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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Return to the Dark Ages

R. C. SproulHear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; (Hosea 4:1 ESV)

R. C. Sproul:

Charles Colson speaks of a modern “return to the Dark Ages.” When I think of the original Dark Ages, I think of a period when culture was in decline and the progress of knowledge was static.

But today we read of the problem of the explosion of knowledge. It is a time when information and communications are big business. We hear the cry from the universities that knowledge in every field of investigation is increasing so rapidly that no one can assimilate it, even in the most narrow of specialties. The age of the “expert” is over. The word expert must now be defined in relative terms.

If knowledge is light and the light is exploding in magnitude, how can we speak of a new Dark Ages? The darkness is in the heart. It is a darkness produced by a shroud covering the face of God.

Thirty years ago, I read a book written by the Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber. Buber’s book had an ominous title: The Eclipse of God. That is the eclipse of our age. A shadow has passed over the glory of God. We are a people who will not have God in our thinking. We have returned to Plato’s cave, in which we prefer the dancing shadows on the wall of ungrounded opinion over the light of truth. (Visit R. C. Sproul’s web page here. . . .)

The Resurrection is a Fact

Chuck ColsonCharles Colson:

I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.

Transforming Culture

Chuck Colson:

If our culture is to be transformed, it will happen from the bottom up – from ordinary believers practicing apologetics over the backyard fence or around the barbecue grill.

The Neglect of Moral Training

Quoting Chuck Colson:

Our culture is disintegrating before our very eyes because we have neglected moral training. We need look no further than the latest news headlines to see a world overtaken by greed, corruption, fraud, deceit and scandal.

Our youth have become desensitized to evil and lost sight of what is good, with few personal or public role models for ethical behavior. If left unchecked, this pervasive wrongdoing will soon become the norm.

The Influence Of Christianity On Western Democracy

Quoting Chuck Colson:

The concepts of human rights and liberty as we know them can all be traced back to one history-changing idea; an idea that began with God’s revelation to the Jews and was brought to the world by the Christian church.

And that’s the Imago Dei, the idea that man is made in the image of God.

In fact, it was the Christian concept of the Imago Dei that conquered pagan Rome. The Christians said that women, slaves, children, all had eternal value. Talk about revolutionary!

This belief in the value of every human eventually gave rise to classic liberalism (which emphasizes individual freedom) and to Western liberal democracy. Even the great classical liberal philosophers, Locke, Kant, Humboldt, all acknowledged the West’s indebtedness to Christianity and its principles. It’s no coincidence that the greatest document of human liberty ever written, the Declaration of Independence, states that it is self-evident that “all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

Read more here. . . .

Engaging Our Neighbors About Truth

Quoting Chuck Colson:

[A]s my colleague T.M. Moore writes in his weekly ViewPoint column at the Colson Center, our culture, our civilization, many of our friends, family and neighbors, and even many within the church are in the grip of the lie.

And what is the lie? T.M. says “The lie insists that God either does not exist or is not really relevant to human happiness … [that] every human being must decide for himself” where to find happiness. “This is the way that seems right” to so many people these days, but, as Proverbs 14:12 says, “in the end, it is the way of death.”

The most obvious manifestation of the lie afflicting modern culture is relativism — the idea that there is no absolute truth. Relativists, T.M. points out, “insist that truth is what people understand it to be, depending on their circumstances. … A relativist cannot say definitively that this or that idea … is true; the most he can say is that it may be true for me, for now.”

It’s not hard to see how moral relativism lies at the heart of so many of our cultural pathologies: greed, abortion, the breakdown of the family, so-called “gay marriage,” and on and on.

But “those who know the truth in Jesus Christ,” T.M. writes, “cannot simply stand by while the lie ravages churches, communities, families, and individuals.” We need to engage the culture, engage those who disagree with us. And engaging others means, first of all, listening patiently to what they have to say.

And then when we speak our turn, we must respect them as men and women made in the image of God, realizing that because they are made in God’s image, they are always “susceptible to the in-breaking of truth when it is offered in a firm, gracious, and clear manner.”

You may read more here. . . . 

What’s God got to do with it?

Chuck Colson

Quoting Chuck Colson:

A recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times asked, “What’s God got to do with it?” The “it” being referred to was the security and freedom that Americans enjoy and often take for granted.

The answer to the question is “quite a bit,” and arguing otherwise requires taking something else for granted: our way of life’s debt to Christianity.

The man asking and answering the question was Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine. Shermer took exception to the words of a recent House resolution to keep “In God We Trust” as the national motto. The resolution read: “Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured.”

Shermer was troubled by the “belief that religion has a monopoly on morality,” especially, he says, “in this age of science and technology, computers and cyberspace, and liberal democracies securing rights and freedoms for oppressed peoples all over the globe.”

According to Shermer, what really makes people feel free and secure are things like “the rule of law,” “education for the masses,” the establishment of “fair and just laws” and the “equitable enforcement of those fair and just laws.”

What Shermer doesn’t tell us is that things like the rule of law, mass education and the other things he credits with making our freedom and security possible didn’t spring fully-formed out of nowhere. They are part of Christianity’s legacy to the West.

Continue reading. . . .

The Press and Religion

Chuck Colson

From the desk of Chuck Colson:

The United States is often referred to as a “post-Christian” nation. In one sense, that is true: The moral and cultural assumptions shaped by Christianity that used to hold sway in American society, can no longer be taken for granted. They must be defended and contended for in the public square.

But that’s not the same as saying that Americans are becoming more like Europeans when it comes to matters like church attendance or belief in a personal God. In many ways the shift in cultural assumptions I just noted is taking place in spite of what Americans believe and do, not because of them.

You would be hard-pressed to know this judging from media reports. These reports seize on any bit of evidence, however suspect, to promote the thesis that Americans are becoming more “secular.” Every few months we are told about some new study that purports to show how secularism and even atheism is on the march.

We are supposed to conclude that instead of going to church our children will spend Sunday mornings reading the holographic edition of the New York Times on their iPad 15 while sipping a latte made from coffee beans grown hydroponically in zero gravity.

It’s a tidy, convenient story. But unfortunately for its tellers, it just doesn’t square with the facts. . . .

Read more here. . . .

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