Now, Kennedy is inviting all Americans to join him Sept. 1 and take a knee to celebrate a national night of prayer. Kennedy’s story of faith and determination captured the attention of the nation and compelled the football coach to write a book sharing his story and explaining why he chose to spend years in and out of courtrooms for the right to pray silently on the field after games. His book “Average Joe: The Coach Joe Kennedy Story” is due out Oct. 24.
After a seven-year legal battle that ended with a victory at the Supreme Court, Joe Kennedy will be back on the field Sept. 1 coaching football and taking a knee in prayer.
“I have been looking forward to this since the 2015 season,” Kennedy told The Daily Signal Tuesday. “I am praying for a fantastic fall for our Knights.”
In 2015, Kennedy lost his job as an assistant football coach in Bremerton, Washington, about 30 miles west of Seattle, for routinely taking a knee in prayer on the field after games.
From the time he began coaching at Bremerton High School in 2008, Kennedy said, he made a covenant with God to thank him in prayer at the 50-yard line at the end of each of the Knights’ games. Some team members joined the coach on the field, and no student or parent filed a formal complaint about the practice.
When the Bremerton School District learned of Kennedy’s routine, however, officials told him he no longer could pray silently after games, even by himself. But Kennedy kept the covenant he made with God, a decision that cost him his job.
The football coach, deciding to fight back, filed a lawsuit.
You Might also like
By Nick Batzig — 1 year ago
Every time we see the rainbow we should remember God’s covenant faithfulness in sending the Redeemer to save a people for himself. Just as God had placed a rainbow in the sky to show his steadfast covenant fidelity, so there is a rainbow around the throne of Jesus Christ in glory (Rev. 4:3). We, like Noah, are beneficiaries of the mercy established in the Noahic Covenant in Jesus Christ.
The Noahic covenant was the first covenantal administration after God’s initial covenant promise to redeem and restore humanity (Gen. 3:15). It is also the first time that the word בְּרִית (Berith, translated Covenant) is used in the Scripture (Gen. 6:18). What has not been frequently observed, however, is how the Noahic covenant falls squarely in the realm of redemptive history.
Consider the following ways in which Noah and the Noahic covenant play a part in redemptive history:
The Redemptive Role of Noah as a Type of Christ
Noah was a type of Christ. He was a typical second Adam, a typical redeemer, and a typical rest giver. Like Adam, God gave Noah similar instructions with regard to being fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth and subduing it. He was not the second Adam but was a type of the second Adam who pointed to Christ.
Jesus is the second and last (eschatological) Adam who redeems his people and fulfills the creation mandates. Noah was a typical redeemer. Everyone with Noah on the ark was saved. Everyone in Christ is saved. Noah was not “the Redeemer.” He was a typical redeemer, providing typical redemption for all those who descended from him. Jesus came to redeem all those he represented spiritually.
Noah was a typical rest-giver. Noah’s name meant ‘rest.’ His father had named him ‘Rest,’ saying, “This one will give us rest from the ground which the Lord had cursed.” Noah only gives typical rest, as the remainder of the Bible bears witness to the ongoing need for redemptive rest.
Jesus is the one who finally and fully gives rest to the people of God and to the creation that was brought under the curse at the fall. He is the one who said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest for your souls.” He is the one who takes the curse on himself when he wears the crown of thorns—the symbol of the curse on the ground.
The Redemptive Foreshadowing of the New Creation
The book of Revelation tells us that the “new heavens and the new earth” will be the new Temple where God dwells fully and permanently with the redeemed. Noah and all of creation were together in the ark, as in a typical temple. This was foreshadowing the new creation-temple. Interestingly, the ark and Solomon’s Temple had three levels. It seems that the biblical data substantiates that the ark was a temple where God dwelt with his creation.
Noah also led the way into a typical new creation when he and his family stepped off of the ark and into a world that had been typically cleansed of pollution. Jesus brought about the new creation through his death and resurrection.
Noah knew that the flood had not really made “all things new,” because he sacrificed when he stepped off of the ark. The flood waters could never cleanse the evil out of the heart of man. God had destroyed the earth with a flood because “every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
God promised never to destroy the earth with a flood again because “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21). The reason for the latter declaration was that the flood was never meant to deal with man’s real problem—the sinful pollution of his heart.
Noah’s sons would populate the earth along with depraved sinners. Only the blood of Jesus could cleanse the hearts of sinners. The cleansed world onto which Noah and his family stepped when the waters receded was a type of the “new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
By Cole Newton — 1 year ago
The return of Christ ought to be our blessed hope that strengthens and encourages all that we do, yet the key is that there is still work to do before that end comes. Indeed, we should long for Christ to find us diligent in His service when He returns rather than metaphorically (or even literally!) staring up at the clouds in anticipation. Christ may very well return in our lifetime, just as the temple was destroyed during the apostles’ generation, or His coming may be still a thousand years or more away. Regardless of the timing, He may easily call us to Himself through war, earthquake, famine, or (as we will observer next week) outright persecution before that day. Therefore, let us be faithful to serve our King with whatever time He allots to us.
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.
Mark 13:1-8 ESV
In regards to the end times, Christians can easily fall into two opposite reactions. The first is to become obsessed with the topic of eschatology. These Christians are always on the lookout for the “signs of the times” and are often absolutely positive that Jesus is coming soon. The summary of their argument is typically to appeal to how chaotic the world is becoming, which means that Jesus must be returning soon. The second is to avoid eschatology at nearly every opportunity, content to simply believe that Jesus is coming back at some point.
The one who obsesses over discerning the end can easily run into many problems. Indeed, like the disciples after Christ’s ascension, it can be all too easy to stare at the sky in wait for His return. Yet there are problems with the other stance as well. Treating the end as out-of-sight-out-of-mind is clearly not how the biblical authors expected us to live. Rather, the end of all things ought to be a matter of great comfort as well as sobriety.
I raise these viewpoints precisely because in chapter thirteen Mark records Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, which is the apocalyptic teaching found in the Synoptic Gospels. As we move through this chapter in the coming weeks, let us guard ourselves from both unhealthy stances.
Judgement Foretold // Verses 1-2
Our text begins with these important words: And as he came out of the temple… While it is right to see this teaching (the largest in Mark’s Gospel) as its own distinct section, it must not be divorced from the events of chapters eleven and twelve. Upon entering Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus immediately went to the survey the temple. The next day He cleansed the temple of its moneychangers and merchants. The four questions from the religious leaders were all made in the temple, as well as the events that we studied last week. Thus, the setting of this chapter is Jesus exiting the temple following all those previous hostilities.
Along their way out, we are then told that one of Jesus’ disciples commented to Him: “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” This was certainly a true statement, for the temple of Jesus’ day was a wonder to behold. Throughout Israel’s history, there have been two temples. The first is often called Solomon’s temple because it was King Solomon who oversaw its construction and presided over its dedication. It was destroyed, however, by the Babylonians after Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. The second temple was built by the exiles who were allowed to return under Cyrus of Persia. Its foundation was quickly laid but left unfinished for fifteen years because of threats from neighboring peoples. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the people to finished building the temple, and they did so. Originally, the second temple was significantly smaller than Solomon’s, and Ezra records that when its foundation was laid many who remembered the first temple’s glory wept for their loss.
That changed whenever Herod the Great was given control over Judea by Rome. He began a lengthy building project that ended with the second temple being twice as large as Solomon’s temple. R. C. Sproul describes it for us:
The temple complex covered about thirty-five acres. The sanctuary stood one hundred and fifty feet high, as did the temple wall. The columns that held up the portico were so massive that three large men could barely encompass them by touching fingertip to fingertip. Josephus tells us that some of the stones that made up the temple were sixty feet long, eleven feet high, and eight feet deep, with each stone weighing more than a million pounds. Other historians of antiquity said Herod’s temple looked like a mountain of marble decorated with gold. The temple complex was architecturally stunning and must have looked strong enough to stand for a thousand years or more.
Thus, it would seem that this disciple was struck with the wonder of this sight. Of course, perhaps the disciples also intended to sort of cheer Jesus up, almost as if to say, “Things inside the temple might be pretty bad, but isn’t the building beautiful!”
I can imagine Jesus’ response knocking the wind out of his disciples: “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” The temple, beautiful was it was, would be utterly destroyed because of the corruption that had taken root within its walls. J. C. Ryle makes this point:
Let us learn from this solemn saying, that the true glory of a church does not consist in its buildings for public worship, but in the faith and godliness of its members. The eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ could find no pleasure in looking at the very temple which contained the holy of holies, and the golden candlestick, and the altar of burnt offering. Much less, may we suppose, can he find pleasure in the most splendid of worship among professing Christians, if his Word and his Spirit are not honored in it.
Of course, I do not think there is much danger of us reveling in the beauty of our church buildings today (at least among more Reformed-leaning Protestants). In fact, I think that the pendulum has swung too far and that churches might benefit from a valuing architecture again. Yet his point may best apply if we think of a church service’s production value or perhaps the splendor of a multitude of programs, activities, and outreaches. Just as the beauty of the temple’s design could not cover up the corruption within, these outward displays cannot make up for a lack of faith and godliness of a church’s members. We also see this principle in Jesus’ message to the church of Ephesus, where He commended their outward faithfulness but warned them to repent of their lovelessness or their lampstand would be removed.
These Things // Verses 3-4
Moving into verse 3, we are told that Jesus sat down on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple. The Kidron Valley lays between the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion upon which Jerusalem sits, yet the Mount of Olives is taller, making its view of the temple spectacular. Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives in chapter fourteen to pray in a garden upon its slope, Gethsemane. We call the teaching of Jesus that begins properly in verse 5 the Olivet Discourse because it was given to His disciples upon the Mount of Olives.
Jesus clearly brought them to this location for the purpose of teaching them more about the temple’s destruction. After all, how could they have thought about anything else once Jesus told them that the greatest religious, cultural, and political structure within their world would be utterly ruined? Indeed, His intent in verse 2 was certainly to have His disciples ask the questions that they asked in verse 4: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”
This is the guiding question for understanding the Olivet Discourse because this is the question that Jesus is explicitly answering. And the question contains two distinct parts: when will these things happen and what will be the signs that these things are about to be fulfilled. Yet the question is centered upon ‘these things,’ which are throwing down of the buildings and stones of the temple that Jesus predicted in verse 2. This means that the Olivet Discourse here in chapter thirteen is primarily about the destruction of the temple.
Now this chapter certainly is apocalyptic, and there are parts that clearly describe Christ’s second coming, for which we are still waiting with eager anticipation. Yet what we are about to read is not primarily about some time of tribulation still come; instead, it is about a horrendous period of tribulation that has already come to pass whenever Jerusalem and the temple were razed to the ground in AD 70 under the command of Titus the Roman.
We will describe this event in more detail in the coming weeks, but it is to this destruction that most of Jesus’ words here point. Of course, this chapter is still apocalyptic because it is unveiling things that were yet to come. And there are still certainly points of application for us today to draw upon as we read this passage, for we know that all Scripture is profitable to us (2 Timothy 3:16). Yet it is important for us to understand going into this study that Jesus is not primarily speaking about the end of the world as we imagine it; rather, He is mainly teaching His disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that would occur within their lifetime.
By Aaron M. Renn — 1 year ago
Written by Aaron M. Renn |
Monday, May 23, 2022
Is it really the case that the culture’s view of Christianity and its moral systems are still basically the same as they were three decades ago, and that there was no major cultural break around 2014? I would argue No. There is very strong evidence for such a cultural break.
My First Things article on the three worlds of evangelicalism featured as a part of the context for a recent debate over the legacy of Tim Keller (see here, here, here, and here among others). In that dispute, some people critiqued my framework. One of their points of dispute is about the dating of what I labeled the “negative world.” I want to explain why their critique of my framework fails to persuade and lacks explanatory power.
To refresh, my framework posits that during the period of secularization post-1965, America has passed through three distinct phases or worlds in terms of how secular culture views Christianity.
Positive World (Pre-1994). Christianity was viewed positively by society and Christian morality was still normative. To be seen as a religious person and one who exemplifies traditional Christian norms was a social positive. Christianity was a status enhancer. In some cases, failure to embrace Christian norms hurt you.
Neutral World (1994-2014). Christianity is seen as a socially neutral attribute. It no longer had dominant status in society, but to be seen as a religious person was not a knock either. It was more like a personal affectation or hobby. Christian moral norms retained residual force.
Negative World (2014-). In this world, being a Christian is now a social negative, especially in high status positions. Christianity in many ways is seen as undermining the social good. Christian morality is expressly repudiated.
Like all frameworks of this type – such as the division of history into ancient, medieval, and modern – my three worlds model is a simplification of very complex phenomena, and designed primarily for utilitarian purposes. Unlike with theological or scientific models, which are claims to objective truth, frameworks like these are tools to help us make sense of and navigate the world. There may be many frameworks to explain the same phenomenon, each of which is useful to some people but not others, or each of which illuminates different dimensions of the situation. I always encourage people to try out different frameworks or lenses on a problem to look at it from multiple angles. Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option is a related but different lens, for example.
So I wouldn’t expect my framework to be the last or only word about how to interpret today’s world when it comes to the relationship of the church and secular society. Indeed, robust critique and the development of alternative points of view are key to understanding and adapting to our age.
Unfortunately, the current round of critiques was not especially useful. The main critique leveled at my framework is that there’s nothing new about the negative world, and that American Christians have lived in a negative world for some time. Thus, what I labeled the neutral world either never existed, or happened much earlier than in my accounting. We see this view best expressed by David French:
There are so many things to say in response to this argument, but let’s begin with the premise that we’ve transitioned from a “neutral world” to a “negative world.” As someone who attended law school in the early 1990s and lived in deep blue America for most of this alleged “neutral” period, the premise seems flawed. The world didn’t feel “neutral” to me when I was shouted down in class, or when I was told by classmates to “die” for my pro-life views.
It is objectively true that there was once a positive world in the United States. This world was, specifically, positive towards Protestant Christianity. Up through the 1950s, the United States had a well-documented Protestant establishment. Even Catholics could be excluded from certain institutions on account of their religion, and the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 as the first Catholic president was controversial at the time. The establishment’s religion was predominantly liberal Protestantism, but it was Protestantism to be sure. The divisions of this era were not Christian vs. non- or anti-Christian, but primarily sectarian and ethnic.