Some links you might find interesting/fun/disturbing...
Perhaps my favorite is the New York Times article, Evangelicals Find Themselves in the Midst of a Calvinist Revival, featuring a picture of Mark Dever looking too cool for school. Leave it to the New York Times to be about a decade late on a religion story. It is not really surprising that the NY Times sees the
Calvinism resurgence as a new phenomena. They typically treat religious events that
happen with the unwashed masses between the coasts as startling archaeological
finds, discovering something new about a culture that they don't understand and
that frightens them a bit. All the news that is fit to print indeed. Next week look for the Times to report on an impish German priest who nailed a list of 95 Theses to a church in Wittenberg. The article itself is fairly balanced, recognizing that Calvinism/Reformed theology is a flashpoint in the church. I guess when you are reporting on something you know absolutely nothing about it is easier to do so from a neutral position, unlike the NY Times normal, consistent and painfully predictable stance on most other issues.
Speaking of Mark Dever, Jonathan Leeman writing at the Gospel Coalition looks at the question of authority in the church and How Mark Dever Passes Out Authority. Needless to say the title itself is pretty off-putting as I thought Jesus said that all authority had been granted to Him, not to officials in the church. Most of the points are related to ecclesiastical authority and reflect our pastor, and especially in large churches the "senior pastor", position. Having said that I think there are a lot of good suggestions here if you are going to have a traditional church anyway. Mark Dever doesn't give the Sunday evening sermon and restricts how often he does the Sunday morning sermon. I especially liked number 6, give young teachers the chance to make mistakes. A lot of pastors are terrified to give up control and let someone else teach for fear of them saying something wrong. Younger men need the opportunity to make mistakes and learn, having them always sitting in pews is not going to lead to young men becoming men who know how to teach.
John Piper, as he often does, hammers it on the issue of women in combat. His post, The Folly of Men Arming Women for Combat, is partly in response to the recent news that the Marine Corps was postponing the implementation of the requirement that female recruits complete three pull-ups. Three. As he points out as only John Piper can do, the issue is not really about pull-ups at all:
For thousands of years of military wisdom and noble instincts that
reasoning would have been unintelligible. Of course, there are women of
valor. But for a male commander-in-chief to say that since they are
willing to die in combat, therefore we should arm them for it, is a
non-sequitur, and a shame on the president’s manhood.
It’s a non-sequitur because more factors than valor go into fitting a
person for combat, and it’s a shame because true manhood inclines a man
to fight to protect women; it does not incline him to arm women for the
frontline of combat to defend him.
That’s the main issue, not pull-ups. The main issue is: how God has
designed manhood and womanhood to honor each other and to create a
cultural choreography where men and women flourish.
Exactly. Regardless of your position on Christians serving in the military and the employment of violence in general, something should strike you as terribly wrong when men send women to fight wars. I wish more men would stand up and say no more to the headlong rush to erase the God given and designed differences in men and women. Sadly even in the church it is easier to parrot back the contemporary cultural and acceptable party line rather than standing up for the truth even when, or better yet especially when, it runs counter to the spirit of the age.
The generally liberal Mennonite World Review reports that the first openly homosexual pastor is being ordained in the Mennonite Church USA, Conference to license gay pastor. This is the latest move by the "progressive" wing of the church to celebrate sin and throw Scripture out the door. I would expect this to lead to individual congregations leaving the MC USA just as many Episcopal churches left the main denomination after repeated flaunting of disobedience by embracing what Scripture condemns. The division between "conservative" and "liberal" Mennonites is as stark as any in the church. We are used to conservative Mennonites in our area where women wear coverings and modest clothing and the idea of a lesbian being ordained is unthinkable.
In some political linkage, two stories recognizing the 50th anniversary of the launch of the "War On Poverty". One is from the National Review, The Fifty-Year War and the other from the CATO Institue, War on Poverty at 50 — Despite Trillions Spent, Poverty Won. From the CATO article:
Over, the last 50 years, the government spent more than $16 trillion to fight poverty.
Yet today, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty. That’s
scarcely better than the 19 percent living in poverty at the time of
Johnson’s speech. Nearly 22 percent of children live in poverty
today. In 1964, it was 23 percent.
How could we have spent so much and achieved so little?
It’s not just a question of the inefficiency of government
bureaucracies, although the multiplicity of programs and overlapping
jurisdiction surely means that there is a lack of accountability within
the system. Rather, the entire concept behind how we fight poverty is
The vast majority of current programs are focused on making poverty
more comfortable — giving poor people more food, better shelter, health
care, etc. — rather than giving people the tools that will help them
escape poverty. As a result, we have been successful in reducing the
worst privations of poverty. Few Americans live with out the basic
necessities of life, yet neither do they rise out of poverty. Moreover,
their children are also likely to be poor.
Our goal should not be a society where people struggle along in
poverty, dependent on government for just enough to survive, but rather a
society where as few people as possible live in poverty, and
where every American can reach his or her full potential.
Bam! I recognize that those are conservative and libertarian respectively By any measure the score is Poverty 1, The Poor 0. In spite of billions spent in transfer payments, an ever larger bureaucracy and non-stop expansion of the ranks of those receiving payments, it is impossible to suggest that the poor have been helped.We need as a nation to change how we think about the problem of poverty because throwing money at it hasn't helped. We especially need to change how we address poverty as the church because there are far to many Christians that think that Jesus calling us to care for the poor means Caesar taking money from some by force and giving to someone else.
A couple of items on the increased militarization of our police forces, creating the infrastructure for the equivalent of a standing army in our midst. The first is from the American Conservative and states it plainly, How Police Became A Standing Army. The article references Radley Balko who wrote the outstanding Rise of the Warrior Cop. Radley is starting a new blog for the Washington Post focused on civil liberties, police overreach as well as "asset forfeiture, over-criminalization, prosecutorial misconduct,
policing strategies and tactics, prisons, motorist issues, sex crimes,
checkpoints, zoning laws, eminent domain abuses, TSA, free speech, and
the 4th Amendment". So lots of stuff!
Al Mohler writes a response on the topic of contraception among evangelicals: Al Mohler responds: The evangelical unease over contraception. As Dr. Mohler points out:
For evangelicals, everything changed with the advent of The Pill. And
evangelical acceptance of the oral contraceptives (and, beyond that,
other forms of birth control) also happened without any adequate
theological reflection. Today’s generation of evangelicals is indeed
reconsidering birth control, and theological concerns are driving that
I think that is 100% true. Issues of contraception, family size, adoption, fertility treatements, dealing with infertility, etc. really got away from the church and now we are trying to work through these questions theologically after many evangelicals have already embraced the prevailing cultural view.
One last link, this one dealing with farming from NPR, Here's How Young Farmers Looking For Land Are Getting Creative. The cost of land is the single biggest barrier to potential young farmers geting into farming. With land prices skyrocketing only the already wealthy farmers can afford to buy land, leading to more and more land in the hands of fewer "farmers" who operate more like corporations than farmers.It is a huge problem where we live and leads to a lot of younger Amish getting jobs rather than farming which is a huge area of concern for their leaders. The security of our food supply is one of the great cultural advantages of America and it is imperiled with a shrinking number of mega-farms raising monoculture crops and livestock and at the same time seeing more small towns in farm country wither away.