Monday, 12 June 2017

The tares continue to grow in the field of our children's education. Does the wheat?

In my view, too many Christians in the West have the hopeful view that the tares will very politely reach a point at which they decide to stop growing, before the harvest. That, once evil has reached a certain stage, it will stop, allowing Christians to pretty much continue to enjoy the freedoms they still enjoy. And so, mercifully, we can all just stick our heads in the sand at hope that problems will go away without us doing much about them.

So, we don't need to build alternative structures to support us for when the tares reach a certain height, to be ready. In particular, we don't need any alternative structures to raise and educate our children, because the state's provision is still more or less approximate to how it was many decades ago. Any small defects can be made up for with half-an-hour's Sunday school and a bit of youth group too, surely?

Meanwhile, in the real world, just as A leads to B and B leads to C, so the people who are actually in charge of the state systems career on with the next stage, which is legislative frameworks permitting "early intervention" to remove your children if they are judged to be "in danger" of being exposed to supposedly damaging Christian world-views: It turns out all that stuff about tolerance, freedom and respect was spoken with a forked tongue. Who knew, other than everybody who was paying attention?

This is how the war of the world-views works. It's a war. It might be the case that some bits of territory were not the strategic place for the battle to begin, when the sexual revolution was first launched. But that in no way means that the other side don't intend to establish their complete rule over those bits of territory eventually. They're close now. Is it time to wake up yet? What will our generation of Christians' legacy be to the one after us, in terms of preserving our freedoms to teach Biblical truth to our children, that God created mankind to be male and female, and that our role is to submit to his will, not to fight against it? What will we hand those coming next, when we pass the baton? "Well chaps, the enemy's now arrived at the gate, and we've been experimenting with some pea-shooters, because frankly we don't expect them to actually use those battering rams they're lining up over there. We're pretty sure they've done all the advancing they planned on. They keep shouting and screaming about 'tolerance', so I'm sure what they really mean with those cannons over there is that they plans some advanced tolerance manoeuvres but not to disturb our peace in any way. Have fun! If things get really sticky, we have some large sticks in a cupboard somewhere, though we lost the keys and you'll need to look for them."

I'm not advocating a fear-based, "circling the wagons" agenda. I'm advocating sensible, confident, God-trusting measures to make sure that we do what the Bible tells us to do: raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. A clear-headed recognition that teaching our children to love and fear God in every area of life is our job, not the state's job. That if we involve the state, that's an option, our responsibility, and something to do only if it's clear that the state will not undermine our efforts to teach them about Christ. A withdrawal from having our children taught how to work and think by people who have no place for God and who actively resist him in theory and practice, is not a withdrawal from the world: it is a withdrawing of our children from being harmed by the world. We must always be building relationships with non-believers, so that we can shine the light of Christ's love to them. But that is quite different to handing over major sections of our children's indoctrination to them.

What, practically, needs to be done? Bible-believing churches in each area need to meet together, according to their size and strength, agree on the need for Christian education for their children, and start the hard graft of planning how to open Christian schools, staffed by people convinced that the Bible is God's word as well as being gifted in a calling to teach the children. This needed to begin about 35 years ago, when the future direction of society was very clear. But it is better late than never. God is patient and merciful, and there is still time. But we need to respond to that. There has to be a call to action. Elders need to meet about this subject, and make concrete plans. Wishful thinking has been tried, and is doing nothing for the next generation. Christians used to routinely educate non-Christians in ways of thinking that flowed from Scripture. It is now the other way round. Non-Christians routinely indoctrinate the children of Christians in how to think and act like non-Christians, every day. How, in practical terms, will we reverse this situation for as many children as we can? We need to not just wish that it were otherwise, but work out what means God has placed at hand for us to do it - and start the doing.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Why evolution is different

I don't agree with everything in this video or Professor Sewell's larger
views (I am a six-day creationist), but he summarises important parts of
the case against large-scale evolution well:

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Wedding days - woman, the glory of man

If you have even passing familiarity with UK "famous person" news,
you'll know that today is the wedding day of Pippa Middleton, the sister
of the Duchess of Cambridge.

All the coverage and the photos testify that we all still, underneath
the pretence, acknowledge the Bible truth: "woman is the glory of man"
(1 Cor 11.7). It's there throughout the news stories, the pictures, the
ceremonies that will take place.

Have you not seen it? The men will be dressed in functional suits,
because they are men, and that won't be much discussed. Their glory is
not one displayed outwardly on occasions like this. But... on the day...
what are the ladies wearing? Their hats, their dresses, their styles -
what will they be? The bridesmaids... and at the centre, the beautiful
bride. All eyes are upon her!

I had a minor epiphany some years ago when I realised that whilst men
were fascinated by female beauty.... this was not a precisely
symmetrical thing. So were women. Men desire female beauty; and females
desire to be beautiful. To be sure, male beauty exists and attention is
paid to it - but when put on the scales, the other sides sinks
immediately. There is a directionality. It's so pervasive that it will
take you years of brainwashing before you can make yourself believe that
this is a tragic artefact of our invisible lizard overlords. Sorry, I
mean the evil patriarchy; I'm getting my conspiracies mixed up. If
you've not had that nonsensical indoctrination, then on the contrary,
you'll see that it's so pervasive that it can only be seen as a simple
fact of creation. It is what the Bible says it is - part of nature. No
matter what people claim to believe, they act otherwise, because they
know otherwise. By "part of nature" I don't mean it's some weird Mother
Earth thing. I mean it's how God intentionally designed the world. It's
an echo of the Great Story - the hero comes from heaven to claim and
enjoy his glorious bride, the church. His glory is not in his preening
himself. His glory is in that he gives his blood to win his beautiful
bride - his glory is messy, dirty, sweaty. Her glory does not shine like
that. Her glory shines out visibly in her desirability to him - in the
Great Story, this is by his powerful grace, as the beauty of a
submissive and pure church which willingly gives itself to him.

Don't agree? Go again and look at all the coverage. Everybody knows it
really, at the tacit/intuitive level. Woman is the glory of man. His
glory will be to sweat and bleed for her from this day forth. Her glory
will be that she is glorious, and becomes more and more glorious under
his loving care. That's part of why it's his responsibility to honour
her, to protect her and in marriage to use his God-given authority to
lead her so that on the last day, the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb,
they might both shine together as part of the bride of Christ.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Pastoral Care or Psychotherapy?

The author of this excellent article holds a masters degree in secular
pyschotheraphy, and a post-graduate diploma in social pyschology, which
makes the conclusion even more striking:

I was Dr. Crossley's apprentice for 3 years; he is a man whose life's
passion is to lift up Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The value of the Bible's genealogies and historical lists

Here are some "big picture" reasons as to why the Bible is so interested in recording and preserving genealogical data. There may be many others:

  • History : God rules over history. He cares about history. In the records carefully kept by the Bible, we see his concern for the world’s history.
  • Real-world history : by carefully recording historical records like these, the Bible shows us what kind of book it is. It is not a book of abstract “religious ideas” that have no connection to the world we live in. It destroys the myth that we can keep the Bible’s religious teachings or meanings, but do away with its historical details. They are a package, and stand or fall together.
  • Practical encouragement : since the Bible is concerned to record, in (relevant) detail, real-world history, believers are helped to understand that the Bible is intended to direct their every-day lives. It is for the lives that we have today in this world.
  • Salvation history : God made promises about a seed of the woman. The genealogies show and document that these promises have been faithfully kept. Time does not diminish God’s faithfulness or purpose.
  • The justification of God : His exhauistive documentation of the genealogical line of the Messiah (and many associated lines) leaves unbelief without any excuse. No sound demonstration that there is any error in genealogy of Jesus Christ has ever been made.
  • Grace : When we see figures like the Gentile prostitute Rahab in the ancestry of Jesus Christ, we are reminded that inclusion among God’s people has always been by grace. When we see Ruth, we are reminded of his purpose to save the nations. Similarly, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we are reminded that salvation has always been by God’s gracious determination to save whom he will, and not by human choice.
  • Power : The sheer length of time covered by the genealogies that run from the beginning of creation until the coming of Christ reminds us of God’s power : the passage of time, and the concomitant rising and falling of nations and empires does not impede any of his plans; rather, they were always part of it.
  • Patience : Similarly, this sheer length of time reminds us of God’s great patience with rebellious humanity. The judgment has been tarrying for long, whilst people are given opportunity to repent.
  • Judgment : Historical records and surveys of peoples who lived and died millennia ago remind us that all is seen, and that all is recorded. There will be a day of judgment, when all is brought to account. When we read the names of people and have no idea who they were, we remember that this applies to every life, whether great or small.
  • God at the centre : The names of obscure people remind us that it’s whom God sees us as that counts, not whom the world sees us as. There are godly people named and recorded in the Bible, whilst rulers of empires and dynasties have been overlooked and forgotten. The final evaluation of all things will be given by God, not man.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Liberty of speech in the UK in 2017 - and what are we going to do about it?

Background: Tim Farron caved on a key issue in which the world and the followers of Christ are opposed. A front-line issue. He now finds himself in the unhappy position of all of those who do so. He's now not at home on either side. The people of the world who wanted to see him cave won't believe him, because they know that he caved under duress, rather than freely speaking his mind. They suspect, very strongly, that he doesn't really believe what he said when he caved - because if he did believe it, why would he not have said it earlier? Why the coyness, when he was just being asked to agree with the majority around him in the circles that he's in? What was the problem with going with the flow and saying that you hold the fashionable view?

Whereas, on the other side, he's just sold the cause of Christ down the river because his professed adherence to Christ's teachings was politically inconvenient. He's publicly legitimised those who say that the commandments of Christ have no place in the public sphere, and that anyone who wants to be more than a private individual must call good evil, and call evil good to get along. For Tim Farron, to call wickedness wickedness would have been bad for his current ambitions in the things of this life. He's denied the teaching of Christ on one of today's key issues, publicly denying the authority of God to determine human sexual ethics. What God calls vile rebellion against his created order, Tim Farron says is not a sin at all. This denial should immediately trigger a church disciplinary process within his fellowship. He ought to be required by his church to choose one side or the other, for the love of his own soul and the protection of the flock.

But notice this from the article too: in 2017, 32% of Britons believe that there should be no freedom for public figures to express a view on sexual ethics that deviates from the new orthodoxy. They don't just disagree with Christian sexual ethics - they think that public figures should be forbidden to do otherwise than disagree with it. Speaking out against the sexual revolution is apparently not just a mistaken idea that people can debate. The very act of wanting to debate it is wrong. Anyone wanting to do so should be banished from public life, apparently.

I don't think it takes any great stretch of the imagination to believe that the figure of 32% is higher among our social "elite", who have been far "ahead" of the public at large on such issues. i.e. Among the law-makers - the people with the power to put the thought that "people who disagree with me should have no right to speak" into practice. This is the UK in 2017. We are increasingly proving false the idea that freedom and Christianity can be maintained separately. i.e. That if we banish Christianity from public life as the source of moral instruction, then we can still hold on to the ideas that it brought with it. Or put another way, we can chop the roots off, and still have some good, healthy fruit. The fact is, that it has historically been Protestant Christianity - with its doctrines of a future day of judgment, and sphere sovereignty - that has provided the basis for freedom to disagree within reasonable bounds during the present time. Once you do away with that, you just have the state and "might is right". Public oaths of conformity for all public persons to rigid anti-Christian state dogma. The thought police. This isn't a distopian future. This is what a very considerable people in high places in the UK today actually want, and are no longer afraid to say so. What's your church's strategy for dealing with that reality?

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Who is the parent?

Do parents have any rights which are not subject to the arbitrary whims
of the state? Or are children ultimately wards of the state, which
benevolently grants their parents certain privileges when it sees fit?
According to the UK's "supreme court," it's the latter:

This is one of those petty tyrannies (a fine of £60) based on completely
non-petty theories about the relationship between state and parents
(that the state has arbitrary authority to specify the tiniest details
of the timetable of how you should educate your children). The only
sensible response to petty tyrannies, once they become widespread and
systematic, is mass disobedience. i.e. They should be made unworkable by
parents in a school co-ordinating to agree to withdraw their children
en-masse on a specified day, and daring the authorities to take every
single last one of them to court. Petty tyrannies only work because of
the salami-slicing effect - people say "this isn't my battle". But, a
thousand petty tyrannies down the line, you find that after opting out
of every battle, you lost the entire war by default. Legally, your
children have become wards of the state, and faceless bureaucrats tell
you what their will is for your children, and fine you if you differ on
any of the details. The same arguments which justify this particular
petty tyranny can justify just about anything the state pleases. And
they will.

Christian parents in the UK need to be joining the dots if they haven't
already done so. For example, with compulsory immoral, secularised sex
education on the way, combined with a court favouring the Department of
Education's viewpoint that removing your child from a state school for
even half a day is an offence, what's your plan? This isn't a situation
that just arrived last week. It's the outworking of the last few
decades, in which we've inevitably progressed from A, to B, to C, to D.
There's nothing alarmist about pointing out that the next step is
certainly going to be E. What's our plan to ensure that our children are
raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, as Scripture requires
of us?