The only words that would suffice are His...
“Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you- his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind- so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 52:12-53:12 ESV)
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The only words that would suffice are His...
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Yesterday was Memorial Day. Yesterday; and today I thought of it. This may be one of those posts that leaves me looking a lot less spiritual than I really am, and a little more real than you (or I) would like me to be. But, the fact remains: it is what it is.
Yesterday was Memorial Day, and as mentioned above, I finally thought of it today. Sure, I looked forward to the extra day off in the week which provided more time to be with my wife. I was thankful that our favorite coffee shop was open until noon so that we could spend the morning hours with java to sip and talk satisfaction in Christ. I was thankful that our granny saved us some ribs and corn on the cob for us to indulge ourselves in. I was even thankful that Movie Gallery was still offering free rentals that extended through Monday (due back by Saturday) and Kimberly had capitalized on that “free”dom every day this weekend (which is an oddity in itself). However, it was not until the night hours that the thought even came to me that this day, Memorial Day, was not so much about me, but about those who died for me.
Over lunch we discussed the various wars of times past: WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and even the Iraq War and how it relates to a possible conflict with Iran. However, each of these were in context with my grandfather’s service in the Korean War, but not necessarily tied to “War” in the truest sense of the word. We discussed how many of his five brothers were called to service, his thoughts on the draft, and eventually ended up with the social security and the casinos. We always end up with the casinos. But the thoughts of men who gave their lives for the freedom of America, men who died to protect the families that they loved, or men who died in order to advance the gospel never entered into my mind. I wish this were not true, but I would not share it if it were not.
So, after my uneventful afternoon lazily being entertained by a World War II era movie (even now, this is the first time that I even thought to link this movie with the significance of the day!) and a great lunch, thoughts of service men and women who have given their lives for my freedom had not caught my attention. Then last night, I stumbled upon a documentary featuring the men who fought at Iwo Jima towards the end of WWII. The men featured in this documentary were real men; real men who loved Jesus and loved their families. They did not enter into their country’s service merely because they were drafted (though some of them were) or merely because this was something that the government told them they had to do (though this was true as well). Rather, many of these men who were featured went to Iwo Jima in an effort to defend their families. They went to Iwo Jima not to spread democracy, but to prevent the spread of an atheistic mentality to sweep across the Pacific and infiltrate their living rooms. They fought (and many of them died) after thirty-six agonizing days in brutal conditions of which I know nothing about. Many left wives and children at home. Some returned, more did not. Boys left fatherless, women without husbands; the war knew no favor. Brothers lost brothers, fathers said goodbye to their sons. Those days on Iwo Jima before the infamous raising of the American Flag have been lost to much of history and only remains in the minds of a select few. I can’t say that I have forgotten, to a certain extent, I never knew.
This documentary was incredible and with commentary on what it meant then and what it means now to be a father passionate about the gospel was moving. I did not see it until the end, but it gripped me from the beginning. There were men who returned to Iwo Jima for the sixtieth anniversary of the battle, many in wheelchairs, more with canes, all with heavy hearts. This little film helped put into perspective that these were real men, fighting in a real war, with real bullets, and real death. That meant that there were real boys and real girls who lost their fathers forever.
From the website:
"More than 406,000 Americans died during the Second World War, leaving an estimated 183,000 children fatherless. Hundreds of thousands of other fathers did return from war, some who tragically never connected with their children. But within the ranks of the survivors and the heroic dead were a remarkable collection of men who made it a life mission to speak the providences of God and the meaning of manhood to the boys who would fill their shoes. Through wartime letters and present-day pilgrimages to the bloody battlefields of their youth, the ancient warriors have spoken. Their thankful children rise to honor and surpass their legacy. They are “The League of Grateful Sons.""I have never suffered a day in my life; the least I could do was give honor to their memory. Forgive me for forgetting.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
In our day of the high-tech, low-touch world, we often rely on electronic means of communication because they are more convenient than placing a phone call. Once upon a time, if you wanted to speak with someone you either: picked up the phone, wrote a letter, or high tailed it over to the location of choice in order to speak face-to-face. These days are long gone, thus any improvements to the methods of electronic communication are welcomed with open arms. I am often amused by the many web pages that have a “contact us” option somewhere hidden obscurely on a 4th click page just underneath an unrelated ad. Then, the “contact us” button merely leads you to either a generic e-mail address to which you can pray that someone will indeed read the e-mail, process it, and respond to you before Haley’s comet arrives again. Thus, when I experienced the electronic form of REAL customer service yesterday, I was shocked to say the least.
One of my new favorite websites is Operation World (whose link appears to the right). This website, along with the links it provides, is a wealth of resources for any individual seeking to pray for the nations. While perusing said website yesterday, I noticed two things:
1. The links to the CIA World Fact Book were not working (the CIA has moved the links to another server), and Normally, I would let both of these alone since I can only imagine the amount of time and effort it takes to maintain this website and since it has been such a great resource for me, I did not want to log a formal complaint. However, since the CIA links were not working, and the Operation World website has a specific section to “Help improve Operation World links for Web Sites” I thought I would cordially inform them of the non-working link. I also decided to send an e-mail to request if the possibility of searching for country-specific information would be available as well.
2. I was not able to search for country specific information, only the country of the day was available.
Here’s where the e-service comes in. Would you believe that within one hour I received THREE e-mails not only acknowledging my inquiries but also received direction and answers! I could not believe it. The first came in and said, “Thank you for letting us know about the links” (or something of that sort – I have since deleted it). OK, form letter I thought, but there was a specific individual’s signature tag, not just “Customer Service”. THEN, the second e-mail came from a gentlemen who forwarded my e-mail to two other individuals saying “Dear Jen/Jason, please get back to KC on this…thanks…blessings, Anjali.”
A few things to note:
1. He said “Dear…” This is not a common introduction anymore for many of us have been trained to be “formal” in our introductions therefore translating “Dear Jen,” (note the coma) to “Jen:” (not the absence of “Dear” and the replacement of a semicolon). This struck me as odd, but refreshingly odd to say the least. Then, about fifteen minutes later I received a lengthy reply from none other than the co-author of the book Operation World, Jason Mandryk himself! He informed me of the purpose of the website and offered a suggestion of where I might find some other useful information. (He recommended 24-7 Prayer.com which seems to be what I was looking for!) I was absolutely floored to think that individuals within an organization would take so kindly to responding to a virtually anonymous web inquiry. There is hope for the redemption of our high-tech culture yet! I tehn responded to jason’s e-mail with this,
2. I found it interesting that he used my name in the reply, not simply “this guy” or “customer” or some other impersonal title. When I saw my name, I felt like I was a part of the team, working together for a greater purpose. Given the nature of the website is to promote global prayer for the nations, this should not strike me as completely unheard of, but frankly, it is not often heard of. Personal touch goes a long way.
"Thank you for an extraordinarily expedient response! Honestly, I do not think that I have ever received two personal responses from one general website inquiry! This just furthers my understanding that the folks at Operation World take their work seriously for the glory of God. Thank you for your commitment to excellence." I would highly commend the Operation World website to you for your use. And, having been a first-hand witness to the organizations commitment to excellence and the glory of God, I will sure to continue to visit!
***It must be noted that I do own a copy of Operation World in book form that rests no more than three feet from me (even as I type now), but my laziness prevented me from opening the book when I desired to search on the internet. Maybe there is even hope for me.
Monday, May 21, 2007
The United Kingdom boasts a population of almost 60 million people derived from over 100 different people groups. The dominate people group is of course, English-speaking Britons which accommodate for 40 million individuals. Of these 40 million individuals, about 75% claim to be adherents to Christianity, however, surprisingly only 8.5% claim to be evangelicals. What does this mean? Well, in laymen’s terms: this is a country derived of people of a “spiritual heritage” who have been reduced to cultural Christianity without any true gospel accomplishing a life change. These 8.5%, however, are the third most evangelical people group within the country next to Jamaicans (24.72% - who’d of thought??) and the Ulster Irish (21.82%). These numbers would not classify the English-speaking Britons as an “unreached people group,” but there is still a great need for a strong, Biblical, gospel witness in their country.
The Muslim presence is increasing greatly in the country and, as the home of the 2012 Olympics, Islam is preparing for a global influx of visitors. This in itself presents great barriers to the gospel’s progress; however, I would say that the even greater barrier is that of nominal Christianity. When Christians do not impact their cultures with truth, truth becomes obscured, God is not glorified, and therefore, seldom do individuals make lasting decisions to follow Christ. Therefore, our greatest need for prayer is that the Lord would strengthen the existing church and send a fresh move of His spirit upon His people. Pray that these Christians would be burdened for their communities and that they would be given the boldness to share truth with their neighbors.
The Church of England is the dominant denomination among Christians and second is the Roman Catholic Church. The Church of England is largely Episcopalian and is the official state church, however as previously mentioned, makes a nominal impact among the culture. Atheism, agnosticism, and spiritualism (New Age) are increasing in popularity as secularism sweeps across Western Europe. This is a danger that will silently effect the United States as well in the coming years, long before many of us take notice. Many churches in England are now either bars or lofts, depending upon the district, and increasingly, many are becoming mosques for Muslim worship.
From the IMB’s Western Europe Website:
”Will you pray that the following strongholds of Satan will be demolished as Western Europeans come to know the Truth of Jesus Christ?More,
1. humanistic education
2. dependence on material comfort
3. pagan traditions
4. a sense of futility
5. depression and suicide
6. sexual promiscuity
7. Dependence on drugs, alcohol and tobacco
”Intercede for refugees and immigrants living in Western Europe, many of whom are from countries closed to the Gospel. These are unreached people groups now living within Western European borders. The majority have fled their homelands seeking economic, political, and religious asylum. Many are at a point in their lives where they are very open to the truth of the Gospel message. Pray that God's Holy Spirit will speak to their personal Savior.”
For more info:
CIA World Fact Book
IMB’s Tell Europe
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
"Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil a has come up before me." 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD." (Jonah 1:1-3 ESV)
Some thoughts on Jonah’s run from the Lord from James Montgomery Boice and Donald Grey Barnhouse:
“In his excellent preaching on Jonah, Donald grey Barnhouse often called attention to it by highlighting the phrase about Jonah “paying the fare.” He noted that Jonah did not get to where he was going since he was thrown overboard, and that he obviously did not get a refund on his ticket. So he paid the full fare and did not get to the end of his journey. Barnhouse said, ‘It is always that way. When you run away from the Lord you never get to where you are going, and you always pay your own fare. On the other hand, when you go the Lord’s way you always get to where you are going, and He pays the fare.’ That’s worth repeating [says Boice]: When you run away from the Lord you never get to where you are going, and you always pay your own fare. But when you go the Lord’s way you always get to where you are going, and He pays the fare.”Boice then draws the parallel between Jonah and Moses infant life. Jochebed, Moses’ mother, hid him as long as she could until she was forced to put him in a basket of reeds and place him in the river. Miriam, the sister to Moses, watched to see what would become of him. When Pharaoh’s daughter discovered Moses, Miriam asked her “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go." So the girl went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages." So the woman took the child and nursed him.” (Ex 2:7-9)
“I will pay you.” That is the point for which I tell the story. Jonah went his own way, paid his own far, and got nothing. Jochebed went God’s way. Consequently, God paid the fare, and she got everything. I repeat it once more: When you run away from the Lord you never get to where you are going, and you always pay your own fare. But when you go the Lord’s way you always get to where you are going, and He pays the fare.”Boice then concludes this section drawing one last parallel and promise as written by the Apostle Paul: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Ph 1:6)
”Quite often we look at that verse merely as a statement of the “eternal security” of the Christian, which is all right. God will certainly continue His work with us, regardless of what happens, and will preserve us for Heaven. But this verse also means – we must not miss it – that God is so determined to perfect His good work in us that he will continue to do so with whatever it takes, regardless of the obedience or disobedience of the Christian. Will you go in His way? Then He will bless your life and encourage you. Will you run, as Jonah ran? Then He will trouble your life. If necessary, He will even break it into little pieces, if by so doing He enables you to walk in His way once again. If you disobey, you will find your initial disobedience easy. But after that the way will grow hard. If you obey Him, you will find the way paved with blessing.”All too much like Jonah, I am.
James Montgomery Boice. The Minor Prophets: Volume 1, An Expositional Commentary, Hosea-Jonah(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1983 rpt 2006), p. 267-268, 270
Monday, May 14, 2007
No, we are not referring to the state that lies between Alabama and South Carolina. We are referring to the country of Georgia which gained its independence in 1991 from the Bolsheviks after the fall of the Soviet Union. However, soon after gaining its independence, its first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, became dictatorial and was overthrown by an armed revolution. Political unrest has been the general state over the last fifteen years marked by the Chechen Wars of the 90’s and increasing political strong-arming from the new Russia. Pray, that the Sovereign Lord of the Universe would establish a government based on truth and not power. Pray for His Lordship to be made known.
Georgia rests on the eastern edge of the Black Sea and has borders of Russia and Chechnya to the north and Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the south. Georgia has immensely fertile soil and was at one time Russia premier suppliers of tea and citrus fruit, however, much of the population remains well below the poverty line as rebels have dominated any economic activity in recent years. Pray for opportunities to resent themselves for individuals who are seeking to provide fro their families may do so for the glory of God.
The Georgian Orthodox Church is the predominant religious establishment in the country and 62% claim Christianity as their affiliation. However, much like North America, there is merely a veneer of religiosity colored with Christian overtones, but few can indeed profess to have a saving, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. For most, it is an expression of nationalism for “to be Georgian, is to be Georgian Orthodox.” Protestant denominations comprise about one half of one percent (.53% which equates to .0053 of the total population). Baptists and Pentecostals are the largest congregations of these Protestant groups, however, disunity amongst these two groups (imagine that) has proved to be a hindrance to the gospel work. Pray for unity among these brothers in sisters in Christ that they would, as Jesus prayed, “all be one, just as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:21)
This country is “open” to the gospel and as such, we ought to thank God for allowing this providential window to remain. As Georgia is the home for almost 1 million Muslims (about 20% of the population) this could provide a ripe harvest for the Lord to see multitudes of Muslims come to Christ and then act as missionaries to the neighboring, heavily populated Muslim countries. Pray that the Lord of the Harvest might send workers into His fields with a faithful Gospel witness.
For more info go to
CIA World fact Book
Georgia’s Wikpedia Page
Friday, May 11, 2007
This past weekend, Kimberly and I had the privilege of attending a marriage retreat hosted by our church in Orange Beach, AL. Our speaker was Jason Allen, who is the Executive Assistant to Al Mohler at Southern Seminary and also is the interim pastor of a small church in Louisville. It was a joy to hear from him and his wife, Karen, rejoice in the things of God and His goodness that He has displayed towards them in their uncommon union. I was impressed with his ability to communicate biblical truth in a real, practical way and to seek to see the glory of God in all things. I was doubly impressed when I discovered that he dwells at the tender age of thirty.
Probably for my own posterity and the need to continue to reflect upon the truths that we discussed, I decided that I would provide a basic outline of each of his sessions based upon the notes that I took. I’m sure that I will not do his Christ-exalting preaching justice, but the attempt will be made nonetheless. The session headings were not given by Mr. Allen himself, but are also my attempts at summation. Here goes…
1st Session: The Sovereignty of God in Marriage
Jason chose as his text Romans 8:28-30 to begin our retreat and I found this remarkable to say the least:
Rom 8 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. Jason chose this text because, in his own words, "This is a touchstone passage for the entire Bible, paradigmatic for all of Christianity." It is from this passage that we learn that God indeed has a plan even when life seems to be falling apart. When life simply can not be calculated we rest in the knowledge that God’s nature is good and that His plan is also good. As stated previously, I considered this to be a remarkable foundation from which to build a marriage retreat, for it is from this same foundation that Christianity finds its base.
If God is not 100% sovereign then He is not sovereign at all. He can not be 99.99% sovereign for this would indicate that there is some realm of nature (even the most minute) that does not operate under his control. For philosophers, this is where the Law of Non-contradiction comes in to play. In brief, the Law of Non-Contradiction says that something (whether or a person, place, thing, object, idea, etc) can not “be” and “not be” at the same time. That is to say a “table” can not “be a table” and “not be a table” at the same time. True, the table may function in different manners at different points in time, however, the table is still the table. In the same way, God can not “be sovereign” and “not be sovereign” at the same time, He is either one or the other, not both. Therefore, and moving all of the logic aside since Scripture teaches that God is sovereign over all of His creation, then we must also affirm that He is sovereign over all of creation.
Jason adds: “God, in His absolute sovereignty, absolute power, and absolute control, has a specific plan for this universe, His Church, and for my life.” This thusly includes (but is not limited to) my family, my job, my daily routines, my church fellowship, my suffering, and my marriage. I had a friend who once said that everything is “Father filtered,” meaning that nothing comes into our lives without first being ordained and approved by God. (The question is then begged as to the concept of evil and the fallen nature of humanity. This will have to wait for another post, if I wish to not clog the blogosphere. I will come back to this at a near point in the future, however, as this is also one of the “problems of philosophy” that I have been wrestling with from a Christian worldview perspective.)
Mr. Allen then included that a few points to take away from God’s plan is that it provides “assurance, confidence, sobriety, focus, and joy.” Assurance because we might rest knowing that the world is not dependent on man and his fallen ways, but on a God who is perfectly holy, perfectly just, and perfectly true in all His ways. Indeed, even the angels in Heaven who are predetermined to carry the bowls of God’s wrath gather around the holy throne and
“sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Rev 15:3-4 ESV)Our confidence is therefore found in knowing that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). God’s plan also provides sobriety as we remember that there is indeed a coming judgment, and even before that, there is a day that has been appointed for every living creature to die. None of us will die one half-second before it was intended before the foundations of the world were established when the plan existed only in the mind of God.
This then, should lead us to focus as we understand that our days are but few, and that as image bearers of God, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and in submission to His Spirit we ought to seek to live each day for the fullness of God’s glory and for the praise of His name.
All this leads to what might be known as our everlasting joy. When a life is lived for God’s glory, the life will experience joy triumphant and interminable. We can live with the confidence of knowing that God’s plan is intended to result in my greatest joy, that is, the endless joy of knowing Him, the One who created us and saved us by bringing us - who were once far off - into an eternal covenant through His provision which accomplished our redemption.
“Send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise You with the lyre, O God, my God.” (Psa 43:3-4)He is to be our eternal, everlasting, ever-increasing joy as we understand the unfolding nature of His plan.
Allen then sums up the goal of God’s sovereign plan with this purpose: God’s sovereign plan exists for “the greater glory of God and the holiness of His people.” Too often, I attempt to separate this statement into two parts. The first part, “the greater glory of God” I affirm because I understand that all things exist for God’s glory. God is glorified when sinners come to Him in repentance seeking to trust in Him alone for salvation. God is glorified when His children repent of their known sin as well in hopes of purifying their relationship and growing to be more like Christ. God is even glorified, dare say I, when non-believers continue in their sin, for their sin will always stand in stark contrast to His holiness and ultimately His glory will be revealed (here on earth or at the day of judgment and beyond, but it will one day be revealed). However, the second part, “the holiness of His people” I tend to shrug. Yes, this may be awfully unspiritual of me to confess, but I too often do not truly seek to be sanctified by the washing of the word. I do so in theory, of course, but how often do I truly submit myself to the sovereignty of God’s lordship so that I might be intentionally made holy. The only way in which a sinful man such as myself might be made holy is through the cleansing of the sin which so easily entangles. Thus, I must be made aware of my sin and truly repent of it if I am to be conformed to His likeness. My sinful nature rebels against this process, but I admit, that once on the other side of the fires of sanctification I am thankful yet convinced that I have still yet to arrive.
Up to this point, on might have supposed that he had arrived at the wrong conference. This was to be a “marriage conference” right? Yes, it was, and that is precisely the point. Although this was the first marriage gig that my excellent of wife of two years and I have attended, I can only presume that most marriage conferences begin with “Communication 101”, “Roles of the Husband/Wife”, or “What to Do When Your Children Leave Home”, or the like. To be sure, all of these are important issues to discuss and items that need to be addressed sooner or later. However, if we do not have the bedrock of God’s sovereignty then we have missed the point altogether for not only our marriage, but our entire Christian life. As mentioned above, God can not be 99.99% sovereign if He is to be truly sovereign. But when we come to grips with the awesome reality that God is indeed 1,000,000,000,000% sovereign then we can be illumined to the biblical truths that:
I. God’s plan is for my good.Jason gave these three truths and then wonderfully brought the idea of God’s sovereignty into the context of our marriages.
II. God’s plan is for my holiness.
III. God’s plan is for His glory
I. God’s plan is for my good.
“…all things work together for good.”
Because God is sovereign, I can trust that He is working His plan for my ultimate good. I may not agree with what that “good” is because my sinful natures prevents me from fully grasping the concept of God’s goodness, however, this does not negate God’s goodness nor the goodness of His plan. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psa 136:1). Jason then follows that this means “that although my wife or my husband is not perfect, she or he is perfect for me.” What a marvelous thought! True, Kimberly is not perfect and neither am I. (I am a lot “less perfect” than she – that’s for sure!) However, we do trust that God’s plan is perfect and that we have not been brought together by a cosmic accident of time plus chance. I trust fully, because the Scriptures affirm this, that God, in His sovereign plan, before the foundations of the world were established, knew my name, knew when I would come into being, knew the path that I would take, and knew who my wife would be long before I had the concept of “girls.” This is not to say that God saw the choices that I would make and then chose to operate His plan in accordance with my choices. Rather, in His sovereignty He gave me the freedom to freely choose the choices that I did make all the while in accordance with His plan that caused me to be in position with exactly where He wanted me to be. And He did the same for Kimberly. Therefore, we are not permitted to ever entertain the idea “maybe I should have chose differently” or “we should have never been married” or “since this isn’t working out we should just divorce.” NO NO NO! To do so would be to deny the goodness of God and the goodness of His plan! This sin must be avoided at all costs.
II. God’s plan is for my holiness.
“…to be conformed to the image of His Son…”
Because God is sovereign, I can trust that His plan is for my holiness. As stated previously, my sinful nature tends to attempt to buck this truth and kick against the goads when it comes to my holiness. However, rest assured, no matter how much I buck or how much I kick, God’s truth abideth still. It is important to note here, that even in our post-modern society, truth is still truth whether we adhere to it or not. Truth is still truth whether we agree with it as truth or not. Truth, real truth, is fully independent of any human validation. It is along this line that we read in the truth of Scripture that His children were intended to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Thusly, we can note that everything that comes into our life has been “Father filtered” for the purpose of conforming us to his image. More specifically, my job, my marriage, my finances, my children (if the Lord chooses to bless us with them), my possessions, my achievements, my _________(fill in the blank) is intended to conform me into the image if Jesus Christ. Moreover, in light of God’s sovereignty, this proverbial argument that we are having is intended to produce an opportunity for Kimberly and I to glorify God, serve others, and grow to be like Christ (to steal from Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker. Even more specifically, my wife is one of God’s chosen agents of sanctification in my life. Again, oftentimes the agent receives the brunt of what is an individual who does not wish to be sanctified. But I am increasingly thankful for the ministry that the Lord has given to Kimberly to point out faults in my character or areas where I am not living in a Christ-like manner. Notice I did not say that I am always immediately thankful, but prayerfully, I am moving towards that direction. She has the ability, the authority, and the responsibility of no other individual on the face of this earth to carry out this ministry, and I do in kind for her. Dennis Rainey wrote in his book The Christian Husband that I should be more concerned with my wife’s holiness than her happiness. I believe this to be true and the vice-versa applies to her as well.
III. God’s plan is for His glory
“…in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Because God is sovereign, I can trust that He works all things not only for my good and my holiness, but ultimately for His glory. This is the reason that all things exist anyway – for His glory. For, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork”(Ps 19:1) and even we as individuals should consider “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17). Jason exhorted each of us to “live life in such a way that Jesus Christ gains first place in everything.” He is to have preeminence in every aspect of our lives. Our jobs, our marriages, our finances, our _______(fill in the blank). He is to have first place everywhere! This is especially true in our marriages. For, if at ANY time I seek to usurp His position and desire that I be first place in our marriage, we are destined for a sinful situation. When I believe that all of my needs are to be considered before Kimberly’s I am obviously putting myself before not only her, but before the One who sovereignly brought us together in the first place. It is He who foreknew, He who predestined, He who conforms, He who calls, He who justifies, and He who will one day glorify. Sure, man is responsible for the sinfulness of his own actions, but none of us come to God on our own terms. He sets the stage and draws us to Him. This is a part of His sovereign grace to conform us to His image for His ultimate glory. He does this so that He might be the firstborn and preeminent among all. Come to terms with this truth, and all of life will seem to coincide.
This first session was indeed incredible and set the stage for each session that would follow. What an incredible place to start! God is sovereign and we are not, a truth which also must be understood before our marriages are to be successful for His glory. Failure is not an option, so we seek to rest and trust in the truth of His sovereign grace that plans and redeems from eternity past until eternity future. What a mighty God we serve!
Thursday, May 03, 2007
The God Question According to Francis Schaeffer: How the Epistemological Basis for Truth Affects Every Culture
There are multiple problems that exist in philosophy and any thinker must come to terms on some level with each of them if he is to think rightly about the world in which he lives. These problems include, but are not limited to, questions concerning ultimate reality, whether or not there is a separation between the mind and body, the problem of free will, and what is referred to commonly as "the god question." The god question seeks to determine whether or not a god (some form of deity), gods (multiple deities of certain aspects of life that are often in competition), or God (a personal, infinite being) exist, and if so, how should we then live in light of this? A.W. Tozer comments, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."(1) Indeed, how one answers "the god question" is the most important thing about an individual because from this answer will flow the basic foundations of thought. Thoughts concerning ontology, evil, morality, reality, and all others are influenced by the individual’s response to "the god question." For Francis Schaeffer, entire cultures could be examined based on how they answered this profound question.
Dr. Francis Schaeffer was born in 1912 and changed his answer to "the god question" at age eighteen. Then an agnostic, he converted to Christianity after writing in his September 3rd, 1930 journal entry, "all truth is from the Bible."(2) After marrying his wife, Edith, the duo was sent as missionaries to Switzerland where they eventually founded the L’Abri Institute, which means "shelter in French."(3) The Schaeffer’s began L’Abri in order to assist those who are "seeking the answers to the basic philosophical problems with which all who care about finding a meaning or purpose in life have to struggle" and "to show forth by demonstration, in our life and work, the existence of God."(4) Thus, for Schaeffer, three things became apparent: God is real, God is personal, and our understanding of who He is directly affects our epistemological basis for truth. In other words, for Schaeffer, the most important thing about man is his concept of God.
Francis Schaeffer came to this conclusion after he traced the major thought progressions of most major western cultures beginning from Plato and Socrates and continuing until the modern era. As he looked to each prominent philosopher, he could see a corollary relationship between their thoughts on truth which stemmed from how each answered "the god question." These philosophers then influenced the surrounding culture by way of art, poetry, prose, and drama. According to Schaeffer, "People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of these presuppositions, than they even themselves may realize. By presuppositions we mean the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic world view, the grid through which he sees the world.”(5) These world view’s always act as a grid through which one determines truth, not just his or her personal preferences as others might suggest.
After Greece was conquered by Rome circa 146bc, assimilation occurred between Roman and Greek thought and culture. However, this proved to be detrimental to the Roman society. Approximately 250 years prior to the integration of Rome and Greece, the infamous trial of Socrates before Meletus was held. Found guilty by a jury, Socrates was eventually sentenced to death by drinking a hemlock poison. At the time of Socrates, the State or the polis was the ruling standard by which all was measured and as a result of Socrates’ commitment to the polis his philosophy bound him to submit to it because without his submission (and others who might follow) an anarchy might erupt causing the foundation of the society to be compromised.(6) “[Socrates] explains that the state cannot exist if people do not obey its laws […] So, the argument says, in disobeying the law we destroy the state. Socrates adds that it would be especially ungrateful for someone who has benefited so much from ‘the Laws and Constitution’ to offer injury in return.”(7) As an aside, the polis has a loose affinity with the myriad of gods of their society. According to Schaeffer,
“The gods were amplified humanity, not divinity. Like the Greeks, the Romans had no infinite god. This being so, they had no sufficient reference point intellectually; that is, they did not have anything big enough or permanent enough to which to relate either their thinking or their living. Consequently, their value system was not strong enough to bear the strains of life, either individual or political. All their gods put together could not give them a sufficient base for life, morals, values, and final decisions. These gods depended on the society which had made them, and when this society collapsed the gods tumbled with it. Thus, the Greek and Roman experiments in social harmony (which rested on an elitist republic) ultimately failed.”(8) Thus, because truth was determined by the society, the society ultimately crumbled because there was not a corporate concept of truth. There were segments that interpreted truth one way, others that interpreted it another way, and a few to be sure that were pluralists who saw no real basis for truth. Without a basis for truth, whatever structure is pretending to exist will ultimately fail. For Schaeffer, “the god question” could again be pointed to as the explanatory factor which caused the decline of the Greco-Roman behemoth that it became. In contrast to the Greco-Roman world view with the polis, or city-state as the foundation for society, first and second century Christians interpreted the world from a different view point.
“That it was the Christians who were able to resist religious mixtures, syncretism, and the effects of the weaknesses of Roman culture speaks to the strength of the Christian world view. This strength rested on God’s being an infinite-personal God and His speaking in the Old Testament, in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, and in the gradually growing New Testament […] Thus the Christians not only had knowledge about the universe and mankind that people cannot find out by themselves, but they had an absolute, universal values by which to live and by which to judge the society and the political state in which they lived. And they had grounds for the basic dignity and value of the individual as unique in being made in the image of God.”(9) It must be noted that it was not long, however, before those early Christians became tainted with the improper desire for power, fueled by the surrounding Greco-Roman society that was being built around them. By the end of the second century, the “Church” was being developed as a centralized power force and authority was understood as coming from the Church as opposed to from God Himself through His revealed truth in Scripture.
The view that the Church was able to stand as the touchstone for truth based on its own merit, not the authority of the Bible or God, continued throughout the Middle Ages.(10) It was also during this time that the Church set up the papacy who acted as the ultimate authority for the Church. Space will not permit for the discussion of why this act was wrong on so many levels, but the historic fact remains that this is indeed what happened. Therefore, suffice it to say, that this period was characterized by a general understanding of Christianity which permeated most of western culture, although many in society would not have identified themselves as “Christians.” It was in the eleventh century that John of Salisbury directly confronted the residing pope and declared that “the Roman Church, which is the Mother of all Churches, behaves more like a step-mother than a mother.”(11) Thus, even the entity composed of individuals who were supposed to know truth and interpret the world properly, had become lustful for power and greedy for dishonest gain that came at the expense of truth. Although western history experienced an overlay of Christianity, the heart of truth was not always prevalent in the minds of many who lived during this time. This period soon faded into the glory of what is now known as the Renaissance.
The Renaissance, or “new birth,” is generally dated between the 1300’s and the early 1700’s. According to Schaeffer, however, one must look back into the Middle Ages, specifically to philosopher/theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in order to properly understand the Renaissance. The traditional Christian world view can be interpreted in the grid of Creation/Fall/Redemption/Restoration. The Biblical Christian sees the world as being first created by God (this answers the question of origins). Then there was the “Fall of man” which accounts for how evil entered into the world. The final stages are redemption, how God is working in the world to counteract the fall of man, and restoration, the future, final event when all things will be restored to their original state.(12) Thomas Aquinas, however, interpreted the fall of man to not affect the entire man (as the conservative understanding teaches) but that man “lost only the added-on gift of supernatural grace (the upper story). They fell from a state of grace to the state pf pure nature, losing the extra, supra-human faculties but retaining their human faculties (the lower story) essentially intact and unchanged.”(13) As a result, the idea that man’s intellect was different from his values was propagated and values and morals were no longer considered to be elements of truth, but merely opinions or preferences.(14) It was at this juncture that the Renaissance caught its fuel, albeit one hundred years prior to its official inception. What emerged was not necessarily a birth of a new man per se, but rather the birth of a new thought about man and his position in the universe.
The Renaissance brought with it a vibrancy to life and a renewed passion for the arts. Not to say that the arts were not influential in times prior, they were, but it was unquestionably one of the greatest peaks in the history of creativity. Artwork took on new meaning, theatre regained its significance, and as always, philosophers seemed to be behind the scenes directing the culture as a stage. The philosophical framework which was to characterize the Renaissance man centered on the idea of humanism. Humanism may be understood as the “philosophy or system of thought that begins with man alone, in order to try to find a unified meaning to life.”(15) Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi, and Masaccio were influential artists in their day who took this form of humanism and illustrated it in painting and in architecture. It is difficult to separate “art” and “architecture” into their exclusive categories because for the Renaissance man, the world belonged to him, and the world was his canvas. It was not until the Renaissance that the use of simple geometric forms such as the square and the circle were used in art and architecture – of which da Vinci was the master of shape and Brunelleschi the master of space. “But for the men of the men of the Renaissance the new view of perspective was also something more: It placed man in the center of this space, and space became subordinated to mathematical principles spun out of the mind of man.”(16) Although much of the artwork and architecture that was employed during this period of history was associated with the Church, it should not be understood that the artist’s had a proper view of God as revealed in the Bible. Rather, these artists attempted to display their own view of humanism, man as the centerpiece for life, rather than God. Thus, humanistic men of the Renaissance answered “the god question” this way: “God may or may not exist, and we are the least bit concerned. Our focus should be on man and the creation in order to enjoy the here and now rather than concern ourselves with some cosmic question mark.”(17) According to Schaeffer, “Man made himself increasingly independent and autonomous, and with this came an increasing loss of anything which gave meaning, either to the individual things in the world or to man. With this we begin to see the dilemma of humanism which is still with us today.”(18)
Michelangelo’s statue of David and the men “tearing themselves out of the rock” were sculpted during this Renaissance period and attempted to capture the essence of the humanistic world view that dominated the era. “They make a real humanistic statement: Man will make himself great. Man as Man is tearing himself out of the rock. Man by himself will tear himself out of nature and free himself from it. Man will be victorious.”(19) In contrast to the secular humanist’s Renaissance that was occurring, there was also another cultural revolution that was occurring in northern Europe during this same time frame. What later came to be known as the Reformation, was actually a clarion call from within the Church to bring its constituents back to a biblical view of man and of God. This was the attempt to dethrone the humanistic vantage that had gripped most of western culture and to replace man with man’s Creator, the Christian’s God. “The differences in the Reformation and the Renaissance lie right there, in the view of man. The Reformers preached the original sin of man and looked upon the world as “fallen” from God’s intended place. The Renaissance had a positive estimate of human nature and the universe itself. This confidence in man and his powers flowered and filled the air with fragrance during the Enlightenment.”(20) According to Schaeffer, the Renaissance in the south and the Reformation in the north must be dealt with concurrently, for each dealt with the same sets of issues, but yielded totally contradictory answers and results.(21)
The Reformers in the north answered “the god question” entirely differently than the southern men of the Renaissance and this thought was evident in their writings as well as the artists who were influenced by this emphasis on Biblical authority.
“In contrast to the Renaissance humanists, [the Reformers] refused to accept the autonomy of human reason [made popular by the humanists of the Renaissance], which acts as though the human mind is infinite, with all knowledge within its realm. Rather, they took seriously the Bible’s own claim for itself – that it is the only final authority. And they took seriously that man need the answers given by God in the Bible to have adequate answers not only for how to be in an open relationship with God, but also for how to know the present meaning of life and how to have final answers in distinguishing between right and wrong. That is, man need not only a God who exists, but a God who has spoken in a way that can be understood.”(22)Johann Sebastian Bach and Friedrich Handel were arguably the most prominent composers who were heavily influenced by the Reformation’s answer to “the god question.” Disenchanted by the idea that man was the center of the world, Bach and Handel sought to compose music that would point to God as Creator, Jesus Christ as the Savior, and man in total dependence upon Him for the very air that they breathe. Thus, their music had a distinct quality about it that was characterized by chords that were always resolved, and harmonies that were never dissonant. This was deliberate in order to show how the God of the Bible causes all things to work together in harmony in order to complete a cohesive whole.
The Reformation which offered a concept of Biblically revealed truth compared to the Renaissance which eventually lead to humanistic despair was soon followed by the rise of modern science which heavily influenced modern art, music, literature, and film. This period may be referred to as the Enlightenment and its philosophical father was a Frenchman named Voltaire. According to Schaeffer, Voltaire was thoroughly impressed with the English “Bloodless Revolution” (1688) where William III of Orange and Mary came to the throne, but with limits imposed on them by Parliament. Schaeffer argues that this form of revolution was made possible only as a result of the Reformation’s concept of truth. Voltaire desired to see this same kind of revolution in France, however, what he witnessed instead was the massacre of thousands of people led by Maximilien Robespierre. Because the French leaders of their revolution answered “the god question” entirely differently than those of the Reformation, true change did not occur and it came at the expense of needless blood shed. And even after thousands of people were killed, it still did not produce the lasting results that were desired. In June 1789, Frenchman of the National Assembly gathered to develop what is now famously referred to as the “Tennis Court Oath,” where the men swore to establish a constitution after locking themselves inside a building that housed tennis courts. According to Schaeffer,
“Their base, consciously, was purely a humanist theory of rights…It sounded fine, but it had nothing to rest upon. In the Declaration of the rights of Man what was called “the Supreme Being” equaled “the sovereignty of the nation” – that is, the general will of the people. Not only was there a contrast with what resulted in the United States from the Declaration of Independence which was made thirteen years earlier. On had the Reformation base, the other did not.”(23)Because “the god question” was left interpreted from the humanistic standpoint, the French could not offer anything of lasting value. As Schaffer comments on the Rights of Man, “within a year it was a dead letter.”(24)
The Enlightenment brought with it a season of rapid scientific advancements such as the discovery of electricity, the universal force of attraction we call gravity, and the development of such everyday tools as the barometer. All of these came about as man began to weigh heavily on the instrument of reason because he saw that the world seemed to operate in a consistent manner. According to Schaeffer, two non-Christian men, Alfred North Whitehead and J. Robert Oppenheimer, both “stressed that modern science was born out of the Christian world view.”(25) Schaeffer quotes Whitehead to assert that the early scientists “had an inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief the incredible labors of scientists would be without hope.”(26) In other words, the scientists of this period answered “the god question” by at least affirming that there is some being in which has caused the world to exist in its current state and to display consistent attributes by which we can observe nature and make educated predictions.
However, according to Schaeffer it was here that scientists made a grave error. The trend went towards emphasizing the particulars over the universals which ultimate reduced man’s significance. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution based on the concept of natural selection caught significant attention with the publishing of Darwin’s The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859. Whether Darwin intended to cause such a break in the way I which man was viewed is irrelevant, his thinking has shaped western culture more so than most philosophers of the past two hundred years. In Darwin’s natural selection, man is reduced to a compilation of molecules on the basis of time plus chance. In short, if natural selection is to be understood as the premise for the origin of species, something came from nothing as a result of nothing other than random chance and many millions, if not billions, of years of random chance activity. These infinite number of chance occurrences coupled with a little bit of luck and stretched out over eons, in Darwin’s view, has created everything that we see in our world today. For Darwin, and those who hold to the theory of natural selection, “the god question” is answered by stating that man does not need God, a god, or gods as a necessary and sufficient being, for all man needs is time plus chance. However, since man is then reduced to a chance number of cells and DNA strands, man’s value is lost because there is nothing that gives him value other than the idea that his number hit the lottery.
This idea of chance selection influenced more than just the area of biological science. In fact, even the musical compositions of the day were leaning on this theory of randomness as a source of creativity. John Cage was a musical composer who believed the idea that the universe consisted purely as a result of time plus chance. Therefore, his music was composed with this same theory in view and the result, although to some may sound creative, to most it was sheer noise. All sounds were dissonant. All sound was not intended to produce melodies or harmonies, it was simply intended to produce noise which hopefully with enough time and enough chance might actually formulate something that could be heard and interpreted by the listener. However, Cage eventually understood the fallacy of his thinking as he realized that one can not practically live in this world with the base idea that time plus chance will consistently yield beneficial results. Cage was also an authority in “mycology, the science of mushrooms. And he himself said, “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operation, I would die shortly.” Mushroom picking must be carefully discriminative. His theory of the universe does not fit the universe that exists.”(27)
As Schaeffer traced “the god question” throughout the ages, he saw a prominent theme emerge that is no shock to philosophers: how one answers “the god question” will have dramatic influence on every other area of his life. This was true in the days of Plato, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment and is still true even today. When Schaeffer began to look at the modern times (for him this would have been from the 1950’s up until the time of his death in 1984), he still saw “the god question” as the determining factor of society and culture. With the 1960’s and 1970’s came an increased desire for personal peace and affluence.
“Personal peace means just to be let alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people…Affluence means an overwhelming and ever-increasing prosperity – a life made up of things, things, and more things – a success judged by an ever-higher level of material abundance.”(28) According to Schaeffer, in today’s world the majority answer “the god question” on the basis of a misconstrued vocabulary. No longer is God an infinite personal Being, but rather “this finally brings them to the place where the word God merely becomes the word God, and no certain content can be put into it.”(29) Therefore, god is seen as something that would allow the individual to gain greater affluence and prosperity. And when there is a lack of affluence or prosperity it is then “god’s” fault for he, she, they, or it has not provided abundantly beyond that which they have worked for. Sadly, as Schaeffer has rightly noted, “Much of the church is no help here either, because for so long a large section of the church has only bee teaching a relativistic humanism using religious terminology.”(30) According to Schaeffer, most will continue to give up his or her “liberties” provided that his or her personal peace and affluence is not threatened. This leads us into a lackadaisical approach to the issues that affect our time. Women’s rights, racial injustice, and the defending of all life at any stage meets apathy when it comes to the aggregate of western society. For the typical westerner living in a democratic society where his or her vote and voice is theoretically equally heard, the majority express a sheer disinterest until it directly affects his or her personal peace or affluence. This is a direct result of how many in this current society answer “the god question.” Without a proper, Biblical view of God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture, Schaeffer attests that man will ultimately only be concerned with that which directly affects himself. To be sure, there will be a few altruistic souls in the lot, but for the majority, the fight is not worth it as our society has bought into the idea that time plus chance will solve all problems. This is hardly a healthy view for any individual for any society and this present author desires that he was making a broader generalization than is actually present. Unfortunately, I am convinced that this is an accurate assessment.
“The god question” is the most important question for Francis Schaeffer and he set out to trace each culture’s response to “the god question” in an effort to see how each then gained their epistemological basis for truth. We live in an age of postmodern skepticism where the only absolute that is proffered is the false idea that there are no absolutes. Nancy Pearcey sums up Schaeffer’s word view this way:
“In other words, objective truth is possible only if there is a Creator who has spoken to us – giving us divine revelation. As Schaeffer put it in the title of one of his books, only if He Is There and He Is Not Silent. The only way of escape from postmodern skepticism is if God has revealed something of His own perspective to us – not about spiritual matters only, and not a noncognitive emotional experience, but revelation of objective truth about the cosmos we live in. In short, the biblical doctrine of revelation is the only way to close the gap between fact and value, between the upper and lower stories.”(31)Schaeffer’s legacy and influence on thinking Christians who have refused to accept the anti-intellectualism so prominent in the Church today will be felt for generation’s to come. He saw and envisioned things that were virtually unheard of in his day (in-vitro fertilization, partial-birth abortion, euthanasia - to name a few) and he spoke on these issues as a foretelling of things to come. “The god question” for Schaeffer had to be answered this way:
“In Christianity the value of faith depends upon the object towards which the faith is directed. So it looks outward to the God who is there, and to the Christ who in history died upon the cross once for all, finished the work of atonement, and on the third day rose again in space and in time. This makes Christian faith open to discussion and verification.”(32)Schaeffer’s answer to “the god question” was never to simply place blind faith in something that is without reason. He denied this fallacy of “blind faith” because first, it is simply irrational to believe that such a leap is necessary, and second because the New Testament never presents faith in this light. For Schaeffer, God Is There and He Is Not Silent. For countless thinking Christians, so is Francis Schaeffer.
1 AW Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1961), p. 1
2 Christopher Catherwood, Five Evangelical Leaders (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1984), p. 112. As quoted by Bryan A. Follis, Truth with Love: The Apologetics of Francis Schaeffer (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), p. 13
3 Edith Schaeffer, L’Abri: New Expanded Edition (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1992), p. 13
4 ibid p. 13, 15-16
5 Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), p. 19
6 One could argue that this form of city-state governing polis was a precursor to socialism, but the corollary is insignificant to this discussion.
7 James Rachels, Problems from Philosophy (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2005), p. 5
8 Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), p. 21
9 ibid. p. 22
10 For our purposes we will define the Middle Ages as consisting roughly between the years 500 and 1400ad.
11 ibid. p. 35
12 This should not be understood to be a complex treatise in the area of Christian world view. For such a discourse, I would respectfully submit Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004). Heavily influenced by Francis Schaeffer during her stays at L’Abri, Pearcey is also an expert in Schaeffer’s answers to “the god question” and other problems in philosophy.
13 Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 92. The dichotomy between “upper story” and “lower story” was the attempt by Aquinas to
“ ‘Christianize’ Aristotle’s philosophy, rejecting what was clearly unscriptural and seeking to interpret the rest in a form compatible with Christianity (just as earlier thinkers had done with Plato).
The end result was that Aquinas retained the dualistic framework of Greek philosophy while changing the terminology. In the upper story he put grace, and in the lower story he put nature – not nature in the modern scientific sense but in the Aristotelian sense of the “nature of a thing,” meaning its ideal or perfect form, its full potential, the goal toward which it strives, its telos. In Aristotle’s philosophy, all natural processes are teleological, tending toward a purpose or goal.” (ibid 78)
14 Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), p. 52
15 Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There: 30th Anniversary Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 216.
16 Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), p. 62
17 This is this present author’s summation.
18 ibid. p. 68
19 ibid. p. 71
20 Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language: Updated 2nd Edition (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1995), p. 313
21 ibid. p. 79
22 Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), p. 81
23 ibid. p. 122. It should be noted that Schaeffer does not subscribe to the theory that the founders of America were all Christians, rather, that the majority were deists at best. However, he does argue that although they were not Christians in the Biblical sense, the developing nation operated under the pretenses that Biblical Christianity offers (when faithful to the Biblical revelation). These pretenses are what offer us our “unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
24 ibid. p. 122
25 ibid. p. 132
26 ibid. p. 133
27 ibid. p. 196
28 ibid. p. 205
29 ibid. p. 176
30 ibid. p. 227
31 Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 246.
32 Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There: 30th Anniversary Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 84-85.