Two pieces live today – on TGC I look at how our lack of an eschatological perspective on the fate of both the church and our nations has contributed to the Roy Moore disaster:
One of the most intense experiences in my life was about 10 years ago, when a dear friend told me his teenage son was starting to drift toward political extremism. He asked if I could help. I knew his son and had no difficulty turning my next conversation with him toward politics, and sure enough, he was moving toward destructive ideas.
“But don’t you think,” he said, in response to some cautionary word I had offered him, “that America is on the brink of becoming a fascist dictatorship?”
“I think,” I replied, “that every nation is always on the brink of becoming a fascist dictatorship.”
His face changed so dramatically I could almost see the light bulb appear over his head.
Don’t miss the shout-outs to Chuck Colson and Whittaker Chambers.
And Christian History‘s issue on Faith in the City carries a piece (adapted from my work at TGR) on how the transformative love of God builds up the kingdom to seek justice, holiness and grace in a way that impacts our communities:
I want to propose a reversal of our inadequate models of the Kingdom that will bear some resemblance to death and resurrection.
Let me know what you think!
“Hello, I’m here to measure the speechiness level of your cake.”
One reason George Will was a hero to me when I was younger was his lampooning of judicial nonsense in the service of wicked ends. I remember in particular a column of his from the 1980s, which I read in college in a collection, in which he lambasted the Supreme Court’s micromanagement of Christmas displays. Nativity scenes were banished at first, then they were brought back – provided they were displayed in close proximity to secular junk like Santas and snowmen. But this raised the quesiton of exactly how close together the shepherds and reindeer would have to be for the display to be permissible.
Will mocked the court for determining what is legal by bringing a “constitutional micrometer” to measure every local display.
Today, Will admits that cakes are sometimes speech, and then brings out a constitutional micrometer that he wants the court to use to measure every individual cake – to see whether it’s speechy enough to deserve protection.
Because God forbid we let people just be free to decide for themselves what jobs they will and won’t do.
The underlying problem here is America’s original sin of slavery. We had no choice but to compromise the principles of freedom to set our social order aright in the civil rights era. I still think, in spite of everything, that was the right thing to do. But I am increasingly sympathetic with people like Barry Goldwater, who warned what would happen once we started compromising the principles of freedom. And now even George Will has gone over.
All I can say is this: Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of creeping totalitarianism in the name of “civil rights” may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the police state, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said: “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
My latest on work as holy war is up at TGR. I look at how service to others is the reason work is at the heart of the church’s holy war against Satan:
Work serves others both directly and indirectly. We provide a direct service to the customer, client or other immediate recipient of our work. And we indirectly serve our households (by bringing home a paycheck and in other ways) as well as bosses, coworkers and others who are affected. Ephesians 4:28 affirms both these forms of service, emphasizing that we must do something that provides direct service (“doing something useful”) but also identifying indirect service (the paycheck is “something to share with those in need”) as the purpose of the work. Indeed, the indirect service of the paycheck for the household is usually a stronger emphasis in Paul than the direct service.
Above all, service to others means service to God first, and service to our neighbor by serving God first:
I wouldn’t want to hinder spiritually marginal people from moving toward the kingdom by implying that service to neighbor is simply worthless on its own terms. As C.S. Lewis has wisely said, every road out of Jerusalem is also a road into Jerusalem. There are many who have discovered that service to Christ must come first after they initially strove only to serve their neighbors, and then followed that golden thread to its source.
But neither would I want to cut off the thread from its source. The gap between service to neighbor that is and is not service to God first is a difference of kind, not degree. One is lifted by the Spirit over the chasm between the kingdom of self and the kingdom of God, or else not. And every moment of every day on the job is another choice between kingdoms.
You can serve God and others by letting me know what you think!
A while back I got a stern email from a friend of a friend because I said that Tony Perkins supported Trump because he’s a fool.
How dare I say such a thing?
Today, I can only wish that the people who are in a position to represent evangelicals in public life were fools.
They appear to be something much, much worse.
If the document published by the Washington Post is what it appears to be, Perkins knew a candidate for congress was a predator and kept it under wraps – while promising the father of a sexually abused 18-year-old swift action – as the candidate defeated two (presumably non-predator) rivals for his party’s nomination.
I guess selling your soul can technically be a swift action.
On Mere Orthodoxy today, I attack secular neutralism, as put forth in a recent spoof of a Platonic dialogue:
Socrates’ pseudo-city skirts the real problem he has set for himself in seeking to make a city of men who disagree about the gods. The four fundamental laws that are to govern the city – do the gods will these laws, or not?
If so, the city is enforcing the laws of the gods – some of them, at least. This is precisely what it is not supposed to do.
But if the gods do not will the laws of this city, the laws are both immoral and tyrannous. They are immoral because they are not the will of the gods. They are tyrannous because they will be enforced, with violence when necessary, upon citizens who do not view them as the will of the gods.
If the gods will the laws of the pseudo-city, Law 3 is violated. If they do not, Law 2 is violated.
Instead, I defend a different vision of the liberal order – one based on a monstrous assumption about the gods.
Increase our capacity to seek a good life together by letting me know what you think!