Summary of Chapter 1: The Christian War Against Economics” from Poverty and Wealth: The Christian Debate over Capitalism” by Ron Nash

51i-aB7ZPIL._SL500_SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The topic of economics is both fascinating and often confusing for the average person.  All of us have a position on what economics is and how wealth is to be used even if we are not immediately aware of it.

In this book, Ron Nash offers some insight into what economics is, how it can be either used or misused, and how a Christian worldview ought to shape minimally professing Christians.

In chapter one, The Christian War Against Economics, Nash shows that to truly help the poor—which he has not yet defined—believers must use good intentions with guided insight concerning economics and what makes for a good or bad economic strategy.  To be in the dark concerning these twin pillars only perpetuates the unwitting darkness being embraced by well-intentioned people.  Moreover, believers must understand that Scripture is often used to propagate a Godless position (i.e., liberation theologians use the Bible to show that God is a Marxist).  Nash purports that “Evangelical publishers like Eerdmans and InterVarsity produce a steady stream of books recommending socialism as the only economic system that is consistent with the Bible.” [pg.11] It seems that at the time of said writing the facts argued contrary to the aforesaid view.

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Summary of Chapter 2: CHRISTENDOM STRIKES BACK (Pgs.36-54)

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In this chapter Stark notes that the defeat in 672 of Muslim attacers on Constantinople occurred for two reasons.  First, Byzantium had made tools sophisticated enough to best Muslim forces.  The Western technology of impenetrable fortifications, along with natural sea barriers contributed to Muslim defeat.  Second, “Greek fire” a catapult with pumps acting as flame throwers could not be matched by Muslim armies.

The Battle of Tours/Poitiers was a fierce engagement where Muslim troops drove deep into Gaul not far from Paris and advanced to victory over the city of Bordeaux and plundered it.  Again, a small Christian army could not stay their own slaughter by the Muslim army at the Battle of the River Garonne.  It wasn’t until the Muslim army met Charles Martel, the ruler of Gaul, that the tables began to turn against the Muslim’s conquest of Europe.

Here, Martel the powerful battle hardened leader led his troops in battle and conquered the Muslims for several reasons according to Stark, the following of which are notable; the Gaul’s were heavily geared as opposed to Arabs lightly geared, the Frankish soldiers were disciplined, Arabs fled because they sensed they were outmatched.

Many historians see this battle as monumental between having an Arab vs. a Western civilization.  Others make little of this battle and Arabs see it as no big deal (Pg.43).  What is certain is that Spanish Muslims understood that their defeat by Charles Martel was had through an empire building people, not mercenaries or a barbarian horde.  The countries of Spain, Italy and Sicily had to also be reconquered.

All these victories preceded the First Crusade.  This means that when the armies and knights of Western Europe marched or navigated to the Holy Land, they were very familiar with their Muslim opponents and knew they could take them.

Now Available in Summary Form: “A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE CHURCH” by Francis Schaeffer

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In  Volume 4_A Christian View of the Church, Schaeffer considers many difficult issues Christendom needs to address if it is going to be salt and light in this world.  Among the issues is orthodox Christian doctrine, which too often is dispersed for peripheral doctrines that don’t hold up the structure of historical Christianity.   We major on the minor issues and ignore the major ones like “the perpetuity of spiritual gifts vs. the Trinity”.  This occurs when we do our theology from a man centered base, not from the God who is there and grounds all absolute truth.

Another issue is that the watching world longs for a love that is real and true.  Believers have an opportunity to demonstrate this love only when God’s truth is their passion and the Lord Jesus is their model.  Too often that’s not the case and God’s name ends up being profaned.   Then there’s the departure from our Reformation roots as evangelicals which has resulted in a loss of confidence in the Scriptures inerrancy and authority, and subsequent promises of blessing and cursing.  This has made the gospel a sham and many of our churches have become tombs for the living dead.  Lastly, if the aforesaid is not reversed, we will be remembered as that generation who talked the talk but did not walk the walk.  To such people Jesus says, “Depart from me I never knew you, you workers of iniquity .”

Summary of Chapter 1: MUSLIM INVADERS by Rodney Stark

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In this chapter Muslim Invaders, Stark points out that Muslim invaders got their orders from Muhammed who until his death fought, raided and plundered previous Christian lands in accordance with the Quran (Sura 9:5), such that 80 years after Muhammed’s death the Middle East, North Africa, Cyprus and most of Spain became part of the Muslim empire after conquering Christians.

Many historians hold that the Conquest of lands for Muslims was purely economic and also due to a population explosion that never occurred (Pg.14).  Moreover, rather than the hordes of Muslims believed to have invaded, the conquests were won through small, well organized and led Arab armies committed to the spread of Islam (Pg.15).  An example is the conquest of Syria that occurred, among other reasons, because the Arabs were considered liberators to those under Byzantium’s oppressive empire they were welcomed, and when the Byzantine (Greek) armies were overrun, the Arabs soldiers mutinied and fled.

Persia, the Holy Land and Egypt (among others) were also conquered for the following reasons: First, “civilized” empires had no disciplined armies and thus mostly employed foreign soldiers for hire.  The guards who stood inside the fortified cities were merely window dressing not real soldiers.

Second, there was a chronic shortage of troops.  Because Byzantium was so vast, they could not possibly control their borders.  Third, Byzantium’s cavalry were mostly Arabs who sympathized with the Muslim cause and thus would join forces with the Arabs.  Fourth, Muslim soldiers trained since childhood from the same tribes, villages and families.  This created social pressure to never retreat in battle but rather to show their mettle.

Fifth, camels were a superior form of transportation compared to the cavalry of Byzantium.  The desert is the perfect place for the former to last and the latter to perish and thus geography proved to favor the Arabs over against Byzantium if they needed to retreat.

Sixth, smaller Muslim ranks favored rapidly moving in stealth as opposed to the time it took to muster large troops.  Couple this with the Imperial forces lacking tactics when vulnerable and their end was disastrous.

Seventh, Arabs were led by elite warriors who advanced in rank through their own merits, not via birth rite.  Thus, these leaders were battle hardened and more able to succeed in battle compared to the nobles.

Conquered Subjects

            The conquered peoples of the lands were not treated well contrary to popular demand.  Instead the intolerance Islam showed the conquered manifested in the: excessive taxation compared to Muslims; outlawing Jewish or Christians to build sanctuaries of worship, not permitting them to read or pray aloud either publicly or privately; their nobles were burned; their Jewish males beheaded; there was major bloodshed.  The point here is that Jewish and Christians were not the only intolerant peoples, the Muslims were also contrary to popular notions.

Conversions

            A small number of elites governed the non-Muslim (mostly Christian) newly conquered lands.  This means that there were no mass conversions contra to popular notions.  Conversions were either “treaty conversions” or “personal beliefs and practices conversions.”  This means that sometimes tribes (E.g., the Berger Tribe) would convert for weapons, but not really believe the teachings of Muhammed.  Others would convert for fear of their personal safety.  Conversions of conquered people were slow, never quick.

Now Available in Summary Form: “A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF SPIRITUALITY” by Francis Schaeffer

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In volume three A Christian View of Spirituality, Schaeffer dovetails the thought of the “God who is There”, and considers what spirituality consists of.   He starts off by accentuating the fact that no people are “little” or insignificant because they are image bearers and it’s often the little matters that have monumental consequences in life.  Moreover, true spirituality is always grounded in the thought life where ideas ultimately govern people’s destiny.  Because the life of the mind is downplayed in many Evangelical circles, too many of its’ youth who grow up in church leave the faith never to return.  a major contributing factor is the egregious way God’s word is ignored and handles by leadership.  Sermons are constructed in shallow and glib manners.  This has terrible effects on the witness and vitality of the church.   The remedy is getting back to sound doctrine and living out its implications so that Christ is honored among the nations as the church community is true to the Lord. Follow the link Volume 3_A Christian View of Spirituality  and enjoy friend.

Summaries of GOD’S BATTALIONS: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark

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Introduction: GREEDY BARBARIANS IN ARMOR? (Pgs.1-9)  In this introduction, Stark points out that there are two very different accounts of the Crusades, the reason for them, etc.  One is the Traditional view and the other is the Enlightenment view.  On the one hand, the Traditional View states that converts to Islam—the Turks, had invaded and conquered Jerusalem unprovoked.  Moreover, they invaded the Middle East and grossly treated it’s captors through rape, torture, and inhumane atrocities.  Alexius Comnenus the emperor of Byzantium called for Rome’s help before they too would be slaughtered.

On the other hand there’s the Enlightenment View which says that the crusades were realized through an expansionist imperialistic Christendom that brutalized, looted and colonized a tolerant peaceful Islam.

However, post 9/11 this issue is bigger than ever before to revisit. If we consider the twisted and cowardly way the media covers Islam, the inanity of political correctness which refuses to look at Islam’s darker side, and the fearless way in which Christendom’s worldview is smeared that makes our fleeting way of life so precious, re-thinking the crusades and what is “common knowledge” must be revisited.  Beware Christian pacifists!

Summaries Now Available! “Volume 1_A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture” by FRANCIS SCHAEFFER

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In this volume Schaeffer argues for absolute truth that’s based on the God Who is There.  When a culture denies this reality despair results because under opposing varied worldviews, (e.g., monism, pantheism, naturalism, etc.) man becomes the measure of all things.  The despair is a result of our “mannishness” (a Schaefferism) that reveals humans actually are created in God’s image and can’t escape that fact.

To suppress the aforementioned humanity ends up madness, escaping from reason and plunging into the hopelessness that naturalism in particular provides with no objective meaning in life.  He considers how worldviews truly play out in this enterprise called life.  It is Schaeffer’s first book in this volume that sets the stage for the rest of his writings.   So take up and read click here FRANCIS SCHAFFER Volume 1_A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture

 

 

Now

Summary of “A CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO” by Francis Schaeffer

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In chapter one, The Abolition of Truth and Morality, Schaeffer accentuates the fact that the Biblical worldview and the Humanistic worldview can never produce the same results, but necessarily their opposite effects.  This is because the base from which each operates is antithetical to one another.  The former grounds all of reality on the infinite God of creation, who is absolute and from whom all things are measured, whereas the latter, bases reality on finite human beings, which are the measure of all things.  The result of God being passé is that humanity loses its humanness and society and the state become ultimate.  Here “Might Makes Right”.  The humanistic worldview tells me, “You’re no different than a bug.”  Hence, law (i.e., the state and society) arbitrarily become ultimate because their base is false.

In chapter two Foundations for Faith and Freedom, many key figures are presented as stalwarts in the founding of the USA.  John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister, president of what is now known as Princeton University and the only clergy to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Clearly the Judeo-Christian worldview based the signing and forming of this country understanding that there’s a law above the law, and that the lawgiver is God.  After the revolutionary war Witherspoon is quoted, “A republic once equally poised must either preserve its virtue or lose its liberty.” This virtue was grounded on a Protestant Reformation view of reality.  Many others helped shape the founding of this country, but of interest to me is the First amendment and its dual purpose.

First, its purpose was to assure that there was no nationally established church (i.e., there’d be no Church of the United States).  Second, its purpose was also to assure that government should not impede or interfere with the free practice of religion, but its interpretation is reversed today.  Separation of Church and State today is used to silence the church.  The view is that religion is not to have a voice in influencing civil government in any way.  So much for original intent!

In chapter three The Destruction of Faith and Freedom, we see that when the majority rules, “Might Makes Right,” absolutes don’t exist, society’s fabric is coming undone, and now sociological law is king.  Now, the law and the courts are the vehicle for coercion which is based on a humanistic concept of reality.  This worldview inescapably necessarily produces a final picture of reality diametrically opposed to the Christian worldview.  We’re in tough times some thirty years later from this writing.

 In chapter four The Humanist Religion reveals that through the Media the humanistic worldview is propagated with its naturalistic base and the dissenting voices are shut up being labeled as “un-enlightened, unreasonable, or even unscientific.”  The Media not only distort reality but often make it up for a story.  They are the unelected federal bureaucracy.  Bias here blindly blinds.

In chapter five Revival, Revolution, and Reform affirms the gospel call’s impact in pre-revolutionary America to personal salvation and social action which its preachers thundered.  We will never know how deeply their message afforded the founding of said country and unfortunately their contributions are conveniently set-aside.  Sadly, our present day evangelical leadership doesn’t have the clarity and resultant back-bone in areas of social action that the preachers of the Great Awakening displayed.  To forget their example only aides our voice and lives from not being salt and light.

Chapter six An Open Window stresses that windows seemingly open are superfluous when the laws waiting to be enacted are so anti-Christian/Jewish.  Our passivity as seeing Christ as Lord over all creation has deeply hurt our voice in the public square of ideas which those in power will not without a vicious struggle go to all lengths to silence.  I’m increasingly perturbed and beside myself.

In chapter seven The Limits of Civil Obedience reminds us that if Lex Rex is under Gods Law which is ultimate, then not to resist tyranny is evil.  To not resist tyranny which is Satanic; is to oppose God who is holy.  Wow!  This is much to consider.  Moreover, when our restrictions on education are the same as Russia’s who do not allow any view contrary to that which the state deems worthy (this is humanism), how then are we any different than they?

In chapter nine The Use of Force many Christians will find difficult because of their lack of understanding of living in a fallen world, not a utopian one.  That is, civil disobedience has a place not only in the OT and NT but also in this country’s history.  Engaging said acts must be done thoughtfully, courageously, tactfully, and lovingly.  For it is one means in which the Gospel was ordained by God to flourish. At times it will be very costly—death to some, but then again for the Christian, our lives belong to God.

Summary of “WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?” by Francis Schaeffer

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This book of Schaefer is very well done, difficult to consider in light of the subject matter, immensely applicable in our day, confronts our passivity as salt and light, and flat out well written.

The first chapter The Abortion of the Human Race” is a powerful expose of our dilemma as humans.  Every culture in history will be eventually judged by how it treated people.  Our choices do make us who we are, and who we are aids our choosing.  When we reject God as the ultimate (I Am), inevitably we bite and devour one another through incest, child abuse, de-humanizing the fetus, its procedures, its cruelty and its viciousness is absorbed by the child and mother.  This is a human issue, not a religious one.  How the “mighty humans” have fallen!

Chapter two The Slaughter of the Innocents continues considering the results of the aforesaid accentuating that the abandonment of the biblical world-view of human beings not only leads to abortion on demand, but naturally leads to infanticide and euthanasia.  The verdict is in: the unwanted fetus, the crippled and the old are absolutely dispensable according to the minority elite in (e.g., Law, Ethics, Biology, Medicine, and Philosophy).

These champion a relativistic view of man.  If we continue in this, and it’s only a matter of time the Nazi Third Reich will rule in the “Land of the free and the home of the brave”.  The absolute monstrosity of people toward the weak and helpless is none other than a return to the Abyss!

When we devalue our own flesh and our neighbor, we unwittingly kill ourselves.  For the constant slicing open of the soul with cruelty will eventually cause our own doom.  I’m exceedingly perturbed!

Chapter three Death by Someone’s Choice is a heinous reality check here!  If those set apart to protect and to heal the weak and the aged, become their killers, then what hope have we?  When language is euphemistically employed to destroy the helpless, then we’re no different than the Nazis.  We’re there! And we must not only point out the problems, but we must also become part of the solution!  Apathy is killing.  But through love, money, and our time, we can yet be hope for those utterly vulnerable.

Chapter four The Basis for Human Dignity argues that the book of Genesis grounds our dignity, for unlike every other worldview, Genesis unfolds the origins of everything, the source of all, and explains the reason for the abnormality that now obtains.  The basis for all knowledge moreover is grounded in Gods freely choosing to reveal the world to us in both special revelation and general revelation.

Chapter five Truth and History” deals with the interrelatedness between the aforesaid, and can’t be separated from the Biblical accounts.  If the narratives between Genesis and Revelation are false, the gig is up.  If especially the resurrection of Christ is false and did not occur in space-time-history, then there’s no Christianity!  There’s no veridical voice to heed.  End of the story!

The last chapter Our Personal Response and Social Action has two major issues:  First, there’s the need for us to be clear on the God who is there.  Which then means that there’s absolute truth, that we are all accountable to our Creator for how we live, that Christ alone is the remedy for the abnormality—sin—that plagues society.

Second, there’s the need to live in light of the above mentioned…really.  He encourages activism which among other things will dearly cost us, but the alternative apathy is not love.   The rewards are worth it—God being glorified by creatures recognizing Christ as Savior and the dignity and freedom of people simultaneously being maintained.

Where are we thirty years after Schaeffer’s writing?  It seems our culture is utterly lost.  Oh God!  May I and your church be what you’ve made us to be: salt and light!         

Summary of “HOW SHALL WE THEN LIVE?” by Francis Schaeffer

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In his book How Shall We Then Live? Schaefer presents a history of western civilization that is very helpful.  The fact remains that ideas have consequences and Rome’s influence and example is insightful.

 The Roman Impact on Western Civilization

Our presuppositions (i.e., things we assume to be true without arguing for them) naturally work themselves out through our actions.  Roman culture has left its’ mark on Western culture with the good and the bad.  Once the gods and the polis could no longer sustain civilization, the people looked to an authoritarian Caesar.  This cruel task master eventually contributed to the inevitable destruction of Rome from within.  Why?  Because it’s ultimate ground or base was a finite manIt was under Rome’s ruthless persecution that Christianity actually flourished because their base is placed in a personal infinite benevolent God whose revelation was absolute and final.

Contrasting the Renaissance from the Reformation is instructive.  During the Renaissance period, man was understood to be the measure of all things.  As such, no ultimate reference point obtained (but the finite creature).  This resulted in the lack of meaning to particulars because no absolutes were present.  No answer could be given for both the greatness of man and his cruelty.

The Reformation contrarily emphasized the supremacy of God as revealed in the Bible in all of life.  As such, an ultimate reference point obtained (the infinite uncreated Creator) which gave meaning to particulars.  Thus, absolute truth obtained, the dilemma of man’s greatness and cruelty were explained and Christ’s work of redemption on our behalf was the solution offered.  Thus, while culture mattered, it was to come under the lordship of Christ.

The Enlightenment among other things ultimately jettisoned absolutes which resulted in the discarding of true freedom and civility.  It was in this setting where the maxim “Might Makes Right” would flourish.  Man-centeredness practically results in an ultimate blood bath—French Revolution.  Contrarily, God-centeredness is the base for true civility to obtain because it affords freedom with restraints.  That’s the essential difference between these two Worldviews as considered in the Enlightenment.  A “utopia” awaits…but only oppression results.

Modern Science owes flourishing not to a Darwinian naturalistic worldview, but to the Christian Worldview.  As creator God both made and sustains everything that exists and thus provides uniformity to natural causes in an open system.  This cause/effect reality spurred scientists to discover with confidence the world and its phenomenon (contra a Buddhist or Pantheistic worldview that denies the real world for illusion).

The disciplines of Science and Philosophy started rotting at the tap root when the God who is there was jettisoned.  A prevailing presupposition for example is that matter is eternal (i.e., the physical is the only reality) which if true means that there is no being with free will, man is only a machine.  When this is the case, the notion of “ought” is discarded because there’s no soul choosing, only a mechanism determined to act according to a “design”.

When man is the measure of all things, all we have are particulars, no universals and thus achieving a unifying hub evades us.  When this takes place, only despair awaits and that’s where modern man is today.

Ideas matter and eventually express themselves with vicious force.  A potent venue through which ideas are spread is the academy whose idea of reality overflows into the public sector…often poisoning the soul of men, dismembering the fabric of culture, and offering the carcasses of humanity to the elite and powerful to devour.         Personal peace and affluence is a case in point.

When peace and affluence are attained and remain the goal of life, people will at any cost fight to maintain that status quo.  But there’s a price to pay here,  for to live in this “peace” or “safety” requires an elite ruling class that offers protection from harm and insulation from “raiders“.  If those ruling operate under the worldview that man is the measure of all things, thus denying the God who is there, we end up with monstrous results (e.g., Nazism, Marxism, Communism, Fascism, etc.).  Inevitably, those who “save the day” become “tyrants”.  But why does this occur?

This tyrant arises because finite creatures don’t have the capacity of the Creator to be “ultimate”, “absolute”.  When this occurs; the weak and poor, the old and helpless will be in grave danger.  Schaeffer put it like this: “if there are no absolutes by which to judge a society, then society becomes absolute” [pg.224]. This state of affairs ultimately leads to chaos, stirs people to cry out for relief, gives way to the tyrant rescuer, which leads to injustice, and what the mighty elite say justice is…then it is.  Conclusion, we’re back at Rome.

When the Christian consensus no longer obtains which gave us freedom with restraints, because of its view of man and justice, what results is a manipulative elite that ariseSaid “rulers” through a naturalistic framework in science, sociology, and psychology will de-humanize people such that the weak will be discarded, exploited and brutally murdered.  Quote: “When freedom destroys order, the yearning for order will destroy freedom” [pg.244]. This is ominous and however we are manipulated be it through media, music, computers, etc., the end will be an authoritarian ruler.  Rome is a scary example.

What alternatives therefore remain?  The Achilles heel of the West is personal peace and affluence and when these idols are threatened a forced order will be summoned and the forfeiture of freedom will be simultaneously exacted.  But, the other alternative is the Christian worldview where the God who is there is the absolute reference point to which we anchor all of reality.  It is here where freedom with order can co-exist, rulers can be held in check, and justice for the voiceless marginalized can be exercised.  The fact is, according to Schaeffer, “To make no decision in regard to the growth of authoritarian government is already a decision for it.” [pg. 255]