First, The News
and various asides…
American Vision: Babies in Boxes
In many areas we have abdicated our responsibility as the church and as Christian families.
One of these responsibilities is in the area of charity. In many ways we have given the state a primary role in caring for the poor and needy. As we have, we have watched the influence of the civil government grow to uncomfortable levels. This was one of the powerful lessons in the book referenced in last week’s article. Through charity, the Prussian state was able to excerpt increasing influence over the society. Specifically this was in the area of helping to set up orphanages to care for abandoned children. As Christians counted more and more on the state for the funding and organizing of care for orphans, they saw their own influence diminish.
When the welfare state fails, it will be up to the churches to take responsibility for their people. With responsibility comes authority, and power. It’s best to start practicing this from now.
First Things: Eastern Europe’s Christian Reawakening
Hungary and Croatia are only two examples of post-Communist societies where the public role of religion is growing. Whereas Hungary and Croatia are experiencing a rebirth of Western Christianity, the Orthodox Churches are also booming east of the Elbe. Russia is rediscovering Orthodoxy. Patriarch Kirill’s influence is growing, more monasteries and parishes are reopened, growing numbers of Russians profess belief in God, and more young Russians are choosing a religious vocation. Meanwhile, Orthodoxy is also resurgent in neighboring Georgia. Evidence of this can be seen in the success that Georgia’s bishops had in encouraging their compatriots to have more children. After the bishops’ campaign, Georgia went from having one of Europe’s lowest birthrates to one of the highest among post-Communist countries. Meanwhile, Romania is currently building the world’s largest Orthodox church in Bucharest, a city once dominated by Nicolae Ceausescu’s totalitarian aesthetic.
The dead shall arise, indeed – so log as they repent. It would be a rather interesting future, with tens of millions of Russians, a couple million Poles, and no Germans or Italians…
New York Times: Evangelicals Find Themselves in the Midst of a Calvinist Revival
Evangelicalism is in the midst of a Calvinist revival. Increasing numbers of preachers and professors teach the views of the 16th-century French reformer. Mark Driscoll, John Piper and Tim Keller — megachurch preachers and important evangelical authors — are all Calvinist. Attendance at Calvin-influenced worship conferences and churches is up, particularly among worshipers in their 20s and 30s.
Again, the good guys are going to win. The real question is: what will we do with our victory, around 2050 or so? Just waste it like the atheistic liberals did? Curl up in stagnation, like the Muslims? Cut off ourselves from the world, like the mighty Chinese civilization did? Or do something better….?
Christian Science Monitor: As Spain’s people drift from Catholic Church, government cozies up
After years of moving in a more socially liberal direction along with the rest of western Europe, the Spanish government is now doing an about face, seeking to clamp down on abortion and return the Roman Catholic Church to a prominent role in the country’s school system.
Though the church is still losing ground among the faithful, it has powerful friends in the current conservative Popular Party government, which has traditionally had close ties to the Vatican. Now the PP is pushing a controversial bill in parliament that would dramatically restrict access to abortion.
History does not flow only in one direction. You’d think, with the fall of the European Empires – and then the destruction of the Soviet Union – we would have learnt this by now.
The only true certainty is that Christ’s rule will grow more and more manifest and inescapable – not by some lying bureaucratic World-State blasphemously using His Holy Name for their own power, but in the right way, with His Law-Word shaping the hearts of all, from the babies to the aged; here, there, and everywhere. Inescapable. Relentless. Absolute. Victorious.
And even this historical certainty is not only one way: the growth of the Kingdom is more like three steps forward, one step back, three steps forward, one step back. Yet the trendlines for His kingdom is glaringly obvious now.
Then, the Theology
Gary North, Christian Economics in One Lesson, Part I,
Yet the Bible affirms something far more teleological than mere variations in a species; it affirms that the stars were created to benefit mankind, prior to the creation of mankind. This, far more than the comparatively minor issue of creation in six literal, 24-hour days, is the offense of the biblical account of creation. The motivation of the evolutionist is not to discover the exact date of creation; his motivation is to strip God’s purpose and law out of the universe. But why?
To escape the biblical doctrine of the final judgment. The evolutionist wants above all to deny the doctrine of hell.
The earth is filled with resources. There are mineral resources (Gen. 2:12). There are animal and vegetable resources. There are, above all, human resources. Man alone is made in God’s image. He alone has been given the authority to improve the earth, Each person shapes his allotted portion of the earth in terms of his own purposes, These purposes are to reflect God’s purposes for the creation. Each man is supposed to think God’s thoughts after Him, in a creaturely fashion. He is then supposed to act in terms of what he knows is both true and good, Obedience is a judicial act: the invocation of God’s blessings in history. In an unfallen universe, for a man to obey God in terms of God’s cosmic purpose – His dominion over nature by means of His representative agents – call down the blessings of God.
To convert idle resources into actual resources, man must add his labor, including intellectual labor, to the natural resources in the environment. Plants and animals multiplied before Adam appeared on the scene, but it was Adam’s presence that brought covenantal purpose into the creation. The creation was governed purposefully before man, but it was not governed representatively. God created man to work for God. It was not that God needed man in order to provide growth and direction in the creation. God does not need man.
But God shows grace to man by allowing him to participate in the dominion process.
God told man to multiply. This should make it clear to everyone what the fundamental resource is: humanity. Why humanity? It is not because some men understand mathematics or certain forms of mechanical or biological cause and effect that the creation can be brought to fulfillment. Rather, it is that all men understand that God has given them appropriate individual tasks in the corporate assignment of the subduing of the earth. In his rebellion, man suppresses this knowledge of his subordinate relationship to God (Rom. 1:18-22), but he never completely loses his awareness of his responsibilities before God (Rem. 2:14-1 5). Man is impelled by his legal status as God’s primary covenantal agent to extend his dominion over the earth, if not in the name of the God of the Bible, then in the name of some other god.
There are quite a lot of chapters in the lesson: it’s all worth your time, though. Lay the foundations deep, so you can build high!