Written by Craig A. Carter |
Tuesday, January 2, 2024
Something is happening to young people that is not happening among other age groups. What could that be? It seems obvious that what this age cohort has in common, which sets it apart from older adults, is that it contains students in and recent graduates of the school system. If the shift from liberalism to Marxism in our society is being driven primarily by the K-12 and post-secondary education system, then this poll tells us two things. First, it tells us that Marxist identity politics is capturing a lot of young minds. Second, it tells us that promoting racism to fight racism is dangerous for certain groups.
The biggest flaw in critical race theory, postcolonial theory, and the burgeoning anti-racism movement is that these ideologies try to fight racism with even more racism. It is important to understand why.
They define social justice as justice between groups rather than as justice for individuals. This leads them to reject the idea of objective, color-blind standards that give each individual an equal opportunity to succeed in life. For writers like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram X. Kendi, the goal is to equalize access and incomes for groups.
Shifting the focus away from individuals to groups defines success in terms of group outcomes rather than individual opportunities. So, if certain groups have been historically disadvantaged, the remedy is as much reverse discrimination as it takes to balance the ledger. This is something that the left sees as the task of big government using social engineering.
This represents a shift from a classical liberal individual rights approach to a Marxist, intersectionality approach. This shift has been advocated by the radical left for decades, but recent events show they are gaining ground. The emphasis on group identity over individualism and equity of outcomes over equal opportunity is no minor change in society’s structure.
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By Bradley G. Green — 1 year ago
Written by Bradley G. Green |
Monday, November 28, 2022
More than twenty years ago, my wife and I helped found Augustine School, a classical Christian school in Jackson, Tennessee. Every Christian institution, if it is to remain faithful, must understand the times (1 Chron. 12:32) and articulate the gospel as perplexing ethical challenges emerge. The following statement is one model for how a Christian school can do this. In March, I helped our board of trustees draft “The Augustine School Statement on Social Theory” to help us navigate some of the harmful ideologies and social theories of our day. We adopted the statement as part of our school standards, and affirmation of the statement is a condition of employment and board membership. –Bradley G. Green
The Augustine School Statement on Social Theory
Christians of every generation must attempt to understand the faith they profess, to understand the entailments of that faith, and to apply that faith in ever-changing times. There is both an irenic aspect to Christianity (Christianity seeks to live at peace with others) and a polemical aspect to Christianity (Christianity has always seen the need to draw boundaries when necessary). This statement is meant to be a theologically sound, biblically faithful, and culturally engaged statement which attempts to address a plethora of interrelated challenges of our own day.
WE AFFIRM that all persons are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26ff.), and descend from a historical Adam, and thus there is a fundamental unity across the human race.
WE DENY that any racial or ethnic category can nullify or negate this fundamental unity of all persons as created in the image of God, since all persons descend from a historical Adam. We further deny that one’s racial or ethnic make-up is at the heart of one’s identity, especially in comparison to: (1) being created in the image of God (in the case of each person), and (2) being united to Christ by faith alone apart from works (as applicable to believers in Christ). For those who are in Christ, the most pressing and central aspect of one’s identity is to be found in being “in Christ,” not in one’s race or ethnicity (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:26; 5:6; Ephesians 1:3; 2:6; 3:6).
WE AFFIRM that all persons who follow Adam (excepting the Lord Jesus) have indeed fallen in Adam, their representative head, and enter into the world guilty, corrupt, and with a proclivity to sin.
WE DENY that any group of persons is more or less virtuous, more or less special, or more or less worthy on the basis of the categories of race or ethnicity, or on the basis of tribe, language, people group, or nation.
WE AFFIRM that after the fall of Adam there was a great animus, hostility, or antithesis established between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). This antithesis runs through the rest of history. Christ is the true “serpent crusher” who defeated the serpent by his death and resurrection, conquering evil and sin definitively, with the full revelation of his victory still to come at the last day.
WE DENY any worldview, philosophy, or ideology that places the fundamental antithesis somewhere else, such as the tendency in our own day to place an antithesis between “oppressor” and “oppressed,” or between different races.
WE AFFIRM that the eschatological or final state of God’s people consists of persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9; 7:9).
WE DENY that the differences of tribe, language, people, and nation constitute differences which deny a common humanity, and we deny that persons who come to Christ are inferior or superior to another based on differences of tribe, language, people, and nation.
WE AFFIRM that our Lord Jesus Christ was born into, and lived his entire earthly life in, a society in which animosity between groups (e.g., Jews and Samaritans, men and women) was a reality, with consequent inequalities between groups in various contexts of life. As a Jewish man living in a society that was shaped primarily by the influence of Jewish men, Jesus experienced what many today would call privileges of his social standing.
WE DENY, along with the universal testimony of Christian orthodoxy, that personal sin or guilt can be rightly attributed to our Lord Jesus Christ, and this would include any personal sin or guilt that is supposedly attached to the inheritance of social privilege. Consequently, we deny that guilt should be imputed solely on the basis of social privilege to any person, for such an imputation implicates our Lord in sin and consequently unravels the whole fabric of the gospel.
WE AFFIRM that all persons who are in Christ, and who have expressed faith in Christ, are part of the world-wide body of persons rightly called Christians, and that such persons have a common Father (God the Father), are united to the same Son (God the Son), and are being sanctified by the same Holy Spirit (God the Holy Spirit).
WE DENY that differences of tribe, language, people, and nation are more important or significant than (1) the common humanity all persons share, and (2) the common spiritual relationship that all Christians share by being united to Christ by faith alone.
WE AFFIRM that all persons who have come into the world (excepting the Lord Jesus Christ) come into the world guilty, corrupted, and with a proclivity toward sin.
WE DENY that any sin, including the sin of racism (defined as actual animus toward someone solely on the basis of that person’s race), can be attributed to a person simply because of that person’s racial or ethnic identity. We further deny that the sin of racism is by definition or in fact unique to one, or more than one, race, or that any given race is incapable of committing the sin of racism.
By Alan D. Strange — 5 days ago
Written by Alan D. Strange |
Monday, February 19, 2024
The “spirituality of the church” (SOTC) relates to the reality that the church is supremely a spiritual institution (not a biological one, as is the family, or a civil one, as is the state) and that its power is moral and suasive (not legal and coercive, as is state power), ministerial and declarative (not magisterial and legislative, as is power in the Roman Catholic Church). Thus, the church is an institution gathered and perfected by the Spirit, having chiefly spiritual concerns, carried out in a spiritual fashion by a Spirit-indited use of the means of grace.
An Ongoing Dialogue
Historically, the church has at times claimed a supremacy that she does not have—over the state, especially—and she has, at other times, allowed the state to dominate her. Part of the genius of the Reformation was the rediscovery that the state is not over the church or vice-versa, but that all institutions are properly under God. The Scots, in opposing Erastianism—the notion among some Protestant rulers that the church is properly under the state, as was the case with the Church of England under the English monarch—particularly developed this Reformational notion that the church was not under the state in what they called the “spiritual independency of the church.” In the American context this came to be known in the nineteenth century as the doctrine of the “spirituality of the church” (SOTC).
To be sure, the doctrine was often abused to stop the mouth of the church against slavery; however, Charles Hodge of Princeton, and others of his time and following him, developed a better use of the doctrine, capturing the older notion that the spirituality of the church was calculated to spare the church from simply giving way to politics and state control, minding instead its proper spiritual call and mission, having rule over its own affairs. At the same time, Hodge was careful not to muzzle the prophetic voice that the church always possesses as she calls the whole world to repentance and faith. The spirituality of the church of this sort could be helpfully recovered for the ongoing dialogue of how the church is to relate to the world in which it finds itself, both in how it distinguishes itself from the world and how it gives itself to the world.
It is important for the church to do both: to distinguish itself from the world, or it fails to be the distinct agency of gospel proclamation that it is called to be, and to give itself to the world, or it fails to be the foot-washing servants that Christ calls it to be. The present atmosphere, in which the politicization of virtually everything looms, can prove especially challenging in this regard. Highly charged partisan political currents can impact the church as well as civil society, especially when it comes to the temptation of those on both extremes—left and the right—to bring social, economic, political, and like agendas into the church. The church as church may have something to say about present concerns (e.g., abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.), which is to say that God’s word may address such, usually in principle, though not in detail; in any case, not in a way that renders the church just another voice in the current cacophony of shouted political slogans, but that contributes a proper faith perspective to vexing moral questions in the public square. We need to be salt and light, to witness to the power of Christ and his gospel in an unsavory, dark world in a way that does not avoid the moral issues of our time, bringing a clear prophetic witness to them, but also not allow politics to swamp the boat so that the gospel gets sunk in a sea of cultural concerns.
The SOTC, which we seek to recapture, is today either forgotten as a concept or remembered only for its abuses (e.g., justifying the church not addressing American slavery and the racial hatred that especially developed in its wake, including iniquitous Jim Crow laws).
By Kevin White — 2 years ago
As surely as we know that we will die, by faith in Christ we know that we will rise again in glory. Christ is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-21) Just as was the case with Christ and his body, our bodies will be restored, never to die again. “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) We will stand before God on the Last Day, made perfect in body and in soul, and justified by the merits of the Son through whom we gained all of these blessings.
December can be a hard month. It does not lack for jolly opportunities. People hang cheerful lights to brighten the early nights. Families gather together. We are surrounded by reminders of Christ’s birth and the blessing that he brings. We might sing special songs in church. We listen to Handel’s Messiah.
But as the years pass, those happy occasions can also bring memories of loss. I know this personally, having lost my dad in December several years ago.
My favorite part of Messiah is Part Three. After the triumphant chorus of Hallelujahs at the end of Part Two, the music slows and we hear:
“I know that my Redeemer liveth,
and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
And though worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God.
For now is Christ risen from the dead,
the first-fruits of them that sleep.”
Christ’s person and work are the root of all Christian hopes. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. The eternal Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, was born as the son of Mary. He shares our entire nature, body and soul, sin alone excepted. The eternal, fully divine Son now has a human mind, a human will, and a human’s experience of time. As we read in Hebrews, “in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17 NKJV) How this all works together has not been fully revealed to us.
What has been revealed to us is that Jesus shared in every part of human life. He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) Our great High Priest learned obedience as a man. (Hebrews 5:8) Indeed, it is only as a man that Christ possesses a will distinct from the Father’s. We know he celebrated at one wedding at least, even providing the wine. We also know that he wept at a funeral for a friend. Jesus labored. He traveled across the land during his ministry. He rejoiced when he saw faith, and he was angry when he saw hardness of heart. He taught, he debated, he admonished, and he prayed. He died at the hands of sinners, but death could not keep him. He rose from the dead in triumph, the shame of cross and grave transformed