Daily Devotional

We Must Be Hatched

C. S. Lewis

The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

Mere Christianity. Copyright © 1952, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1980, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Copyright © 2003 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Language and Number

Masters of Language

One of the strong positives of the Cambridge curriculum is that it is focused upon core subjects.  The core represents subject areas which are the basis for all other learning and knowledge.

Modern, secular education in the government schools is being ruined by curriculum inflation.  Now there are endless choices, options, and multi-form subject areas.  Even the best students are left knowing a little about many subjects, but with competence over none.  Modern education, as the proverb has it, risks leaving a student as “Jack of all trades, Master of none.”

The core of the Cambridge curriculum is language, number, and science.  Every year builds upon this core, with all other subjects “tucked” around it.

Here is an example from one Christian school, using the Cambridge curriculum.
 The teacher explains:

Students have been learning to write fictional and non-fictional descriptive recounts using lots of adjectives. This particular activity was called ‘A Moment in Time.’ Students could write about a time they felt nervous or a time they felt proud. 

I Felt Nervous by Luke (Year 4)

I heard the roar of the massive, four metre, giant crocodile. My hands were shaking. I clenched my stick as I attached a raw piece of juicy meat to the stick. My legs felt like jelly as I approached the stadium. I wondered if I would be the massive crocodile’s dinner on my very first day doing this terrorizing job. I saw the bellowing crowd behind the strong, tough glass. The smell was unbelievable. It smelt like dead carcasses!

Then I saw it. The huge crocodile with its log like body, waiting for me to make a wrong move. It had razor sharp spikes (as sharp as a butcher knife), but this time, I was on the menu! I stretched out my stick as far as I could. It lunged. It tore off the piece of juicy meat with one big bite. I cautiously went backwards. Then it ran straight towards me: the four metre long crocodile lunged. I knew what I had to do. I threw the stick in its mouth. This gave me time to run. I sprinted towards the door and shut it behind myself. I heard the angry roar of the frustrated crocodile. I was safe…finally! 

Below is a sample written piece, presented as part of the NZ National Curriculum’s Reading and Writing Standards for Year 4 pupils:

… as I was about to leave I saw a ram. It was approching me. I saw it stare at me a scary look like it was going to hurt me. I droped the buket and ran. I glanced back and it was chasing me. I was so close to the fence so I started climbing it.  The ram caught my pants when I was almost over.  I screamed as it pulled me to the ground. But it finally let go so I jumped up, gbabed the buket, chuked it over the fence then I climbed over the fence before the ram could get me. I lay on the grass releived that I was safe. I looked in the buket nothing. “Oh well” I said” she’ll just have to put up with no grass tonight”.

This piece meets the government schools’ writing standard for a Year 4 pupil.  

Notice the differences?
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Au Contraire

Contrarian Peter Hitchens Confirms What The Wise Already Know

The United States Has Always Been Self-Interested

Now will we grasp that the United States is not our friend, but a foreign country whose interests are often different from ours?  President Obama’s blatant intervention in our internal affairs is not a sudden breach of a soppy ‘special relationship’. The USA’s only real special relationship is with Saudi Arabia, a 70-year-old hard pact of oil, money and power, welded together with such cynicism it ought to make us gasp.
Barack Obama’s open desire for us to stay inside the EU is by no means the first or worst example of White House meddling here in these islands. Bill Clinton forced us to cave in to the Provisional IRA in 1998 and his successor, George W. Bush, continued the policy by making us do Sinn Fein’s bidding afterwards.
Washington came close to scuppering our recapture of the Falklands in 1982. And with the current state of our Armed Forces, which can nowadays do nothing without American support, I often wonder how the White House and the Pentagon would behave if Argentina once again seized Port Stanley.  If anyone thinks Hillary Clinton is a great friend of Britain, they’re in for a big surprise.
But surely the Americans fought with us shoulder to shoulder against the Kaiser and Hitler? Not exactly.
The USA (quite rightly) fought for its own interest in both great wars, not for us.  When we ran out of money after the First World War, Washington seized the chance to force us to limit our Navy, and so began to overtake us as the world’s major naval power. We had feared Germany would do this. It is one of the great ironies of history that it was the USA that ended British sea power.
In the blackest months of the Second World War, just after the fall of France, the US Congress demanded almost every penny we owned before it would authorise the famous Lend- Lease programme.  Secret convoys of Royal Navy warships carried our reserves of gold bullion (estimated to have been worth £26 billion in today’s values) across the Atlantic – mostly never to return. Billions in negotiable securities went the same way, and British assets in the USA were sold off at absurdly low prices.
I don’t blame the Americans for this. In 1934, Britain had defaulted on her giant First World War debt to the USA. This is now worth up to £225 billion in today’s money, depending on how you calculate inflation.  We still haven’t paid it off, and never will, though it’s not considered polite to discuss it and it’s one of those facts so grotesque that most people refuse to believe it when first told of it.
During the Hitler war, the USA gave us enough aid to stay in the fight, but not enough to recover our former economic strength. The eventual peace was made on American terms, and Soviet terms, with us as onlookers. And after the war, Marshall Aid came with strings – open up the British Empire to outside trade, and then begin to dismantle it.
Not wanting to get embroiled in any more European wars, the USA also put a lot of effort into creating a permanently united Europe. Documents came to light in the 1990s, probably by accident, showing detailed CIA involvement in the European Movement.
I regard America’s behaviour as perfectly reasonable. It’s the sort of thing we used to do when we were top nation, and had more sense than to squander our wealth on idealistic foreign wars.
I like America and Americans, lived there happily for two fascinating years, and wish them well. But I never forget that the USA is another country, not a friend or even a cousin. Nor should you.

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We wait and put our hope in your unfailing love… ( a prayer)


Just a draft of a prayer based on my relfections  on Psalm 33:20-22 which we are using as a call to worship at church  … waiting on God and putting our trust in his unfailing love.


O God,

In the midst of our lostness

In the joy of being found

In the efforts of our endeavours: successes and failings

In the glow of great joy and happiness

In the sting of pain and sorrow and grief

Through the shining brightness of doing right

And the gapping darkness of injustice

We wait and put our hope in your unfailing love

O Lord,

Love that stepped down to serve

Love that was rejected and scorned

Love tortured and nailed to rough wood

Love dead and buried

Love raised and alive

Love in ever abiding presence

Love that in glorious hope will return again

We put our trust in your unfailing love

O God Father, Son and spirit,

We have done wrong and left so much good undone

Forgive us, restore us and make us whole

Fill us a fresh with your presence

Lead us and guide us in your right ways

Enable and empower to share your love

To be the body of Christ together in this place

To embody Christ in your world and bring hope

We put our trust in your unfailing love


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Book Review: Surprised by Scripture

N.T. WRIGHT, SURPRISED BY SCRIPTURE: ENGAGING CONTEMPORARY ISSUES. NEW YORK: HARPER ONE, 2014. 223 PAGES.

Reviewed by Robert J. Mayer

Perhaps the most prolific theological writer of the past 20 years has been Nicholas Thomas (N.T.) Wright, past Anglican Bishop of Durham and now the Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Wright’s production has been nothing short of amazing, especially his multivolume series “Christian Origins and the Question of God,” which represents some of the best biblical scholarship and New Testament historical research of our time. Serious Christians everywhere are grateful for Wright’s masterful defense of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and his contention that Christian faith has strong historical and reasonable support.

But the good Bishop has not limited his work to scholarly audiences. He has published a host of books for educated Christian laypeople including what I think is perhaps the best book on eschatology that I have read in my lifetime, “Surprised by Hope” (Harper One, 2008). While this reviewer deeply respects Wright’s work — that does not mean that everything he writes merits agreement. That is true in terms of his understanding of the doctrine of justification where I think Wright misinterprets Martin Luther to some degree. And in this book, a collection of essays on different biblical, theological and ethical subjects, I am sure that readers will find much to like and some to not like.

Wright establishes his framework for engagement of these desperate matters in the preface. Christians, secularists, indeed all of us whether we know it or not have uncritically embraced the core teachings of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. “I have come to the view that, unless we glimpse the roots of what today is taken for granted in our world, we will not understand why we see problems the way we do, and will not appreciate what the Bible might have to say about them. When people think of “living in the modern world,” very often what they are doing is embracing one particular ancient philosophy (Epicureanism) in a modern guise (x). For Wright, this ancient philosophy dressed up in Enlightenment garb is “the worldview  in which God, or the gods, may perhaps exist, but if they do, they are far away and remain uninvolved with the world” (6). And it is a worldview that those who are well-off economically and socially whether they are Christians or secularists seem almost unconsciously drawn to.

Uncritical embrace of an Enlightenment/Epicurean worldview has not only led to oppositional conflicts in the political realm of life in the United States and Europe, but they gave rise to the Fundamentalist-Modernist debates of the early 20th century as well as the ongoing oppositional debates we see among Christians over a host of matters. Nowhere is this seen more than in how many Christians and secularists perceive the relationship between science and faith. Because of this, many Christians and secularists do not read Genesis 1 and 2 in the way that the text intends and that the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers see them. Wright sees Paul as integrating the first three chapters of Genesis into his writing in 1 Corinthians 15 with the point being “that God put his wonderful world into human hands; that the human hands messed up the project; and that the human hands of Jesus the Messiah have now picked it up, sorted it out, and got it back on track” (35).

Wright challenges Christians and secularists both to reject this Enlightenment/Epicurean worldview and do the hard intellectual work that gets beyond casting them in oppositional terms. One of the best places for that to happen is in terms of what we say about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Wright passionately argues that Jesus was raised in bodily form and that his resurrection was not hidden but public in a historical sense. “What I am suggesting,” according to Wright, “is that faith in Jesus risen from the dead transcends but includes what we call history and what we call science. Faith of this sort is not blind belief that rejects all history and science. Nor is it simply … a belief that inhabits a totally different sphere” (61). Instead, it is shaped by our faith in the God “who has raised Jesus from the dead within history” with evidence that can be investigated by all people, scientists included. Faith and history are not divorced from one another because God acts in human history, and Resurrection provides a paradigm for our own resurrection at the return of Christ and the consummation of the kingdom of God.

Wright’s chapter regarding the second coming of Christ is a nice summary of “Surprised by Hope,” and his argument that our Lord’s future return does not negate our responsibility to care for the earth. As followers of Christ, we are citizens of God’s kingdom and our kingdom citizenship means that we start “to take up our responsibility as God’s image-bearing human beings, sharing God’s rule over creation” even if only in an imperfect sense before the return of Christ. “We should take responsibility in the present time for God’s groaning creation … We are not to regard the created order as random, nor to see its present disarray as somehow its own fault, but to understand it in terms of an initially good creation now radically spoiled [by the fall] but awaiting redemption” (90) as expressed in Genesis 1. We sin when we abrogate our responsibility for the welfare of creation. Hence, Christians must care about environmental matters like global warming and abuse of the earth’s resources simply because that is integral to our fundamental identity as humans created in the image of God. Too often, many evangelical Christians have seen environmental stewardship as some kind of “liberal plot” and while I agree that proposals related to matters like global warming should be carefully critiqued, Wright’s corrective to our dismissive tendencies is important.

Finally, Wright challenges his readers to engage Scripture in an integrated as opposed to a truncated manner. First, we need to read Scripture in its proper narrative and literary context. Many people (including many in our churches) assume that science and technology provide the only real knowledge and that theology, poetry and art are merely soft knowledge, “subjective musings without any purchase on solid reality” (133). Nothing is further from the truth, according to Wright as Scripture in all of its narrative and literary forms speaks to the reality of God, his creation and our human existence.

Second, when we read the Bible, we often assume a “split-level” understanding of reality that divorces the spiritual from the natural. When this happens, “the Bible is first privatized, then dismembered.” Modern biblical criticism of both liberal and conservative varieties tends to reinforce this dichotomy and force us away from reading Scripture in ways that speak to our living in the world in which we find ourselves. The problem is that when we read Scripture in this split-level way, we miss the essence of its message which is the Gospel message, “that this is the story of how the creator God launched his rescue operation for the whole of creation” (138).

The consequences of these truncated readings of Scripture are represented in our “all-or-nothing” descriptions of events and realities within creation. “We in the contemporary Western world have all but lost the ability, conceptually as well as practically, to affirm simultaneously that rulers are corrupt and must be confronted and that they are God-given and must be obeyed” (176). Indeed. Wise words as we engage in a presidential election year. And politics is only one arena where a lack of integrated Christian thought damages both church and society.

In the past several months I have heard Christians claim that in response to the Supreme Court decision regarding homosexual marriage, churches need to be communities of resistance to cultural trends like this and that we should encourage Christians to disobey this ruling. My response to this line of thinking has been, “It will never work!” Why? Because as William Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas argued 25 years ago, you cannot build an alternative community when the church is culturally compromised in so many areas of life and when our unconscious habits of life are shaped more by Enlightenment reason than by Holy Scripture. We live with a truncated understanding of life and faith, and according to Wright we will need a holistic understanding of Christian faith as both private and public. Here Wright echoes the 20th century missionary theologian Lesslie Newbigin who described the gospel as “Public Truth.”

Seeing the gospel as “public truth” means that Christian faith does speak to environmental concerns, to how we educate our children and young people, to why we condemn racism and discrimination, to the immorality of war and violence, and to the various issues that relate to human life. In all of this, we learn to become “people of hope.” We can become people of hope because Jesus Christ has been bodily raised from the dead. Because Jesus is alive, we can simply follow him and bring the gospel to bear on all of life. We don’t have to conform to some left-wing or right-wing political orthodoxy. Resurrection cannot be reduced to ideology.

-End-

 

Bob Mayer is Senior Librarian and Assistant Professor of Theological Bibliography at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.


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Daily Devotional

The Greatest Guest

“If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.”
Revelation 3:20

Charles H. Spurgeon

What is your desire this day? Is it set upon heavenly things? Do you long to enjoy the high doctrine of eternal love? Do you desire liberty in very close communion with God? Do you aspire to know the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths? Then you must draw near to Jesus; you must get a clear sight of him in his preciousness and completeness; you must view him in his work, in his offices, in his person.

He who understands Christ, receives an anointing from the Holy One, by which he knows all things. Christ is the great master-key of all the chambers of God; there is no treasure-house of God which will not open and yield up all its wealth to the soul that lives near to Jesus. Are you saying, “O that he would dwell in my bosom”? “Would that he would make my heart his dwelling-place forever”? Open the door, beloved, and he will come into your souls. He has long been knocking, and all with this object, that he may sup with you, and you with him. He sups with you because you find the house or the heart, and you with him because he brings the provision. He could not sup with you if it were not in your heart, you finding the house; nor could you sup with him, for you have a bare cupboard, if he did not bring provision with him.

Fling wide, then, the portals of your soul. He will come with that love which you long to feel; he will come with that joy into which you cannot work your poor depressed spirit; he will bring the peace which now you have not; he will come with his flagons of wine and sweet apples of love, and cheer you till you have no other sickness but that of “love o’erpowering, love divine.” Only open the door to him, drive out his enemies, give him the keys of your heart, and he will dwell there forever. Oh, wondrous love, that brings such a guest to dwell in such a heart!
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Heady Times

Living Amidst a Kuhnian Scientific Revolution
Amongst scientists and the various scientific disciplines, evolutionism–as a cosmology–is collapsing.  The evolutionist paradigm is falling apart.  The more strident the secular evolutionists become on the matter, the more they betray their deepest doubts and uncertainties.  

Most scientific paradigms do not collapse due to a full scale frontal assault from a competing paradigm.  Usually they collapse from within.  Those who once held the reigning paradigm, who had been card carrying members of the Association of the Ruling Paradigm, begin to find data and results and research that just “does not make sense” in view of current received wisdom.  The disquiet grows gradually.  Usually, the stridency of the ruling paradigm is toned down.  Folk don’t discuss it much in polite scientific society.  It becomes a bit of an ugly cousin no-one talks about much any more.  It takes on the characteristic of a myth, a just-so story which no-one really believes “nowadays”.

The textbooks used in schools and colleges which teach the incumbent paradigm are the last to change.  They represent the “establishment”, particularly the State establishment.  It is here that the incumbent paradigm becomes “official”.  State schools use state approved textbooks.  State textbooks teach the dominant paradigm.  State schools and state textbooks are usually the last to hear about a scientific revolution overthrowing the existing paradigm because neither the State, nor State schools are engaged in real science.  Rather, they represent the propagandists for the incumbent view.  As a paradigm is being overthrown, real scientists distance themselves, grow quiet, and adopt a “yes, but” mien towards the ruling official view.

This is the state of the current evolutionist paradigm.  It is crumbling from within.
 There have been two scientific disciplines/developments which have done more unintentional work to undermine evolutionism than any others.  The first is physics.  The second is biology, particularly micro-biology.  In the light of research and discoveries in these two disciplines, the evolutionist paradigm “just does not compute” any longer.  First: particle physics.

Although it has not yet entered into the popular consciousness, much of empirical or experimental science (or perhaps, “operational science”) for most of the twentieth century has  been functionally abandoning the various dualisms of eighteenth century secularist philosophy. . . . (T)he philosophical framework which has excluded divine creation and nourished materialist evolution for several generations is now collapsing.  [Douglas F. Kelly, Creation and Change: Genesis 1.1–2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms (Rossshire, Scotland: Mentor/Christian Focus Publications, 1997),  p.18.]

The concept of the Big Bang being used to record the beginnings of the universe is now a part of the established structures of modern physics.

The physicists have not only persuaded themselves of the merits of Big Bang cosmology, they have persuaded everyone else as well.  The Big Bang has come to signify virtually a universal creed, men and women who know nothing of cosmology convinced that the rumble of creation lies within reach of their collective memory.  [David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions (New York: Basic Books, 2009), p.70.]

Big Bang sounds suspiciously like creation.  This inevitable implication of the theory has caused consternation amongst many physicists–exactly the kind of discombobulation that occurs when a reigning paradigm comes under attack from within.  Some physicists are more candid on the matter:

“The best data we have concerning the big bang,” the Nobel laureate Arno Penzias remarked, “are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.” [Berlinski, ibid., p.71.]

Ouch.

The second scientific discipline to assail the paradigm of evolutionism has been micro-biology.  The tiniest organic cell is now understood to be horrendously complex, such that it demands an intelligent designer.  Randomness and stochasticity just does not cut it any longer.  They take one beyond the bounds of the credible.

At the tiniest levels of biology–the chemical life of the cell–we have discovered a complex world that radically changes the grounds on which Darwinian debates much be contested.  . . . In summary, as biochemists have begun to examine apparently simple structures like cilia and flagella, they have discovered staggering complexity, with dozens or even hundred of precisely tailored parts . . . . As the number of required parts increases, the difficulty of gradually putting the system together skyrockets, and the likelihood of indirect scenarios plummets.  Darwin looks more and more forlorn.

New research on the roles of the auxiliary proteins cannot simplify the irreducibly complex system.  The intransigence of the problem cannot be alleviated; it will only get worse.  Darwinian theory has given no explanation for the cilium or flagellum.  The overwhelming complexity . . . push us to think it may never given an explanation.  [Michael Behe, cited by Douglas Kelly, ibid., p.56f.]

The next three to four decades may well present us with a full-scale scientific revolution of Kuhnian proportions.   All the signs are there.
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choosing condemnations

April 2016 (29)

1 Corinthians 11:31-34

1Co 11:31 But if we proved ourself faithful, we would not have experienced this condemnation.
1Co 11:32 Yet in these times of condemnation, we are being taught a lesson by the Lord, so that we do not experience the condemnation that the world will.
1Co 11:33 For this reason, my brothers, when you come together to eat, be considerate of one another.
1Co 11:34 If someone is hungry, he should eat in his own house, so that when you come together, you do not cause condemnation. I will take care of the rest of your questions when I arrive.

choosing condemnations

It’s tough to be a believer nowadays, because the church is on trial all the time. When we are doing something wrong, sometimes we suffer because of it. The Lord is teaching us a lesson in these times of condemnation, just like he taught Corinth a lesson over their abuse of communion. It isn’t cruel for him to do so, because he wants us to learn that lesson, stop sinning, and avoid the ultimate condemnation that the world will experience at Gehenna hell. When the Lord does punish us for something like not being considerate of one another, we can stubbornly defy him and keep doing it our way. If we do, we risk incurring his wrath, and in so doing, we are choosing the ultimate condemnation. Wrong choice!

LORD, thank you for your faithful lessons. Teach us to recognize those lessons quickly, repent fully, return to you, and thus not risk the ultimate condemnation of destruction in hell.

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Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow

Jane Austen and Our Culture of Feeeeelings

Doug Wilson
Blog&Mablog

As I noted in my brief review of Pride and Prejudice below, Jane Austen is amazing. A truly wise woman, she wrote a novel of two kinds of people — people who change and grow, and people who do not. This is simply another way of marking those who are capable of repentance and those who are beyond repentance, those who come to see themselves accurately and those who are utterly incapable of doing so.

The latter group is represented well by Lydia — “Lydia was Lydia still.” And of course, the same thing can be said about Mr. Collins, who doesn’t budge, and Lady Catherine, who continues to condescend from the mount, and Mrs. Bennett, who carefully cultivates her nursery of nerves, and Mary, who perseveres in delivering sententious bromides, and so on. Folly is a constant in this book. Aping the immutability of God, the folly here seeks to be without any variation or shadow due to change.Eliza Bennett

But Eliza Bennett comes to repent of her prejudice, and the folly of having been misled by appearances. Mr. Darcy repents of his pride, having been properly humbled by Eliza. They change. They repent. They come to terms with the world as it actually is, instead of the world as they thought it was.

But there is another layer to Austen’s wisdom.
Nothing is more manifestly plain than the vast chasm that separates the wise and foolish characters. The same judgments of Lydia’s behavior, say, come from Mr. Collins, Mary, Eliza, Aunt Gardiner, and Lady Catherine. They all think the same thing. They all say very similar things. Lady Catherine despises the “infamous elopement.” Mr. Collins says that Mr. Bennett ought not allow their names to be mentioned in his presence. Mary draws many moral extractions from the evil before them, to the utter amazement of Eliza, but Eliza abominates the folly as thoroughly as anyone. And Aunt Gardiner represented to Lydia “all the wickedness of what she had done,” which Lydia received like some preacher was “reading a sermon.” But Aunt Gardiner was wise for doing what a number of others were fools for doing.

If the soul of a fool were to animate a body, the results will be foolish. Were the soul of the wise to do so, the results are completely different. When Mr. Collins says that his marriage will make him “the happiest of men,” he is a cliche-ridden fool, and when Jane says that she is the “happiest of creatures” we are meant to understand that it is true.

Now let us apply these truths to the world around us. If you have any trouble finding or identifying it, it is the world that has gone mad. In Austen’s moral universe, the wise occupy themselves in finding out what reality is like, in order to conform themselves to it. The foolish expend all their energies to make the world conform to their own wishes and desires (as they seek to obtain what they want), and in the final analysis, when the world refuses to alter itself upon demand, to interpret the world as though it had been successfully bent to their desires. They did not obtain the particular thing that they wanted, but they do receive the consolation prize for such egocentricity, which is their right to their grievance.

C.S. Lewis wrote prophetically of the poison of subjectivism, and it is a poison that has now rotted our culture clean through.

I still remember one of my first pastoral encounters with this evil. Many years ago, I was meeting with some members of a family trying to effect a reconciliation between siblings. A grown daughter had alleged abuse on the part of the parents, and the other siblings were saying that her allegations were out to lunch. That was not the family they had grown up in. The counselor of the daughter making the allegations was present at the meeting. When her siblings registered their view that these allegations were, to use an old-fashioned word, false, her counselor astonished me. In effect, he granted that they were false, but said that it didn’t matter because what mattered is how the one making the allegations felt.

In short, we were not talking about a question of fact, but rather we were dealing with an unfalsifiable self-report. And because we have given this nonsense the time of day, we have gotten to the point where the right to pee biblically in North Carolina is under a culture-wide assault. And I do have to confess that I never thought that I would ever live to see the day when I would be caught up into the battle over peeing biblically. Perhaps we need a theological treatise on it (1 Sam. 25:22); 1 Kings 14:10).

We live in a time when we must constantly reckon with the appalling phrase “self-identify.” Nobody wants to contradict the absolute authority of self-identification.

Yeah, well, Mr. Collins self-identifies as a principled Christian clergyman, Lady Catherine self-identifies as a font of practical wisdom, Mary Bennett self-identifies as a font of theoretical wisdom, Lydia self-identifies as the belle of the ball, and Mr. Wickham self-identifies as someone chiseled out of an inheritance. But how are they reader-identified? They are identified by the readers as incorrigible fools, from front to back.

Now put the book down, and try to read the world around you. The moral vision of Austen is a true moral vision, steeped in the Christian tradition. The real world is fixed. But all around us we see what happens when the moral authority of that vision is wrested away from the author and is granted to the likes of Mr. Collins.

We see this everywhere. We see it in the narcissism of Donald Trump, a candidate with the confidence of Lady Catherine, the insight of Mr. Collins, the moral probity of Lydia, and the financial integrity of Mr. Wickham.

We see it in the supreme confidence of the Internet trolls, many of whom delight in being, to use Aaron Wolf’s great phrase, “maximum whiteys.” If you don’t know what I am talking about, you can check under my bridge. I have people down there trying to make me look like a moderate, and I think it is working.

We see it in the grievance mongers who say that getting good grades and showing up on time is a pernicious form of “white supremacy.”

We see it ambulance chasers hunting for sexual abuse grievances to trumpet and promote, muckrakers who were so home-schooled they got to the point of an utter inability to read social signals at all.

Now it would be possible to read over the four paragraphs above beginning with “we see” and twist them so that they are understood as revealing my belief that uncontrolled immigration is no problem, that Western culture is not objectively superior, that cultures of color are innately inferior, and that no such thing as true sexual abuse exists. Oh, and that I took a shot at home-schooling. No, I didn’t say that, I don’t believe that, and wouldn’t think of arguing anything like that.

But that is how my words made them feel.
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Daily Devotional

Paul’s Salvation Was for You

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16)

John Piper

Paul’s conversion was for your sake.

I want you to take this very personally. God had you in view when he chose Paul and saved him by sovereign grace.  If you believe on Jesus for eternal life — or if you may yet believe on him for eternal life — Paul’s conversion is for your sake. It is to make Christ’s incredible patience vivid for you.

Paul’s pre-conversion life was a long, long trial to Jesus. “Why do you persecute me?” Jesus asked. “Your life of unbelief and rebellion is a persecution of me!” Paul had been set apart for God since before he was born. So all his life was one long abuse of God, and one long rejection and mockery of Jesus who loved him.

That is why Paul says his conversion is a brilliant demonstration of Jesus’ patience. And that is what he offers you today.

It was for our sake that Jesus did it the way he did it. To “display his perfect patience” to us. Lest we lose heart. Lest we think he could not really save us. Lest we think he is prone to anger. Lest we think we have gone too far away. Lest we think our dearest one cannot be converted— suddenly, unexpectedly, by the sovereign, overflowing grace of Jesus
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