DISCLAIMER: The Aquila Report is a news and information resource. We welcome commentary from readers; for more information visit our Letters to the Editor link. All our content, including commentary and opinion, is intended to be information for our readers and does not necessarily indicate an endorsement by The Aquila Report or its governing board. In order to provide this website free of charge to our readers, Aquila Report uses a combination of donations, advertisements and affiliate marketing links to pay its operating costs.
You Might also like
By Robb Brunansky — 3 months ago
Where are you today—are you a spiritual child? A spiritual young man? Or a spiritual father? What steps will you take to grow? If you are saved and your sins forgiven, Christian, you are called to grow in your faith, in spiritual maturity, and more into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In 1 John 2:12-14, the apostle John presents three stages of spiritual maturity to help affirm that his readers are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and to exhort them to grow in their faith. Previously, we’ve looked at the first two stages that John wrote about – spiritual children and young men. Now we come to the final stage of spiritual maturity: Spiritual Fathers, which John describes in verses 13 and 14.
The Spiritual Fathers are those in the church who are the most spiritually mature. (Note that everything previously stated about the markers of spiritual children and young men applies to the Spiritual Fathers as well.) Spiritual Fathers have been forgiven; they know the Father; they are spiritually strong in faith; they know the Word, and they have learned how to find that way of escape when temptation comes along. These spiritually seasoned individuals aren’t perfect, but they understand how to fight the good fight of faith and apply it as a way of life.
We see one trait that is repeated of those who are spiritual fathers: they “know Him who has been from the beginning.” The “Him” John is referring to is Christ. But when John talks about knowing Christ, we must automatically add that if we have the Son, we have the Father; and if we have the Father and the Son, then we also have the Spirit.
The point John is making is that true spiritual maturity settles here: in an intimate, deep knowledge of the true and living God through an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
What happens between the stages of being a young man and a father?
At some point as a spiritual young man, you are in the midst of the battle, and you begin to understand the devil’s tactics; you become wiser to his schemes, and you know how to handle God’s word, understand how to employ prayer, put on the armor of God, and deflect the fiery arrows of the devil with the shield of faith. Something begins to become clear to you in a way it hasn’t before!
By Tim Challies — 2 years ago
We must stand firm in the power God provides, always resisting the enemy of our souls. Satan knows that Christians living holy lives—living out God’s own holiness—would do damage to his cause in the world. Hence he battles hard to tempt us, to draw us away from God’s purposes and toward his own.
This week I found myself pondering some powerful words from the pen of J.C. Ryle: “Satan knows well the power of true holiness and the immense injury which increased attention to it will do to his kingdom.”
We are called to God so we can become holy like God. He means for us to be as devoted to his purposes as he is and for that reason begins to transform us from the inside out—from the mind and heart to the hands and mouth.
Yet every Christian can attest that it is difficult to put sin to death and to come alive to righteousness.
By John Tierney — 1 year ago
[The public] assumed that the Centers for Disease Control knew how to control disease and that scientists and public-health officials would provide sound scientific guidance about public health. Those were reasonable assumptions. They just turned out to be wrong.
More than a century ago, Mark Twain identified two fundamental problems that would prove relevant to the Covid pandemic. “How easy it is to make people believe a lie,” he wrote, “and how hard it is to undo that work again!” No convincing evidence existed at the start of the pandemic that lockdowns, school closures, and mask mandates would protect people against the virus, but it was remarkably easy to make the public believe that these policies were “the science.” Today, thanks to two years of actual scientific evidence, it’s clearer than ever that these were terrible mistakes; yet most people still believe that the measures were worthwhile—and many are eager to maintain some mandates even longer.
Undoing this deception is essential to avoid further hardship and future fiascos, but it will be exceptionally hard to do. The problem is that so many people want to keep believing the falsehood—and it’s not just the politicians, bureaucrats, researchers, and journalists who don’t want to admit that they promoted disastrous policies. Ordinary citizens have an incentive, too. Adults meekly surrendered their most basic liberties, cheered on leaders who devastated the economy, and imposed two years of cruel and unnecessary deprivations on their children. They don’t want to admit that these sacrifices were in vain.
They’re engaging in “effort justification,” a phenomenon famously demonstrated in 1959 with an experiment involving a tame version of a hazing ritual. Social psychologists Elliot Aronson and Judson Mills offered female undergraduate students a chance to join a discussion group on the psychology of sex, but first some of them had to pass an “embarrassment test.” In the mild version of the test, some students read aloud words like “prostitute” and “petting.” Others had to pass a more severe version by reading aloud from novels with explicit sex scenes and lots of anatomical obscenities (much more embarrassing for a young woman in the 1950s than for students today). Afterward, all the students, including some who hadn’t been required to pass any test, listened in on a session of the discussion group, which the researchers had staged to be a “dull and banal” conversation about the secondary sexual behavior of lower-order animals. The participants spoke haltingly, hemmed and hawed, didn’t finish their sentences, mumbled non sequiturs, and “in general conducted one of the most worthless and uninteresting discussions imaginable.”
But it didn’t seem that way to the women who’d undergone the severe embarrassment test. They were far more likely than the other students to give the discussion and the participants high ratings for being interesting and intelligent. The experiment confirmed the then-novel theory of cognitive dissonance: the young women didn’t like thinking that they’d gone through an ordeal for the sake of a worthless reward, so they avoided this mental discomfort (cognitive dissonance) by rewriting reality to justify their effort. Other studies showed the same effect in people who had undergone real-life initiation rituals to join fraternities and other groups. The more effort involved in the initiation ritual, the more valuable seemed the reward of membership.
Researchers also reported that “shared dysphoric experiences” produced “identity fusion” within a group, making members more loyal and more willing to make further sacrifices for their comrades. Thus, fans of English soccer teams who suffered together through a losing season were more devoted to one another than were fans of a winning team, and members of Brazilian jujitsu clubs who endured a painful graduation ceremony—walking a gauntlet while being whipped by belts—became more willing to make charitable donations to their club than were members at similar clubs with less extreme ceremonies.
If one brief bad experience can transform people’s thinking, imagine the impact of the pandemic’s ceaseless misery. It’s been a two-year-long version of Hell Week, especially in America’s blue states, with Anthony Fauci and Democratic governors playing the role of fraternity presidents humiliating the pledges. Americans obediently donned masks day after day, stood six feet apart, disinfected counters, and obsessively washed their hands while singing “Happy Birthday.” They forsook visits to friends and relatives and followed orders to skip work and church. They forced young children to wear masks on the playground and in the classroom—a form of hazing too extreme even for Europe’s progressive educators.
Some Americans refused to submit to these rituals, but their resistance only intensified solidarity among the faithful. The most zealous kept their masks on even after they were vaccinated, even when walking alone outdoors. The mask became their version of a MAGA hat or a fraternity brother’s ring; some have vowed to keep wearing theirs long after the pandemic. They’ve already called for permanent masking on airplanes, trains, and buses, and they’ll probably clamor for more school closures and lockdown measures during future flu seasons.
Facts alone will not be enough to change their minds. To undo the effects of the hazing, we need to ease their cognitive dissonance by showing that they’re not to blame for their decisions. The mental mistakes were not made by citizens who dutifully sacrificed for two years. They assumed that the Centers for Disease Control knew how to control disease and that scientists and public-health officials would provide sound scientific guidance about public health. Those were reasonable assumptions. They just turned out to be wrong.
After a great disaster, the traditional response is to appoint a blue-ribbon panel to investigate it, and a bill has already been introduced in Congress to create a Covid commission. In theory, this could be a worthy public service, allowing experts to sift the evidence impartially and determine which strategies worked, which ones failed, how much needless damage was done—and whom to blame for it. But in practice, which experts would the current Democratic administration or Congress appoint? Presumably, the pillars of the public-health establishment—the same luminaries whose advice was followed so calamitously the past two years.
Before Covid, the United States drew up plans for a pandemic and maintained the world’s most lavishly funded scientific and medical institutions to deal with one. When the coronavirus arrived, the leaders of those institutions should have identified who was at serious risk and who wasn’t and adopted proven strategies to protect the vulnerable while doing the least harm to everyone else. They should have monitored the effects of their policies and adjusted them based on what they learned. By honestly communicating the risks and considering the overall public good, they could have tamped down needless fear and united the country behind their efforts.