7/12/18

Exporting Social Justice: What happens when we send these ideas to the rest of the world?

By: David Harris

In consideration of the current swing in American evangelical circles toward social justice, especially in reference to the recent interdenominational conferences, it seems necessary to reflect on what I will call the “consequences of exportation” of social justice ideas to other parts of the world. Any individual who has traveled internationally and has stayed among evangelicals of other nations will be able to attest to the fact that biblically minded Christians in the United States have had a profound influence on the biblically minded church internationally. Our authors are read, our pastors listened to and our theological trends often adopted in churches throughout the world. The reason for this American influence on the international Christian community has everything to do with the freedom and prosperity that the United States has encouraged since its inception – our prosperity has allowed for our influence: the largest mission organizations, the biggest Christian booksellers, the most mega mega-churches and so on. While there have been tremendous blessings from this prosperity and influence, there have also been negative consequences because influence can very easily be corrupted and misused.


The point is this: with the great influence of the American church comes a great responsibility to export biblical truth, not just in an abstract sense, but in carefully considering how theological ideas and constructs are going to affect not only the American church, but the church abroad. And so we come to the exportation of the idea of social justice: how will we affect the international Christian community?

First, for the sake of clarification, the assumed application of social justice is basically this: traditionally or currently oppressed people groups demand or expect contrition and/or repentance from the perpetrators of said oppression (qualifier: the perpetrators don’t need to be alive today, as their posterity can/should repent for them – though it is not necessary to have ancestor perpetrators, as ethnic and cultural markers also are cause for contrition as they may indicate current status of privilege). Once ongoing contrition has been established, the perpetrators need to stand in solidarity with the oppressed group and pursue vague goals of “justice” and “equality,” especially agreeing with the oppressed group on views of history, justice, privilege and even economic policy.  (NOTE: It does not matter if the perpetrators and/or oppressed were individually Christian at the time of injustice – the point of applying social justice is just that, social, and the concern is the reconciliation of both parties)

To develop a picture of what this might look like in several places throughout the world, I’d like to apply the social justice standards to a number of ethnic/cultural hotspots (historical and current). To avoid redundancy, I will stay within roughly the last one hundred years.

1) Turkey

Oppressors: Turks          
Oppressed: Armenian Christians

In 1915 and over several years following, well over 1 million Armenian Christians in Turkey were systematically exterminated by the Turkish regime. As the Turkish government has yet to issue any recognition or apology, it is especially crucial for Turkish people, especially Turkish Christians, to recognize and repent for the deeds of their ancestors and for the privilege they enjoy in a nation that has largely been expunged of Armenians. While obviously not all Turks were involved, the application of social justice demands a collective responsibility among Turks in general that created the environment for the genocide to occur.
               
2) China/Japan

Oppressors: Japan          
Oppressed: Chinese throughout northeastern China

While the holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany was egregiously horrific, the actual numbers of those killed somewhat pale in contrast to the genocide perpetrated against the Chinese by the Japanese during their period of expansion in the early 1930s through the mid 1940s during World War II. While death camps were not set up exactly in a way that mirrored the Nazi Holocaust, the horrors of the invasion defy imagination – execution contests, “rape camps,” and even reports of cannibalism. While social justice demands that the Japanese repent for the gross sins committed during the “Rape of Nanking,” Japanese Christians should be the most vocal, as many of their ancestors more than likely served in the Japanese military during the genocide. When comparing Japanese and Chinese standards of living, personal income and social standing in general, there is blatant inequity in privilege – Japanese are far more affluent and live in a system of much greater personal freedom and security when compared to Chinese. Should not Japanese Christians be the most outspoken and lead by example in contrition for these acts that their predecessors perpetrated, as well as recognize the privilege that they enjoy because of the crimes committed against their neighbors?

3)  Germany/Eastern Europe

Oppressors: Germans and Nazi Allies     
Oppressed: Jews living in Germany and Eastern Europe

An especially egregious crime of the 20th century, the Holocaust stands out for its systematic planning of genocide of Jews in Europe. The fact that the genocide was perpetrated out of a traditionally Christian nation speaks volumes – the Christians of Germany must have an attitude of repentance toward their Jewish neighbors, and participate in collective truth-telling about the part their ancestors played  or didn’t – whether or not their ancestors participated directly, there must be collective contrition for creating an atmosphere that allowed for the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi regime – it does not matter that many, even prominent Luftwaffe soldiers were against what was going on or had no knowledge of it (for example, Erwin Rommel), the collective responsibility and necessary repentance must be felt from those with German blood wherever they are in the world, especially considering that they continue to benefit from their privilege in Germany today.  

4) Rwanda
Oppressors: Hutus, Tutsis, Belgians, French, United Nations, United States
Oppressed: Hutus, Tutsis, Belgian soldiers
   
The Rwandan genocide is one of those horrid events that sticks out in collective memory because of how recent it was – only 24 years ago. Because of this, many are still alive who were either victims of mistreatment at the hands of the Hutu extremists, or were actually participants in the massacre of Tutsi and Hutu moderates from April to June, 1994. While the genocide was primarily a Hutu on Tutsi affair, the collective responsibility stems back over a century, back to the traditional animosity between the two Rwandan tribes, the favoring of the Tutsi over the Hutu during colonization by the Belgians, the supplying of training of the Hutu extremists by the French Government prior to the genocide, the inaction of the United Nations during the genocide and the failure of the Clinton administration to accurately label the event, what it was, a genocide.

While the Nazi perpetrated Holocaust may have been shocking for its systematic efficiency, the shock of the Rwandan Genocide stems from its premeditation and grotesque brutality. Neighbors killed neighbors. Friends killed friends. No one outside Rwanda intervened for over 100 days, and by the time intervention occurred, at least 800,000 Rwandans were dead and millions more displaced. Since the number of those involved in the genocide was so high, many will never be brought to justice.

5) South Africa

Oppressors: British, Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaners, Apartheid Government, current government, black South Africans, White South Africans  
Oppressed: Zulu, Xhosa, Ntebele, Swati, Shangaan (etc.), Afrikaners, black South Africans, white South Africans, colored South Africans, bushman

A brief history: when the Dutch colonists and French Huguenots settled the Western Cape of South Africa in the mid-1600s (after Portuguese discover nearly 200 years earlier), they found a number of native tribes, many who had been oppressing each other for long periods of time. The Dutch settlers practiced some slavery (as did the African tribes already present). Since the Dutch were white and had guns, this made them the worst of the lot. The British came in the mid-1700s and seized the Dutch colony by force. Many of the Dutch fled north into the interior where they were met by the Zulus. The Zulus had been oppressing… essentially everyone around them for some time and were building an empire of sorts. The Voortrekkers (as they were called) defeated the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River – interestingly, their relationship improved afterwards. After about 40 years, several colonies were coexisting in South Africa – the British and the Zulus oppressed each other through armed conflict, the British eventually being victorious. The British then decided to seize more of the Boers (as the Dutch were not called since they weren’t really Dutch any more) land. The Boers won the first war with some of the most incredible long range shooting in history. A decade later the British got smart and built concentration camps to put the Boer families in. The Boers lost.

The British ran the show in South Africa from the early to mid 1900s. Besides Christianity, education, hospitals, roads, technology (to the degree that the first heart transplant was done in South Africa), a modernized economy, international business investment and economic stability, the British colonial government brought only oppression. In fact, the oppression was so bad that a young Mohandas Gandhi (of later fame during the Indian Independence Movement) protested so much about being segregated as “colored” and forced to use the same facilities as black Africans (who he saw himself as superior to) that he was put in jail. This helped jump-start his career of not doing things authorities said to do on purpose in order to get arrested. He was very successful in his career, especially posthumously.

After World War II, the British left South Africa to a white minority that immediately began a policy of “apartheid,” which after every systematic genocide mentioned above and every similar event in human history, was the (in the words of Nelson Mandela) “greatest evil in the history of the world.” Black South Africans were oppressed and occasionally murdered by the white ruling party until international pressure and internal upheaval forced an end to the policy and the beginning of the true freedom of democracy – as is popular throughout Africa and with democracy in general, the first free election resulted in one party essentially ruling the country by an 8-2 margin, so far for 24 years.
    
The oppression of the whites during apartheid was reversed through “Black-Economic-Empowerment,” a policy that essentially seizes capital from white businesses when they reach a certain income bracket. Incredibly, this policy saw an exodus of business and a reversal of economic progress in the country. The rapid economic downturn made everyone in the country feel oppressed. At the same time an unprecedented rise in crime led to increased misery all around the country, but especially on the rural farms where white farmers were targeted for murder at genocidal numbers. In 2018 the government decided that all of South Africa’s problems came from the Dutch and British coming in the first place. They also decided that the best fix for this would be taking land from white people and putting it under government control, which they call, “justice.” In the midst of all of this, the “colored” people (“mixed-race” to Americans) were essentially the most oppressed, as they were too small to enjoy any influence. To complicate matters, people from all over Africa are fleeing their countries and coming to South Africa because it’s still better than wherever they’re coming from. The response from some groups of South Africans has been to ostracize, beat and murder them. This is called “xenophobia.”
By the way, the majority of South Africans claim some sort of Christianity.

So, my social-justice-advocating-friend, as you have advocated, those who bear collective and historical  guilt need to recognize past faults, make restitution and identify/rectify current privilege enjoyed  from these past transgressions. I give you 5 international examples of where this should be applied, the last being perhaps the most difficult to sort.

Good luck.

7/10/18

But what if abortion is illegal?

by Frank Russo


There has been a lot of debate recently over abortion, and most of it is coming from a good place. That place being the pro-life place of course. The left no longer controls the debate on this subject and recently we have seen a resurgence in the movement due to the election of president Trump and the selection of a new supreme court judge. This nation has also seen a huge uptick in protest and screeching concerning the possible repeal of Roe V. Wade and unfortunately the arguments are the same tired and stale ones we have heard since the feminist movement decided it was a woman’s right to commit murder. The most prevalent one that has been seen recently is the argument concerning quality of life. The argument goes that children who are raised in single parent households or into a poor family will have a low quality of life, ergo it’s better that they never be born than have to go through said hardship. This is what I like to call the “Overall Happiness Argument” where the life of a child is gauged by its speculative future happiness in conjunction with a formula made up of social circumstances. This argument notably saw legitimate traction with Dr. Karl Brandt, Hitler’s personal physician, who used this argument to justify his euthanasia program in the 1930s. His was based on racial theory instead of social circumstances but it is the same argument. He was hanged for war crimes on October 16th, 1946 following the Nuremberg trials.

But his philosophy is well and alive with modern leftists. How do I see this as a racist proclamation? Good question, let me get into some statistics which may have a bearing on this case. 72% of black youths will grow up in a single parent household. This is an indisputable fact. 27% of black Americans live below the poverty line. That means that by leftist standards of the forty five million black people who live in the United States, 12,120,000 should either have been aborted or be susceptible to abortion at a philosophical level. This is just one segment of the minority population in America. Imagine how leftists must feel about Hispanics if 12,120,000 blacks shouldn’t be born under their philosophy? Or poor whites? This number for one demographic alone shows just how big this issue is and why its a cultural war that needs to be fought and won without and care for the feelings of our opponents.

I am not saying that all leftists want there to be no black people. Nor am I saying that they want all these abortions to happen. What I am sayings is that their philosophy leads to a complete collapse of morality and will eventually deteriorate to the dystopian point I have outlined for the black community. My evidence of this is that it already has. When Roe V. Wade was passed it was put forward that abortion was a necessary medical operation that would be done on a minimal scale for those that absolutely needed it. Another look at statistics can show us just how that has not been the case, especially in the year of 2018. There are 161 million women living in the United States. There are 1.2 million abortions performed in the United States each year with an unknown number of illegal abortions performed. That means that roughly 0.75% of women in the United States get abortions. By contrast 22,000 women a year are diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. 14,000 will die from it.Cancer treatment accounts for roughly 0.01% of necessary medical treatment women will receive  in a year. Women get abortions at seventy four times the rate that they will receive care for cancer. While not conclusive, (women get other diseases), it does show a disturbing trend. Women are using abortion, not as a necessary medical treatment, but as birth control.
This is irregardless of the fact that leftists seem to believe that a fetus is not life. A rock cannot turn into an eagle, and an eagle does not turn into a walrus. Ergo if something later “becomes” something then it always was that thing it was said to have “become”. The left also needs to stop telling people  that aren’t as privileged financially and in terms of family situations that they, for the good of society, shouldn’t have been born at all. My birth mother was promiscuous and had numerous children out of wedlock. She put us all up for adoption. She obviously wasn't ready to be a parent and her economic situation most likely was not good but I was adopted by a loving family and I love my life, warts and all, because I have Christ. Christ is what this country really needs to end abortion but in ending this I'm going to quote Dr. Seuss. Normally I’d think that childish but since the left weaponized the Lorax I have free reign.

“A persons a person, no matter how small”-Horton

6/21/18

The Horror of Wilsonisn Interventionism

By: Frank Russo

Robert E. Lee warned about the growth of the federal government leading to constant oversea intervention in foreign affairs. To a large extension he was correct but not in the initial phases.

The Spanish American war of 1898 was triggered by American journalism and can be seen as the final paint on the wall of the Monroe Doctrine, formally kicking Spain out of its last colonial remnants in the new world and guaranteeing American hegemony. In 1911 America would invade Mexico in response to Pancho Villa’s assaults along the Mexican-American border culminating in the first armored action in American military history.

However, these foreign entanglements were not what General Lee was warning about, at least not in spirit. These actions, as well as small scale actions in South America, were directly linked to American economic and military interests. With the exception of the acquisition of Guam and the Philippines, cases from the European style of imperialism can be applied. Hawaii was necessary for the maintenance of a Pacific fleet, Mexico and other Latin American countries needed to be kept stable and the Panama canal for easy access between oceans were all necessary steps towards securing American interests.

In 1914 however, things changed. With the election of the progressive father of American interventionism, Woodrow Wilson, to the office of the presidency things would change dramatically. Wilson saw democracy, or at least the American version of it, as the world's best form of government and sought to install it wherever possible. Prior to U.S entry into world war one in 1917, Wilson was involved in over 100 military actions in South America with the hopes of installing American style democracy. Countless lives were lost and the reputation of America still feels the effects of Wilson's rampage through South America.

Economics brought us into close proximity to the allies but Wilsonian sympathies brought us to the trenches. Simple facts kept us from equitable trade with both the central and allied powers during world war one. A shared language, and lack of a German naval blockade brought America, at least initially, into the economic fold of the British empire. Despite Wilson's promise to remain neutral the stunning battlefield successes of the central powers unnerved him. First the German proximity to Paris, then the Austrian Trentino offensive, the Ottoman Victory at Gallipoli and the push on the Suez canal worried him. To Wilson democracy in Europe was under threat of destruction.

What didn't help is the American media parroting of Allied propaganda such as the Rape of Belgium and the constant denouncement of “the Hun” as a barbaric race. German Americans at the American entry of the war were horribly molested, forced to take loyalty oaths and in a few cases German churches burned. The treatment of these men and women was reminiscent of Japanese internment at the beginning of world war two yet this is never taught in classrooms as to do so would undermine the glorifying of Wilson's principles.

The same reason stated for the us entry into the war are possibly the greatest indictments there of. The resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare around the isles of Britain and Ireland, (it wasn't the whole Atlantic as they'd have you believe), resulted in the sinking of the Lusitania, a  cruise liner which was pre warned before launch of German submarines and was carrying arms to England. This was a known fact. A fact the Germans thought would assume the angered Americans despite the fact that 100 of their citizens had been killed. Logic was lost on the American public and the Hun was so hated and lambasted by newspapers that a American senator who dared to bring up this fact was censured by his peers.

The Zimmerman telegram was the last nail in the coffin of American neutrality and the hypothetical military alliance between Germany and Mexico in event of America joining the allies ,(a proposal so detached from reality it might as well be on the moon), led Wilson to declare that the world must be made safe for democracy.

What followed was American entry into the war turning the tide, the collapse of four stabilizing empires, one a multiethnic conglomerate , and the collapse of a balance of power that had left Europe in relative peace since Napoleon. Wilson's fourteen points reflect two things. His desire to rewrite the world along American lines , and his complete detachment from the reality of the situation.

The creation of Poland, Ukraine and Yugoslavia angered Italy, (promised territory in the former Austro-Hungarian empire), The Newly formed Soviet Union,( who lost land in Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Eastern Poland, Ukraine and Belarus despite having suffered the most during the war), Germany,( as it lost 13% of it's land, coal and it's entire colonial empire not to mention it's reparations and the guilt clause, ) as well as China who was forced to cede the Liaodong Peninsula to Japan despite being an allied powers intact at the end of the war.

Japan would be emboldened by its territorial acquisitions to become increasingly imperialistic in Asia. Italy and Germany would quickly turn to authoritarianism and Russia would do the same while killing millions in forced famines and show trials which would have been prevented had Germany won the war and kept Ukraine as a client state. The Soviet Union likely never would've existed had there been a German victory on the Western front in world war one.

All these things, though some not directly, have much to do with Wilson's cavalier attitude about the superiority of his vision. A son of the south, he had seen the danger and horror of one people forcing their views of government on another and yet he sparked a long tradition of doing the same.

Despite the moral superiority of the second world war from the allied perspective the war would've been avoided had it not been for Wilson's intervention. In fact, the cold war would see a resumption of such attitudes with American lives being wasted in Vietnam, Korea and many other places in order to impose and American worldview on others. America has not sought to export our ideas through leading by example, but through force of Arms and that has much to do with Woodrow Wilson. Today we have the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan under Bush and those plus Libya and Yemen under Obama, (another Wilsonian but a much weaker one), to remind us of the failure of nation building and democratic election in these places.

We see a marked difference in president Trump, who so far has used economic and diplomatic pressure to gain his foreign policy objectives and this has resulted in much greater success. The cost of this summit in Indonesia came in the form of paper and money, not bullets, blood and tears and that is a model worth following more than any tyrannical progressive foreign policy .

6/14/18

Why North Korea May be Trump’s Ticket to Re-Election

By: Frank Russo

For two years we have heard a massive critique of the Trump white house as “unstable”, many media heads comparing a position in the Trump administration to being that of a revolving door. With the firing of numerous high profile individuals such as Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, pundits claimed that Trump was unstable and that the White House would be hamstrung due to inefficiencies. These fears and critiques were put to rest and even proved wrong however, this last Tuesday, when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a bilateral agreement towards peace.

What the media fails to understand is that President Trump, through grandiose and bombastic statements, in conjunction with economic pressure placed on China, was able to officially end the Korean war, which has been in a state of Armistice since 1953. No credit will be given but Mr. Trump should be feeling high and mighty at this point in time.

However, what does this mean for his election, or rather re-election chances? Well the economy is doing well. It’s doing really well actually. It’s doing so well that leftist political pundit Bill Maher wants a big recession to happen in order that President Trump not be re-elected. Let it be noted that Mr. Maher is worth millions of dollars and would not be affected by said recession he wishes upon the rest of us plebians. But the important part of what happened Tuesday is this. Trump’s executive populism works. Rex Tillerson was an  Exxonmobil executive and a stale conservative. He is the swamp. His initial hiring for a position of such prominence when it comes to foreign policy was certainly a sore point for many Trump supporters. However, Trump did the thing Trump is known for and is best at. He fired him and took charge. He stopped listening to his advisers and started to take drastic action into his own hands and we have success because of it.

Leftists will bemoan the fact that Trump didn’t achieve a full denuclearization agreement or that he did not address the human rights violations of North Korea but that’s just another example of critics of the president moving the goal post. He was able to sit down, face to face with the leader of North Korea and achieve some form of accord and agreement to continue working together in the future. This is something that hasn’t been achieved in 65 years and the critique that any administration prior to his could’ve done it is hamstrung by the fact that none of them did. In fact Barack Obama was offered a chance to do so when Dennis Rodman communicated Kim Jong Un’s desire to speak with the president and yet Rodman and Kim were both rebuffed by the foreign policy in retreat president.

So why do I say that this could mean Trump’s reelection? As I said it proves that Trumpism works. It proves that Trump’s bombastic rhetoric towards a bully in conjunction with his shrewd economic prowess in comparison to our other presidents worked. By putting economic pressure on China we were able to bring North Korea to the table with a position of strength that hasn’t been possible before. Everybody critiqued every single one of president Trump’s policies and denounced him as a lunatic. When he passed our tariffs on China numerous people screeched about negative effects on our economy. Within a week Kim Jong Un was summoned to China to have a conversation with the Chinese government. When Trump started using our military power to back up his bombastic responses to North Korean jingoism, it was Kim Jong Un who backed down and Guam remained untouched. Trump might possibly be the new Bismarck, with his fluency in RealPolitik and recognition of an economy’s importance to foreign policy.

I can only hope that president Trump will rewrite the Iran deal as shrewdly and cunningly as  to undercut the failings of the former administration. It’s just a shame that Mr. Trump inherited such a foreign policy mess but he’s quickly proving to be apt at cleaning it all up. Considering that Mr Trump ran on fixing the mistakes of president’s past and how he has deviated so far from the establishment line one has to say that he is succeeding and keeping these promises are vital to mobilizing the same base that elected him the last time and even turning some new voters.

(The views expressed are the views of the author)

5/7/18

On Remaining Humble in Modern Academia

By: Jonathan Harris

After reading Richard Weaver’s monumental work Ideas Have Consequences last semester I was struck with one characterization of the “ideal man” that has since been shaping the way I look at my own academic future. For a young seminary student like myself pursuing “Christ-likeness” was a given, but my eyes were never fully open to what that meant in relation to my academic career and my identity in connection with it. Let me explain.

Weaver roughly traces the concept of the ideal man from the time of Plato up through the modern age by focusing on three different characters: the philosopher/theologian, the gentleman, and the specialist. Simply stated, the philosopher/theologian ought to be the ideal man, not because he is the smartest, but because he is the wisest. He is the wisest because he understands the connections which exist between fields of study and in knowing such connections has a more direct understanding of the immaterial eternal world of ideals and principles. The gentleman who replaced the philosopher/theologian retained the noble moral code of the previous station without the other-worldly glow. In short, he was the man of tradition defending the world passed on to him, but without a transcendent standard to be self-conscious of. While it was the case that the vast majority of gentleman drew their precepts from religion, it was not a requirement to be religious in order to attain to the status. The gentleman gave way to the specialist as modernity waxed. This is the world we currently live in. If you’ve ever seen someone dressed up in a lab coat trying to sell you the newest invention or medicine you are witnessing the elevation of the specialist. The specialist understands his limited narrow field of study and that is about all he is expected to comprehend. Those in society elevate the specialist because he is the “best” in his field. Not all of this is wrong in every way, but there is a fundamental deceptive element to it, and it relates directly to Christ-likeness, academia, and humility.

You see, the specialist is in danger of catching a disease all men are prone to, but not all men are exposed to, at least not to the same degree. Call it a bad case of having a “big head.” The Apostle Paul talks about it in 1 Corinthians 8:1. “knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” Of course knowledge itself is not the problem, otherwise the Apostle’s reference to the “gift of knowledge” (12:8), or his multiple positive uses of the same term (i.e. 11:3) in the same epistle would make little sense. It is best to understand the warning as one of motivation and not education. It is the soil in which the seeds of knowledge are planted that prove to make the field inhospitable to the ideal of love. Academics is incapable of corrupting a heart, but a heart is capable of corrupting academics, and the heart of the classical philosopher/theologian has a much different purpose than the heart of the modern specialist.

The specialist approaches his field with an eye toward efficiency and success as chief virtues, and prestige and security as chief rewards. His is a world of competition against an ever shrinking group of participants the higher he climbs and the narrower his field becomes. To state it in a  vulgar way, the ivory tower has become the world where the nerds are finally able to gain the illusion of out-competing the jocks. I say “illusion”, because the nerds have simply found a field in which the jocks and most others simply do not compete for reasons usually having to do with pursuing other more traditional life goals.

Now, it is not wrong to pursue higher education. If it were, I would be the biggest hypocrite in the world. It is the way education is pursued, viewed, and used. The philosopher/theologian pursues education the way a loving man pursues his wife. He is not studying her to manipulate her. He does not view her like a stepping stone toward greater personal success. He does not use her strengths to boost his career. He pursues her because he loves her. He wants to know her because he cares about her. Romance is relational, and so is wisdom. The philosopher/theologian has a soul captivated with the mysteries of the divine and dives into the deep end knowing he will never explore the depths of the sea of learning as long as he lives. No academic program can contain it. It is a pursuit which never ends. The result of such a pursuit is a humble well-rounded man of wisdom. He knows he has merely scratched the surface. He knows his place is that of the passive observer attempting to comprehend principles set in place by someone far greater than him. He does not manipulate the world around him but uses the wisdom he obtains to faithfully occupy whatever station he possesses. If the philosopher/theologian has any responsibility it can be summarized with one word: duty.

The beauty of the philosopher/theologian is that any person is capable of being one. Academic accolades are not required, just a love for truth. Understanding one’s role as an inheritor of a tradition, culture, and religion are prerequisites however. The specialist often has a hard time seeing beyond his own nose because he has set out to make a way for himself solely based upon his alleged ability in one or two narrow areas. Take that away from him and he’s done for. This is why so often professors at academic institutions can exude an ere of arrogance. It must be understood by everyone they surround themselves with that they are important because of their expertise. Thus they are in danger of becoming insecure one trick ponies. Truth is not their pursuit. Domination in their field is. Not so for the philosopher/theologian who primarily sees himself as part of a faith, a heritage, and a family. Take his academic status from him and his pride is not hurt. He probably has a trade he knows a thing or two about. He may have even inherited it from his father. He knows his family and faith will continue well after he’s gone. His faith, hope, and love are rooted in heavenly institutions.

So what does this all have to do with Jesus? It’s quite simple really. He was the ideal man. But He was also the ideal philosopher/theologian. He worked for thirty years as a carpenter before he pursued his ministry calling. He bypassed the prestigious centers of education and instead “increased in wisdom and stature” through conversing with older religious leaders in a Socratic sort of way. He found his strength through His connection with God and upheld the tradition of His faith and people perfectly. His wisdom knew no limitation making Him the most profound speaker on every subject he chose to address. Finally, he fulfilled his heavenly and highest duty while being knowingly humiliated. His actions flowed from His character. He was the Savior of the world, as his name suggests, even before his ultimate duty was fulfilled. His identity was and still is secure in the eyes of heaven whether or not any recognition is afforded him on earth. 

As a young man with a strong connection to the academy, my goal and struggle is to keep the person of Jesus in mind as I pursue the next steps in my education and career. Part of this process is avoiding Weaver’s “specialist,” while embracing his, “philosopher/theologian.” My identity is not found in “what I do.” My function in a narrow field is not my source of worth. My goal is not the approval of men in the same field.

One of Richard Weaver’s interesting observations about the South is that it is in this region that modernity has been resisted for the longest period of time in the Western world. The echoes of the pre-modern world of the philosopher/theologian and certainly the gentleman still exist in pockets here. One such pocket is represented by the Abbeville Institute. I have had the privilege of attending one of the organization’s summer schools and one of their summits and have formed relationships with many of the faculty. I recently wrote Dr. Clyde Wilson who I met at an Abbeville event to gain his advise on remaining humble in graduate school. It is with our exchange that I close this contemplation.

Dr. Wilson,

After visiting the university you recommended me to over the weekend with my wife I am pleased to inform you that Dr. Smith offered me a position as a Graduate Assistant. I do believe I will accept his offer. Thank you once again for writing the kind recommendation.

The main reason I'm writing you is to ask a question about humility. You see, my wife and I were discussing how down to earth Dr. Roberts and Smith were when we had lunch with them. Dr. Roberts is a dean and Dr. Smith the head of an entire department at the largest Christian university in the world. Yet, there we were dipping French fries in ketchup at Five Guys and talking about the most common things one could imagine. They were approachable and accessible. I commented that they would be just as happy at a Nascar track as they are sitting in their ivory towers- perhaps happier.

Then it occurred to me that the professors at Abbeville are without a doubt the most humble group of academics, and perhaps men, I've ever met in my entire academic experience. To use yourself as an example- I've been slowly making my way through "Defending Dixie," and I've been simply amazed at your insight and use of the English language, yet you were humble enough to ask me about myself and listen to what I had to say---a 28 year old with an undergraduate degree---while eating Banana pudding at Marice's.

A few years ago I had the displeasure of meeting without a doubt the most arrogant group of men I have ever witnessed in my entire life. They inhabited the graduate history department at the University of Albany. I will spare you the story of the their condescension toward me, but it was quite potent. The seminary I attend is a great deal better, but still I find that many of the professors love to hear the sound of themselves talk, and are not capable of admitting they may not know something when it is clear they don't.

How is it that you remain as humble as you do after having the academic profession that you've had? How is it that this general kindness and humility seems to be common among the Abbeville professors? Is it a Christian/Southern influence? I'm asking because as I reach higher levels of learning I want to remain humble myself and not fall into the trap of arrogance most academics inevitably fall into.

-Jon

Dear Jon,

I find your message deeply interesting and gratifying.  Would you mind if I shared it with a few Abbeville Scholars?  They would be pleased at the evidence of their good works.

There is not the slightest danger that you will ever be like the bad professors that you describe, and for many reasons.

To explain them fully would require major study of English and German social, intellectual, and cultural history back into the Middle Ages.  You have DEFENDING DIXIE.  In my pieces "Scratching the Fleas"  and "The Yankee Problem" I make a stab at the margins of the problem.

These people have no religion, no culture, and no vocation.  You are guilty of none of these things.  All they have is their status which they cling to rigidly.  Without their status they would be nobody---just one more average cipher among the millions in modern urban society.

No religion?  Obviously they have no conception of a higher purpose of life, either as individuals and in their view of humanity.

No culture?  They lack any visceral inward connection with Western civilization such as has been for long been possessed by any uneducated farm boy or worker. Probably your good Welsh name is helpful in this regard.

No vocation?  Unlike you, they have no drive to understand life and our great cultural heritage, no devotion to learning.  They have merely picked out some niche of "expertise" that will give them status in a bureaucratic, soulless society.

Another reason that you can never be like them is that your career will be a struggle that will depend on ability, effort, and the small help that we can give you.  There will be no comfortable bureaucratic niche for you.

Thanks for your kind remarks about us Abbevilleans. We are not status conscious.  More importantly, we are civilized Christian men who feel an obligation to mentor the young to carry on a great tradition.  Those other people regard talented young people not as a blessing but as a threat.

Hope this helps.

As ever, Clyde

4/16/18

The gospel of "justice," a new way to preach "circumcision?"

By: Kenny Steier 

Over the past 2 weeks many at The Gospel Coalition’s MLK50 conference, and the Together 4 the Gospel Conference have been postulating the need for "racial reconciliation" in the church and "social justice," and calling them "gospel issues". Many of these statements have come from men whom I’ve reaped great benefit and encouragement from listening to. I still respect and certainly still love them in Christ, but I’ve become greatly concerned. What’s been troubling is their subversion of the Word to make the gospel say something more than it actually does thereby making their goals a Christian requirement.

Let me be clear; I detest racial prejudice, and seek to have it rectified when I see it. When I do hear about churches causing division on account of the color of someone’s sin I get sad and angry, for that is entirely against what scripture teaches. The Lord makes this very clear to Peter in Acts 10:34-35 “So Peter opened his mouth and said, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” If we show partiality by either giving someone more esteem or less esteem and care based on their ethnicity, we’re in sin. Another helpful example is in 1 Samuel 16:7 where the Lord says to Samuel when he’s going to anoint the new king of Israel: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” These verses fly in the face of certain preachers who say that white people need to repent of their racist sins. Such a sweeping judgement of millions of people based on the color of their skin is clearly unbiblical. What they would be correct and justified in doing is to call out
specific instances of racism in the church. These do exist on both sides of the color spectrum in the church; real hurts have been given and received that should be dealt with. However, the perpetrators of the sin are the ones who need to repent and seek forgiveness, merely sharing a sin color does not mean that the guilt is also shared. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”- (John 7:24)


So how exactly has the Bible been used incorrectly? In order to substantiate his claim that “My white neighbors and Christian brethren can start by at least saying their parents and grandparents and this country are complicit in murdering a man who only preached love and justice,” Thabiti Anyabwile, writing for The Gospel Coalition, justifies his remark by citing Titus 1 where Paul is talks about the Cretans.
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. (Titus 1:12-14).
The error he commits is missing that Paul is describing a cultural problem, not an ethnic/racial one. He was instructing Titus on how to establish solid leadership over them so that they would not be led astray by false doctrine. Their tendency of believing in fantastic things and myths is not necessarily an inborn and innate trait of being born a Crete. Nowhere in the New Testament do we see the apostles urging the brethren to apologize for sins their tribe had committed to another one. There would be no end to the confessing. The Lord recognizes that we humans have a sinful tendency to hold onto to hurts, and to make sinfully prejudiced categorizations of other people groups. The apostles counteract that tendency. Paul does so very clearly in Colossians 3:10-11.
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
The NT does not deny the existence of ethnic diversity, but it certainly speaks to how we often treat it incorrectly, so Paul in a sense is saying “You know all those problems you guys have with each other because of your differences? Forget about them. You’re new creations in Christ, and are of one body in Him. Your citizenship and identity in Him greatly exceed any identification you previously held to.” The clarity of Paul’s words makes it shocking that men who can so skillfully exigete God’s Word mess up in an area that seems so cut and dry.

One article I found particularly disturbing was a confession piece by Paul Tripp in which he lamented how he’d been preaching an imbalanced gospel all these years. Preaching the gospel of grace, but not the gospel of justice. “By God’s grace, I have become deeply persuaded that we cannot celebrate the gospel of God’s grace without being a committed ambassador of the gospel of his justice as well.” Now here’s the thing, the author gets so much right in this article:


Of course, God would have never have participated in such a negotiation, because he is a perfectly holy God! And if he had, there would have been no need for the penalty-bearing, forgiveness-granting, and acceptance-resulting sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Think with me for a moment. Grace is never permissive. Grace never calls wrong right. If wrong were not wrong, there would be no need for grace. Forgiveness always assumes some offense against moral law.

That means we cannot celebrate and proclaim the message of God’s grace while we do what God would never do—close our eyes to the injustice around us. We cannot be comfortable with exegeting his mercy for all people without being an advocate for his justice for all people.
These are all true, and there are other grand truths of God the author puts very eloquently in that article. Of course the Christian ought to be for justice, because God is just, and we’re made in His image! Regrettably, here we find some very big inconsistencies that are concerning. The author talks about being committed to God’s “gospel of justice.” This makes no sense biblically speaking. ‘Gospel’ means ‘Good news’ God’s justice is punishment for our sins. We stand condemned before Him, and our sins earn us an eternity in Hell. God’s justice is the bad news part of the gospel! The good news is that if we’re in Christ, we’re spared that, and get to spend an eternity with Him because of His grace! Being a “committed ambassador of the gospel of his justice” is a bizarre thing to say. “Good news everyone! You’re all going to Hell!” I don’t think that’s what he intends, but biblically speaking, that is what that would mean. So lets overlook that poor phrasing of what I believe the author is really getting at which he states in the article with this “The cross forbids me to close my eyes to any form of injustice, whether personal, corporate, governmental, ecclesiastical, or systemic.” He never describes what being an ambassador of justice looks like. He talks about how he and his wife grew closer and had their eyes opened to some racist struggles black people in his church faced, yet he never mentions how he brought justice into it.

Another problem is where he says:

How can we stand for justice when we have let prejudice separate us? How can we understand the travail of others who we are never with, never see, and never hear? How can we stand for justice when, because of prejudice, there are those we will minister to, but whose leadership we wouldn’t serve under, for no other apparent reason than race? How can we advocate for the family when we are a broken and divided spiritual family?
Again no specific examples are given, and he uses a lot of generalizations. Now, I surely recognize that there are some churches, on both sides of the melanin spectrum which have people who struggle or give-in to racism in word or perhaps deed. These churches need a gospel-reformation. But he says things like “our churches” and “But to whose leadership we wouldn’t serve under.” Are there people like this? Yes, and maybe the author really was like this, but it’s fallacious of him to lump me in with his sin just because we look alike. For a lot of these allegations, he may speak for himself. I wonder if he’s even committed what he’s claiming to repent of, and if he just hasn’t been guilt-tripped into it. Justice after salvation is upholding God’s judgement without regard for someone’s background. What I see here is “because their background is this, then we must do X.” Don’t get me wrong, it is right to come alongside our brothers and sisters who have suffered! (Mourn with those who mourn) And we should do so regardless of their skin color. God does not show favoritism, and neither should we.

I truly believe that the gospel unites, and that when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it. The big issue here is that these preachers have been trying to make this racial reconciliation and social justice a part of the gospel, when they aren’t. The gospel naturally accomplishes this thing, it is it's fruits. I look at my church as an example of this. It’s pretty diverse, and we don’t preach racial reconciliation or social justice, we preach the gospel. God reconciling man to himself through Jesus. All men are sinners, God shows no partiality in whom he saves. We all love talking about how great God is, His gospel, and living according to His Word so that as 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” No, we’re not perfect, but there’s definitely a oneness in Christ that was accomplished through the gospel, not diversity for its own sake. I pray that these leaders would return to that basic and wonderful truth that the apostles preached, and would turn from what really seems like a new way of preaching circumcision.

4/15/18

When should racism be preached against?

By: Jonathan Harris

Some have rightfully asked, in light of the recent controversies over neo-Marxism at Together for the Gospel and MLK 50, “When is it right to preach about racism?” Here are some helpful thoughts.

1) First to clarify- the current controversy is not over “racism,” at least not in the way it is being portrayed by those on the left side of this issue. James White, Doug Wilson, Phil Johnson, and Todd Friel etc. deeply believe that it is sinful for someone to be devalued by others because of the level of pigmentation in their skin. They are NOT contending that the sin of pride as manifested in racism should be silenced from church discussions. They are reacting to a false gospel disguised as “anti-racism.” The false (neo-Marxist) gospel is the issue. Thabiti Anyabwile, David Platt, and Russell Moore on the other hand are comfortable painting “white,” “evangelicals,” or “reformed” people, as the case may be, as bearing the stain of the sin of racism due to their group identification. If either side is in danger of slipping into racism it is not those on the right.

“Ok, even if the current controversy isn’t over ‘racism,’ shouldn’t the church do something to address the topic?” The answer is of course, “Yes.”

2) The sin of pride, as it manifests itself in ethnic superiority, should be addressed when the Bible speaks on the issue (i.e. when a pastor happens to be preaching through a text that directly addresses the topic). Part of the problem plaguing the left is poor exegisis. Those who would have a conniptions if they were ever associated with theonomists, are perfectly fine using texts from the Old Testament that contain the word “justice,” and reading into that word a meaning previously only associated with socialist politicians. The allegedly “anti-racist” sermons being preached have next to no exegesis supporting their applications. When exegesis was offered up, for example by James White in his walk-through of Collosians 3, it was mocked and dismissed by Thabiti Anyabwile without any attempted alternative interpretation.

Moral of story- if you’re going to preach on anti-racism, MAKE SURE the text you’re using supports anti-racism. If it does not, you probably are not preaching on the topic you think you are.

3) Another time to preach against racism, provided the text supports the message, is when there is a sin that needs to be corrected within the church. The logical next question would be, “What constitutes evidence that Christians are engaging in devaluing other images of God due to skin pigmentation?” So far it has been suggested by the “racial reconciliationists,” that the failure of “white” people in the church to adequately stand against slavery, segregation, Donald Trump, and police brutality are evidence enough that the church must address racism. David Platt went so far as to suggest that the ratio of white to black people at Together for the Gospel was evidence that the church has a problem with racism. This is usually where heart strings are pulled and things get emotional.        

    •    It is true that horrible situations have occurred, and individuals professing Christ have at times been on the wrong side of these situations. That being said, what is the solution? The gospel would indicate repentance, forgiveness, and moving on. The “racial reconciliationists” demand more—racial quotas, perpetual corporate apologies for ‘privilege,’ and a whole host of policies that are more consistent with identity politics than with anything resembling Christian reconciliation.

    •    The demand of those on the left in the neo-Marxist controversy is that apologies be made for past sins. Underlying this demand is the assumption that those with “white” skin are complicit in sins they never committed (nor did their ancestors in many cases) simply because they have “white” skin. (To give a very quick example- about 5% of Southern whites owned slaves, and it was probably a similar percentage of Northerners engaged in the nefarious “triangle trade.” Even if the Bible taught that slavery was a sin, “white” people at the time, many of whom were involved in progressive or immediate abolitionism, cannot be held responsible for being born into a culture in which slavery existed. Their great-great-great-great-great grandchildren less so.) By this logic every Christian who does not actively campaign to enforce immigration law is guilty of the crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

    •    Oftentimes, the sins referenced are not sins at all. It is not a sin to vote for Donald Trump. It is not a sin to belong to an organization more white people happened to have joined than black people. It is not a sin to live in the suburbs. It is not a sin believe the welfare state should be systematically dismantled. It is not a sin to support respecting the American Flag, or oppose the destruction of Confederate and colonial monuments. It is not a sin to be born into a middle class family. etc. etc.

Moral of story- if you are going to use Scripture to correct a sin, MAKE SURE it is actually sin you are correcting. Conversely, if their is an ailment you want to address (for example- poverty, family breakdown, etc. in certain communities), and there is a sin(s) causing the ailment, make sure you correctly identify the sin which is at the root! To misdiagnose a problem, and forcefully place a burden of sin on those who are not directly responsible for the problem, does NOT help those you think you might be helping. For example, if family breakdown in inner city communities can be tied more directly to fathers disregarding their responsibility in those communities, and government welfare policy encouraging such sin, preach against the ACTUAL issues from the passages that address them.

4) Racism should be preached against when it is a paramount not necessarily when it is peripheral. There’s an old Lutheran quote which states:
If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.
The Together for the Gospel Conference was held a few miles from an abortion mill where I’d like to note, if national statistics prove to be true, three times as many black children are being murdered as compared with white children. California is contemplating making conversion therapy a punishable offense. This means pastors who attempt to help those formerly living homosexual and lesbian lifestyles could be punished as criminals. Senator Cory Booker, while Together for the Gospel was taking place, grilled Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo for his Christian beliefs on homosexual perversion. I could go on, but you get the point. When you see certain Christians expending so much energy on issues that, if they are problems today are peripheral, while expending so little energy on the issues that will eventually take away the church’s ability to preach the gospel freely, you have to wonder what’s going on?

James White, Doug Wilson, Phil Johnson, and Todd Friel know what’s going on, and they refuse to go along. That’s why they have been verbally attacked.

To summarize:

It is right to preach against racism when the text of Scripture addresses it, or when there is a sin that needs to be corrected in the church, or the church needs to be warned against wrong cultural practices that are paramount. None of these criteria seem to apply well at all to those who fancy themselves as leading the charge against racism in the church at MLK 50 or Together for the Gospel

3/26/18

When Historians Lie

A contemplation of Christian and Marxist historiography
By Jonathan Harris


Eminent historian Dr. Clyde Wilson in one of his many books on American history expresses this sentiment about the "old-style history:"
History is not an expression of abstract laws, or the record of progress. It is a description of the actions of men, of life, which in turn is an expression of the (partly unknowable) mind of God.
The historical profession has been used, more than most perhaps realize (because they are often the victims of it), to indoctrinate the masses into an often times anti-Christian view of reality. Dr. Wilson talks about two uses of history: as a symbol for social unity and a record of historical fact. Both are important as can be perfectly observed in the biblical account of the nation of Israel.

The history commonly taught in today's schools is disjointed however. The record of historical fact is forced to fit a symbol for social unity that it cannot. Dr. Wilson uses the Civil War event as a perfect example of this, but this disjointedness can also be observed at almost every turn in almost all modern mainstream interpretations.

Portions of the historical record are conveniently left out when they do not fit the progressive narrative (symbol of social unity). What children (who then become adults I might add) walk away with is a firmly held conviction that Abraham Lincoln is a hero because "he freed the slaves," a noble example of social unity indeed if only the historical record matched the symbol. The founding fathers are recruited into the Lincolnian symbol of egalitarian human liberation though the historical record fits this interpretation even less (i.e. Jefferson supposedly wrote of “universal equality” in the Declaration of Independence).

Eventually the symbol can simply not be sustained by the record and a new symbol emerges, not because the record has changed but because the moral framework for judging the record has. The farther away from a Christian ethic the national conscience drifts, the more the old symbols are distorted beyond recognition (i.e. the founding fathers) or destroyed (i.e. Confederate memorials). Over the last decade the symbols of Lincoln and Washington have been painfully stretched to the brink. The rubber band is about to snap, as it has already snapped for symbols of the Old South. As Dr. Wilson writes again:

“The main theme of American history is being shifted from national unity and national achievement to what might be called ethnic multiplicity and ethnic achievement.” (This statement was written in 1982 before it was as obvious as it is in our age that other minority groups, such as homosexuals and transgenders, would start to rise to equal prominence as the overcoming heroes of the national story.) “The new history,” states Dr. Wilson, "has employed the poetic license of mythology without its healing and reconciling motives. It has assumed the prestige of objective, ‘scientific’ history without abiding by its standards.” What Dr. Wilson is saying is rather obvious to someone who thinks in term of presuppositions.

Symbols of national unity are no longer *meant* to bring people together. Swelling with a national pride that comes from an American identity is no longer permissible in the circles of the historian. This is why even supposed Christian historians have thought it morally obligatory to denounce their own country as a place of oppression, apologizing for a past they were not present for as if to perform civil penance for the crime of being a part of it! The intention behind the rising national symbols are rather meant to highlight the sins of the past, often times from a humanistic perspective (i.e. Stonewall national monument). It should be crystal clear that recognizing a moral failing from a biblical perspective is not at all what is being discussed, but rather utilizing a moral failing from a humanist perspective and then recruiting it as a symbol for tearing down national identity. Dr Wilson is again helpful here:
There is a vast difference between the writing of an American history that is a synthesis of the history and experiences of the various groups which have participated in the life of this continent, and presenting the central theme of American history as the mixing of these groups. 
Some conservatives would call this new history the servant of politics. Dr. Wilson himself rightly points out that “it is a product of the state and not of the culture.” But there is also something deeply religious about all this. Dr. Wilson laments that, “We historians . . . have surrendered our critical standards when faced with the question of minority contributions to American history.” The new symbols of national unity—or perhaps “disunity”—force the narrative to continue to sacrifice truth along what appear to be Marxist lines, because they are not really about national unity at all. What is at the bottom of all of this? Dr. Wilson hits bedrock when he writes:
A silent shift of America symbolically out of Western civilization, and attempted divorce of American history from that culture which used to be referred to as Christendom, into formless universalism [is the goal].
And now we are right back where we started.
History is not an expression of abstract laws, or the record of progress. It is a description of the actions of men, of life, which in turn is an expression of the (partly unknowable) mind of God.
History is interpreted in light of a worldview. The Christian worldview that created the Western world and lead to the formation of the United States is no longer the lens through which the historian views his subject. This shift is MORE than a moral one. It also involves DIRECTION. History is no longer composed of stories leading toward a point of biblical consummation. America is no longer viewed as a place in which men and women ordained by God live, learn, and move toward an eternal purpose with a duty to form their culture into a reflection of that purpose THROUGH the gentle and patient providence of God.

If two words can sum up this whole discussion they would be these. Providence vs. Progress. Modern progressives have infected even Christian institutions of higher learning with the disease that *human* progress is the goal of history. The direction is the liberation of man from the constraints of society and nature. Man is capable himself, without a divine will, of creating utopia in his own image. History itself becomes the tracks on which this train runs toward it's final destination. The human story is the reflection of the collective mind in its liberated state. History is not recorded as the passive observation of God's unfolding plan, but rather the active barometer by which to measure humanity's "progress."

The Biblical record however gives us a much different historiography, one in which there is a passive acceptance of a divine plan. It is a reflection of the mind of God as the term "fullness of time" suggests.
The symbols of social unity were meaningful because they were associated with the “glorious deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 78:4, Josh 4:6), passed down by fathers (as opposed to government schools) (Deut 32:7), meant to bring hope (Rom 15:4) and inspire righteous living (1 Cor 10:11), and injected with a transcendent moral standard with a future consummation. National unity according to the law of God was the goal. 

Many do not know that the patriotic hymn “America the Beautiful,” written in 1913 by Katharine Lee Bates contains three verses in addition to the commonly sung first verse. I believe they are appropriate words with which to close this contemplation.
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

3/19/18

Addicted to Social Media? There is Hope!

By: Jonathan Harris


If it's not obvious to you already, the advent of social media has fundamentally changed Western culture. If this does not put it in perspective, I don't know what will- There are adults today who do not remember a time when half the population was not looking down at their phones in public settings. It's just normal at this point to carry on a conversation with a family member or friend even though half of their attention is being given to a five by two inch screen. And if some of us are to be honest, sometimes we are the ones treating our phones as more worthy of attention than the images of God right in front of us!

Studies and articles have been coming out for years decrying the drug-like effects social media can have on the minds of humans. One recent article suggests:
There might be several reasons for this addiction but one the most prominent reason is increasing distance between the family members and lack of belongingness in the youth.
Though this may not be the only reason for the current epidemic it is likely a strong contributor. Scrolling for meaning and finding none is the situation our culture is in. Perhaps the, "Let's protest and actually do something!" crowd is recoiling in frustration against the meaningless feelings that come with trying to extract human value from a digital device.

Now in all fairness, social media is not all bad. I use it, and I'm thankful for it. It connects me (though superficially sometimes) to others and exposes me to useful information. But...then there's the other side. It sucks the time right out of my life! Or I should say, it did. . . until I realized something.

There are still settings in which I can overhear an older person complain about the "kids and their phones!" My grandpa will sometimes say with a sigh, when referring to such violators of the old conversational norms, "They like looking at screens." These complaints are diminishing however as grandparents are becoming just as hooked as their grandchildren. Again, this is not all bad. Parents and grandparent can see highlights from their children and grand-children's lives from half way around the world in instant time! What a marvel of the modern age! But there are some things about this that potentially are not good. How often can connectedness with someone we ought to be close with become restricted to cat videos and what we ate for supper?

My experience with social media changed somewhat when I traveled to Turkey last year. I had already recoiled against what I thought was a superficial use of Facebook and had relegated my page to the purpose of posting political thoughts aimed at convincing others and cataloging pictures I had taken from year to year. Of course, the political posts, in addition to convincing some, lost me Facebook friends who disagreed or who wanted to use their social media as an escape from the constant barrage of politics they already felt living in the world. The pictures earned me a substantial amount of "likes," and this did seem rewarding. I got into a habit of checking as often as possible to see how many "likes" I had, or responses to arguments I was engaged in. It zapped my day away without me realizing it. But I was no different than my peers who were also hooked to their phones, or was I?

Into an Istanbul coffee shop I walked. Ok, it was Starbucks. But in Istanbul, the atmosphere was different than what I had remembered in the States. We were told by the contacts we had in the region that Facebook was very popular in Istanbul. This was evidenced to me by the fact that I was getting friend requests from random strangers simply for checking in at various tourist destinations. The difference though was this: Turks used social media differently. As I looked around the coffee shop (and every subsequent restaurant and coffee shop), I noticed that everyone my age (a millennial) was well dressed, had good posture, and was engaged in face to face dialogue. Everyone had phones, but I did not see anyone using them when talking with someone else. Young people who appeared to be on dates did not engage in PDA of any kind. Rather they listened to one another with eyes locked on each other's faces.

What was going on here? Was I transported to the 1960s? No, that wasn't possible because occasionally someone would whip a phone out, but not while engaged in conversation, and not to the extent I had noticed in the States. An important aspect of Turkish culture may explain the differences between their world and ours when it comes to the use of technology. The advertisements in Turkey featured nuclear families. A mother, father, and more than one child would smile while holding up a product of some kind. In the 1990s such advertisements were common in the States, but slowly, over time advertisements began to feature peer groups and individuals. The reasons for this are not important for this discussion. What is important is this: The Turks had not yet become the individualistic (and I will venture to add narcissistic) culture so prominently displayed in the West. Sitting on a commuter train I noticed men still giving their seats up for the elderly and even a pregnant women. There was a sense of community that often seems missing in urban and suburban Western regions.

Then it dawned on me. The Turks had the same access to technology that those in the U.S. had, and yet they managed it differently. Was it because they were not quite as into themselves? Now don't get me wrong, there are a plethora of social problems in Turkey, many of which modern Western societies are miles ahead in, but there seemed to be an exception in this one area.

When a child grows in the States, oftentimes they are raised by the TV. Whenever the parent, who generally does not discipline the child, wants a break, screens are their ally. Screens aren't always bad, but they are overused. The child then in turn learns to glean entertainment and information from technology. The distraction is reinforced as a good thing by the parent, because the parent is rewarded with an opportunity to rest themselves from the crankiness of a disrespectful child. As the child grows older this pattern does not stop. The child is hooked on technology, oftentimes finding it difficult to hold conversations or think deeply. Their brains are occupied by a non-stop barrage of information and they become addicted to it. On social media, a child can block the disagreeable and find groups of friends and strangers who who accept the online version of themselves they have created. Social media accepts them when their parents do not. It offers "likes" when they're made fun of at school by classmates. It becomes the affirmation center. It gives instant gratification without working hard for it. It trains in superficial people pleasing, and discourages physical and mental exertion. In short, social media becomes a person's friend, something the Turks have not accepted as a possibility.

The problem is, social media is not a friend. It is a tool, and not one that should be the primary source of affirmation and acceptance. If social media becomes a channel for the worship of the god who is ourselves, it will leave us dry, but at the same time wanting more. All idols require their sacrifices.

I knew that my problem with social media was nearly as bad as some, but I knew that It wasn't right. I was falling into the direction of the culture around me to some extent. The reason I knew this is because when I went to bed my phone would be the last thing I'd look at, and when I woke up it was the first. I didn't usually go more than an hour without looking at it. However, I noticed when I was in areas without service I was more relaxed, likable, spiritual, happy, etc. The phone was draining me of my humanity. I knew I needed to make a change.

Here's what I did.

1) No phones in bed. I communicated this to my wife as well, and we've been a lot better in this area than we used to be.
2) No more than an hour on social media per a day. I literally time it using ATracker
3) No spending more time on social media than I do praying and reading my Bible.

Since I suspect that living in real familiar and social community is the antidote to the endorphin driven quest for "likes," I have made a concerted effort to put down my phone when my wife is talking to me. I don't log in to Facebook when we are on a date. I call my family members on the phone instead of merely posting things on their walls.

So far the results in my own life have been wonderful. I'm less stressed, more productive, and closer to the Lord than I was before. Who would have thought a group of young Turks at a Starbucks would help me see what I was increasingly missing out on- real life!

3/15/18

Trump, Hitler, and the Politics of Hysteria

by Frank Russo

The far Left can't go five minutes without a comparison between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. But like President Trump or not you, there’s no way to rationally draw an ideological line between him and Hitler for many reasons. Trump’s rise to the presidency was completely different than Hitlers in a very significant way. Their policy differences also leave little doubt that these two are fundamentally different on a root level. Let me explain.

Trump was elected democratically. Hitler was not. In fact records show that the NSDAP only received about 35% of the vote. The difference lies in how democracy was set up in Weimar Republic Germany. Most importantly it was not a two party system as ours is. In fact it had a multitude of parties with the communists, social democrats, Catholic Center party and numerous other parties. In fact Hitler never “ran” for office. He tried to seize power violently in 1923 for which he was arrested. In 1933 a coalition government was formed by the majority conservative aligned parties in which Hitler, to placate his vote of 35%,(constituting the largest power block belonging to a single party in Weimar), was put in as Chancellor. This was in the hopes of controlling him which failed following the burning of the Reichstag and the death of President Paul Von Hindenburg in 1933. Hitler quickly granted himself and his party more and more executive power in response to what was a genuine crisis facing Germany in the form of the Moscow backed German communists. Hitler's brutal reign of oppression and suppression would follow immediately after. 

Why is this important? Because we need to know what we're talking about when comparing and contrasting. Like Trump of not being a populist or a nationalist doesn't make one “literally Hitler” unless George Washington, Charles De Gaulle and Winston Churchill were also Nazis. Donald Trump began his campaign, (something Hitler did not ever do), and won himself by a electoral vote,(again something Hitler did not do as he was appointed),. He has made no rapid moves to ascribe to the executive branch undue amounts of power nor has he exercised his power in such a way as to lack precedent. Rhetoric alone does not a dictator make and it is important to note that Hitler did not allow criticism of him. There was no Bill Maher show to incessantly mock him. There was no Twitter or YouTube and there certainly was not a women's March in Berlin. 

Another thing to note is the lack of racial policy. By 1937 Hitler and his party had passed the Nuremberg laws, regulating activity and rights open to Jews and other undesirables and activities not open to them. In fact Trump's son and law and daughter and grandchild are Jewish. It has been a year and a few months since Donald Trump has taken office. Yet there has been no work towards a racial policy. Many claim his speeches pertaining to illegal immigrants are really dog whistles about Mexicans. This comment however, is riddled with racist assumptions. The first is that all Hispanic people you see are Mexican, the second is that all illegal aliens are mexican and the third is that illegal immigrants are a separate race. In order to be “racist” one would need to hold that one race is superior to another. Illegal is an immigration status not a race and if you're assuming without proper evidence that it is a dog whistle you are acting by unbiblical principles. Beware the Christian who froths at the mouth about Trump’s racism. 

Trump ran on an almost isolationist campaign promising to pull out of NATO if other nations didn't pay up and other comments made about our involvement in the middle East. He has since reneged on these promises but if we're comparing him to Hitler one must know what Hitler promised and did. From the onset Hitler promised military expansion and lebensraum in the east, (Russia and the Baltic states),. He also promised to regain/gain lost German lands and populations in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Austria and Eastern France. Trump has not talked about expansion of territory. He has spoken about rebuilding the military but so did Bush, Reagan, Nixon and Kennedy. Nobody called them Hitler, wait yes they did. 

What needs to be understood is the left's constant reliance on the “Hitler” card. I've seen it done in conservative circles as well but nowhere near as much as leftists do and the thing about it is that that creates more Hitlers than at any time since 1945. We are fueling this. In my case leftist propaganda certainly fueled my pre-Christian beliefs. If one pulls up on Google statistics about right wing hate groups we will quickly find a BBC study saying that hate groups are on the rise in the u.s. The main source of their belief? Southern Poverty Law Center. The same people that cite everyone to the right of Bernie Sanders as holding Nazi sympathies. This includes Focus on the Family and Milo Yiannopoulos, the Gay, Jewish, British conservative commentator who makes constant jokes about his preference for interracial relationships. This is not to justify his actions but it is to highlight how ridiculous the SPLC’s system of classification is. Ben Shapiro is also on their list. Both men have had college students riot to prevent them from speaking. The doublethink it requires to call the opposition Nazis while rioting and burning your own campus to prevent two Jewish men from speaking is astounding. 

The SPLC says that there are over 1,000 hate groups operating within the u.s with over 10,000 members. This is against an overall population of 324 million people in the u.s. which means about .03% of the u.s population is a member of a white supremacist group. This in comparison to Islamic extremism in the world. There are over 1.9 billion Muslims in the world in which it is estimated that 7% is engaged in extremist violence. That's 75 million people engaged in holy war. That is accounting for only those who engage in violence. The unknown number of sympathizers must be large indeed. In the united states there 9.9 million Muslims, of which is 3.75% of the overall u.s population. Let's apply the conservative estimate of 5% to active jihadis for the u.s population. That is 450,000 men and women who have possibly been radicalized. 

However, Muslims are still a minority in the United States. Look at other nations where they are not. France and England notably. In fact of you look at statistics more British Muslims have joined ISIS than have joined the British armed forces. Yet if you look up hate crimes in the U.S Charlottesville is the first to come up. However, that is amongst the slew of other notably false hate crimes such as the woman who claimed three male Trump supporters ripped her Hijab off on a New York subway. Police resources were wasted investigating this crime and it was proven to be false. No charges were brought against the woman. Nothing more was said but numerous people went on believing this crime happened. The news sources that so eagerly reported this crime, CNN, MSNBC and many others were slow to or downright refused to print or report a retraction. In fact these fabricated hate crimes are all too often brushed over as genuine with no consequences. 

Charlottesville is high profile however. And it gets granted a huge amount of scrutiny. Like them or not America grants everyone a right to free speech and these men and women were granted the right to rally before it was unfairly retracted for political motivations. When they went ahead ANTIFA,(a noted terrorist organization that uses violence to accomplish it's ends), disrupted the rally violently causing a reaction. I have seen the first hand videos. The punch a Nazi in the face slogans and the bottle throwing. Blocking highways and attacking people. Yet these are considered to be single incidents to the media. The Charlottesville incident however, that is a condemnation of Trump and his supporters, (who are all neo Nazis to the media),. 

Celebrities are in on it as well. From Ashley Judd screeching that the ghost of Hitler is in the white house to Jim Jeffries screaming profanities at Piers Morgan saying “Hitler didn't kill Jews on the first day” we can see Hollywood flipping. In fact no anti semitism can be traced to Trump himself which is odd for a Nazi. He's painted by an association he has disavowed numerously. A disavowal from president Trump however, is not enough. He must spend his presidency atoning for it. In fact he has to spend his presidency not doing what he campaigned for to make the left happy. But Obama escaped his association from the hateful Jeremiah Wright and Terrorist Bill Ayers without a sigh. The media said that he was a separate individual and couldn't be painted as one. But Trump is guilty solely on his supposed associations. 

When it comes to Trump’s comments about African Americans none can be found. In fact he only cited source of his anti African racism is a comment with foul language about “*blank* nations”. The left’s reaction was scathing. In fact I saw many posts saying “he calls OUR nations that”. Two leftist dogmas are defeated by this assumption. The first is that any nation “belongs” to any group of people. The idea that African nations belong to unique African people is racist and discriminatory. The second is that immigration is good because these people have horrible chances in their own nation and need better lives. If Trump was wrong, and Somalia is really a sparkling Paradise then there is no need for immigration. Leftists in their Hysteria cannot even keep their stories straight and will find any excuse to justify their own preconceived notion of President Trump. They assume his motive and then look for evidence to support their verdict instead of vice versa.

Why is Hitler so polarizing though? Especially to leftists. The spectre of Stalin, who killed 20-30 million people, or Mao who killed 60 million should be more polarizing. Even Che Guevara, whose face can be found on leftist t shirts, is the perfect anti progressive. He was the executioner at La Cabantuana prison and oversaw 2,500 executions ranging from political enemies to homosexuals and kids who listened to rock and roll. Che even said that “the black is indolent and lazy and spends his money frivolously”. Yet Jay Z wears his face on his shirt. What makes the Austrian painter the most horrifying in a century of secular violence?

Utopia is my answer. Hitler's Utopia is different than the one leftists hold. His was racial while theirs is classless. That is why everyone against them is racist and their heroes are unblemished. 

Nazis have grown in number but nowhere near the level of hiding under every bed. The alt right is doomed to failure as they are not homogenous and not a dedicated party. Every evil has its roots in Godlessness and every evil and sin is cured at Calvary. I left that life behind me because Christ's love for me is greater than my hatred of others. To anyone who feels these things. To feel disenfranchised, hated or alone I hope you hear me and most of all I hope you hear Christ. From the Nazi to ANTIFA none of us are clean and our hatred and violence towards each other proves. Your Utopias are built upon sand and will crash with the surf. Only the Lord has the way. God bless all of you.
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