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.

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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.

Reflections From 1st Corinthians CHAPTER 2: GOD THE SPIRIT REVEALS HIS THOUGHTS THROUGH HUMAN LANGUAGE (Vvs.10-16)

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Paul stays on the same theme of wisdom from verse 6-9 and accentuates the Spirit’s activity:

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

This wisdom of God is evidenced in Christ’s life which is revealed to believers by the Spirit who searches and knows the depths of God.  Don’t miss this, only God knows the depths of God and by human analogy (v.11) we see here that the Spirit of God is God.  That’s why He can reveal God’s thoughts.  He is the third person of the Triune God.

How can this be?  Consider our human interactions, each of us choose to reveal or to hide our thoughts when conversing.  This attribute of thought and communication is one that reveals what it means to be human.  Similarly, the divine being reveals His thoughts through language and this to whomever He wills.  It’s God the Holy Spirit who reveals God the Father’s plans and purposes.

Paul affirms that the Spirit believers have received is the same Spirit who is God who reveals God’s purposes to us.  These are the things which have been freely given to us and contextually is the gospel message of Christ crucified.

Moreover, Paul accentuates that the Spirit is the one who gives God’s divinely sanctioned spokesmen the words to speak and to teach to the church.  This comes not from human invention or wisdom, but through the Spirit’s wisdom and thoughts through human language.  But a major problem obtains for not all people believe and thus accept these thoughts in words:

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

Paul points out that a “natural man” or one un-regenerated has an epistemological problem and therefore lacks discernment.  That is, the thoughts of God which are given through human language are rejected by the unbeliever because they are operating under this world’s wisdom. They think the message is foolishness (implying they understand it) but reject it because they don’t trust/believe that it’s true.  There’s a veil blinding the unbeliever here from seeing and treasuring Christ.

Yet, Paul says that he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet is himself appraised by no one (v.15).  He is making a comparison between the regenerate and unregenerate soul, between the believer and the non-believer, between the wise and the foolish.  The implication here is not about “smarts” but about “grace”.  That is, unless there’s the Spirit’s aid to see, one won’t see, value, or embrace the wonder of the cross.  Paul grounds this from a quote out of Isaiah whose larger context declares the Creator’s incomparable majesty, might, knowledge, wisdom, and benevolence.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span, And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, And weighed the mountains in a balance And the hills in a pair of scales?  
13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him?  14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?” (Isa. 40:12-14)

Paul is disrobing the wisdom of this world when compared to the Creator’s wisdom and puts an exclamation on this thought when he says, “But we have the mind of Christ”.  What is the significance here?

I think Paul is telling believers that God’s thoughts revealed to us through God’ Spirit, are the exact thoughts that Christ the Son of God possess (this is a clear pointer to Jesus deity and the Spirit’s deity).  Thus, the knowledge and wisdom of the Creator freely bestowed on the believer is the prized possession.  This “foolishness” and “stumbling block” of the cross is truly astounding.

Paul is declaring to the Corinthian church and to the world that this message originated with God the Creator and has now been revealed to humanity in plain language by the Spirit’s activity, not the creatures.  Another way of putting it is that the message of the Gospel is not a fabrication of fiction, but a revelation of true reality, this reality is the un-created Creator, who sustains His good creation.

(SDG)

Reflections From 1 Corinthians CHAPTER 2: HOW IS GOD’S WISDOM MANIFEST IN GOSPEL COMMUNICATION? (Vvs.6-9)

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Paul continues this theme of wisdom and turns it (if you will) upside down.  On the one hand, the apostle refused to succumb to the pressure of using rhetoric as a means to connect with his audience, so that when he preached Christ, the testimony of God would not lose its power, but also so that these “word smiths” would not rely on human wisdom, tact, etc., but instead on the Spirit’s power.

On the other hand, it’s that very tactic of Paul that is Gods wisdom (which seems foolish to the unregenerate soul).  Paul explains:

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Note how Paul says that the wisdom he speaks of is God’s wisdom spoken among the mature (i.e., those who understand that their calling and standing before God was all God’s doing, not theirs).  The mature here are those the world considers to be foolish because they trust in the eyewitness account of the God/Man’s life death and resurrection.

So this wisdom of God is spoken among the “called”, “saints” etc., a wisdom sourced in the Creator not the creature, it’s a wisdom in this present evil age that is from the age to come, it’s a wisdom the rulers of this age do not possess nor can grasp, it’s a wisdom granted by God.

So this wisdom (which I take to mean Christ crucified contextually) was previously hidden predestined by God before time to be mysterious for His glory.  Now I’m not sure how to interpret the phrase “to our glory”.  Could it be that Paul is referring to future glorification in the consummation of the new heavens and the new earth?  Perhaps it speaks of the praise due to those who embrace the message of the cross (even though their calling, redemption, and saintliness are God’s work) and thus despise this world’s wisdom of rejecting the message.

Again, it could be pointing to the honor and value we place on those who possess certain kinds of knowledge that when applied to the knowledge of God, that one has reached the heights of knowledge.  Perhaps it’s all three, or something else not mentioned but Paul continues and provides a phrase that clarifies God’s wisdom compared to the creature:

but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”    

I take rulers to refer to demonic spirits or Satan himself, not human beings.  The reason is because since the beginning in the Garden of Eden unto the present, satanic deception has been a constant affront to God’s word and plans.  Demonic spirits and Satan himself have outlasted all rulers.  Through the wisdom of God’s word and message, demonic ideas that exalt themselves above the knowledge of Christ are demolished by argumentation.  These ideas are called “strongholds” in 2 Cor. 10:1-6:

“Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”  

These ideas come from the god of this world (Satan) who blinds those who don’t believe the message of the cross.  We have a real enemy, and God with his foolishness (i.e., Christ’s Cross) defeated Satan and his creaturely wisdom (i.e., the crucifixion) through the hidden means now revealed to the called—redemption through the last Adam’s atoning death and resurrection from the grave.  Death died with the death of Christ and no creature had a clue what was truly occurring—including Satan.

This previously hidden wisdom, knowledge and power have been displayed to those who love God, not to those who hate Him.  So why is the cross God’s wisdom?  It’s because through it God accomplished his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of being a blessing to the nations, plural, through the Messiah.  To Greeks this is foolishness (which indicates they understood the message but rejected the implications of it) and to the Jews this message is a stumbling block (Messiah is to reign, not die, thus a dying deliverer is intolerable, an oxymoron).  Nevertheless, to the “called” both Greek and Jew alike, the message is the power and wisdom of God.

May we His people not cower with the message of Christ, but instead may we clearly and winsomely proclaim it, explain it, and live out its implications among those who are perishing whether it is foolishness to them or a stumbling block.

(SDG)

Now Available in Summary: “A CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE BIBLE AS TRUTH” by Francis Schaeffer

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In this second Volume 2_A Christian View of The Bible As Truth

Schaeffer continues to argue for absolute truth that’s based on the God Who is There.  He acknowledges that God has revealed himself not only in nature (i.e., general revelation), but also through scripture (special revelation).  He then argues for the historicity of the origins account in Genesis where God created out of nothing all that exists apart from himself.   He then hones in on the primacy of scripture as God’s final word to his creatures.

This word is both trans-cultural and trans-time.  He further touches on the flow of history in space and time through the book of Joshua and points out the idolatry of Israel and God’s dealings with them.  Lastly Schaeffer considers how one can view the Bible and art.

So click here Volume 2_A Christian View of The Bible As Truth    and read my friends.

 

 

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]

Summary Of “POLLUTION AND THE DEATH OF MAN” by Francis Schaeffer

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In his book Pollution and the Death of Man, Schaeffer’s focus is so timely and insightful that even though this book was written over 30 years ago, the relevance is poignant in a time where “saving the earth” is so dear to so many.  The following are the insights captured.

First, the earth’s ecology is suffering because man, instead of being a good steward of the earth, is ravaging it.  According to American historian, Lynn White, the Christian worldview is responsible for said crisis.  With its theology of dominion and this mentality still reigning, a religious solution must be sought because the plight is grounded in a belief (i.e., a “religious belief”).  Thus a pantheistic solution is suggested by Richard Means.  This worldview holds that “We’re all one essence” and as such, could solve the problem.  But is it true?

First, Schaffer argues that rather than being a solution to the ecological problem we face, pantheism’s base has no categories for particulars.  This means that if all is one, then One is all.  This means that no distinctions can be made.   Thus to argue or berate the Christian worldview (which emphasizes distinctions and Means caricatures) is self-defeating.  One must not also forget that nature is not always “kind” but often ruthless.

Again this distinction only obtains in categories that pantheism does not permit, when the moral problem is only a pragmatic one, the baselessness of the assertion slips down a slippery slope.  Relativism here wins the day and an elite hierarchy is poised to dominate the masses through manipulation.  This ought not to be.

Second, while pantheism is not the answer to our ecological crisis, neither is a Christianity that is “so heavenly minded that it is no earthly good.”  A Christianity of this ilk will not value the creation as intrinsically valuable because God created it.  Instead it will unfortunately make the unbiblical Platonic bifurcation that only the spiritual is valuable, but the material of no eternal good.   Protestant Reformation Christianity however understood that God spoke in both Particular (i.e., Bible) and General (i.e., Nature) Revelation and as such gave unity to all of creation.

Third, the Christian answer is that the God who is there created all things.  While the order of each creature/creation is distinct, it is nevertheless interdependent for flourishing.  Now while the creation is good and reflects God it is not an extension of His essence (i.e., of “What” God is).  Nevertheless, because the creation comes from God the good creator, it has intrinsic value and as such must not be despised.  The Platonic view of matter (i.e., its evil) is antithetical to the Biblical view of creation, to God’s covenant with the creation, to our future resurrected bodies and to how God has ordered the good.  Believers must come under Gods view of creation and live in the balance of its non-autonomous dependence.  While there are distinctions, there’s also unity.  Remember this!

Fourth, a substantial healing is to guide the believers cause as Gods agent on the earth.  Christ’s work inaugurated the future kingdom in this present evil age.  After the fall of man, Christ would come to rectify our separation from the creation and the creator.  This would be accomplished through Him justifying the many, through sanctifying His own, and through the implications of those two realities as God’s people interact in this world in a truthful, humble, loving, and courageous way.

Schaeffer accentuated therefore that believers must see othemselves as stewards over all of God’s creation, live in its order (including marriage) and speak up when injustice occurs because the world will.  Doing this, will bring about a beauty for the world to savor and behold.

Lastly, the critiques of White and Means while they touch on some important issues regarding our religious views and how they practically impact the ecologic dance we’re in, it seems to me that they both missed the issues of: the Fall and our rebellion, God’s simultaneous transcendence and immanence, White’s lower story/upper story tension (i.e., “Fact of evolution –where’s the person?”), Means utilitarian bent though true in some respects ultimately removes distinctions between nature and humans, and clearly both caricature the Christian position “mastery” vs. “stewardship” of the earth.  This is huge.

Summary of “The Great Evangelical Disaster” by Francis Schaeffer

 

IMG_20170911_104955  In his book The Great Evangelical Disaster, Schaeffer considers what he pens to be the most important piece of writing among all his other books.   The following are what to me seemed he was emphasizing.

First, ideas have consequences and when culture reaps the benefits from a country whose roots are  largely from the Reformation, and later abandons these ideas based which are based on the God of Scripture (as so many of our churches have done), then what follows is the disintegration of the culture.  This is due to rationalism—the idea that man is the measure of all things.  And yet, while the culture seems hopelessly lost, believers must battle with the weapons God has given: all but one is defensive—the word of God (Eph.6)!  Battling must be done lovingly, courageously and persistently bathed in prayer.  The mark of the Christian must inform all we do; evangelism, discipling, and nurturing.  The absolute God and His Son are the only cure for the culture’s ills.  We must be healers and surgeons.

Second, the watershed in evangelicalism is Scriptural authority.  We must hold to the inerrant, infallibility of the Bible in all of its teaching.  This includes those things that pertain to historical and cosmological issues.  To falter here is to succumb to the rebellion and relativism of our day which is destroying our culture.  Moreover, to hold to this view of Scripture, means that we must live under the Bible’s authority and we must stand firm here, plain and simple.

Third, practicing the truth will be difficult, unpopular and misdiagnosed by many.  Biblical inerrancy must not only be professed, but it must be lived out.  Where disagreements over secondary doctrinal issues arise, we must lovingly interact.  But at the same time there must be church discipline for those who go past the boundaries of historic Christianity.  The church and the culture desperately need such a stand, for if there’ no such stand, all will be lost.

Fourth, both the “pietistic fundamentalists” and the “accommodating evangelicals” have committed the same error of compromising one of Christ’s commands in order to do the other.  The former don’t want to compromise holiness but they neglect their need to be salt and light.  The latter want to walk in love, but neglect to placard God’s absolutes.  Neither of these extremes will do at the end of the day.  Believers are called to be holy as the heavenly Father is holy while simultaneously being salt and light in a corrupt dark age.

Both holiness and love must be founded in the truth that Christ is the Lord over all creation and the affairs of man.  When absolute truth is not the lenses we see to understand reality, and when the Bible is discarded as God’s truth for all mankind, then man becomes the measure of all things.

The result is that image bearers are seen as a myth (i.e., the creation account of being created in God’s image as male and female is discarded for a naturalistic Darwinian account) and thus the weak and marginalized are at the mercy of the elite and powerful.  If we are not image bearers but chance matter, why should we treat our 80 year old mother any different than our 2 year old German shepherd?  Ultimately, there’s no difference between man and animal, people have no intrinsic value.  But is that objectively true?  I think not.

Fifth, the world-spirit confuses the kingdom of God with this world and its power structures.  It advances a utopian ideal (e.g., you can have your best life now, not the future promised by God in his word), it prevents Micah 6:8 from being done among believers, it devalues history by denying the past and reconstructing it to suit our present sensibilities, it suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness in the academy, it confuses human sexuality and the consequences are destructive for the family, the home and the society.  In feminism the driving force is equality without distinctions.  When this wins the day confusion gets ever more dominant evidenced in Western civilization’s gender identity crisis.

Sixth, the stakes are massive and if we evangelicals continue to accommodate   the world-spirit we have nothing to say, we will be remembered as the generation that championed relativism at the expense of God’s absolute truth as revealed in the Bible.  This must be lovingly confronted and lamented at the same time.