The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Author Archive

Baby Steps Toward the Masterpiece

by Marc Hays

Thanks to a blue-light special at the Kindle store, I recently acquired an e-copy of N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. The first section addresses humanity’s struggle with justice, spirituality, relationship and beauty. His questions are honest and piercing.  His logic is so seamless, that I find it hard to decide on a pull quote without doing a great injustice to the surrounding material as well as the quote itself, but, having said all that, here’s a portion that is exceptionally tasty.  It is from chapter 4, For the Beauty of the Earth,

What we must notice at this stage is that both in the Old Testament and the New, the present suffering of the world–about which the biblical writers knew every bit as much as we do–never makes them falter in their claim that the created world really is the good creation of a good God. They live with the tension. And they don’t do it by imagining that the present created order is a shabby, second-rate kind of thing, perhaps (as in some kinds of Platonism) made by a shabby second-rate sort of god. They do it by telling a story of what the one creator God has been doing to rescue his beautiful world and put it to rights. And the story they tell, which we shall explore further in due course, indicates that the present world really is a signpost to a larger beauty, a deeper truth. It really is the authentic manuscript of one part of a masterpiece. The question is, What is the whole masterpiece like, and how can we begin to hear the music in that way it was intended? Read more…

Aaron’s Rod Swallowed Their Rods

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by Marc Hays

Christian, do you feel as though the enemy has won a victory?  Is your pessimillenialism lingering just under the surface ready to burst through with eschatological doom and cliches about polishing the brass on a sinking ship?

If so, C. H. Spurgeon offers sage advice in his devotional, Mornings and EveningsRead more…

Book Review – The Authenticity Hoax

reviewed by Justin Dillehay

Authenticity_Hoax_FNL_cvrOrganic food. Samuel Adams. Mud-floors. Vintage Levi’s. What do they all have in common? According to philosopher Andrew Potter: authenticity. People eat, imbibe, walk on, and wear these things in an effort to be “real.” Potter views this so-called authenticity as a reaction to modernity, describing it as a “rejection of the various tributaries of mass society’s current, including the media, marketing, fast food, party politics, the Internet, and—above all—the program of free markets and economic integration usually derided as ‘globalization’” (8). In the space of 273 fascinating and often hilarious pages, Potter analyzes the history, meaning, and manifestations of authenticity, ranging from Jean Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century to Oprah Winfrey in the 21st. Through it all, Potter concludes that authenticity is a hoax; a “dopey nostalgia for a non-existent past, a one-sided suspicion of the modern world, and stagnant and reactionary politics masquerading as something personally meaningful and socially progressive” (270).

For me, Potter’s most helpful (and entertaining) insight is that authenticity is a form of one-upmanship and status-seeking; an effort not to be real, but to be different. If everyone starts listening to the Avett Brothers, the truly authentic will drop them like last month’s YouTube sensation (they must be sell-outs anyway). If Wal-Mart starts placing organic food within the financial reach of the hoi polloi, this is cause—not for rejoicing—but for anti-capitalist consternation (129). Once indie bands and organic food lose their ability to distinguish the authentic from the rabble, the truly authentic move on in search of substitutes, like locally grown food. All this and more in a chapter entitled “Conspicuous Authenticity,” a term Potter adapts from economist Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. Read more…

Chesterton on Courage

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by Marc Hays

G. K. Chesterton thrived on the unexpected turn: that twist in the story that set all that seemed normal on its head, thus showing that true north may sometimes be upside down because we were facing south to begin with, but didn’t know it.  It comes as no surprise then, that Christianity’s paradoxes would bring him comfort and reassurance, rather than instilling angst and doubt. The following passage is from his book, Orthodoxy, Chapter VI, entitled “The Paradoxes of Christianity.”

“Granted that we all have to keep a balance, the real question comes in with the question of how that balance can be kept. That was the problem which Paganism tried to solve: that was the problem which I think Christianity has solved and solved in a strange way.

Paganism declared that virtue was in a balance; Christianity declared it was in a conflict: the collision of two passions apparently opposite. Of course they were not really inconsistent; but they were such that it was hard to hold simultaneously. Let us follow for a moment the clue of the martyr and the suicide; and take the case of courage. Read more…

I Cried Out In My Distress

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by Marc Hays

I have a friend named Gary, whom everyone calls “Bubba”.  Someone from somewhere else may snicker at the stereotypical baggage of this nickname, but around here it is not altogether uncommon for this childhood nickname to stick and become your “handle” for life. Bubba was born 29 years ago and born again 3 years ago. When he was born the first time, he was born with spina bifida. It has negatively affected his gait, his speech, his balance, his sight, his height, and a myriad other less obvious things.  When he was born the second time, Bubba gave all his broken parts to Jesus Christ, his faithful Savior redeemed them, and has been building a kingdom with every one of those broken parts ever since.

So, what do you do when your friend, who is already afflicted with spina bifida, develops a tumor on his pituitary gland that could have severe, adverse effects on his already partially crippled body? What do you do when you find out that the surgery can create as many problems as it solves? What do you do when you’re overwhelmed by your inability to do anything to help? Read more…

Book Review – Out of the Silent Planet

silentplanet

by Marc Hays

This morning I finished reading Out of the Silent Planet, by C. S. Lewis, which is the first book of his “Space Trilogy”.  I’m going to begin this book review with a genre review, because of how the genre unexpectedly affected the way I, as the reader, received the story.  I am not a trained literary scholar, analyst, or guru, so if the things that struck me in the reading of this book seem infantile, it is probably because they are.  After all, I’m nearly 40 and have just begun reading Lewis’ Space Trilogy.

As mentioned in a previous post, I enjoy taking my family on excursions into Narnia. In order to get there, we suspend what we understand as reality and follow the Pevensies and their cousins through magical portals. These gates are common items like wardrobes and wall-hangings that Aslan uses to supernaturally transport sons of Adam and daughters of Eve from this world to different one–a fantastical one.  In our minds we suspend reality in order to step through to Narnia, a world like ours in many ways, but wholly unlike ours cosmologically; hence, the reason the Narnia Chronicles are considered “fantasy” literature.  It is a place that is wholly other than our own.  When you close the book, you actually can’t get there from here. Read more…

Book Review – Mathematics: Is God Silent?

mathematics is god silent cover

by Marc Hays

Last year, my path crossed that of a mathematician named James D. Nickel. I traveled with my family to Cincinnati to hear him lecture at the Toward the Quadrivium conference, which was hosted by Classical Conversations, Inc.  In a single Saturday, Mr. Nickel took Cornelius Van Til’s epistemology and R. J. Rushdoony’s triune solution to the problem of the “one and the many” and applied these truths to the physical world around me. As surely as the triune God who lives has created the “stuff” that exists, He organized His work according to a pattern, and therefore, created it knowable. He has spoken words and He has spoken numbers.  He has revealed Himself and His beauty in both word and number, and He has hidden Himself and His beauty in both word and number. Mr. Nickel opened the doors to this world where number, sequence, pattern, unity, and plurality are perpetually speaking the beauty, goodness, and truth of God’s wonder-filled universe. Read more…

Happy Birthday, GKC

g-k-chestertonby Marc Hays

One-Hundred and thirty-nine years ago today, Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in Kensington, England.  I tend to keep track of the anniversary of his birth, because I was born 100 years and 2 days later.  (It would be way cooler if the “2 days” part was not there, but it is what it is.)

Since you’re here, and  given the small amount of time you have to devote to reading blog posts, I am going to give you the gift of brevity for Mr. Chesterton’s birthday, i.e. I’m going to hush and let GKC speak for himself.  If the best gift you can give an author is to quote him, then Mr. Chesterton, having perfected the art of  quotability, must be one of the easiest people in the world to buy for. Read more…

To Be With Christ

by Marc Hays

Earlier this year I was sick. I slept most of a Saturday. On Sunday afternoon I tried to redeem some of the time by listening to a few lectures on my ipod. Shortly after beginning to listen, my six-year-old son, Seth, came into the bedroom and asked to lie down beside me. I told him that he could and rolled over on my side. He laid himself down behind me and began to rub my back. For the next three hours, Seth did nothing except spend time with me. He would periodically rub my back and ask if it felt good. Sometimes he would watch the clock countdown on the ipod and tell me how many minutes that I had left in a particular lecture. He didn’t need toys, books, or movies to keep him occupied, because he was completely occupied by simply being with me.

I remember reading once that Jonathan Edwards recommended using a time of illness as an opportunity for self-examination. This should come as no surprise; there weren’t many periods in one’s life that Edwards did not recommend as being appropriate times for self-examination. He said that one should not see the illness as a direct result of one’s sin, but wasting the time spent flat on your back would be foolish.

Christ in the House of Mary and MarthaSo there I lay–flat on my back, receiving the undivided attention of my son, examining myself, and realizing that I am much more like Martha than I am like Mary. I need purposes, goals, aspirations–something to “do” to show my love. Give me a schedule or a deadline, and I can prove that I mean business. But like Mary, Seth knows of a better way to show devotion. He can just sit at my feet, or lie beside me as it were, because he loves me. Where I am, is where he wants to be.

Paul told the Philippians that for him to remain in the flesh meant fruitful labor, but to depart and be with Christ was far better. When it comes to “fruitful labor”, I know how to keep a day jam-packed with profitable things, but Paul taught us that the better thing is “to be with Christ”. I don’t think I’ve begun to understand “being with Christ”. Maybe I can begin to see by remembering the guileless attention of my son, who paid his father the highest honor imaginable by simply wanting to be with him.

Romeikes Lose Battle, Jesus Still Wins War

by Marc Hays

Justice PeekingIt comes as no surprise to hear that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Romeike’s continued asylum in these United States.   Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, a George W. Bush administration appointee, said, “Germany is not forbidding home-schooling … It’s not like saying you can’t teach them at home in the evenings.”  This is, of course, utter nonsense, but that is not surprising either.  “W” appointed him.  Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association related this type of thinking to telling a Jew that their children could eat kosher at home every evening even though the state will be feeding them bacon for 6 hours per day for 180 days per year.  How is that eating kosher?  How is forcing Christians to subjugate their children to the religion of the German state not religious persecution? If you think Germany does not have a state religion, you can read more about that here.

This news comes to us as bad news, and it is.  Anytime a God-ordained liberty, like a father raising his children (Deut. 6), loses to tyranny, it’s bad news, and it’s bad news for all of us.  This ruling is indicative of our court system, our attorney general, our president and his administration, but worse yet is that they don’t define us.  We define them. The people of the United States elected Barak Hussein Obama to four more years.  President George W. Bush appointed Judge Sutton to his bench.  We granted them these powers, so they are indicative of us as a nation.

So, this is bad news, but this is not the end of the story.  Read more…

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