that you can find. However, which law has been broken here? Has she gone against Kentucky law? Not at all. The voters in Kentucky, in a referendum, approved the traditional Christian concept of marriage by a majority of 75%.

You say she’s violating the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell? Yes, that is true, but is that really a federal law based on the Constitution?

I’ll come back to that.

First, though, let’s look at the way the Davis case is such a stunning example of selective outrage and punishment.

When Obama took office, he directed his attorney general, Eric Holder, to defy federal law when they colluded on not defending the Defense of Marriage Act, duly passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996.

What happened to Obama and Holder when they refused to uphold a federal law? Well, you know. Nothing. If justice had been carried out at that point, impeachment proceedings against the president would have begun immediately.

Defense of Gay Marriage Act

Do you realize that the harvesting of fetal body parts is prohibited by federal law? What’s being done about Planned Parenthood’s defiant actions in ignoring that law? President Obama has come out in favor of that organization’s continuance in its horrific practice. The Democrats in Congress have rushed to Planned Parenthood’s side in an attempt to silence the protests against its policy of infanticide [let’s call it what it really is].

Then there are those sanctuary cities, in which mayors, governors, and state attorneys general, openly flout federal laws. Has anyone called them to account for their lawlessness?

And we shouldn’t forget Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server that was against the rules for federal employees and that put national security at risk. The height of hypocrisy in that situation was her stern warning to everyone else in the State Department not to use private e-mails for public business. Does anyone think she is going to be held accountable for her lawlessness?

Yet Kim Davis is in jail for maintaining that she is supposed to carry out the laws of the state in which she lives.

Constitution BurningThe real lawlessness has been at the top of the federal government, both in the executive and judicial branches. The Obergefell decision, which said that the Constitution somehow provides for same-sex marriage, is simple judicial fiat. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his dissent, this decision really had nothing at all to do with the Constitution. What we have in Obergefell is five justices imposing their personal beliefs on the entire nation without any constitutional authority to do so.

Justice Scalia’s dissent in that same case drew attention to what he called “the Court’s threat to American democracy.” He went on to say, “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans is a majority of the nine justices on the Supreme Court.”

Anyone who has ever read the Constitution with an open mind has to legitimately wonder where a Supreme Court justice could find a right to same-sex marriage within that document. It’s probably in the same place as the “right” to kill innocent unborn children.

Mike Huckabee has been the strongest of the Republican presidential candidates to speak out on the absurdity of thinking the Supreme Court is the final word on everything. As he so poignantly put it, the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being.

Does anyone remember the Dred Scott decision, which effectively ruled out any rights at all for a black person in America, whether slave or free? The Republican party at that time publicly repudiated that decision and stood firmly against it.

How about Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 case that declared separate-but-equal facilities was acceptable public policy? That pronouncement was later overturned by the Brown decision in 1954.

In both cases, the Supreme Court itself was the source of lawlessness, blatantly disregarding the Constitution. It has repeated that lawlessness with Obergefell, and action against that lawless decision is just as valid as action taken to overturn Dred Scott and Plessy.

It would be nice to think that all conservatives would unite in tackling this breach of the Constitution, but, sadly, that is far from the reality. I’m grieved over how many public conservatives either seem to support the same-sex marriage fantasy or pass the buck by simply saying this is now the law of the land, so leave it alone—it’s a done deal.

Some of the Republican presidential contenders have adopted the “done deal” approach. Those who have surrendered on this crucial issue have lost my support.

So it comes down to this: it’s going to have to be the faithful Christians who still take God’s Word seriously who will make the stand. This is a battle that falls to those who are the remnant. We are reminded that Christ called us to be salt and light. We must now fulfill that calling.

This Is Why I Write

TruthOne of my concerns for those who read my posts is that they won’t grasp the real reasons why I desire to share my views. It would be easy, from a superficial reading, to think I’m just a conservative who doesn’t like Obama specifically and Democrats/liberals in general. I do oppose Obama and his policies, and I’m also opposed to the Democrat agenda. But there are foundational principles that guide my opposition. I believe in objective truth, and that it exists through the God of the Bible. I want to stand strong for truth.

Obama’s policies are merely the open manifestation of deeper problems plaguing our culture. They rest, as does the whole worldview that motivates him and his political allies, on a number of falsities that need to be exposed. Let me deal briefly with each one.

  • False Theology: This takes many forms, but each form denies the real character of God as revealed in Scripture. It may, for instance, say the Scriptures cannot be trusted; that a different God is portrayed in the New Testament than in the Old; that his primary concern is social justice through government programs; that Jesus was His son in purely a human way, and all we do is follow Jesus’ example to “liberate” people from poverty; that since God is a God of love, there is no hell to which those who reject His love will be consigned.
  • False Psychology: Rather than understanding man as a unique creation made in the image of God, we instead view him as a social animal who needs to be studied to figure out why he does what he does. We replace the reality of sin with other explanations—excuses primarily—for his evil actions. Perhaps he’s just a product of his environment, or maybe there are deep-seated, hidden reasons for his actions that can only be brought to the surface through lifelong psychoanalysis. Maybe society is to blame, not the individual. Could it be that we simply need to remove the impediments in our lives so we can attain self-actualization? Bottom line for all these theories: man is not accountable for his actions; someone or something else is to blame.
  • False Anthropology: Ancient civilizations were crude and rudimentary, but now we have evolved into complexity. We know more than our ancestors; we are the enlightened ones. Yet we honor all cultures, believing that it would be wrong to try to change them because all cultures are equally valid. Never mind that some practice cannibalism; look past cultures that burn widows on their husbands’ funeral pyres, and hundreds of other sadistic and horrible actions. No, we cannot judge. Who are we to say that we know best? And by all means, don’t preach a gospel that says the culture must change. That is insensitive.
  • False Soteriology:  We are “saved” by education. We are “saved” by the government. If we believe at all in an afterlife, we believe we can get on God’s good side through our own actions; as long as we have more positive deeds than negative, it will all work out in the end. He couldn’t possibly exclude “good” people. After all, we fed the poor, we gave money to help those in need, and we collected every ribbon for every cause that crossed our path. We were good Pharisees.
  • False Eschatology: The world is going to come to an end because we are polluting Mother Earth. Unless we stop using aerosol sprays, we will all burn up. We’re going to exhaust all our resources because we selfishly want cars and heat during the winter. Overpopulation will doom us as a race; we must limit the number of children or we all will die as we run out of food and space. Evil corporations are raping the planet; they must be shut down. Unless government comes to our rescue, all is lost. Sovereign nations must be replaced by a government that will unite all peoples and create an earthly paradise. We are the world.

There are undoubtedly more, but those stand out to me. I see these false ideologies as the cornerstones of the modern “progressive” state and culture. My task, and the task of all Christians, is to speak out against these while simultaneously promoting the truths that counter each one. This is what the Lord has placed on my heart. This is why I write.

The Moral Majority?

My main reason for writing this blog—its only real purpose—is to bring the Christian message to the forefront as we contemplate the state of our culture and the society in general. Within me resides a hope, which I trust comes from the Giver of All Hope, that what I write can aid, in whatever small way, in restoring a Biblical pattern of thinking that will, in turn, strengthen the foundations upon which our society is built.

I believe there are two chief impediments that are making it difficult to make progress. The first is a misperception that guides some of us hoping for societal restoration; the second is a profound personal failing on the part of those who claim the name of Christ.

What is that misperception? We seem to think that there is a silent majority out there just waiting for the re-emergence of Christian culture. What we fail to understand is that we are living in a post-Christian nation. Whereas, in decades past, most Americans would have subscribed to some type of Christian morality, we are now a nation bitterly divided over the nature of morality—or indeed whether such a thing as morality even exists.

Jerry Falwell, as he attempted to get Christians involved in politics back in the early 1980s, started an organization he called The Moral Majority. It rested on the assumption that most Americans believed in Biblical morality.

That was the case at the Founding of the nation; even those who cannot be classified as Christian believers lived in a culture that expected people to adhere to the basic moral teachings of the Scriptures.

The onset of evolutionary theory severely undercut that consensus, which eventually led to the holocaust of abortion, the drive for same-sex marriage, and a general philosophy of postmodernism, where each person constructs his own concept of morality. Polls seem to indicate that nearly two-thirds of Americans rarely gather in a church on Sundays.

Yet we continue to act as if what we promote is generally accepted by the society at large. No, it is not. Promotion of the homosexual lifestyle shows up in nearly every television program, in one way or another. It is just assumed by the media that couples live together and engage in sex routinely before marriage. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of evidence to bolster their assumption.

The myth of the moral majority must be shattered before we can make any real progress. We have to see reality for what it is first so we’ll know how to proceed.

The second problem, though, is deeper, and it’s the primary reason we don’t have the kind of influence we seek. It has to do with personal holiness. Now, I know that word—holiness—has become a turn-off. It reeks of past attempts to focus entirely on externalities: don’t wear makeup, don’t watch television, etc. Christians have been their own worst enemy by making holiness into a repellent idea.

True holiness, though, is beautiful. It simply means one’s love for God inspires our thoughts and actions. Holiness is an attitude of the heart that seeks to please God in all we do, and it’s a joyful thing. Yes, a heart for God will lead to changing our external actions, but not because we follow a list of rules. We change because we want our lives to honor the One who brought us out of darkness into His light; we change because it connects us to His heart; we change because it brings harmony and His love into the lives of others with whom we associate.

Christians who live holy lives are attractive; they draw others to them, thereby providing an opportunity to deliver the message God has placed on their hearts: personal salvation first; societal salvation as a result of the permeation of Biblical principles into the society.

My concern is this: too many people who claim the name of Christ don’t portray the Christ they claim to know. I’ve been a Christian now for many decades. I’ve seen true holiness in action; it does exist. Yet it is not the norm. We don’t talk much about sin anymore; it’s an embarrassment to mention the word in our culture. If we mention it, we’re accused of being judgmental.

But I want to say something very direct: sin is killing us. I am saddened almost daily by “Christians” who don’t act much differently than the world around them, whose language is filled with the same crudeness that we say we deplore, whose attitudes show forth in gossip, slander, and revenge.

Those who name the name of Christ have no problem with “shacking up,” accepting homosexuality, or allowing the government to become God. They are endorsing the very sins that are sending our nation into spiritual darkness. Is it any wonder we hardly make a dent in the culture?

I am grateful for those who stand for righteousness; they do make a difference. But far too many who say they want to make a difference are not different themselves. That will never work. What we need is this reminder from Scripture:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us. …

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.

Those are not my words. They come from Another. My job today is simply to deliver them. Your responsibility, if you say you are a Christian, is to ponder them and act upon them.