The Kuyperian Commentary

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

Archive for the tag “Church”

An Exhortation on the Supreme Court Decision

Guest Post by Alan Stout

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision to not deny federal benefits to homosexuals that enter into a false marriage covenant. I thought I would address this issue.

In small ways and great, we have given in to false teaching and false gods. We are timid before the gods of tolerance, sensuality, entertainment and comfort. We became ensconced behind our Church walls, boldly proclaiming our outrage over sin, other people’s sin, in closed meetings of other like-minded Christians. We have proclaimed “a different path” to those already walking that direction and rejoice that prophetic ministry has found such receptive ears.

The Church of Christ bares much responsibility for the woeful state of marriage in our nation. It is not because we have not spoken out against sodomy or homosexual relationships, we have, but because we have done so while leaving out the biblical purposes of marriage, making it an idol to be added to our shrine.

In and of itself, these in-house conversations are not sinful. Going to a conference on marriage in order to build yours up is not a bad thing. The problem is this: in practice, we as the Church have undercut the very foundations we purport to love. The result of this erosion is adultery, no fault divorce, and now the Federal tearing down of marriage itself (See Antonin Scalia’s dissent as the Supreme Court over-turned the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA).

The Church owns this sin and here is where we bought it. We have so divorced marriage from the original purpose given by God that we have turned it into a covenant of shortsighted selfishness, failing to think generationally about what God has joined together. From creation one of the chief purposes of holy matrimony (marriage) has been the procreation of children. The Church has traditionally recognized this and proclaimed it during the wedding ceremony. For example the 1609 Book of Common Prayer, after which many of our American Christian weddings have been patterned, declares three reasons marriage was given to man.  Here is how wedding ceremonies in the West[1] have traditionally opened:

At the day and time appointed for solemnization of Matrimony, the persons to be married shall come into the Body of the Church with their friends and neighbours: and there standing together, the Man on the right hand, and the Woman on the left, the Priest shall say,

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

Modern Sample Call to Worship

Dear friends and family, with great affection for ___ and ___ we have gathered together to witness and bless their union in marriage. To this sacred moment they bring the fullness of their hearts as a treasure and a gift from God to share with one another. They bring the dreams which bind them together in an eternal commitment. They bring their gifts and talents, their unique personalities and spirits, which God will unite together into one being as they build their life together. We rejoice with them in thankfulness to the Lord for creating this union of hearts, built on friendship, respect and love.

Our President, Barack Obama, tweeted out immediately after the decision, “love is love.” Mr. President, the Church has been saying that for years… to our shame. May we repent, may we go forward to the garden-city, may we say with our Lord to those who marry today, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” That is a significant part of marriage and unless providentially hindered, children are mandated by God. This needs to be embraced and extolled in every marriage and in the Church.

The culture of sodomy is, in the end, death. There is no future in the sexual activity of homosexuals, their homes die with them. What a shame that the Church has bought into this same culture.

I propose that we do a few things to counter this trend:

1.     Pastors, teach and fight the anti-family trend in this war. Extol the cultural mandate, think generationally, preach from Psalm 127 and 128 and do not undercut the force of the blessing of children with stupid statements like, “some men’s quivers are smaller than others and they hold only one or two arrows (127:5).” Teach that it is a real blessing to have a table surrounded by little olive plants (128:3).

2.     Pastors again, let me urge you to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony unless the reasons for marriage are clearly articulated, we must preach the whole counsel of God in this situation.

3.     Saints of almighty God, do not neglect the clear teaching of Scripture. Embrace the mandate to be fruitful and multiply, to deny this is death – in effect the same death the sodomite revels in. You too think generationally, long to see your children’s children (Psalm 128:6).

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[1]  The Eastern Church also contains a blessing that asks that the couple “multiply” like unto Jacob and Rachael.

Alan Stout is the Associate Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl.

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We are what we Worship: Idols and their Makers

by Uri Brito

John Calvin

Calvin c. 1554.

Human beings are a marketable people. Those who shop around for us see our lifestyles and develop an entire strategy aimed at purchasing our wants at an exceedingly rapid speed. But not only are we easily bought, we are also very creative. We are idol-makers, to quote Calvin’s famous line. We are industrious, and the consequences of our hard work are a boost to the Baal factories and stock.

Unfortunately, this type of productivity is not encouraging. St. John quietly, but forcefully exhorted us in the last verse of I John to keep ourselves from idols. We have not heeded the apostle’s words. We have approached the idols and bargained with them about producing an entire new line of idol fashion and idol currency. We take the idol money and invest it into our own companies. We are good at what we do. In fact, we produce the best idols in town. We make them in all colors and shapes. We sell them at a discount during the Christmas holidays. All we want is for everyone to share in our pleasures. We make idols and the idols make us. We are what we worship. The more we consume the more marketable we become for the more sophisticated idol seller. We become like the gods. We treasure their style. They roam around speechless and blind, and we perceive that to be the new fad.

Read more…

Putin, Manning, the NSA’s Verizon, Pop Tarts, Drones, and Me

Nathan and David

Nathan and King David

by Luke Welch

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila announced on state television that they are divorcing. Sometimes politicians hold these things together. But Putin’s 30 year marriage is ending. And so some argument or division that has been private within them now for who knows the length of time, is bubbling to the surface. And now we all know it.

Speaking of the former USSR, do you remember the KGB? How they used to read people’s mail? That used to be scary, but now it’s the cost of living without fear of imminent doom.

Speaking of imminent doom, it sure seems like the cap-gun and Pop Tart pistol patrolling has gotten out of hand. These school administrations must know something we don’t about the deep dark motives of 8 year olds. It may not have been a simple gun. It might have been that the Pop Tart resembled Idaho where you can carry a rifle over your shoulder in town. A child like that needs help. Or maybe they know something we don’t.

Read more…

Sex, Magic, Power, and Christ

by Luke A Welch

800px-Veronese,_The_Marriage_at_Cana_(1563)

The Marriage at Cana, Veronese, (1563)

God created the world full of magic. He used his own divine magic to make men and women who would imitate him with glorious human magic. And God said it was very good.

He told them to fill the world with his glory, to be one flesh, to be fruitful and to multiply, to conquer the land with his power. And all along he had a plan that their obedience would, by image, preach the picture of his own union with humanity, his own son coming to conquer and be one with his creation. Glory. And divine magic.

Magic is a word in need of conquest. It’s a great word. A word for people who like Lewis and Tolkien. A word for people who treasure wonder and who long for great, out of nowhere surprises. The problem is that there are some very specific and awful actions, forbidden by God that take up some of the real estate of the word magic. When I say magic, I am not talking about these things. I am not describing communion with demons, or the usurpation and manipulation of spiritual power. What I AM describing is the wonder and surprise at watching God do mysterious and powerful things. When you are a child, and the world is full of wonder, as it should be, you think of magic in this way. And that is what I am unwilling to give up. I intend to grow the land of real magic and crowd out the perverse. That’s how dominion works, and that’s what we should do even in language. So, you see, I am saying: don’t freak out if you see the “m” word.

And now for my next trick:

Read more…

The Righteous Anger of a Four-Year Old

By Uri Brito

Response to Comments: I am pleased with the enormous response. As of now there have been over 500 views. The vast majority of responses were very supportive and expressed in one way or another the sadness, but also the hope that a new generation will turn this evil tide in our country.

As I expected there were a couple of negative responses. The responses can be summarized in the following manner: “Abortion is such a difficult issue, and to expose a four year old to such an issue can be unhealthy.” One comment referred to the topic of abortion as “intense.” I do not wish to spend too much time with a lengthy response, except to say the following: Read more…

What I Learned About Education from James K.A. Smith

I recently interviewed Calvin College professor of Philosophy and author, James K.A. Smith. Dr. Smith has written books such as Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, the forthcoming Embodying the Kingdom, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?, and more.

We primarily discussed his book, Desiring the Kingdom, and he made some points that I thought were worth revisiting.

First, when it comes to education, we are going to educate primarily based on our answer to the question, “What is man?” If we imagine humans to be consumers, our education will look similar to public education. If we imagine humans to be primarily thinkers, we will educate another way. But, if we imagine humans to be primarily worshipers, then our education will look another way.

Read more…

What if Church and State Aren’t Separated? A Comparison

I spent eight days in Ireland recently, and while I was there I was struck by the way the Irish people approach their government–along with similarities I’ve seen in my travels in other European countries. What follows is an overly simplistic description of that approach. I want to compare it to the approach we take in the States. The result will be not so much a judgment of which is better or worse, but rather what the ramifications of each are.At the Crossroads

The United States is a nation of people whose identity is defined by two things: Read more…

Mahaney Steps Down

C.J. MahaneySovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) President C.J. Mahaney announced yesterday he will leave his position on April 12 to focus on pastoring his new church in Louisville, Ky. The announcement follows months of controversy related to the ministry, including a lawsuit against SGM that alleges cover-ups of child abuse in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mahaney’s announcement came after the resignation last month of SGM board chairman John Loftness and board member Craig Cabaniss.

Mahaney took a leave of absence as SGM president in 2011 but the SGM board reinstated him in early 2012. Following his reinstatement, Mahaney relocated SGM’s offices from Maryland to Louisville and started a church there.

In a blog post, Mahaney cited an imminent SGM transition to a “new polity” as the reason for the change and said plans for his resignation began in October 2012. Mahaney said he is “eager to once again devote my attention to pastoral ministry. Returning to the pulpit of a local church last September has only confirmed for me what I believe God has called and gifted me to do: pastor, preach, and fulfill a role in building the local church for the glory of God.”

In a November response to the lawsuit, SGM spokesman Tommy Hill noted that “the suit does not allege child abuse by any current or former pastor of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege child abuse by any employee or staff of SGM or any church associated with SGM. The suit does not allege any child abuse occurred on any SGM property or any church associated with SGM. SGM leaders provided biblical and spiritual direction to those who requested this guidance.”

Thomas Kidd is contributing scholar to The Kuyperian Commentary. His newest book is Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots, published in 2011 with Basic Books.

This article was originally published at WORLD.

Bill O’Reilly, Robert Jeffress, “The Bible,” and the Truth of God’s Revelation

Bill O’Reilly had on Pastor Robert Jeffress of The First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX. Jeffress gained a lot of attention during the 2012 presidential elections when he opposed Romney—in favor of Perry—on the grounds that Romney was a Mormon. Jeffress argued that we needed an evangelical in the White House.

O’Reilly’s segment focused on whether the Bible should be understood literally or allegorically. The unstable Fox News host began the segment with an irresponsible remark:

“The Bible,” which was co-created by Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, “highlights fundamentalist Christian beliefs.”

The History Channel show can be debated (at another time), but the opening assumption already triggers the insult of ignorance of anyone who believes such events to be literal. “Fundamentalist Christian beliefs” is the media’s way of perpetuating evangelical Christians as theological dinosaurs. Further, it carries on the abusive stereo-types usually addressed towards Islamic radicals. If you are a fundamentalist, you are in some way capable of doing things the typical enlightened human being would never do. Read more…

A New Conservative Manifesto?

DonQuixoteunhorsed

“How to revive the flagging fortunes of the Republican Party might matter to some people, but it’s not a question that should concern principled conservatives. Crypto-conservatives aplenty stand ready to shoulder that demeaning task.”

Several weeks ago a piece appeared over at The American Conservative touting itself as a manifesto-of-sorts for a re-envisioned and reinvigorated conservatism: “Counterculture Conservatism: the right needs less Ayn Rand, more Flannery O’Connor.” Before the literary among you get excited, I should warn you that author Andrew J. Bacevich interacts with O’Connor nowhere in the article; in fact, by the end, I felt a little like Inigo Montoya (“you keep using that name; I do not think it means who you think it means”). Anyway, Bacevich’s opening lines (quoted above) are one measure consolation, one measure exhortation, and just a splash of knowing self-congratulation

True enough, a lot of people predicted that if and when Republicans lost the 2012 election, the party would attempt to reinvent itself, distancing itself from “loser issues” like the sanctity of biblical marriage, or the fight against abortion (of course, the party had already begun to do this when they put Mitt Romney in the race, but what’s a few months one way or the other to the long memory of history?). ‘Republican’ and ‘Conservative’ might be related terms, but fortunately they are not perfect synonyms, and many of the latter woke up and found themselves too “principled” to remain attached to the former. I followed the author this far because, truthfully, I was in that number and could say, without irony, “thank God for conservatism,” but he (in this case, the article’s author) wasn’t finished yet.

What, then, is Bacevich’s vision of conservatism in the coming epoch?

“The conservative tradition I have in mind may not satisfy purists. It doesn’t rise to the level of qualifying as anything so grandiose as a coherent philosophy. It’s more of a stew produced by combining sundry ingredients. The result, to use a word that ought warm the cockles of any conservative’s heart, is a sort of an intellectual slumgullion.”

His recipe for this mess of pottage includes, among other thinkers, heavy doses of Flannery O’Connor (he drops her name a second time, but by now I’m even more skeptical that he could explain satisfactorily why she belongs in the discussion) and Wendell Berry (who recently came out in support of gay marriage, which will seem more relevant in a minute)—“don’t skimp” he writes.

Next, there are the sweeping, inspirational value statements about the human responsibility of stewardship—“preserving our common inheritance and protecting that which possesses lasting value”—the importance of community—“ Conservatives understand that the most basic community, the little platoon of family, is under unrelenting assault”—awareness of pain and suffering—“conservatives also believe in Original Sin, by whatever name”—and patriotism—“America is amber waves of grain, not SEAL Team Six.”

Bacevich finally descends to the level of clear details in outlining the task that is before the next generation conservative.

“The key to success will be to pick the right fights against the right enemies, while forging smart tactical alliances. (By tactical, I do not mean cynical.) Conservatives need to discriminate between the issues that matter and those that don’t, the contests that can be won and those that can’t….So forget about dismantling the welfare state. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and, yes, Obamacare are here to stay. Forget about outlawing abortion or prohibiting gay marriage. Conservatives may judge the fruits produced by the sexual revolution poisonous, but the revolution itself is irreversible.”

He warns against a Quixotic tilting at windmills, while adopting for himself the conciliatory tone of the Don on his deathbed, claiming that there are no birds in last year’s nests. I mention Don Quixote, but the reader may also be reminded of the first-century Sadducees with their “smart tactical alliances.” This conservatism begins to sound less countercultural and more concultural or syncultural. One could hope that the author simply intends the Church to play a larger role than the State in transforming culture, but churches are mentioned as a kind of afterthought in the close of his manifesto and largely as a sheepish concession that they all “may be flawed.” The piece reads instead, as if conservatives simply have bigger (largely financial) fish to fry.

More recently, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman wrote an article (also for The American Conservative) entitled “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause,” arguing,

“There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship [a happy marriage] with the person they love.”

But his essay’s final remarks strike a now familiar chord that complicates the simplicity of that emotional appeal:

“We are at a crossroads. I believe the American people will vote for free markets under equal rules of the game—because there is no opportunity or job growth any other way. But the American people will not hear us out if we stand against their friends, family, and individual liberty.”

Neither Bacevich nor Huntsman is the force behind this shift, but they are both good indications of where the winds are blowing. Both outline a strategy that feigns compassion (or possibly misunderstands real compassion as a secondary end) in order to gain influence, especially in financial/economic arenas. These Conservatives are simply maneuvering to become the new Republicans and making moderate the new conservative.

Fortunately, the Christian remains more conservative than the Conservative. Kuyper would remind us that the state is meant to restrain sin out of love for the nation and concern for its culture; love and concern based in and upon the truly charitable, Gospel-oriented mission of the Church, where liberty and equality truly abide.

So, how to revive the flagging fortunes of the conservative movement might matter to some people, but it’s not a question that should concern principled Christians. Crypto-conservatives aplenty stand ready to shoulder that demeaning task.

 

Sean Johnson is a graduate student of Literature at the University of Dallas (TX) and husband to a beautiful pregnant woman.

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