Thursday, July 29, 2010

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was a Soviet[ and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian.
Partial Text of an Address by
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
at Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises,
Thursday, June 8, 1978

Humanism and Its Consequences
How has this unfavorable relation of forces come about? How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present sickness? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development? It does not seem so. The West kept advancing socially in accordance with its proclaimed intentions, with the help of brilliant technological progress. And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness.
This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very basis of human thinking in the past centuries. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression from the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists.
The turn introduced by the Renaissance evidently was inevitable historically. The Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, becoming an intolerable despotic repression of man's physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. Then, however, we turned our backs upon the Spirit and embraced all that is material with excessive and unwarranted zeal. This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones.
However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God's creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man's sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth century's moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century.

I truly cried as I read this; I pray that God would grant us true revival - because the great need of our nation is repentance.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is freedom of thought. Freedom of speech is more than a right to articulate mere syllables and words; it is a right to think and consequently believe. Speech expresses ideas and ideas are the fruit of unfettered thought. Groups, forces, bureaucracies and philosophical ideologies within our government are seeking to curtail speech and ultimately to control thought. Freedom of speech is “the” precious treasure that must be defended at all costs. The loss of this treasure does not just affect us politically but spiritually. For our part, Christians must rouse from our sleep and recognize the dangers facing us in this day. To control our political speech is only a breath away from controlling religious speech.

Rev. Charles Turner: "Religious liberty is so blended with civil, that if one falls it is not to be expected that the other will continue."

We as Preachers can no longer treat what is unfolding on the nightly news as just another political turf war between the Republicans & Democrats. We must wake up and see that what we are facing is a fundamental battle between “right and wrong” between “freedom and slavery” between those who are peaceable towards the Christian faith and those who are actively anti-Christian. We are facing the radical and intentional transformation of our nation. Preachers cannot put their heads in the sand no matter how noble a name we give to that sand. It has always been a dangerous balancing act for Pastors to be involved in politics but we must run that risk now in these perilous times. We must run the risk of being “too political” now in order that we may preserve our freedoms tomorrow.
We must not be afraid to declare from our pulpits that our freedoms as a nation are being plundered. The call to arms is now; the need is now – I fear that far too many Pastors and Christian leaders do not grasp the precipice of chaos and tragedy that we are dangling from. We must rise to take the lead at the Tea Parties. We must contact our local and state and national elected officials and demand of them character. We must warn our people publicly from the pulpit. We must declare openly that while Capitalism has its flaws Communism has spilled the innocent blood of untold millions of Christians. We must unashamedly declare that we are living in a Congressional and Presidential despotism. Preachers – our voices must be heard – lovingly if we can…..loudly if we must….heard at all costs.

John Hancock: “Tis immortality to sacrifice ourselves for the salvation of our country. We fear not death, we dread nothing but slavery.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Negative Preachers

Ezekiel 13.10& 16
Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:
To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.

One ingredient missing in many pulpits is: Negativity. I was recently watching a “Glen Beck” episode and he had an open forum show. The people were asking Mr. Beck questions and making comments. One such comment from a lady in the audience that caught my attention was whether or not he was afraid of being “too negative.” Mr. Beck made one of his funny replies but then in a serious tone made no excuse for being “negative.” The implication of his response was that the times called for truth and if the truth was negative – so be it.
The day in which we live demands truth. And if that truth be negative we are derelict in our duty as ministers if we gloss over it and make light of it for fear of being labeled, “negative.” Such was the case of the false prophets of Ezekiel’s day. They scorned a message that emphasized God’s wrath. They mocked the tears and fearful strains of Ezekiel’s message – but history has proven Ezekiel correct. I have been reading The Log College by Archibald Alexander. Here is an account of the attitude and preaching style of Rev. John Tennent, during the First Great Awakening:

“…he was very awakening and terrible to
unbelievers in denouncing and describing with the most vehement pathos and awful solemnity the terrors of an offended Deity, the threats of a broken law, and the miseries of a sinful state. And this subject he insisted much upon, because he, with many others, found it the most effectual and successful means to alarm secure sinners.”

This kind of preaching has never been common but it is even less so today. We as preachers are subtly urged to be pleasant, jovial, engaging and helpful. We are “allowed” to take our conservative stand as long as it is in the appropriate way and manner. The message must be positive; negativity will drive people from Christ – so we are told. Yet, even a cursory investigation of the great awakenings and revivals of history reveal to us a completely opposite picture. It was not a light hearted casual manner that the Holy Spirit used to awaken the people; rather, it was a declaration of the glory & terror of the Living God that drove men to be healed through the balm of Calvary.
All true revivals have in them to some degree the fear of God’s wrath, judgment, justice and terror. Certainly our goal is not to leave the sinner in such a state of despair….perish the thought! Our goal is to bring men to Christ Jesus and see the grace of Christ applied to the wounded heart! But how can such hearts be healed that have never been wounded? How can men flee to Christ unless they are fleeing from hell? How can people truly recognize the error of their ways without being informed they are, in fact, in error? I was recently listening to a very popular Christian band. This particular song I was listening to was talking about a young lady that was pregnant out of wedlock and how that when she came to church she was looked down upon and treated unkindly. The song was chastising the Church to be more kind and forgiving and to share the love and forgiveness of Christ. My immediate thought is that this song was written by people that have no actual concept of what is going on at the front lines of Christianity. For every one Church that may treat a young lady in such an unkind way I could point out many more churches where a young lady pregnant out of wedlock could go and never feel the least bit of discomfort over her sin. No – I refuse the premise of the song….and the very premise of the modern Church thought along these lines. We are to be kind, forgiving and gracious. We are to help such a young lady. But sin is sin! And it is vital - scriptural - that such a young lady (or any sinner) be warned and brought to a place of humility and subjection before God. Notice how Samuel Blair recounts the attitude of those being touched by God during a revival:

“I had opportunity of speaking with a great many
of those who afforded such outward tokens of inward soul concern…..I found that
with by far the greater part their apparent concern in public was not a
transient qualm of conscience or merely a floating commotion of the affections;
but a rational fixed conviction of their dangerous perishing state.”

These are the words of a Godly man preaching during a time of great outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Yet today this kind of preaching and attitude is foreign. We have replaced the Awakening style and attitude of preaching with an attitude that is, jovial and light. But is the condition of the sinner and of our Nation one that calls for jovial and light? Ten thousand times no!
We need negative preachers because the truth we are facing in our nation today is negative. I know that is not the popular thing to say, and I know that I will be misunderstood by some and considered out of balance by others. But we need men of God who see the danger of the day; men who can see the Babylonians breaching the walls; men who can warn us to flee to God for He alone is our fortress and it is God alone whom we have grieved. We need a generation of preachers that will rise up and proclaim truth – even if it is negative.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In year gone by we heard the shrieks of “conspiracy nuts” warning us of the things we now see unfolding before our eyes. The recent vote and passage of health care reform, Government bail outs, the unprecedented actions of the Federal Reserve, Government ownership of car companies and a host of other actions have left us stunned and incredulous. America is in grave danger. What we are witnessing unfold before us is the intentional dismantling of a system based upon Christian ethics and morality. And in its place we see the installation of a new world system that is based upon humanism and Godlessness. The shrieks of the “nuts” now sound more like clarion calls of warning.
Yet, as Christians, we must look beyond the politics and see the true cause of the demise of our nation. We are disintegrating as a nation not because of our political choices but because of our moral choices. The news pundits on the right would have us believe that it is all because of Barak Obama or the Democrats. But this national decay and destruction has been a long time in the making. We have sown with indifference in the face of God and now we are beginning to reap the harvest. It is hypocrisy to blame the Democrats, the Republicans, Washington or Wall Street. We are to blame: you and I. As long as our stocks were safe, our investments were growing and our 401ks and mortgages were untouched we were blissfully happy. There was the frustration with certain aspect of society; but there certainly was not the outrage and righteous anger we now see. The great tragedy of our time is that our “righteous” anger has been stirred –not by moral outrage by financial frustration. Where has our “anger” been as believers and conservatives? God was kicked out of our schools, homosexuality was crammed down our collective throats, sexual immorality ran rampant and abortion has claimed millions of lives. Where was our righteous anger then? The tragedy that I see is that the Conservative movement: i.e. the “Tea Party” movement (which I am a part of) has excluded themselves from any wrong doing and taken a moral high ground position – of which we are not worthy. We must ask ourselves this question: what were we doing when we had prosperity and freedom? What happens if a new group of politicians takes over Washington and taxes are lowered and health care repealed and life goes back to “normal?” Was that normal righteous? Were our schools, homes, churches and morals as a nation so good two years ago? The Tea party movement, the Conservative resurgence and all other political movements will fail miserably if we do not return to the foundation that acknowledges our moral responsibility before Almighty God.
Simply resetting the nation to a Pre-Obama administration is not the answer. We stand on the precipice of something far more vast and in a time far more important. What we are seeing is the hand of God being removed from our shores; We must return to a day in which God was feared....not just shown lip service. Today, I was at a local college where I take courses. An older man in our class began to talk about the health care reform bill being passed and how that our country was being taken away from us. The rest of the class (mostly young twenties) laughed at him out loud. They thought him to be a nut. But they do not see that history stands against them; and far more terrifying is that God stands against them. Our privileges were given to us as a nation because of our recognition and accountability to God. We must recognize that this is more than a political issue; we are facing darker days ahead unless we address the moral poison that has nearly strangled our nation.
So how do we do this? While rallies and marches on Washington may or may not affect politics, how can we as a people “under God” return to living in the light of the knowledge and authority of our “Divine Maker?”
I – Repentance for our sins and indifference to God: not confessing our nations or others sins: ours!
II –Radical Commitment to Living the Christian truths and morals on a day to day basis regardless of its cost to our status in society.
III – Return to morality and righteousness being the most important truth.

IV – Re-engaging the political world with the truth of morality and the Judeo-Christian ethic.
Personality, Parties and Promises must all kneel to the primary issue: morality and fear of God.
V – Recapturing our Children’s education.
VI - Revival: the all-powerful hand of God working in our midst.