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The Present Culture of "Neo-Romanticism"

For all of its assurance to liberate men free from their self-imposed ignorance, considered largely the result of the influence of traditional Christianity, the Enlightenment failed to provide a final solution for life. In its rational deconstruction of man and of the universe in order to create a cohesive view of specific topics, the Enlightenment was really an agenda for progress apart from the biblical revelation of God. Problematically, by locking God out of the metaphysical world, and arguing instead for a clockwork universe, so-called enlightened thinkers made God a prisoner to his own set of laws. It took Kant to seek the “der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbst verschuldeten Unmundigkeit” (“the emergence of man from his self-incurred immaturity”) and to return the metaphysical world to the arena of philosophy and religious discourse. Rococo frivolity was the Enlightenment in denial—a last gasp effort to believe that science and philosophy could replace God and deliver the …

Athiest Thinks Africa Needs God

TimesOnline December 27, 2008

by Matthew Parris...

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it's Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I've been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I've been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. Th…

The Need for the Biblical World and Life View to Reform African Culture

I have a new article on The Road From Eden that offers a modest vision for the reform of African culture. Obviously, it offers only a part of what is needed. But check out the article at my website. You can link to it just to the right of this post or go to www.roadfromeden.com It is under Culture/Articles. A partial excerpt from the article is below...

Religious pluralism is endemic to African traditional religion (ATR). It animates the social and cultural conditions not only of African religion but also of many cultural forms throughout the continent. More specifically, religious pluralism is having a direct effect on the ways in which Christianity is understood and practiced in most areas of Africa. It is the worldview of religious pluralism that must be challenged in order for biblical Christianity to emerge and take hold of Africa.

This challenge cannot be addressed by a narrow evangelistic model but by a rigorous biblical theology focused on the teaching of the Christian world an…

John Frame's Festschrift

Speaking the Truth in Love: the Theology of John M. Frame is now available. I must say that it is a true blessing to participate by contributing a chapter to this volume. My contribution is titled, "John Frame's Theology in the Present Cultural Context."

One reason why my involvement is meaningful to me is because there are three people who have influenced my ministry the most over the past 25 years. When I mention the three names, many people are stunned that one of them is John Frame. The other two, by the way, are the late Jack Miller, and Henry Krabbendam.

Now here's a real secret that I rarely tell anyone. Behind all three of these men is yet another figure who has influenced me even more than these; in fact, he did much to guide the thought of the three men mentioned above. He is Cornelius Van Til.

But focusing on the three, I would say that it is John Frame who did the most to fashion the way in which I think about ministry (Dr. Miller helped to put in me a ze…

The Plight of East African Children

I have written a short piece titled, "The Plight of East African Children in the Light of 2 Kings 2:1-7." It appears on my website, www.roadfromeden.com which you can link to on this site.

The piece interacts with several articles in a major Ugandan newspaper called The New Vision, as well as some statistics relevant to the children of Uganda. I read the newspaper while flying from Entebbe to Amsterdam on my way home to the States.

I freely admit that the article does not do justice to the whole of the problem facing the children of East Africa, but it may offer you a brief bit of insight into a root cause of the problem.

I plan on several more such articles dealing with East African culture and society.

Please read it when you get a chance and feel free to offer some feedback.

Have Christians Lost the Culture War on ESPA

The Evangelical Political Scholars Association homepage is this month highlighting my recent presentation at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church: "Have Christians Lost the Culture War?"

EPSA exists to facilitate a professional network of evangelical scholars interested in exploring the questions that underlie political life. You can share your thoughts on my speech by visiting the ESPA website at http://epsa.tkc.edu/

In case you are interested, above is a rendering of John Locke, a bit of a political thinker himself.

Into Africa

I have returned from Kenya and Uganda, where for one week I ministered to a group of pastors in Kenya and a group of Bishops in Uganda. I was traveling with Equipping Pastors International (EPI). Being a cultural historian and theologian of culture, I must say that the experience was personally stimulating and instructive.

There are many aspects of East Africa culture that are worthy of report, issues that I will try to take up in an article or two on my website, www.roadfromeden.com. However, here I will mention just one observations from my trip regarding the cultural situation in this troubled region of the world.

Uganda won its liberty from Great Britain in 1962, followed closely by Kenya in 1963. Liberty is a priceless treasure, but unless individuals and nations know how to handle liberty, it can quickly turn into a prison, manifesting great religious, tribal, and political abuse. Such is the case with these two nations, it seems to me. Being an American, with a decidedly America…

A Taste of Heaven?

On Fox news, Shepherd Smith first drew out attention to a new phenomenon, if you choose to call it that, in which people are now eating hamburger, laden with cheese, and whatever, and putting it all between a sliced, Crispy Cream doughnut. Some years ago, it was Aristotle who mentioned the need for "balance" in all things. But the issue is really not one "balance" but of glorifying God in all that we do, in this case, our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit.

It may appear as a small thing, but to apply the claims of Christ to our ever-dissolving culture, we must not overlook a single thing. Is putting a hamburger between a doughnut (see the video above and you'll gain a better sense of how hedonistically wacko this idea is) too small a thing for a Christian response? We live in a culture of pleasure, and one that is forever discovering news ways to seek it, even in the most cavalier and indeed stupid ways. The hamburger/doughnut combo is the equivalent of ska…

Unclear Policy Losing Afgan War

It ought to be clear that the Obama Administration is trying to have it both ways. It wants to appear strong in the face of world aggression while placate the far-left. The problem is that war is not a patient game. The realities of what is happening on the ground will not wait until the administration lawyers figure out how to straddle the picket-fence without turning themselves into castrato singers.

Meanwhile, people are dying. This is what happens when armies flinch. We see this pattern time and time again in Scripture. Armies that hesitate lose.

There is a further spiritual truth to glean from all of this -- a teaching point, if you will. One day a man asked Jesus if he could be one of his followers. But the man first wanted to go home to say goodbye to his family. Jesus, sensing the man's conflicted desire to be a true follower, responded, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." There are several good reasons why …

The Ant and the Grasshopper

A new version...a little different from Aesop's

OLD VERSION: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself

MODERN VERSION: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. Amer…

Recent Survey Indicates Downward Trend Among Churches

The ARIS 2008 survey was carried out during February-November 2008 and collected answers from 54,461 respondents who were questioned in English or Spanish.

The American population self-identifies as predominantly Christian but Americans are slowly becoming less Christian.

• 86% of American adults identified as Christians in 1990 and 76% in 2008.

• The historic Mainline churches and denominations have experienced the steepest declines while the non-denominational Christian identity has been trending upward particularly since 2001.

• The challenge to Christianity in the U.S. does not come from other religions but rather from a rejection of all forms of organized religion.

34% of American adults considered themselves “Born Again or Evangelical Christians” in 2008.
The U. S. population continues to show signs of becoming less religious, with one out of every five Americans failing to indicate a religious identity in 2008.

• The “Nones” (no stated religious preference, atheist, or agnostic) conti…

Are You Sharing Your Faith?

“What is the most important thing that has ever happened to you?” “What is therefore the most important thing you can do for someone else?” Living for what is important is what the Great Commission is all about.

The first and last thing Jesus said to a disciple was to share their faith.

Matt. 4:1 says "And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'" And Matt. 28:18-20 records, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'"

These words apply to all Christians. Nonetheless, statistics reveal that only 2 percent of believers actively share their faith. There is clearly a discrepancy between our public pronouncements regarding the priority …

Relationship of Genesis 1:28 and 2:25 to Culture

How does the contemporary church derive its responsibility to develop all levels of cuture to the glory of God from an ancient command to rule over the animals? There are three ways.

I. Historical development. Man’s stewardship would eventually lead him from his humble agrarian beginnings to develop all the earth’s resources as a means to advance worldwide civilizations. For example, a man needs to harvest his wheat. But to do so he needs a plow. To make a plow he needs other tools that he makes from the earth’s resources. To help him make his tools he needs workers. To care for his workers he must pay them. His ability to pay them is based largely on economic conditions, which leads him to theorize on the relationship of economics with politics, social ethics, and religion. This leads him to form cultural and educational institutions that seek a synthesis of such ideas.

II. Grammatical relationship. In Gen. 2:15 the Hebrew word translated “cultivate” is ‘awbad’, which means “to work or…

Gun Rights

Had a brief email correspondence today with a very old and dear Christian friend who for many years has fought for American's 2nd Amendment rights. The chat jogged my memory of another Christian man who, years ago, quipped to me, "You can't defend gun rights from the Bible. Where is the word 'gun' in the Bible?"

I responded, "Oh it's there. It's called 'liberty.'"

Different Views on Culture Between Paganism and Christianity

Escape from our responsibility to society is not new. 1st and 2nd century paganism held that the material world is bad, but the spiritual world is good. Therefore, many ancients believed that true spirituality was achieved by separation from the material world through knowledge and passage to the new.

Wherever pagan dualism touched people it created shallow indifference to government, marriage, procreation, and and work. Parts of Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Corinthians were written to combat this vile threat.

For Paul, and for the rest of the biblical writers, the difference between first century Christianity and the pagans of their day was not that Christianity affirmed the existence of a spiritual world, but that it affirmed the material world as good and as a viable forum for life and ministry.

Obama Healthcare

In listening to President Obama's speech on Healthcare last evening, this thought came to mind.

"He who controls your healthcare, controls your body, and he who controls your body, controls you?"

An overstatement? Perhaps a bit. But maybe it can provide a little more food for fodder.

Creation/Redemption

I. There is no escaping the fact that the work of the Son finds its principle expression in the great dual motif of creation/redemption.

A. Creation. While the Father and the Spirit perform important jobs in the creation of the heavens and the earth, John ultimately recognizes the pre-existent Word, the second person of the Triune God, as the Creator.

1. John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being, that has not come into being” Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities –all things have been created through Him and for Him”

B. Redemption. Colossians 1:16, 12-22, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forg…

Are Christians to Submit to Government...Always?

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer" (Romans 13:1-4).

Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:1-4 regarding Christian submission to government must be seen in light of the whole of the Bible’s teaching. The Bible says that believers are to be in submission to civil government, but also those who govern are to be in subm…