And for everyone who is missing someone special this Christmas season, may you hear and embrace the hope of the gospel that led Craig Aven to pen the song.
And for everyone who is missing someone special this Christmas season, may you hear and embrace the hope of the gospel that led Craig Aven to pen the song.
You may not know who Haven Gillespie is but you do know the song that he published in 1932:
You better watch out, You better not cry
Better not pout, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list and checking it twice
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
We grew up hearing those words but have you ever paused long enough to contemplate the doctrine that is taught? “Don’t cry, don’t pout! Santa has a nice list and a naughty list.” The subtle implication is if you’re on the nice list you get presents. If you’re on the naughty list you get a lump of coal.
But this raises two questions: How does Santa know so much about me and how can I get on the nice list and receive presents?
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
Oh! You better watch out, You better not cry
Better not pout, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
These words sound innocent perhaps because of the tune that accompanies the lyrics. The song has a light-hearted, bouncy melody that is typically sung with a cheerful voice supported by the high octaves of young girls and boys. Or perhaps the song presents itself as innocent because of the image that is associated with it. I mean, what is there to be alarmed about when you see a jolly, well-rounded, red-cheeked old man who laughs and plays with children. But if we will slow down enough to hear the message, turn the music off and ignore the jolly old man, I believe we will find that the message is not so innocent: “If you want presents, you have to do enough good things to stay on the nice list”
We’ve heard this before from so-called-preachers: “If you want to receive the inheritance, the blessings, – the presents, you have to perform nice things. And here is a list of the nice things – now, don’t pout, don’t cry – just do the right things.” That’s legalism! The message that you can present yourself acceptable to God based on the merits of your good works is a message that is found in religions, songs, books, cultures, and just about anywhere where man thinks about God apart from grace. But Santa is not the real problem – the real problem is the heart of man that wants to get on God’s nice list by doing enough good things so that he may boast not in the cross of Christ but in his own self-reformation. Men are legalists because they think God is a legalist. Mankind loves to make a list of do’s and don’ts outside of the Bible, making some things legal and some things illegal. Then, based upon the track-record of living a “legal” life, you get the goodies and the illegal person gets the shaft.
The true Christmas message is that Jesus Christ loved you, knowing all your badness. And by faith in his work, not mine, I receive his forgiveness of my sins. And if that is how I came to be in a right relationship with God, because of the grace of His free love, then how could I ever think that God would now deal with me on the basis of my performance in the flesh.
Jesus loved you when you were naughty and not nice. This truth ought to motivate you to renounce any misrepresentations of God that you have begun to believe. Your heavenly Father loves you with a love that was not dependent upon any good thing in you or that you would ever do. Your heavenly Father loved you so that you would be holy and blameless in his sight.
Look at Galatians 1:15b “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace . . .”
Paul states that God separated him for a holy purpose when he was born. All the naughtiness of Paul’s life came after God set him apart and before God saved him, and called him by grace to display Christ in his life. For Paul it must have been a wonderful thing to say in Gal. 2:20 that “He loved me and gave Himself for me”. He loved me – the blasphemer, he loved me – the murderer, he loved me – the persecutor, he loved me – the violently arrogant man, he loved me – the lawless, insubordinate, self-righteous man.
The good news for us is not that we were good enough to transfer ourselves from the naughty list to the nice list so that we could receive good things, but as Paul says in Colossians 1:12-14, we are “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
If you are thinking to yourself, “I haven’t been good enough to come to Christ”, you are the one that Christ will receive. Those who think that they are too good to come to Christ will not find Him. But those who say, “I have been so bad I can’t get off the naughty list no matter how hard I try,” Jesus says to you, “I know everything that you have ever done – come to me, though your sins are many and your heart is stained with years of guilt I will make you white as fresh snow.”
Suggestion: Sing a New Song because Jesus is not a legalist but a Lover!
He knows that you should be sleeping (when you’re awake)
He knows that you should be awake (when you’re sleeping)
He knows how terribly bad you are
But he’s good to you for His own sake
Oh! You ought to cry out,
“Mercy for Me”
Shout it out loud
“Grace Set Me Free”
Jesus is not a legalist
But a lover
Yesterday in worship (11/11/18) we used this explanation of love by Paul Tripp to confess our sins and give thanks to God for his eternal love for us through Christ. And again, below is another reason to keep reading Paul Tripp. But before you read below, this is what Jesus said in John 15:12-13: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus does not merely present himself as a role model. But more importantly, as our Redeemer and Savior who lays down his life to give us the grace, the ability to love others the same way he loves us each day, all-day-long.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Heather Mac Donald’s, “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture”
“The roots lie in a charged set of ideas that now dominate higher education: that human beings are defined by their skin color, sex, and sexual preference; that discrimination based on those characteristics has been the driving force in Western civilization; and that America remains a profoundly bigoted place, where heterosexual white males continue to deny opportunity to everyone else.” (pg. 2)
” . . . victim ideology encourages ignorant young adults to hate the monuments of Western civilization without bothering even to study them . . . None of this campus self-pity is justified. American college students are among the most privileged human beings in history. But the claim of ubiquitous racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia is now lodged in the non-academic world as well, where it is being used to silence speakers and ideas with which favored victim groups disagree. Civility is shrinking and civil peace may be in jeopardy. Masked anarchists use force to block conservatives from speaking in public forums. The free speech crisis on and off campus will not be solved until the premises of victimology are challenged directly and exposed as fraudulent, as this book aims to do.” (pg. 4)
Part 1 Race
The Hysterical Campus, chapter 1
This was posted on the school facebook page after Heather published her book in June, 2016, “The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe”: “We, students of color at the Claremont Colleges, as a community, we CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform. We stand against all forms of oppression and we refuse to have Mac Donald speak.” (pg. 9)
After citing numerous examples of campus bullying of students and faculty and guest speakers who hold conservative ideas, Heather concludes, “The mark of any civilization is its commitment to reason and discourse . . . but the students currently stewing in delusional resentments and self-pity will eventually graduate, and some will seize levers of power more far-reaching than those they currently wield over toadying campus bureaucrats and spineless faculty. Unless the campus zest for censorship is combated now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.” (pgs. 17-18)
“Faculty undoubtedly fear correcting the writing of “marginalized students,” lest they suffer the same scourging we will hear about in chapter 4 that was inflicted on UCLA education professor Val Rust . . . Free speech is the best tool for challenging hegemonic power. Absolute rulers seek to crush nonconforming opinion; the censor is the essential bulwark of tyrants . . . Frederick Douglass warned in 1860 after the Boston mob attack, “liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down.” (pg. 19)
Elites to Affirmative Action Voters: Drop Dead, chapter 2
Heather reveals the disaster that is happening at Berkley and UCLA, where affirmative action is undermining the ability for minority students to succeed, because, the schools are either admitting students who then fail and drop out after a semester or two, or the school lowers the bar for achievement, but then graduate the student who is still incapable of doing what employers look for in a graduate.
“Renowned Berkley philosophy professor John Searle, who judges affirmative action “a disaster,” recounted that “they admitted people who could barely read . . . there was a huge dropout rate of affirmative-action admits in my classes by mid-terms.” (pg. 38)
“A psychology professor at UC San Diego recalled that “every meeting of the faculty senate’s student affirmative-action committee was a lugubrious affair. They’d look at graduation rates, grades, and other indicators and say, ‘What we’re doing is failing.” Yet for the preference lobby, a failing diversity student is better than no diversity student at all – because the game is not about the students but about the self-image of the institution that so beneficently extends its largess to them.” (pgs. 38-39)
“I learned that nothing riles an affirmative action proponent more than the suggestion that academic achievement is an individual, as well as a social, responsibility.” (pg. 51)
Affirmative Disaster, chapter 3
Heather shows how Duke U. via the “Faculty Diversity Initiative” and “Black Faculty Strategic Initiative”, professors give a passing grade to failing black students who refuse to study and master the sciences, in fear of being charged as racist: “But no college administration in recent history has ever said to whining students of any race or gender: “Are you joking? We’ve kowtowed to your demands long enough, now go study!” (pg. 58)
The Microaggression Farce, chapter 4
Heather goes deeper in showing that professors are now prohibited from correcting grammar and spelling in essays. Minority students face no “negative repercussions” from protesting their teachers, and the University cannot afford to face a backlash from Diversity Organizations and Initiatives where the money will dry up if a single minority student is expelled. A microaggression is when the very hurtful and racist statement is made: “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” or “America is the land of opportunity” or “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.” Heather says, “. . . the diversocrats are secretly aware that meritocracy is incompatible with diversity.” (pg. 84)
Other forms of microagression is “assigning a black graduate student to escort a black visiting professor” or “assigning a white student to escort a black visiting professor”. Heather then says, “The non-diverse world is under orders both to deny that race exists and to acknowledge race.” (pg. 84)
This is like demanding, “look at my skin color and give me preferential treatment . . . stop looking at my skin color you racist!”
Heather concludes, “Are there any grown-ups left on campus, at least in the administrative offices?” (pg. 85)
Are We All Unconscious Racists?, chapter 5
“Implicit bias purports to answer the question: Why do racial disparities persist in household income, job status, and incarceration rates, when explicit racism has, by all measures, greatly diminished over the last half-century? The reason, according to implicit-bias researchers, lies deep in our brains, outside the reach of conscious thought . . . It is taboo in universities and mainstream society to acknowledge intergroup differences in interests, abilities, cultural values, or family structure that might produce socioeconomic disparities.” (pg. 88)
After citing President Obama, Hillary Clinton, several psychologists on the boards of major corporations and schools, including companies like WalMart, that our country is awash in implicit bias beliefs, Heather then says, “In New York City, for example, blacks and Hispanics committed 98 percent of all shootings in 2016; whites, who, at 34 percent of the population, are the city’s largest racial group, committed less than 2 percent of all shootings . . . if the public associates blacks with violent street crime, it is the tragic facts that lead to that association.” (pg. 105)
Interviewing a black police officer, “No one’s outraged if I shoot a black, but if a white officer does, it will be pandemonium . . . It’s so disproportionate. When black people are shot by other blacks, it doesn’t make the news . . . it’s difficult to tell officers to enforce the shoplifting laws when they will be confronted with the implicit bias issue.” (pg. 105-06) Heather then says, “But it is the reality of crime, not bias, which results in those disproportions.” (pg. 106)
Her last paragraph in this chapter:
“A thought experiment is in order: If American blacks acted en masse like Asian Americans for ten years in all things relevant to economic success – if they had similar rates of school attendance, paying attention in class, doing homework and studying for exams, staying away from crime, persisting in a job, and avoiding out-of-wedlock childbearing and we still saw racial differences in income, professional status, and incarceration rates, then it would be justified to seek an explanation in unconscious prejudice. But as long as the behavioral disparities remain so great, the minute distinctions of the Implicit Association Test are a sideshow. America has an appalling history of racism and brutal subjugation, and we should always be vigilant against any recurrence of that history. But the most influential sectors of our economy today practice preferences in favor of blacks. The main obstacles to racial equality at present lie not in implicit bias but in culture and behavior.” (pgs. 107-08)
Part II Gender
The Campus Rape Myth, chapter 6
Heather does not deny that rape happens on college campuses. What she presents in this chapter is the overwhelming evidence that the “baby boomers who dismantled the university’s intellectual architecture in favor of unbridled sex” are the same ones who expect males to be asexual. While the booze-induced hook-up weekends continue to expand on the campus, the University is expected to “believe unconditionally” every allegation (pg. 125p), while the students protest, “we can manage our own lives. If we want to have members of the opposite sex in our rooms at any hour of the day or night, that’s our right” (pg. 125). “The colleges meekly complied and opened a Pandora’s box of boorish behavior that gets cruder each year. Do the boys, riding the testosterone wave, act thuggishly toward the girls? Yes! Do the girls try to match their insensitivity? Indisputably.” (pg. 125)
Neo-Victorianism on Campus, chapter 7
“Sexual liberation is having a nervous breakdown on college campuses. Campus feminists are reimporting selective portions of a traditional sexual code that they have long scorned, in the name of ending the purported epidemic of campus rape. They are once again making males the guardians of female safety and are portraying females as fainting, helpless victims of the untrammeled male libido. While the campus feminists are not yet calling for an assistant dean to be present at their drunken couplings, they have created the next best thing: the opportunity to replay every grope and caress before a tribunal of voyeuristic administrators.” (pg. 139)
Here we are “four decades later, the liberationist regime is disintegrating before our eyes. The new order is emerging as a bizarre hybrid of liberationist and traditionalist values.” (pg. 140)
Heather attempts to explain why sex is so mysterious, that only in the safety ground of marriage can it be explored. She spends considerable time quoting the new “Consent” policies that are being drafted on college campuses by the “sex bureaucrats” and how impossible they are to comply with, precisely because “sex is the realm of the irrational and inarticulate, fraught with ambivalence, fear, longing, and shame. Doing something that you are not certain about does not make it rape, it makes it sex.” (pg. 141)
“It turns out that when you decouple the sex drive from restraint and prudence, it takes armies of elected officials, bureaucrats, and consultants to protect females from “undesirable” behavior . . . In the neo-Victorian worldview, however, females have no responsibility for their own behavior, while the male is responsible not only for himself but for his partner as well.” (pg. 142, 144)
Heather then begins to explain that the new definition of “rape” includes how a girl feels after consensual sex. Boys go about their classes and duties without mentioning a word or expressing any afterthought of regret, shame, discomfort, or longing for a deep, emotional, verbal friendship. This is the new “post-traumatic stress disorder”. If the girl then begins to feel abused or taken advantage of, she is now a victim of rape, can press charges, and the 19 year old man can be expelled and/or sent to jail. (pgs. 145-47)
Heather ends this chapter, “Sexual liberation and radical feminism unleashed the current mess by misunderstanding male and female nature. Feminists may now be unwittingly accomplishing what they would never allow conservatives to do: restoring sexual decorum.” (pg. 147)
The Fainting Couch at Columbia, chapter 8
Heather cites that all incoming students must enroll in the class, “Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative.” It is a class that tells young men to stop feeling the way you do about pretty girls. And the reason that the young men are to stop is that “to recognize the specific hungers of the specifically male libido puts one dangerously close to acknowledging biological differences between the sexes.” (pg. 152)
Policing Sexual Desire: The #MeToo Movement’s Impossible Premise, chapter 9
“Actually, it is not the patriarchy that makes sexual decisions “utterly complex”; it is sex itself, inherently subject to “fear,” “shame,” and “guilt.” Sexual seduction is carried on through ambiguity and indirection; exposing that ambiguity to light, naming what may or may not be going on, is uncomfortable and risks denial and rejection. “Dangerously outdated gender norms” are not what make it difficult to say no to sexual advances; contemporary gender norms have confused these already fraught situations. Traditional mores, as this book has argued, set the default for premarital sex at “no.” This norm recognized the different sexual priorities of males and females and the difficulties of bargaining with the male libido. Sexual liberation changed that default for premarital sex to “yes.” A “no” now has to be extricated in media res.” (pg. 156)
“Feminists’ tic of blaming males for every female behavior that contradicts their ideal of gender equality undercuts that very claim of equality.” (pg. 158)
“If the #MeToo movement only eradicates exploitative sexual demands in the workplace, it will have been a force for good. Its likely results, however, will be to unleash a new wave of gender quotas throughout the economy and to mystify further the actual differences between males and females.” (pg. 159)
Heather cites several examples of where the #MeToo movement has leveraged its power, for example, on Orchestra Conductors. “New Yorker music critic Alex Ross triggered outrage against the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra when he tweeted in February 2018 that they had programmed no female composers in their upcoming season. It is ludicrous to suggest that these institutions are discriminating against female composers . . . the fact is that over most of music history, the greatest composers have been male. At a time of diminishing classical music audiences, it is reckless to wield identity politics against our most important and precious musical institutions.” (pgs. 162-63)
“It is curious that the #MeToo movement is concerned only with gender representation in particular occupational categories. For instance, most HVAC and refrigeration installers and mechanics are men, yet there is little outcry about getting more girls into occupational training for these jobs. Similarly, virtually all workers in the caring, moving, trucking, and mining industries are males, but female underrepresentation in these high-injury and high-fatality occupations has not sparked celebrity outrage.” (pg. 165)
Part III The Bureaucracy
Multiculti U., chapter 10
Heather documents the billions of dollars and multiple layers of bureaucracy that is turning our university campuses into cause-oriented movements while failing to teach the liberal arts and pass on their knowledge. For example, here are the positions and groups at UC San Diego:
Chancellor’s Diversity Office
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
The Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Equity
The Assistant vice Chancellor for Diversity
The Faculty Equity Advisers
The Graduate Diversity Coordinators
The Staff Diversity Liaison
The Undergraduate Student Diversity Liaison
The Graduate Student Diversity Liaison
The Chief Diversity Office
The Director of Development for Diversity Initiatives
The Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity
Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues
The Committee on the Status of Women
The Campus Council on Climate, Culture, and Inclusion
The Diversity Council
The Directors of the Cross-Cultural Center
The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center
The Women’s Center
How Identity Politics is Harming the Sciences, chapter 11
“Identity politics has engulfed the humanities and social sciences on American campuses; now it is taking over the hard sciences. The STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math – are under attack for being insufficiently “diverse.” The pressure to increase the representation of females, blacks, and Hispanics comes from the federal government, university administrators, and scientific societies themselves. That pressure is changing how science is taught and how scientific qualifications are evaluated. The results will be disastrous for scientific innovation and for American competitiveness. A UCLA scientist reports: “All across the country the big question now in STEM is: how can we promote more women and minorities by ‘changing’ (i.e. lowering ) the requirements we had previously set for graduate level study?” (pg. 189)
Heather documents how the Universities are intentionally eliminating entrance exams and lowering SAT scores for Under Represented Minorities (URM’s). (pgs. 198-200)
Scandal Erupts Over The Promotion of Bourgeois Behavior, chapter 12
“Were you planning to instruct your child about the value of hard work and civility? Not so fast! According to a recent uproar at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of San Diego, advocacy of such bourgeois virtues is “hate speech.” (pg. 201)
Heather then spends the entire chapter revealing what happened to Amy Wax, law professor at U. of Pennsylvania and Larry Alexander, law professor at U. of San Diego, when they co-wrote and published an op-ed “calling for the bourgeois values that characterized mid-century American life, including child-rearing with marriage, hard work, self-discipline on and off the job, and respect for authority.” (pg. 201)
Their careers were destroyed. She concludes, “The Wax-Alexander op-ed’s primary sin was to talk about behavior. The founding idea of contemporary progressivism is that structural and individual racism lies behind socioeconomic inequalities. Discussing bad behavioral choices and maladaptive culture is out of bound and will be punished mercilessly by slinging at the offender the usual fusillade of “-isms” . . . If confronting the need to change behavior is punishable “hate speech,” it is hard to see how the country can resolve its social problems.” (pg. 207)
Part IV The Purpose of the University
The Humanities and Us, chapter 13
“In 2011, the University of California at Los Angeles decimated its English major . . . following a revolt of the junior faculty, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements [must read Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton] and replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; gender studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing. In other words, UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent as to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton, or Shakespeare, but was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.” (pg. 211)
Great Courses, Great Profits, chapter 14
In this chapter Heather encourages the reader that the company, “Great Courses”, is doing a splendid job at selling “recorded lectures in the humanities and sciences to an adult audience eager to brush up its Shakespeare and its quantum mechanics.” (pg. 223)
The True Purpose of the University, chapter 15
“A primary purpose of a Yale education, President Peter Salovey told Yale’s freshman class, is to teach students to recognize “false narratives.” (pg. 237) Heather then spends her time showing that this is a horrible purpose because it is turning everyone into a victim, silencing any voice that isn’t politically correct, regardless of fact or truth. “If students had been more deeply immersed in acquiring that knowledge and less taken with challenging “false narratives” about the marginalized, we might not have seen the narcissistic campus meltdowns after the 2016 presidential election.” (pg. 242)
From Culture to Cupcakes, chapter 16
“. . . today’s campus functionary sees herself in a heroic struggle against the ubiquitous forces of white-male heterosexual oppression. The au courant concept of “allyship” divides the campus into the oppressed, their allies, and the oppressors. If you are not in either of the first two categories, you’re by definition in the third.” (pg. 246)
Heather’s closing remark:
“The diversocrates who have commandeered the American university invite students to a cultural reeducation camp where they can confess their political sins or perfect their sense of victimhood . . . Rather than emerging with minds broadened and informed by the best that our heritage offers, students increasingly are narrowed into groups defined by grievance. Who – other than a vast administrative bureaucracy – benefits from such diminishment? And what will replace what has been lost?” (pg. 247)
To get your week started . . . Enjoy!!
my favorite quotes by Jonathan Leeman’s book have been helpful for me:
Chapter 1 – A Nation Raging, A Church Unchanging
“Paul asked the Jews of his day, ‘You who preach against stealing, do you steal?’ (Rom. 2:21). I’ve got a few questions of my own: You who call for immigration reform, do you practice hospitality with visitors to your church who are ethnically or nationally different from you?
You who vote for family values, do you honor your parents and love your spouse self-sacrificially?
You who speak against abortion, do you also embrace and assist the single mothers in your church? Do you encourage adoption? Do you prioritize your own children over financial comfort?
You who talk about welfare reform, do you give to the needy in your congregation?
You who proclaim that all lives matter, do your friends look like you?
You who lament structural injustices, do you work against them in your own congregation? Do you rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep?
You who fight for traditional marriage, do you love your wife, cherishing her as you would your own body and washing her with the water of the Word?
You who are concerned about the economy and the job market, do you obey your boss with a sincere heart, not as a people-pleaser but as you would obey Christ?
You who care about corporate taxes, do you treat your employees fairly? Do you threaten them, forgetting that he who is both their Master and yours in heaven and that there is no partiality with him?” (pg. 16)
“I love how my church’s senior pastor Mark put it: “Before and after America, there was and will be the church. The nation is an experiment. The church is a certainty.” (pg. 17)
Chapter 3 – Heart: Not Self-Exalting, But Born Again And Justified
“Good governments and righteous civil societies are good things, just like marriages and jobs are good things. Still, at the risk of sounding cliché, you have to let America go. Give it back to God. He might take it away. He might give it back. You will be okay either way if you have him. That doesn’t mean you stop working for the nation’s good. With or without the world’s favor, we can practice true righteousness and justice and glory and joy now. With or without the world’s favor, we can have assurance that – precisely at his chosen time – the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and he will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). (pg. 73)
Chapter 5 – Government: Not A Savior, But A Platform Builder
“Now, I do think Winston Churchill was right when he said, ‘democracy is the worst form of Government except for all the other forms that have been tried.’ Yet keep in mind that I’m drawing these Churchillian convictions out of the wisdom bucket, not out of the biblical law bucket. For a democracy to work, the right kind of political culture must be in place. There must be a strong tradition of respecting the rule of law. Citizens must prize honesty and eschew bribes . . .” (pg. 123)
Chapter 6 – Churches: Not Lobbying Organizations, But Embassies of Heaven
“A Church is and is not a political threat . . . yes, Christians and churches are a threat to the stability of a Roman (or American) way of life; but no, they are not out to provoke civil strife. Yes, the presence of Christians in a society will prove to be bad for businesses based on wickedness and idolatry; but no, mobs of church members will not tear down temples, shops, and networks. Yes, churches will challenge the idols and false gods that prop up every government, whether the gods of the Roman Empire or the gods of the secular West; but no, they don’t try to overthrow the state. Churches both are and are not a political threat to the civic order. ” (pgs. 138-39)
“Once again, the church’s most powerful political word is the gospel. And the church’s most powerful political testimony is being the church.” (pg. 161)
Chapter 7 – Christians: Not Cultural Warriors, But Ambassadors
“We need to remember that politics in this world will always be Sisyphean. Do you remember Sisyphus? He was the king in Greek mythology who was condemned by the gods to roll an immense boulder up a hill, watch it roll down, and then repeat the act for eternity. So it is with our political accomplishments in this world. Build the freest nation in the world, and then watch it enslave its subjects, abort its babies, or maybe even persecute Christians. Down the hill the boulder rolls. The Wilberforce stories inspire the soul, but don’t forget the realities and upside-down judgments of Ecclesiastes either: “I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness.” (3:16). “He who quarries stones is hurt by them, and he who splits logs is endangered by them” (10:9). (pg. 171)
Chapter 8 – Justice: Not Just Rights, But Right
“I don’t know if America’s divisions today are run of the mill or if the nation stands on the precipice of a cataclysmic division, where rule of law gives way. My own instinct is that our nations’ relative wealth masks the depth of division. If the economy were to collapse, we would discover what the country is really made of. Either way, do you think America possesses the tools to heal its divisions? It depends on where we look for justice.” (pg. 203)
“What do you think: Is our national vision statement on justice enough to heal our national divisions? Do we just need someone to repeat the Gettysburg Address? Or let me sharpen the question: Can you and I, no matter which gods we worship, justly govern ourselves together based merely on a shared commitment to the principles of freedom, equality, and individual rights? Can three hundred million of us do that? I think the answer is no. Apart from a fear of God, the hope of the Declaration and Gettysburg is a misplaced hope for a nation. Christians should not merely be interested in equality, liberty, and individual rights, but in a just equality, a just liberty, and a just set of rights, as God defines just.” (pg. 205)
“True justice doesn’t start with our rights. It starts with God’s righteousness and his understanding of what’s right. We do justice by doing what’s right, which includes respecting people’s rights. First right, then rights. The order is crucial. What God says is right is the root; rights are the flower . . . eventually those flowers will shrivel and die. “I have a right to an abortion.” “I have a right to my prejudices and my hate.” “I have a right to marry whomever I please.” Really? Says who? When we disregard what God says is right, then anyone can say which rights are right and which aren’t. There is no rebuttal. There is no public and accepted righteousness or standard of right. Rights are wonderful gifts when a society is virtuous, possessing a godly standard of right. Less so when it becomes unvirtuous.” (pg. 217)
“God’s common grace grants many a nation better than it deserves, but I have little confidence that America will long remain strong, prosperous, and free without any concept of God’s righteousness and justice somewhere in the background. That’s not because I believe in a civil prosperity gospel: obey God and the nation will be blessed as his chosen people. It’s because I believe the way of God’s righteousness and justice is the way of wisdom. And prosperity and flourishing ordinarily come to the wise. The nation can be strong apart from God’s righteousness, like a totalitarian state is strong. Or it can be “free,” in some impoverished and mangy sense of that word, like a stray dog is free. But it won’t be both.”
Final Thoughts: Why the Battle Might Get Worse, but Our Political Hopes Can Remain Unchanged, Untroubled, Untouched
“Which brings me back to healthy churches. If there is hope for the nation, it’s through the witness and work of churches. Our congregations have the opportunity to live transformed lives as a transformed culture through a transformed politics in their own fellowships right now – all for God’s glory and our neighbors’ good. And we will become such heavenly outposts when we focus first not on the public square, but on preaching the Word and making disciples. Together those disciples must grow up to maturity, into Christ, as each part does its work (Eph. 4:13-16). The resonant effects in the home, the marketplace, the public square, and the rest of life then follow. God does not intend to display his own justice and righteousness and wisdom through the wise, noble, and powerful things of this world, but through the foolish, weak, and despised things. He means to magnify himself not primarily through the US Congress, the New York Times editorial page, or Ivy League philosophy departments, but through Brother Bob, Sister Sue, and Deacon Darnell down at Bumblestew Baptist. Oh, nations of the earth, watch those three gather in Jesus’ name to see the way of God’s justice and mercy. They are God’s salt and light for you. Do you sense something distinct in them? See something bright? They are far from perfect, to be sure. But their King is perfect. And their lives together should offer you the first taste of his kingdom.” (pg. 238-39).
Learning to play and sing this song. We’ll worship the Lord with this on October 14.