The Conservative Seminarian

Theology ~ Religion ~ Culture | Tidbits from me | Links to others |

November 20, 2017 Resources: Childishness vs. Foolishness; Charles Finney The Heretic; Perspective on Texas

This article helped clarify some things for my wife and I when it comes to discerning childishness vs. foolishness in a child, and what to do about each.

Here is an excellent article on Charles Finney. Unfortunately, many evangelicals either have no idea who Finney was, or look back with affection on him. Finney should be remembered, and remembered correctly, or we will fail to learn the lessons we ought to from his legacy. The sort of theologians and church historians whom I trust rightly reject Finney as a heretical and highly influential evangelist who, more than any other individual, has shaped American evangelicalism into the embarrassing mess that it is today (if you’d like to understand this better, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of “Revival and Revivalism” by Iain Murray).

A good perspective on the tragedy in Texas.

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A Follow Up On “Salt and Light”

I recently linked to an article on the sensitive subject of how Christians ought to make educational choices for their children. Of course, this is a controversial area and it stirred some pushback to my basic stance that, generally speaking, sending a child to public school is not the best choice a Christian parent can make (in fairness I’d add: keep your kids out of most Christian schools as well. But that is a matter for a different article). Since my previous post was primarily a link to someone else’s thoughts I’d like to briefly summarize my own thoughts on the issue and also disclose my motives for choosing to publicly state them. Let’s start with motives.

First off, my goal is not to pass judgment on decisions made thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago by parents who now have older teens. My aim is to help parents who are currently making this choice to think through the implications of sending a child to public school as our culture and civilization continue their dramatic moral decline.  I realize that this still will cause disagreement, and maybe even offence (though I do not delight in giving offence and it is not my aim). However, given the magnitude of the question, this is not sufficient reason to remain silent.

And magnitude happens to be my second motive. This is a critical issue, because early influences shape children for the rest of their lives, and school is obviously one of the most significant influences in a child’s life.

Public schools, by and large, are a place where God, Scripture, absolute truth, absolute goodness, and absolute beauty are scorned and hated. Oh, to be sure, a child might hear the words ‘virtue,’ ‘truth,’ ‘good choices,’ and ‘kindness’ at school. But in a relativistic culture where each person’s ethical decisions are personal choices cut free from the cumbersome anchor of universal morality (and accountability to a Supreme Being), you can be sure that some of the ethics taught will vary from school to school and teacher to teacher, and too often will  contradict the God-designed universal standard. In our culture, good is evil and evil is good. Every man does what is right in his own eyes. And public schools might be more, but most are surely nothing less than culture inculcating, truth-hating, sanctification-destroying centers of illiberal closed-mindedness.

And this is precisely the point at which some parents might be tempted to shout, “That’s what I mean! The public schools need salt and light! How will we ever influence them for good if we don’t send our children there?”

Here are my top two objections to this thinking.

STOP TREATING YOUR UNBELIEVING CHILD LIKE A CHRISTIAN
It astounds me how many (Protestant! Dispensational!) Christian parents assume their child’s salvation and treat them like a believer. As if the very fact of having believing parents and being very cute qualifies a second grader to waltz into Mrs. McGillicuddy’s socialist classroom and hold a tent meeting. This is part of a much larger problem among Christian parents and churches (where unbelieving children of members regularly lead the sentimental congregants in worship simply because they are children – an error a faithful church would not allow for in any other age group), but the salt and light argument is one place it rears its head. If the Spirit of God does not dwell in your child, it is harmful to them and to others to pretend that it does. They do not possess the requisite salt or light necessary to validate the argument.

STOP EXPECTING THE IMPOSSIBLE FROM YOUR BELIEVING CHILD
Let’s say the first point does not apply to you. Your child has made a profession of faith that, in your best judgment, seems genuine and is bearing fruit. There is still a significant problem with the salt and light approach to educational choices. If we’re honest, we’d have to admit that even most Christian adults in our day would be ill-equipped to stand up against what children face in public school. So putting a child into a situation that would be a significant challenge for the average forty year-old Christian seems very unwise. Part of our incorrect thinking here stems from too light a view of sin (both its allurements and results), and our sentimental view of the unbeliever (both the children at your child’s school and the adults). So, before you make the decision to send your child to public school, please ask yourself, “How does God describe the unbelieving worldview my child will face at public school?” And then read Romans 1. Is your believing five, eight, thirteen, eighteen year old adequately prepared to face this? Are you?

It seems to me that using the salt and light approach to educational choices for a child is analogous to tossing that same child into the middle of the Atlantic to save a drowning sailor while the parents provide support from the life raft. We are asking children to do something God did not design them to do – to face mature and seething immorality, atheism, and secularism, and to turn that tide. It’s no wonder that so few children of Christians make it to adulthood still claiming the cross of Christ, for too many Christian parents, ill-equipped themselves, are unwittingly sowing the seeds of destruction before the child is remotely capable of weathering the storm.

September 5, 2017 Resources: The Hatefulness of Leftists; Helping Houston; Pat Sajak

This is what faithful Christians are up against in the already-lost culture war. It is high time we prepare ourselves to pay the price required to stand firm to the end. Jesus taught his disciples to count the cost of following him, and he told them that the truth would divide members of the same household. It has and it will. Prepare yourself, your family, and the other members of your church to see Jesus and be found faithful in that day.

We ought to grieve with and help brothers and sisters facing the kind of serious destruction and loss that Christians in Houston are facing. How can we help? Here is one way that both churches and individuals can give to the relief of suffering saints.

Many people in my age group place little value on their past, and fail to realize that just beneath their feet are several sets of sturdy (albeit imperfect) shoulders upon which they stand. A lesson on appreciation comes from a surprising source: Pat Sajak.

The most recent Nick of Time article from Central Seminary included the hymn below. It is a fitting encouragement for our day, and a reminder that past generations of Christians have suffered for maintaining a biblically faithful witness. As it looks more and more likely that we will soon too, reminding ourselves of these dead saints and their rich theology and tender affection for God in the midst of hardship is a worthy and necessary exercise.

 

Shall I for Fear of Feeble Man
John Wesley (1703–1791)

Shall I for fear of feeble man,
The Spirit’s course in me restrain?
Or undismayed in deed and word,
Be a true witness for the Lord?

My life, my blood, I here present,
If for Thy truth they may be spent,
Fulfill Thy sovereign counsel, Lord;
Thy will be done, Thy name adored.

Give of Thy strength, O God of pow’r,
Then let winds blow, or thunders roar,
Thy faithful witness will I be:
’Tis fixed, I can do all through Thee.

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