Ronald Reagan on His Knees

We need more of our politicians to have his perspective!

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Robust Worldview

English: Flowchart of the steps in the Scienti...

English: Flowchart of the steps in the Scientific Method (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do we ensure that our children do not abandon the faith during their teens or early adult years? John Stonestreet from the Colson Center and Summit ministries recommends that we train our children up in a robust worldview. A worldview that is broad enough and deep enough to handle the challenges of real life. I agree. We need to encourage our children to think deeply and consider the various issues that they will face, so that people do not come along and rob them of their foundation. Teaching our children the rules of sound logic and thinking, the scientific method, Christian apologetics and reasons for belief, and the basic principles and ideas of the major competing worldviews. These practices should help to give our children the foundation that they need to securely build their lives upon.

Freedom of Religion

Map of religious freedom and restrictions in t...

Map of religious freedom and restrictions in the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does freedom of religion mean? Is freedom of religion a nebulous concept that must conform to the dictates of the government? Is it squishy? Can it be pushed to whatever size box the government allows for it? Obamacare includes a  mandate to provide abortifacient drugs. Many of us have problems with this from a moral point of view founded on our religion.  But we are private citizens. The HHS exemption only covers churches and some religious institutions. So has the president and his party decided that the freedom of religion of the private citizen is not important? What does our freedom of religion really mean?

 

 

It seems to me that if we can be forced to purchase medicine to initiate the murder of innocent unborn children, we have crossed a line of freedom of religion. If the intention of our founders was to consider sexual freedom on a par with religious freedom, wouldn’t we find it the first amendment? or somewhere in the Constitution? But we don’t find it because it isn’t there. The founders placed freedom of religion in a prominent location. But they didn’t raise the issue of sexual freedom. Do you suppose they didn’t have sex back then? Of course not. First of all, our founders knew that the area of sexual relations is governed by the Bible and trusted this area to the self-government of the people and the common law which is founded on the Bible. Second, sexual freedom leads to social chaos. Many of the social ills that we have in our country today can be directly linked to “sexual freedom”: 50 million Americans dead, epidemic STDs, single-parent families, poverty, crime, prison expansion, the growing welfare state.

 

 

What do you think? What should freedom of religion mean? On what do you base that meaning?

 

 

How Should We Then Live? Francis Schaeffer

link to Book on Amazon

How Should We Then Live?


Francis Schaeffer’s book How Should We Then Live? This is one of the modern classics of Christian thought. Schaeffer follows the development of Western thought and our various worldviews from the time of Roman civilization to modern times. He frames this development in the attempt of philosophers to explain our world starting with either absolutes or particulars. He gives dozens of examples of the various philosophic schools of thought playing out in art, music, and architecture.

The Reformation in Northern Europe found freedom for creation under the Bible and in its balance of universals and particulars found true freedom. The Renaissance in Southern Europe adopted the humanistic view with particulars only, and therefore had no basis for transcendent growth. As humanism began to infiltrate into the scientific thinking and philosophy of the 1700s and 1800s and on into today, people were faced with the problem of drawing absolute principles starting with particulars. This turned out to be impossible. Trying to come up with a unified, cohesive philosophy of life starting with human experience takes people nowhere.

As he closes the book, Schaeffer lists several pressures that are facing societies today which could push them to accept authoritarian rule instead of chaos. These pressures include: economic breakdown, war or serious threat of war, the chaos of violence including terrorism, the radical redistribution of the wealth of the world, a shortage of food or other natural resources in the world. As these pressures mount people will feel more compelled to give up freedom so that they can have some measure of peace and order. And as the Christian worldview base evaporates from societies in the West, people will have no basis to argue or think otherwise. A modern example played out in Germany when the people cried out for order from the economic collapse of the Weimar Republic and gave Hitler dictatorial power in their country. Not long after as the Germans rose in power under this dictatorship, Chamberlain signed over Czechoslovakia eventually losing most of Europe in World War II. They were hoping for “peace in our time.” What is the proper response? Do we succumb to the breakdown of society and imposed order, or do we as Christians affirm the Christian base that provided the freedoms upon which our nation was originally founded? This can only happen if individual people discover that Christian base in their own lives and then act to influence the consensus. “Such Christians do not need to be a majority in order for this influence on society to occur.” Christians were not in the majority when they changed the entire Western civilization.

The Jefferson Lies

Jefferson bible

Jefferson bible (Photo credit: naypinya)

Thomas Jefferson has been upheld as a leading founding father who was liberal and secular, advocated the strict separation of church and state, questioned the Bible, wrote his own version of the Bible, slept with his slave and fathered illegitimate children. David Barton’s new book The Jefferson Lies brings these reports about Jefferson to the table and examines them in light of Jefferson’s own writings and historical evidence. The results are eye-opening. I would like to share a brief description of these here in my blog if you would like a more detailed description I recommend purchasing the book The Jefferson Lies. You can also catch Barton’s discussion of his new book on WallBuilders Live! from the second week of May (2012).

I remember I was a teenager at church camp the first time I heard that Thomas Jefferson had created his own version of the Bible by cutting out certain parts of Scripture. This has been a little gnawing factoid in the back of my mind for three decades. Are these reports true? What did he cut out? How can Jefferson be a Christian or even have a respect for the Bible if he would cut out part of the Scripture? This kind of concern has put Jefferson in the place of the most secular founding father. But let’s look at the facts.

Jefferson created two works which are both referred to as “the Jefferson Bible”, one in 1804, the other in 1820. The first work in 1804 Jefferson created in response to a suggestion from a missionary that said in order to evangelize the Native American tribes a short work embodying the key teachings of the Gospel should be assembled. This work would be much more likely to be read by someone who is interested in the Christian faith but not ready to work their way through a 2 1/2 inch thick book. Jefferson took two copies of the Bible and went through the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and cut and pasted together a chronological version of Jesus’ life. He took the accounts from all four Gospels and put them in timeline order and eliminated accounts that were told more than once by the different gospel narratives. Jefferson called this work An Abridgment of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ. He did not call it the Jefferson Bible. He created it solely as a tool for sharing Christian teachings with Native American tribes. While some Christians might object to abridging the Scriptures, we cannot say that this was an act of offense against scriptural teaching. Rather it affirms that Jefferson believed the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to be worthy of spreading in teaching to others. This can also be supported by the fact that Jefferson on a number of occasions contributed money toward Bible societies: groups whose purpose and mission was to distribute copies of the Bible, the full Bible.
The 1820 work of Thomas Jefferson often referred to as the Jefferson Bible is actually the more common of the two. This collection of passages from the Bible distills the moral teachings of Jesus Christ into one short work that Jefferson put together based on his belief that of all the moral teachings through the centuries, the morals of Jesus Christ where the highest, best, and most likely to bring about a peaceful and prosperous society when properly adhered to. If only we would learn this lesson today.
All told, this way of treating the Bible is quite a bit different than what I was led to believe about Jefferson. I’m still inclined to believe that he was one of the more secular founding fathers. However, he seems to have had a great deal more respect for scripture than many Christians do today.
I’ll try to follow up on some of the other points about Jefferson in later posts. In regard to the Jefferson “Bible”: When did you first hear about it/them and what effect did it have on your opinion of Thomas Jefferson?

Bible Helps with Achievement?

A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a recent article on the World on Campus website discussed how students with a personal faith have a tendency to have higher levels of achievement.  Please click the link and check out the article for yourself. I include a few tidbits here.

William Jeynes did a meta analysis of over 1000 studies to discover that for both African-American and Hispanic students having a strong personal faith actually closed the achievement gap with white students. Another key component that indicated achievement was when minority students were raised in traditional two parent homes.

When schools downplay the importance of scripture and scriptural principles, it creates conflicts for students from church-going backgrounds. These conflicts likely make it harder for students to develop the kind of strong internal faith that the study found influences higher achievement.

Excluding religion from the classroom has been the enforced norm since the early ’60s here in America. Since that time our test scores have steadily decreased. Turning back the clock on this would be difficult for many to even imagine let alone put into practice. But some people have already begun to bring the Bible in the classroom to study as literature and history which I blogged about back in January.

Do you think including Bible lessons in our public schools would improve our educational program?

Getting the Bible Back into the Classroom

KJV BibleThe WallBuilders Live! broadcast this Thursday, 1/19/2012 highlighted the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS)program. This is a curriculum that teaches the Bible as a historical and literary text. The program draws connections with the Constitution, presidential inaugural addresses, the conflict in the Middle East, and a host of literary allusions and idioms that originate from the Bible. There is an electronic version which provides wider access to students. The classes already are in place in nearly 600 school districts, over 2,000 schools, and over 500,000 students have been through the class in the last 15 years. NCBCPS has a package for presenting to your local school board to get this for credit class into your high school or junior high. You can request a package on their website.

Some people might wonder if this is illegal in light of the wrong-headed Supreme Court opinion of 1963. NCBCPS deals with the legal question on the website. The fact is that within that opinion Supreme Court Justice Clark supported the use of the Bible as a literary and historical source:

“It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literacy and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203,225 (1963)