A man heard a hot message from his preacher against television.Â He told the pastor that he had decided to put his TV in the closet for one month to honor the Lord.Â About halfway through the month, his pastor asked him how it was going with the television.Â HeÂ replied: “We’ve had a hard time all fitting into the closet.”
When I was a kid, my family didn’t leave on the TV like it was another household appliance.Â Did you ever have one of those moments though, growing up, when someone says, “I don’t have anything to do”?Â Translated:Â “Can I watch TV?”Â You don’t have anything to do and so you think and you think about what you can do and television’s the answer.Â Can television by definition count as something to do?Â Isn’t it the apex of do-nothing?Â Isn’t the TV in the same picture with the couch potatoe?Â Isn’t television in the definition of “sedimentary”?
When we had a television, we turned it on.Â I don’t imagine that there are many families that get home at night, who don’t turn it on.Â Â People ask, “What’s on tonight?”Â If the answer is, “nothing,” that doesn’t mean that they don’t watch.Â Â First they look, but then they find the best nothing on there and sit and watch it.Â Is there anything else that we say we’re glued to, besides TV?Â ImagineÂ children glued to homework.
More On Videos
Essentially, no television was available to me from the summer of 1980 for the next ten years.Â I spent some time standing in the television section of department stores, admiring the new technology for covering NFL and college football.Â I remember the advent of the close-up, cameras now zooming close enough to see clearly the ball manufacturer.Â I recall thinking that it would be nice to watch that kind of football coverage, briefly coveting the experience.Â It was during those silent years, however, that the video arrived, first Beta, then Read more…
Shhhhhh.Â Your television is talking.Â Just listen.Â Quiet now, everybody.Â Can you hear it?Â No, no, don’t turn it on yet.Â Â Even when it is off, it still has plenty to say.Â
You probably know what I mean.Â It speaks to you at night, when you sit down with a plate of Oreos and a mug of milk.Â It calls your name.Â It begs.Â It promises you a good time.Â “Just pick up the remote… go ahead!Â It won’t hurt anything.Â Just for a little bit.Â Won’t you please?”Â
Of course, your television talks to you when have it turned on, too.Â And I’m not just talking about the images on the screen, either.Â They talk to you, of course.Â But not just them.Â Your television talks, too.Â You listen, sometimes.Â Your television reminds you that there are other options than the one you are watching.Â It reminds you to check and see.Â You could check the TV guide.Â But why ask someone else?Â Your television is right there, promising an answer.Â “Go ahead, answer your curiosities.Â Forget what that newspaper says, I’mÂ the expert about myself.Â I’ll tell you whether there is anything else worth watching.Â Just use your remote, and explore me for a while.”Â You oblige.Â The TV keeps its promise.Â And doesn’t.Â
Your television doesn’t just talk to you.Â It talks about you.Â We already saw that.Â It tells us about your priorities, about your life, about your relationship(s).Â It has a lot to say.Â More than you know.Â But that is not all it says.Â Your television talks to you, talks about you, and talks about us.Â It not only tells your story, but it also tells our story.Â The story of our culture, of the so-called “Age of Information” is projected in its glow.Â Listen carefully.Â Your television has something to say.
Driver or Passenger?Â
First, I would point out the fact that television really does speak about us.Â In a culture that talks incessantly about television, we should note this.Â Television actually has more to say about us than we have to say about it (as hard as that Read more…
Hi.Â My name is Kent.Â
I want to tell you the true story of me and television.Â The names will not be changed to protect the innocent.Â I’m not innocent.Â Is anyone?Â We could add a chapter to James and say that he is a perfect man who can control the television.Â A television can no man tame.Â But I digress.
Before I really get into this story, I want to give you a few preliminaries.Â First, for the last 20 out of 21 years, which is my married life, we have owned a television, but had no antennae or cable hook-up, which in California means that we don’t receive any actual television to view.Â We do own a combination DVD/CD player and a VCR.Â Second, I think television can be as dangerous as anything to us.Â Â But so can guns.
The Early Shows
OK, I grew up watching television.Â I watched Armstrong make his one giant leap for mankindÂ on our black and white tube television, peering through the porch window where my brother and I slept on a very warm July late evening before my dad left for graveyard shift at the factory.Â Did you notice that I remembered all that and television was a positive part of it?Â Yes.Â Gilligan’s Island, Hogan’s Heroes, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, Gomer Pyle, Petticoat Junction, Leave It to Beaver, and The Waltons strand my cultural fiber.Â I remember the talking heads of the Watergate hearing.Â I first witnessed the amazing growth of homosexual political power in San FranciscoÂ on a news program on the same black and white.Â I’d never go to San Francisco after witnessing that.Â Ooops.Â Many days Read more…
At the founding of our nation, if someone hadÂ told America’s forefathers that in the future, a significant part of an American’s day would be spent staring at a box in the living room, I feel fairly certain that he would have been dismissed out of hand.Â Somehow, it is hard to imagine that men like Franklin, Madison, Adams, or Washington would have the ability to fathom such a cultural phenomenon.Â Let alone imagine the possibility of it.
And no, I am not simply referring to the invention of miniature projectors of animated images.Â Certainly, there are many inventions of the modern era (e.g., automobiles, telephones, i-pods, and tennis shoes) that would have baffled them.Â I am referring, not to the invention, but to the activity of television viewing.Â Considering the amount of time spent on this activity, we would have had one confounded Founding Father.Â
Yet here we are, right smack-dab at the start of the Twenty-first century, where Television has replaced baseball as America’s favorite pastime.Â To borrow a line from Neal Postman’s delightful little book, we twenty-first century Americans are consumed with amusing ourselves to death.Â
One might say that this new pastime of ours has had an impact on our culture.Â That would be irrefutable.Â And yet, one gets the vague feeling that such a statement somehow gets off the train a few stops short of reality.Â Television has had more than a mere impact on culture.Â Television has become our Read more…
You may be reading it first here: the youth culture is dead! Ding Dong! Youth culture. Gone. Extinct like the bird-like, antediluvian therapod, the raptor (dromaeosauridae). American civilization has bleached itself of traditional youth culture (those last three words no longer an oxymoron, for those not surfing YouTube) by transfering its most fundamental qualities to the mainstream of society. All of the pawns have become queens. The corner offices now live in tepees. The major U. S. institutions have pandered so long to the shallow, self-centered, fad-driven narcissism of a majority of young people that their culture is culture. Youth culture has gone the way of the comb-over like skin is the new hair.
America has snatched the differentiating youth imagery from the bargain bin of life, leaving teens and twenties grasping at plastic. Youth is now the dominant power structure marketing itself as authentic. The adult population drinks the orange McDonald’s koolaid at the fountain of MTV. The institutional power informed by the old paradigms of adult behavior projects teen desires and values upon its blank canvass. Tradition becomes novelty. The neo-hormonic now dictates its oppressive random personalities upon the centralized hierarchy.
Pre-adolescent civilization incorporated the previously received notions of subversion concerning societal norms into a validated, reassured consumer commodity in the form of pseudo uncleanliness and originality. Now the warden is behind bars and no one cares. A totem has fallen on the reservation and without any natives, does it make a noise?
I understand that it is impossible for me as an “impartial” observing arbiter to assign accurate cultural interpretation with my already set idealogical biases. My translation feature is infected with the presupposition virus. I’m not able to determine even my own sanity with any authority due to my preexisting conception of status quo. I can’t possibly read the screen with so many pop ups in my broadband. It is akin to analyzing Jacques Lacan’s mother-child bonding through the “male gaze” of Michel Foucault. Read my lips.
Two words: Katie Couric. Two more words: Walter Cronkite. Peter Pan versus Captain Hook. The crocodile the creeping cuff of restraint represented by a ticking clock. Let yourself go. Do what you want. You’re going to die, so live it up. Get that tattoo. Wear the goatee that pronounces pubescent liberty. Don’t dogmatize. Dialogue. Consent the new authority. The messy hair and dirty cheeks of the lost boys club. A scruffy t-shirt hanging over beltless trousers pulling the noble savage back to his unspoiled jungle. Man was young. You’re young. No longer tied down by a failed hegemony. Business man and unemployed cardboard bearer symbiotic, the Ocellaris clownfish dwelling among the tentacles of Ritteri sea anemones.
This is a kickball team where everyone’s up last; no one first. You can purchase your props and then discard them when fashion changes. We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re better now, but it’s only a new and more pervasive brand of consumerism. We’re a Madonna constantly reinventing ourselves to match the fad, to imitate the latest American Idol.
We must shrink that gap between young and old by illustrating to young people what it means to deny self, take up the cross, and follow Him. We must judge everything and lose the foolishness that underlies the spirit of this age. We must frontload sacrifice and responsibility. A role model necessitates a role. Biblical manhood must be reflected and then mirrored. The virtuous woman must be praised at the gates. Young people must grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Churches and Christian families must preserve a godly culture that respects authority and elevates maturity, one that looks like what we see in Scripture, one with everlasting thoughts and affections. We must lose the chaff for the tree planted by the rivers of water. With substance we must retard the flames of style. Instead of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, we must see God. Instead of legitimizing shallow, anthropocentric childishness by our silence, we must stand for a unique and sober adulthood that reveals the distinct, noncontingent nature of God.
Let us stop the silliness. Let us put away the toys and tantrums. Let us quell the rowdy protests of the barbarians at the gate. Let us leave behind the giggling girly goofiness. Let us call incompetence what it is. Let us rise above the casual conviction. Let us be done with lesser things.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
The Johnson family was not your typical Christian family. At least, not on the surface. Mr. Johnson was a dedicated teacher in his local churchâ€™s Christian school. Mrs. Johnson gave herself to the ministry in their local church. Joe, the oldest son, always wore his suit and tie to church, sat in the front row of all Read more…
Have you looked at and compared the crowds that gather for a blue-state candidate or a red-state candidate? I’m not talking about race and ethnicity. Remove that from your thoughts and this discussion. I’m only referring to how they appear in dress and decorum. To make it more simple—notice the difference in the look of a Hillary crowd versus a Huckabee crowd (this is not an endorsement for either of these candidates or world views). By observation it is obvious that these two groups have different standards. Culture shock if they attended the other’s rally. Does this matter? Do the differences mean anything?
We can go further with this comparison. Look at this earlier female golfing attire (and here), early female tennis player (and here), early female cyclists, and then early female swimmers. Have the standards of dress changed? Are we better now? These men were watching a baseball game. Why have things become more casual all around? Is there an underlying philosophical reason? Are we better off with the new standard?
Standard fare today on standards is that they are nasty ole additions to Scripture. I ask myself, “Why didn’t the godly people, who loved the Word of God, not recognize that the standards they implemented weren’t actually biblical?” Corollary: “Were they that much spiritual dunces?” Also, “How could there have been such a widespread conspiracy to get especially young people to do things, i.e. keep standards, that were so detrimental to their lives?” I contend that the standard bearers’ spiritual and biblical elevators did go all the way to the top. They did have a clue.
We have a regular attack on standards today not just in evangelicalism (typical), but also in professing fundamentalism (here, here, here, and here). Are they trying to help us? Have we really been duped by modern day Pharisees? Is the world a more godly place with their new found influence? Or are they actually contemporary Mr. Worldly-Wises who can’t say “no” to their worldly lusts?
“Standard” isn’t an English word found in the English translation of Scripture, so to argue a proposition that standards are good and necessary and that obliterating them decays a Christian culture, we should define the term. The free dictionary online says that a standard is: “a. A degree or level of requirement, excellence, or attainment. b. A requirement of moral conduct. Often used in the plural.”
When we talk about standards, we are talking about institutional application of biblical principles and commands. The two Scriptural institutions are the family and the church, but today there are schools you can add to that. Families have standards—“call if you’ll be late,” “put back what you got out,” “elbows off the table,” “answer when spoken to,” and “you’ll wear a tie on Sunday.” Churches have standards—“no faithful attendance; no choir,” “no tie; no usher,” “no evangelism; no teaching,” “alcohol; no membership,” “divorce; no deacon,” “no haircut; no leadership,” and “movie theater; no leadership.”
Defenders of Christian culture or personal holiness have taken these standards from direct statements or applications from principles. For instance, you might recognize that “divorce; no deacon” comes from 1 Timothy 3. Many evangelicals will argue against that. “No haircut, no leadership” comes from 1 Corinthians 11. No one with whom I fellowship uses standards as a means of justification or sanctification (Romans 3:20; Galatians 5:1-4). We have many explanations for standards that are found in 1 Corinthians 6-10 in Paul’s discussion on the proper use of liberties. We are to flee idolatry and flee fornication. Do we apply these with track shoes? We aren’t to get close to sin, thinking that we will stand and not fall. Romans 13 and 14 give more principles. This is how these verses have been applied or obeyed for centuries.
The Attack on Standards
Evangelicals and fundamentalists combat these standards by many different means. Sometimes they use Scripture. Jeroboam used Scripture to support erecting his idols at Dan and Bethel. Who did he quote? He cited Aaron when Aaron defended his building of the golden calf. Normally, they will attack personally and speculate motives. They say that you are trying to sanctify by works. They claim that you want to impress people out of pride. They say that you are working at conforming everybody into something that you’re comfortable with. They say that it is legalism and not grace. Most often today, they say that you are just making these standards up without biblical support.
Recently, over at a bastion of post-standard fundamentalism, SharperIron, Stephen Davis, an associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Lansdale, PA (home of Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the National Leadership Conferences) wrote:
Yet in my opinion and observation, Fundamentalism’s commitment to the authority of Scripture often attaches itself to interpretations and positions on issues to which scriptural authority cannot be legitimately attached. . . . [O]ne finds great diversity due in part to the level of certainty that is accorded to the application of Scripture to issues that are far removed from the fundamentals of the faith. These applications on a host of issues from standards to music to Bible versions to eschatological distinctives have helped create a fractured Fundamentalism.
That is the common criticism for personal and cultural separation based on standards. A lot of what Davis wrote, I agree with, and especially this:
I will not allow a movement to define me and to choose my battles. The Word stands above every movement and every culture in every time and in all places. To that sacred and timeless Word and to its Author we must yield and give our allegiance.
This is why I don’t consider myself to be a fundamentalist. However, I will defend fundamentalism when it is attacked for upholding standards of personal holiness. Places like Calvary in Lansdale still practice mixed swimming, which includes men and women stripping down to something sometimes less modest than underwear. In my experience with the Lansdale type cross-section of professing Christianity, I have found that they consider a standard against mixed swimming to be one of these “illegitimate applications of Scripture.” One of the detriments of being a fundamentalist is the initial concept that certain teachings of Scripture are already relegated to something less than a fundamental. In this case, mixed nudity doesn’t count as a violation of a fundamental, so it should be ignored as a matter of separation. And most of the traditional brand of fundamentalists (the Bob Jones, Detroit, Maranatha, Northland, Central axis) do ignore this. That’s why I like Davis’ last quote (read it again to see if you like it). We’ll do just what Scripture says and not worry about whether traditional fundamentalists will agree with us (they won’t).
I’m sure many of these men don’t like that I am saying that they are supporting nudity or maybe better ‘Christian nudist retreats.’ If they don’t support it, then why don’t they separate over it? Are they really uncertain as to whether it is wrong? Maybe not. I do believe it is interesting that these fundamentalists will regularly coddle up to men like C. J. Mahaney of Together for the Gospel, when his church this year is putting on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Last year they put on Godspell. The latter is of the same type of show as the blasphemous Webber musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, which had opened on broadway a year earlier. Perhaps they could rename their fellowship, Together for the Godspell.
When fundamentalist Dave Doran got together with them last year, he reported:
In many respects, it was one of the most spiritually beneficial conferences I’ve attended the message by John Piper alone was worth the time and cost of the conference.
John Piper doesn’t have trouble with the standards of the pastor of Mars Hill church in the Seattle, WA area, Mark Driscoll. This mixture could make things confusing couldn’t it? Isn’t this the reason why we separate ecclesiastically (churches separate) over issues of personal holiness? The evangelicals and fundamentalists don’t have these standards of personal holiness over which they will separate, and so they have an incredible lack of discernment. This causes many to stumble.
The most common text I hear quoted as a Scriptural refutation of standards is Mark 7:7:
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Believers have not historically relied on this verse in contradiction to standards of personal holiness. God expects us to apply Scripture to our life and standards are the way. As a means of seeing how that believers have applied Scripture to life, and not considered legalistic, take a look at William Gouge’s Of Domestical Duties (1622). Gouge has a several page section in which he shows that a biblical practice would be a mother nursing her infant children. Most evangelicals and many fundamentalists would call this legalism.
As a result of these kinds of attacks on standards, churches lose their Christian culture, looking, acting, and sounding like the world. The churches of today look more and more like the blue crowd compared to the red crowd they once did. Some may say that this either doesn’t matter or it’s actually good. What do they do with Zephaniah 1:8?
And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.
Dressing in “strange apparel” was to dress like the world. God would punish those of His people who wore worldly clothes. He expected them to be distinct. Distinctiveness was holiness. This verse alone is a proof text for standards. This is also the historic position on this verse (and here). God expects believers to have personal standards of holiness. Zephaniah 1:8 doesn’t explain what “strange apparel” was. They were to know. They obviously did know. They were going to be punished for something that they knew and were supposed to practice. God hasn’t changed on this, even if we have.
The Relationship to 2 Timothy 3:2
I’ve been relating the cultural decay to the last days. One last expression of the times of apostacy is that men shall be “lovers of pleasure.” Men want their way. They want their creature comforts. On the other hand, Jesus said that His way was self-denial. The rich young man in Matthew 19 said he wanted eternal life, but he couldn’t give up his things. Jesus described His way in Luke 9:58:
Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Those following Christ shouldn’t expect to have anywhere to lay their heads. That’s not what people want to hear today. And because people want what they want, churches market themselves to pleasure-loving people. It’s no wonder that they don’t like standards and scramble to find verses to avoid them. They even present a kind of Christian hedonism (these articles are against it). The evangelical, John Piper, has popularized a form of Christian hedonism, and he states the first point in his book, Desiring God (p. 23):
1. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience; it is good, not sinful. 2. We should never try to resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.
He starts with man’s longing to be happy. What verse teaches this? Um. (Crickets.) Mark 7:7 anyone? This idea in particular satisfies man’s fleshly desire to gratify himself. As a result of these kinds of philosophies, evangelicalism is full of worldliness.
Low standards or high standards can result from legalism. Grace doesn’t contradict man’s happiness, but it centers on the pleasure of God. It doesn’t make provision for the flesh. It won’t always deliver us if we walk near the edge of the moral cliff. Grace will build a fence there. It won’t make it easier for the flesh. It teaches us to deny ungodliness and lust. Standards graciously apply Scripture. They protect the distinct, holy culture of the Christian.
As I write this, we are in the midst of a presidential primary and down to two democratic candidates, as history will show, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In this last week, the media has finally revealed the incidiary statements of Obama’s long time friend and pastor, Jeremiah Wright (decent articles about it here, here, and here). This is the man that gave Obama the title of his bestselling book, The Audacity of Hope, married him, baptized his two daughters, and was the long-time pastor of the church of which Obama has been a member for twenty years. Obama says he had no idea that his pastor was like this.Â Obama doesn’t think that these comments need separate him from Wright, because they are only a few things that he said among, you know, mainly good. Then again, Mussolini got the trains to run on time. And imagine if another candidate said, “This man, David Duke, has influenced my life almost as much as anyone—I do separate myself from some of what he says—but he is a good man.” How would that go down?
The media talks about this like it’s old news and yet I had heard nothing about it. The mainstream media, that I know of, has said nothing about Obama’s regular usage of the terms hoodwinked and bamboozled on the campaign trail, especially in areas where his crowds were huge numbers of African Americans, terms utilized by Malcolm X in speeches that were borrowed by Spike Lee for films They are code language for many African Americans. Imagine if anyone else besides Senator Obama had connections with this man or used these terms, what would that do to his or her candidacy? You know the answer.
This all relates to the subject of toleration. Toleration seems to work only in certain directions in this culture (which I’ll explain below). For instance, politically correct toleration works with the media’s treatment of the Senator from Illinois, who is running for president. His association with intolerance is tolerated. Toleration, however, is the chief virtue of the culture. And that toleration has destroyed the culture we once had for a truly pseudo liberty.
One can easily see that the true beginnings of toleration started when Adam tolerated Eve’s option of eating the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That plunged our world into sin and since then, mankind has continued to look at much of what God said to be and do as merely optional. More seriously, the ever increasing philosophy of unrestrainedness has penetrated at first subtly and now more obviously into churches. Churches became permissive and now have taken on the look, sound, and attitude of the world.
A Description of the Unrestrained, Toleration Culture
Nowhere is the mounting culture of toleration described more brilliantly than the 1987 bestselling book by the late Alan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind. Bloom begins by examining the students in the prestige universities, and he finds them deficient in moral formation, in reading of serious books, in music, and above all in love. They have no love in their souls, no longing for anything high or great. Their minds are vacant, their characters feeble, and their bodies sated with rock and roll and easy sex. These same students come furnished with a simple-minded relativism that is quick to close off all discussion with the question, “Who’s to say what’s right and wrong?” Their relativism justifies an easygoing openness to everything, an openness which expresses their incapacity for being serious about anything. This proclaimed openness, in fact, turns out to be a dogmatic closedness toward moral virtue no less than toward even true thoughtfulness.
The cause of the closedness, in Bloom’s diagnosis, is modern philosophy. He posits that America was founded on modern principles of liberty and equality passed from Hobbes and Locke. Liberty, however, turned out to mean freedom from all self-restraint, and equality turned out to mean the destruction of all differences of rank and even nature. Our Founders may have said to have acted “with a firm reliance on divine providence” (Declaration of Independence), but Bloom says that their natural-rights philosophy came from the atheists Hobbes and Locke. He characterizes the Lockean doctrine of the Founders in this way (p. 163):
[In the state of nature, man] is on his own. God neither looks after him nor punishes him.
The practical result (p. 230):
God was slowly executed here; it took two hundred years, but local theologians tell us He is now dead.
Similarly, Bloom says the Founders may have thought they were establishing a political order based on reason. At first reason legitimated industriousness and money-making, but eventually lost its authority and became impotent against expectations of self-indulgence and mindless self-expression. Finally, the infections caused by our political principles sapped the strength of faith and morality.
The relativism of today’s students is, then, in Bloom’s view, a perfect communication of the real soul of liberty, which from the start, in Hobbes’s thought, meant that life had no intrinsic meaning. The anti-design dogmas of women’s liberation, which in the name of equality deny the obvious differences between men and women, are destroying the family, which had been the core of society through most of America’s history. Likewise, the anti-design dogmas of affirmative action, insisting that equal opportunity be suppressed until all categories of Americans come out exactly uniform, deny the obvious differences in ambition and intelligence among human beings. Thus equality and liberty eventually produced self-satisfied relativism which sees no need to aspire to anything beyond itself.
How the Toleration Culture Infects the Church
If I were to add a chapter to Bloom’s book, the subject would be how that this relativism has infiltrated the church. A first aspect began when the church turned over the stewardship of science including origins, government, art, psychology, and history (among other things) to the state The state gladly left the church with theology. The Bible could apply to spiritual matters. We arrived at a distrust for the Bible to speak to anything that is cultural, including music and dress. I think it also applies to the text of Scripture itself, but I want my multiple version readers to stay with me. There is one last step that I see in the church’s ejection of culture—since the Bible does not speak to science, government, art, psychology, and history, and it is not trustworthy in those matters, then how could it be in theology? This ends where many liberal churches already exist: the Bible has no authority in anything.
Political correctness, what Bloom describes as the closing of the mind, has lead to theological correctness. This reigns in liberalism, permeates evangelicalism, and is now greatly influencing fundamentalism. Your view of biblical subjects must fit within a certain realm of theological correctness to be acceptable. Like with the secular education system, there is no visibly organized authority for this correctness, yet it can be seen and felt all over. Some of the most prominent advocates of absolute biblical truth will cower especially on the cultural issues. They have been given up in the same fashion that higher education abandoned absolute truth long ago.
Scripture is sufficient for all matters to which it speaks. The theological police are busy removing cultural issues from its body of sufficiency. They have no historical basis for doing so, but they do so nonetheless. This parallels with higher education dumbing down its own music, literature, and appearance in lieu of the noble savage. A splatter on a canvass becomes great art and a violent stroke on guitar strings great music, akin to the superiority of a cave painting by aboriginals. The noble savage isn’t faking it. He isn’t very good, but he keeps it real. This is the kind of faux authority we’re left with when we abandon the Bible on cultural issues.
In keeping with the relativistic approach to culture, criticism of music and other culture based upon absolute truth is scorned. Man’s feelings reign even in Christian criticism (the little there is). What becomes important is whether you like it or whether it kept you listening. We “musn’t” be bored with a song. People must like it. Neither can we criticize anyone for how they dress when they come to church or worship, if that’s why they happen to be there (which is more and more unlikely due to our methods). For all the talk about God, man remains the measure for all things, including worship of God.
Covetousness, Rebellion, Unthankfulness, and Unholiness
In this first part of this essay, I had begun explaining the present cultural decay in churches. I referenced 2 Timothy 3:2:
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.
Modern evangelicalism and much of fundamentalism pursues self interests. This relates closely to covetousness. What I want becomes more important than my testimony for God. Men argue for liberties, but they forget that they are not here for themselves, but for God (Romans 14:7, 8). They also may fail to remember what Jesus said about our relationship to others in Matthew 18:6:
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
2 Peter 2 relates man’s lust with his relationship with authority (vv. 10, 18, 19). We live in an era with a motto: Question Authority. Most fundamentally this manifests itself in disobedience to parents. Parental rights are greatly weakened in a permissive society that also has influenced Christians. Libertines prefer weak authority. They chafe and rebel at what keeps them from their self interests.
God gives every good and perfect gift because He knows how to give good gifts as a good God. For unthankfulness, that isn’t enough. He complains for more creature comforts and conveniences. He expects permission to touch, to drink, to jive, and to dance.
Covetousness, rebellion, and unthankfulness aren’t compatible with God’s holiness. God’s nature is separate from these character traits. God’s holiness relates to his unique attributes and nature. He is separate from all things, high above and distinct. God expects that same quality in His own. More than ever the world’s culture is separate from the character of God. This unholiness has influenced the church. The church has become increasingly common and profane in the ways it manifests itself, more and more like the world and less distinct, therefore, less like God.
So, weâ€™ve laid the foundations of the Christian worldview. You can refresh your memory here and here, or you can keep reading. And since foundations serve a vital role in building, we see the necessity of covering our bases. Since we view the world through Christian eyes, we understand that God is absolute, that God is sufficient, that God is the ultimate reality, the Uncaused Cause of all things. We understand that nothing exists apart from or independently of God, and thus we understand that Creation is entirely dependent on God. And this means that we depend on God for knowledge. We can only know what God intends that we should know, what God has revealed to us in nature or in Scripture. God knows all things originally and exhaustively, we onlyÂ know after Him. And that includes our knowledge or understanding of right and wrong, and how right and wrong is determined. We do not make up our own ethic. God has revealed the Christian ethic, and we receive that ethic.
This, in a nutshell, is the foundation. And foundations, as they go, are fine things. I once knew of a man who spent a great deal of time digging out footers, setting in reinforcement, and building a very sturdy foundation for his future home. After several years of work, he finally finished with the foundation. We all admired it, wondering what would sit on it. But the foundation just sat there, holding up nothing but leaves, dust, and the occasional stray ant. Foundations need a house hat.
Our Christian Worldview, while certainly an admirable thing, needs something to cap it off. In other words, we need to take this fine Christian Worldview, and put it to some practical use. Foundations are only good when they are useful. And foundations are only useful when they prop something up. A Christian Worldview is viewing the world through Christian eyes, which implies that we Christians do some viewing, and that we are actually looking at something. We apply our Christian Worldview. This work of applying the Christian Worldview begins in the home.
Ephesians 6:4 gives us a mandate for applying the Biblical Worldview, starting in the home.
And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
The modern meaning of nurture is similar to the word nourish â€“ to feed, to promote growth. But the word nurtureÂ is broader thanÂ mere physical nourishment and nurturing. It includes growth in maturity. This is accomplished through education. To nurture is to educate, to train up. The Greek word in this passage is paideia, which is the word the Greeks would have used for education. In the Greek world, classroom instruction and formal education was a central part of paideia, but it was not the entirety. The central point of paideia went further than mere knowledge, extending into the culture at large. The goal of paideia in the Greek world was the establishment and furtherance of a culture. Children were cultivated, both by the culture and for the culture. Greek philosophers pictured the ideal citizen taking his place in the ideal culture, and all education aimed at producing that ideal.Then along came the Apostle Paul. Paul presents a new picture â€“ a new ideal. “Bring them up” Paul says, “in the paideiaâ€¦ of the Lord.” A new culture, Paul argues, a new kind of culture is required. And, unlike the Greek world, Paul places the responsibility for this enculturation on the fathers, not on the government. Fathers must bring their children up in this Christian culture, this “culture of the Lord.”
Obviously, this “culture of the Lord” looks different than Ephesian culture. But Read more…
Evangelicals know something is wrong. They talk about it. They’ve essentially ignored cultural separation for decades and they’ve gotten huge in part through their non-practice. The emerging evangelicals are compromising even more on cultural issues. Now the especially conservative evangelicals seem to be starting to see that the Bible has something to say on it. But if they say much about it, they might sound like fundamentalists. If they tolerate, they’ll keep more audience, but if they do that too much, they see mounting ungodliness from their left flank. Sound confusing? It gets that way when you’ve been compromising your entire life. So now, certain evangelicals are mentioning worldliness somewhat regularly, more than I’ve ever seen. Since many evangelicals are moving further to their left on cultural issues, even they can’t stomach it any longer, and even they feel compelled to say something.
Here’s John MacArthur over at Pulpit Live—
You have no doubt heard the arguments: We need to take the message out of the bottle. We can’t minister effectively if we don’t speak the language of contemporary counterculture. If we don’t vernacularize the gospel, contextualize the church, and reimagine Christanity for each succeeding generation, how can we possibly reach young people? Above all else, we have got to stay in step with the times. Those arguments have been stressed to the point that many evangelicals now seem to think unstylishness is just about the worst imaginable threat to the expansion of the gospel and the influence of the church. They don’t really care if they are worldly. They just don’t want to be thought uncool.
There is and always has been a fundamental, irreconcilable incompatibility between the church and the world. Christian thought is out of harmony with all the world’s philosophies. Genuine faith in Christ entails a denial of every worldly value. Biblical truth contradicts all the world’s religions. Christianity itself is therefore antithetical to virtually everything this world admires.
But what the contemporary church is into is not holy living, it is worldliness. They think that rather than being separate from the world and thereby laying a foundation of credibility on which to witness, you need to be like the world. They don’t call it worldliness, they have a new word for it, it’s called contextualization, which is a fancy word for worldliness. The contextualization of the gospel today has infected the church with the spirit of the age. It has opened the church’s doors wide for worldliness and shallowness and in some cases a crass party atmosphere. The world now sets the agenda for the church.
And then there’s his comrade, Phil Johnson, at Team Pyro—
[N]ot all the world is charmed by worldly religion, and the apologetic value of “Disco Night in the Sanctuary” is by no means a given. In short, taking pains to demonstrate how hip and liberated we can be in our places of worship might not always be the finest “missional” strategy.
Think about it: Youth ministries (not all of them, of course, but the vast majority of squidgy evangelical ones) deliberately shield their young people from the hard truths and strong demands of Jesus. They tailor their worship so worldly youth can feel as comfortable in the church environment as possible.
And then you have David F. Wells, who writes about the culture:
What the church has to do, therefore, is to look for correlations between worldliness as I have described it and the cultural consequences of modernization that I am sketching. At the point where they coincide, the church has to become both anti-modern and carefully self-conscious about its virtue and its cognitive processes.
What Wells wrote, in very dressed up language, sounds just like what separatists have been saying for years. When you say it in such a high-brow way, it seems easier for evangelicals to swallow. I think it actually makes it easier for them to dismiss themselves from the actual practice of separation from the world. However, again, they know something is wrong.
Evangelical Criticism of Cultural Separation in Fundamentalis
When evangelicals are asked to evaluate fundamentalism, a common negative is fundamentalism’s emphasis on cultural issues. Just recently, as we ended writing this first month on culture here, very popular Southern Baptist evangelical, Mark Dever, and his 9 Marks organization published a critique of fundamentalism in their online ejournal (pdf). Here are some quotes from some of the evangelicals, critical of the emphasis of fundamentalism on cultural issues:
David S. Dockery—
Carl Henry once said that Fundamentalists cannot distinguish between the important truth regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ and questionable matters like attending movies. In their attempt to defend the Bible and the gospel, Fundamentalists have often presented the truths of Christianity in a negative light. Their concerns with worldliness have resulted in a separatism that has no impact on the culture or society. The emphasis on holiness often results in an unhealthy legalism.
In their zeal to resist modern culture, for example, Fundamentalists have been quick to abandon such costly teaching of Jesus as “Love your enemies” and forgive as we have been forgiven without limits.
Fundamentalists tended to take a hard line on drinking, dancing, movies and the like, and to withdraw into separate colleges, missionary organizations and denominations. Unfortunately, this separation too often fostered an oppressive legalism and divisive denominationalism that impeded the gospel.
So you can see that several evangelicals have a concern about modern day cultural philosophy and practices of professing Christianity, but on the other hand, they will criticize cultural separation within fundamentalism. You really can’t have it both ways. We either should separate culturally or we shouldn’t.
What Does Scripture Say About Salvation and Cultural Separation?
What matters is what God says, and the Bible does instruct us about cultural separation. What I see in Scripture is that salvation is cultural separation. When God saves us, He separates us from the culture. A “salvation” that is not culturally separate is not salvation at all. I want us to look at just a few passages and I believe you will see this truth with me.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
God commands Christians not to fellowship with non-Christians. In light of a lot of other instruction in Scripture, this doesn’t mean that we don’t interact with unbelievers. All of the nouns and verbs combined in this text help us to understand what this separation is. Believers are not to fellowship, have communion, have concord, have part, or be in agreement with the unsaved. Scripture nowhere teaches a believer to find common ground with an unbeliever. A Christian as light has characteristics that pertain to his nature and lifestyle that are incompatible with the darkness descriptive of the unconverted man. He especially does not share a common culture. He is radically different than the unbeliever—he isn’t to cooperate, share, or associate with.
Now, what “communion” can there be between persons so different one from another? for what is more so than light and darkness? these the God of nature has divided from each other; and they are in nature irreconcilable to one another, and so they are in grace. . . [W]hat part, society, or communion, can they have with one another?
In vv. 17, 18 we see this connection to salvation. Those who do not separate from the world and its way, God will not receive and He will not call these non-separatists His sons and daughters. Those God saves He also separates.
As a separatist, have you ever looked at a worldly evangelical (they’re all over), and thought: “to me he doesn’t seem like a saved person”? This passage says the same thing, that those who won’t separate culturally aren’t saved. Their desire to associate, share, and relate with the world says something about their profession of faith. God doesn’t receive them nor will He call them His sons and daughters. You’re seeing them the same way He does.
1 Peter 3:18-21
During the days in which Noah built the ark, out of His longsuffering the Lord Jesus Christ preached through Noah to those on earth who mocked and persecuted him. At the end of that time period, Noah and his family, eight souls, were saved by water. That’s right, Noah and his family were saved by water. Those eight souls were also saved by the ark, but not in the same way they were saved by the water.
If you were rushed down river in dangerous rapids, ready to drown, but you reached up and grabbed a tree branch just in time, you wouldn’t say that you were saved by water. You would say that you were saved by that tree branch. So how were Noah and his family saved by water?
One aspect of a believer’s salvation is his separation from the world. We will not share eternity with those who oppose God, like the men who ridiculed Noah while he built the ark. God will separate His own from unbelievers. This is another way that God saves us.
Like water saved Noah and his family, so v. 21 says that baptism also saves. Someone’s water baptism will separate a believer from the world. It is one of the reasons for baptism. When a new Christian makes his salvation public through baptism, he will separate himself from the world. The reality of God’s salvation of Noah from the world is symbolized by baptism. Some day God will physically and permanently separate His people from all others. However, believers are to subject themselves to a temporal separation through water baptism.
Noah did not share the antediluvian culture. He clashed with their way of life. God saved him from it with the flood waters. After the flood, he could live without their influences. When we get saved, God wants the same for us, so he provided baptism, water that saves believers from pagan culture just like the waters of the flood saved Noah and his family.
Hebrews 13:13, 14
Gill writes concerning v. 13:
[T]he world [is] full of enemies to Christ and his people; and for the noise and fatigue of it, it being a troublesome and wearisome place to the saints, abounding with sins and wickedness; as also camps usually do; and for multitude, the men of the world being very numerous: and a man may be said to “go forth” from hence, when he professes not to belong to the world; when his affections are weaned from it; when the allurements of it do not draw him aside; when he forsakes, and suffers the loss of all, for Christ; when he withdraws from the conversation of the men of it, and breathes after another world; and to go forth from hence, “unto him,” unto Christ, shows, that Christ is not to be found in the camp, in the world: he is above, in heaven, at the right hand of God; and that going out of the camp externally, or leaving the world only in a way of profession, is of no avail, without going to Christ: yet there must be a quitting of the world, in some sense, or there is no true coming to Christ, and enjoyment of him; and Christ is a full recompence for what of the world may be lost by coming to him; wherefore there is great encouragement to quit the world, and follow Christ: now to go forth to him is to believe in him; to hope in him; to love him; to make a profession of him, and follow him.
The separation from the world is shown here to be the act of saving faith. Believing in Jesus Christ is changing association Jesus bore the reproach of the world and receiving Him is also receiving His reproach. Believers don’t engage the culture, but bear its reproach.
Verse fifteen further explains. We aren’t trying to fit in here because this isn’t our home. We have no “continuing city” here. We’re passing through so we’re not interested in conforming or fashioning ourselves like the world as if we had some future here. Jesus didn’t fit in, so neither do we.
1 John 2:15
John tells us that the love of the Father does not abide in the man who loves the world. Salvation is love for God. Love for the world can’t be. Worldliness is incompatible with salvation.
Evangelicals Divide Cultural Separation from Salvation
Against this teaching of Scripture, evangelicals remove cultural separation from salvation. They do this by making cultural issues a secondary matter, distant from the gospel. On p. 24, the 9 Marks ejournal reports:
Most of the answers focus, positively, on the Fundamentalists willingness to stand for truth and, negatively, on their tone and an inability to distinguish between primary and secondary matters.
Even professing fundamentalist, David Doran, mentions this (p. 25):
Later, in the midst of the conflict between the Fundamentalists and new Evangelicals, in some ways the focus shifted off of the gospel to secondary matters. Separation, rather than serving the goal of gospel purity, sometimes came to be viewed as end in itself.
Lance Quinn writes (p. 30):
While we can appreciate the Fundamentalists tight grip on the essential elements of Christianity, we must eschew their doctrinaire stances on issues which are much more secondary or tertiary.
Evangelicals also disjoin cultural separation from salvation by disconnecting the practice of separation from the gospel. In their view, the gospel is something we can prize in everyone that claims the gospel, even if they are worldly too. However, we can change the nature of the gospel by our lifestyle (1 Peter 2:11, 12). The terms of the gospel, who Jesus is and what faith is, can both be affected by our association with the world. The cares of this world can choke the word, so that it becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:19). In other words, Scripture itself doesn’t separate worldly living from the work of the gospel. Evangelicals have done and do it at their own peril. Their ranks are full of worldly individuals, who still profess to be saved. Doesn’t sound so secondary, does it?
Cultural Separation Doesn’t Separate from the Gospel
The Gospel separates from the culture. The practical righteousness that we live comes out of the positional righteousness from our justification. The Gospel does not disconnect from personal separation. God saves us but He keeps on saving us. That ongoing salvation through our justification also continues to separate.
The grace of God that brings salvation also teaches us to deny worldly lust (Titus 2:11, 12). We won’t desire to act, look, or sound like the world if we have received the grace of salvation. It won’t stop teaching us to deny wordly lust because it won’t stop saving us until our glorification.
Without all the snobbery
Leaves and stones unturned
Creepy crawlies undisturbed
Disturbing to us.
Fastened to the Solid Rock
With extra rebar.
Foundations without houses
Adam is alive
Living on the adamah
Doing lots of things.
Paideia of God
Living life to the fullest
Without the lemons.
Headlamps hidden in helmets
Cities of the plain.
Some savory salts
Finding ways to salt the earth
The pillars and posts
Artistically are adorned
Truth, goodness, beauty.
You hear the light, syncopated throb of the trap set, the pound of snare followed by the light rake of the wire brush on the cymbal, and then start the cat calls, loud whoops and hollers, because the teenagers know what it means. Youâ€™re quiet and theyâ€™re loud, because you both know. Your silence repudiates what the sound means. Their rowdiness signals reception. They love it. You donâ€™t. Should they love what theyâ€™ve heard? Should they even accept it?
The World, Thatâ€™s What (James 4:1-6)
In an examination of genuine saving faith, James in chapter four exposes characteristics of the world. To start, everyone should know that God is an enemy to anyone who is a friend of the world, that is, affectionate with the world, all the drives and impulses that would be associated with it. The unwillingness to break from the worldâ€™s culture comes because of this affection (“friendship,” James 4:4, philia) for the world. And then when someone loves the world, the world no longer hates the person. If you are “of the world,” the world loves “its own” (John 15:19). The way the world treated Christ is how it will treat the friends of Christ, so if you can get along with the world, you can know why.
The term “world” refers to the man-centered, Satan-directed system, which is hostile to God, Christ, and the Christian. Itâ€™s not talking about the globe, about terra firma, or about anything physical. Itâ€™s talking about the spiritual reality of a Satan-directed, man-centered system hostile to the Lord and His nature and work. It refers to all the values, the mores, the lifestyle, the ethics, the morals, and the institutions of the world as they are established apart from and antagonistic to God.
The goal of the world is self-glory, self-fulfillment, self-control, self- Read more…
While in college I visited the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Inside was an American Indian display with a tepee and a young dark-skinned woman sitting Indian style besides a faux campfire. A railing in front separated the exhibit from the common area. In the realm of the demonstration, the fake village was sacred. Crossing the barrier was to profane the sacred place. I found out the hard way. I gave my camera to a friend and ducked the partition. In a very literal fashion, I attempted to penetrate that American Indian culture, fake albeit. Immediately a loud, piercing alarm went off and I was quickly back to the other side, walking away, passed by rushing security with walkie-talkies. I sensed that the guys with the uniforms wanted a continued practice of separation. The barrier was more than a decoration.
It would be great if churches cared at least as much about the things of God, to keep them sacred. Winning the culture war requires preserving the sacred by holding the line on what is sacred and what is common. That can be accomplished only by the gospel, but it will be accomplished through the gospel. It isn’t the gospel if it doesn’t set believers apart from this world system (1 John 2:15; Romans 12:2; James 4:4).
(I know this probably won’t bother you or stop you from reading the very meaty, doctrinal central portion to get to the cutting edge, practical ending, but this article will have no pictures.)
Sacred and Profane Things
Anything that violates the holy things of the Lord is considered profane. Some things have been set apart by God for His own use. They are therefore holy. They are sanctified or hallowed. God places special boundaries around these objects, and these boundaries can lawfully be passed only on God’s publicly specified terms.
One sacred object was the Ark of the Covenant. It was not to be touched. It had rings on its sides through which poles were inserted, so that no one would need touch it when moving it (Ex 25:14). Furthermore, only Levites were permitted to carry it (Deut 10:8). When one man dared to reach out to steady it as it was being moved, God struck him dead (1 Chron 13:9-10). When the Philistines brought the Ark into their territory, God struck down the image of their god Dagon, and struck them with boils (1 Sam 5). They sent the Ark back to Israel on a cart pulled by oxen. They also placed gold objects into the cart as a trespass offering (1 Sam 6:8; Lev 21:7,14). God dealt even more harshly with the Israelites at Beth-Shemesh, who dared to look into it. For this act of sacrilege, God struck down over 50,000 of them (1 Sam 6:19). The interior of the Ark itself was sacred space. No one was allowed to look inside it. It was housed in the holy of holies, a sacred room inside the tabernacle and temple. Only the high priest was allowed to enter this space, and only once a year (Lev 16:2). He had to sprinkle the interior with blood as a ransom payment for himself and the people (Lev 16:14, 15). In short, this most sacred of objects was surrounded by sacred space—in fact layers of sacred space, beginning at the national borders of Israel. Inside the Ark were the two tablets of the law (Deut 31:26). The Ark served as the earthly throne of God, the place where the high priest annually placated His wrath. This is why the holy of holies in which the Ark was so holy.
We see in Leviticus 20:24-26 that God had made His people sacred and He expected them to stay that way. We can see that He reminded them of that with the clean and unclean animals, some animals being sacred and others profane. God’s people had become sacred to Him. His priesthood was sacred to Him. His temple or tabernacle was sacred to Him. Certain animals were sacred to Him.
Why Is Something Sacred?
Something is sacred because it has been judicially declared sacred by God. A good example of this is found in Exodus 3:4, 5. God declared soil as sacred soil. It was not sacred before that time. Read more…
Have you seen the Great Rock of Inner Seeking at the NationalÂ Gallery of Art on the mall in Washington, DC?Â What about the Goddess of the Golden Thighs?Â And who couldn’t miss No. 8?Â When I saw these “works” on my senior trip in high school,Â I knew I had a radically different view of the world than their makers.Â Much to my chagrin, I’ve found out since then, mainly from evangelicalism, that I and those artists have more in common than I thought.Â But do I?
The Tale of Two Cultures
God paints separate, highly distinct pictures of His own culture and that of the devil, without a smidgin of confusion. Godâ€™s people alone are born of Him (1 John 3:1-3) and no others (1 John 4:4-6). His belong to Christ (1 John 3:7-10) and everyone else to Satan (1 John 5:19) their prince (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). All things in Christ endure forever with everything on the other side transient, fading (1 John 2:17) and under Godâ€™s judgment (1 John 4:17). Love for God is utterly incompatible with the world (1 John 2:15). God describes citizens of His kingdom as exiles from the world (1 Peter 1:1; Hebrews 11:13) and aliens (1 Peter 2:11) who seek another city (Hebrews 11:10). Paul states the difference in 1 Thessalonians 5:5:
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
The Lord Jesus Christ embodies all of Godâ€™s goals for His people and Jesus was not of this world (John 17:14; 18:36), refused to pray for it (John 17:9), opposed its ruler (John 12:31; 14:30), and is now its judge (John 9:39; 16:7-11). Jesus came to divide the one side from the other even within oneâ€™s own family (Matthew 10:36). His saints are peculiar people (Titus 2:14), a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5), filth and offscouring to the world (Lamentations 3:5; 1 Corinthians 4:13). In contrast with the inimitable words of Rodney King, we really canâ€™t all just get along. Weâ€™re not supposed to. Weâ€™re to hate even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 1:23).
So Christians arenâ€™t supposed to be close to what and how the world is. The world, the opposite of Christ, organizes around self in substitution for God, characterized by self-righteousness, self-centeredness, self-satisfaction, self-aggrandizement, and self-promotion. Except for ultimate outcome, we can barely detect the difference today between the world and the church. Instead of turning the world upside down, churches have turned much like the world.
Understanding the Meaning
To maintain His ordained differences, God expects His people to understand the meanings of patterns of human activities and the symbolic structures that give those activities their significance and importance. Read more…
While we are in this world, we will want to be of this world. Our flesh craves the world, and will not stop loving the world until the day of adoption (Romans 8:20-23). So long as we are in the flesh, we will long to be of the world.Â
I recently read David Brainerdâ€™s diary and journal, as edited by Jonathan Edwards. One (among many) of the thoughts that grabbed me as I read was Brainerdâ€™s desire to be rid of his sinful flesh. As holy a man as Brainerd was, he still struggled with his flesh. Never was that struggle more apparent than when David Brainerd was preparing to leave civilization as he knew it, and head into the wilderness to preach the gospel among the American Indians.Â In his diary entry on Wednesday, February 2, 1743, Brainerd relates his struggle.
Having taken leave of friends, I set out on my journey towards the Indians, though I was to spend some time at East Hampton on Long Island, by leave of the commissioners who employed me in the Indian affair; and being accompanied by a messenger from East Hampton, we traveled to Lyme. On the road I felt an uncommon pressure of mind; I seemed to struggle hard for some pleasure in something here below and seemed loath to give up all for gone. Saw I was evidently throwing myself into all hardships and distresses in my present undertaking. I thought it would be less difficult to lie down in the grave; but yet I chose to go rather than stay. Came to Lyme that night.
I suppose that at some level we can all relate to Brainerdâ€™s struggle. Read more…