Thursday, July 20, 2017

Broader and Deeper than Mere Secession

An excerpt of “Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”:

When we come to examine the action of the Continental Congress in adopting the Declaration of Independence in the light of what was set out in that great document and in the light of succeeding events, we can not escape the conclusion that it had a much broader and deeper significance than a mere secession if territory and the establishment of a new nation.

Events of that nature have been taking place since the dawn of history. One empire after another has arisen, only to crumble away as its constituent parts separated from each other and set up independent governments of their own. Such actions long ago became commonplace. They have occurred too often to hold the attention of the world and command the administration and reverence of humanity.

There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Was Joseph an Aspergian?

My question is about Joseph of old, and Asperger's, a condition mostly studied during my lifetime. There are a few things in the story of Joseph that make me wonder about Joseph's neurological wiring. None of this is to downplay the role the Lord played in this whole situation, but perhaps this was one of the things the Lord used, or even one of the things that got in Joseph's way.

Joseph had a dozen siblings, mostly brothers, mostly older, and he was beloved by their father. One day (or night) he has a dream that he was going to be over them even outside the context of their father's love (Genesis 36:6-8). There's no indication he thought about how that might go over with them, nor does the text indicate any bad intent on his part. It seems he simply viewed it as sharing information. I've heard this text preached a few times, and usually the preacher condemns Joseph at this point for either being a jerk or not having a clue. Maybe he doesn't have a clue. Maybe he didn't think and wasn't wired to think that way. His father liked him. He dreamed about people liking him. Why wouldn't people like him?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Best Advice Reagan Ever Received

In Hand of Providence is the story of Ronald Reagan getting his first job as a radio announcer.

His father had concurred with news reports advising people to stay in their own communities, even though he himself had been an ambitious man whose dreams had been crushed by the Depression. Quoting Reagan's autobiography: “I think he understood the fire that was burning inside me—a drive to make something of myself—that had always burned inside him.” His father let Reagan borrow the family car to continue his quest.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Evangelistic Nature of Suffering

God reveals much in the Scriptures about those who suffer. One of His primary purposes in suffering is evangelism. When those who suffer are “not in any way terrified” by their persecutors, it is “to them a proof of perdition” (Philippians 1:28). It is also “an occasion for testimony” (Luke 21:13). Our suffering, even among the most severely persecuted, is truly “light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:17) compared to those who are treasuring up for themselves “wrath in the day of wrath” (Romans 2:5) and for whom “the treasury of hail” (Job 38:22) may also be light compared to the undiluted wrath of God “poured out without mixture” (Revelation 14:10). Suffering for Christ is a small price to pay for those facing misery without hope and who need to hear the Good News.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Reforming Conservatism

In response to recent defeats and in the interest of moving beyond past successes, Jay Cost argues for reforming conservatism. His central point: “The animating impulse is not so much to increase or decrease the scope of the federal government, but to modify the way the government accomplishes its goals.”

He is correct in that “smaller government” is a relative term that does not speak to what the correct size of government is. His reference to “the way the government accomplishes its goals” implies that the goals of government are already understood. I am not convinced this is the case.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Christian life is about love

Yesterday I wrote about how the Christian life is not about commands, and concluded pointing out it is about friendship. Today I want to pick up on that and point out that relationships shifting from commands and obedience to love and respect is a sign of maturity.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why the Christian life is not about commands

When I read Romans 14:23, I don't read, “Whatever is not of obeying the commandments is sin.” When I read Hebrews 11:6, I don't read, “without following the commandments it is impossible to please Him.” We are “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Law was over us to point out our sin (Romans 7:7), punish our sin (Romans 13:4), and point us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Grace is not an alternate to law to point out our sin, punish our sin, or point us to Christ. Grace is Christ over us lifting us up out of sin (Ephesians 2:5,8). We “live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4), and “after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:25). “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

When Jesus gave us his “new commandment” (John 13:34), it was of a completely different nature than the law. Unlike the law, His commands are “not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Jesus did not say in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you obey my commandments.” While Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15), and made similar statements in John 14:21 and 15:10-11, I don’t know of anywhere that He says or even implies, “If you don't love, you're sinning.” It's a completely different focus. His command is about shifting the focus from law to love. “These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).

Do we measure how well we love through how well we obey the commandments, or do we measure how well we obey His commandment by how well we love?

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