Success breeds the desire for more success. If God does not show us our weaknesses, we begin to think that earthly attainment is what we need to be happy. We start to believe that this is what life is about, and without it, contentment starts to disappear. In weakness, Christ calls out to us and says, “do not find your joy in the good or the bad times; find it in me. I am your salvation.”
And he [Samson] was very thirsty, and he called upon the Lord and said, “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” Judges 15:18
Many times, when God has strengthened us and given us a victory, we will soon find ourselves confounded by our weakness. That is why this passage about Samson is so encouraging. Here is a man who, by the strength of God, defeated many of the enemies of Israel and then, moments later, finds himself about to die from the lack of something as simple as water.
When God gives us victory in doing His work, it is easy to see ourselves as stronger than we are. So, the Lord often allows situations to arise that keep us dependent upon Him. We often thank the Lord for His grace in times of triumph, but how often do we forget to thank Him for our times of defeat? If all things work for the good of those who love Him, then grace comes in many forms. It comes in strength, but it also comes in weakness.
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By Arthur Hunt — 2 years ago
McLuhan’s darker pessimistic side gave him reservations about where our great global hookup was taking us. In his mind there were two possible destinations: Christ, or chaos. Toward the end of his life he contemplated how the Apocalypse might reckon with our new lightspeed visual technologies where new tribal chieftains would replace democratic-oriented politicians.
The doctrine of last things certainly has to reckon with all these things.
The above quote comes from an interesting little paragraph in Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, “the concluding high point” of four centuries of Dutch Reformed reflection. By “these things,” Bavinck means the technological developments in communication up into the early 20th century. He writes,
“The inventions of the past century—for the purpose of mutual contact, the exercise of community, hearing and seeing things at a great distance—have shrunk distances to a minimum; and it is likely that they are a mere beginning and prophecy of what will be discovered in the centuries ahead.”
The new communication technologies during Bavinck’s life time (1854-1921) included telegraphy, the “wireless,” the telephone, the radio, and cinematography. As early as 1900 enthusiasts were even discussing the possibilities of something called “television.” That Bavinck relates the importance of these inventions to the coming apostacy, the Apocalypse, and the Parousia is . . . well, interesting. Humans have harnessed electricity to see and hear from afar; might this play some part in understanding John’s unique descriptions in his vision (e.g. the image of the beast)?
Bavinck contrasts these all-at-once technologies with the glorious appearance of Christ, an occurrence that includes a series of events: the resurrection of the dead, a meeting in the air, the defeat of Christ’s enemies, and the Judgment. Bavinck says all of this cannot possibly take place in one moment, but will probably happen within a 12-hour or 24-hour time span.
Of course, one is hard pressed to believe that television is required to fulfill the prophecy that every eye shall see Him (Rev. 1:7). Yet while Jesus does not need television (despite what some televangelists might believe), the Beast of Revelation might make good use of it. For that matter, the antichrist might even benefit from the kind of surveillance technologies now being used in places like China.
By Rod Dreher — 1 year ago
My message to believers is: do not wait to be led! It’s probably not going to happen. Educate yourselves, and start forming these small communities of faith, and networks of communities, so you can have a fighting chance of raising your kids in the faith, and enduring what’s to come. I talk about this in both The Benedict Option and Live Not By Lies. We do not have to sit passively by while this wave of darkness and chaos passes over us! There are things we can do, and do together. I think once again about the pastor I spoke to a couple of years ago, who told me he wouldn’t talk about gender ideology to his congregation because he didn’t want to be divisive, and introduce “politics” into the church. That man is going to have to answer to God one day for why he left his flock undefended. If you are part of a church whose clerical leadership is aware and courageous and engaged, give thanks to God!
I got in late last night from several great days in London, meeting wonderful people, and feeling in the most important respects recharged. I have had perhaps the worst year of my life (I’m talking about the divorce), but at the same time, it was reaffirmed for me in London that I am inordinately blessed by the friends I have. In London, I gave a talk about Live Not By Lies — the lessons we Christians should learn from the suffering underground churches under Communism, that can be applied to our own situation. One of the main three lessons is the absolute importance of creating and sustaining small groups. Over and over, in my reporting for the book, I heard from dissidents who remained behind to live and struggle under Communism, that they could not have gotten through with their faith intact if it hadn’t been for small groups. The underground Slovak Catholic bishop (later cardinal) Jan Chrysostom Korec, told his followers that the state could take everything they have away from them, but the one thing the state must not be allowed to take away is their small groups of the faithful. These last few days in London, making new friends and renewing old friendships, helped me to understand this at a deep level. If you have others who love you, and whom you love, standing with you in the storm, you can endure anything. If it was true for those having to live under hard totalitarianism, how much more true must it be with us? I was making my coffee this morning, and a revised version of a well-known Auden line appeared in my mind: You will love your broken neighbor/With your broken heart.
On the flight back to Budapest, I was trying to sort out the meaning of this election day we just had. It seems clear to me that it likely would have been a Red Wave had Donald Trump not been a factor. He did a lot of good for the conservatives in 2016, but now, he is an enormous liability. True MAGA fans can’t accept it, but the truth is, there are a decisive number of Americans who would vote Republican, and will even vote for Trumpist policies, but won’t vote for Trump, or Trump-adjacent candidates. This is not hard to understand. Trump’s statements since election day reveal once again what we have always known about his character: that he is a reckless, vain man who doesn’t want to do anything other than create a cult of personality around himself.
Aaron Renn, the Calvinist public intellectual best known today for his “three worlds of Evangelicalism” model, writes of the striking repudiation of pro-life advocacy in this election:
This is just more evidence that we live in what I called the negative world. Conservative Christians need to understand that the majority of the public simply does not agree with their social positions. This is one reason that the culture war approach is obsolete. This is going to be a painful adjustment for a lot of people who are used to thinking of themselves as a “moral majority.”
He goes on:
I think this election shows that the MAGA movement in America is out of gas. Paul Gottfried once said that conservatism was basically a journalism project. That is, it was mostly a collection of op-ed writers, not serious academics, policy people, or a real political movement.
Similarly, one way to describe MAGA is as a social media influencer movement. It’s been long on e-celebrities and rhetoricians, short on serious, competent people who can produce results. The most MAGA/Trumpy candidates in this election underperformed in competitive races. JD Vance won his Senate race in Ohio, for example, but badly trailed the performance of Republican Ron DeWine in his gubernatorial campaign.
DeSantis is an interesting case study in post-MAGA politics. He recognized the unpopularity of the consensus status quo. And he took strong actions against that consensus that were publicly popular while largely avoiding ones that were not. For example, child transgenderization is not popular. On the other hand, most people want abortion to be legal. So he only signed a 15-week abortion ban, which seems in line with public opinion.
In retrospect, he was also the best performing governor of any major state leader during the pandemic. I believe Florida’s death rates were in the middle of the pack. But his decision to mostly keep the schools open is now the conventional wisdom about what should have been done everywhere. And by keeping business largely open as well, he positioned Florida to profit enormously from the shifting landscape. Big time venture capital and high finance – even the very progressive, ESG promoting BlackRock – have streamed into South Florida. This took enormous courage, and DeSantis was vilified by the media for two years over it. Even today they refuse to give him credit even when adopting his positions.
He also seems to have handled the recent hurricane relatively well. And although it is perhaps not something he personally did, Florida seems to have the gold standard for running elections, with its results available very quickly. That’s a big change from 2000. So he appears competent.
DeSantis lacks the natural charisma of many politicians. It’s not clear how he or his approach will play outside of Florida. But he’s shown that an aggressive Republicanism that stakes out popular post-MAGA positions, and which demonstrates courageous leadership and the competent ability to actually get things done can be not just popular but extremely popular. This demonstrates the divergent fortunes of traditional religious conservatism and a possible post-Christian, post-MAGA Republican Party.
Aaron published this on his Substack newsletter, which he’s got a this-week-only special subscription offer extant. I strongly suggest that you subscribe, even if you’re not a Protestant. Aaron is really smart, and he’s not afraid to tell hard truths to his fellow Christian conservatives.
Note that he points out that religious conservatism’s interests and that of the “post-Christian, post-MAGA Republican Party” diverge. This is something that is very hard for older Christians to grasp — I mean, the idea that politics are not the solution. Don’t misread me (I mean, everybody misreads me, but I’m going to make another plea here): It’s not an either/or. It’s not either “throw yourself completely into politics” or “head for the hills.” There are no hills to head to. We are stuck in this thing whether we want to be or not. Christians (and other traditionalists) have to do the best we can within political possibility, while AT THE SAME TIME preparing ourselves and our communities for dark and difficult days ahead. We have no choice. I was telling somebody in London that I find it so much more rewarding to be among younger (under 50) Christians in Europe and the UK talking about this stuff, because they live in more advanced post-Christian societies, and can see very clearly how hard it is, and is going to be. Americans are not quite there yet. We American Christians would do very well to engage British and European Christians who are serious about the faith (I’m not talking about people like the liberal Catholics who are now busy trying to revolutionize the Catholic Church in the name of synodality and accompaniment), to benefit from their counsel.
For me, the trans issue, even more than abortion, is the bellwether issue of our time for Christians. As far as I know, Wes Yang is not a believer, or even a conservative, but he has been a passionate opponent of the transing of America. His Twitter account features stories from detransitioners about how they were lied to and manipulated. He tweeted this after the election:
I’m where he is. This campaign to alienate young people from their bodies, to mutilate them chemically and surgically, and to deceive and sideline parents, is one of the most evil things I have ever seen. And yet, few people seem to care. The GOP certainly doesn’t care. People like Chris Rufo and Matt Walsh have done more to roll this evil back than any GOP politician, with the exception of Ron DeSantis and now, the governor and legislators in Tennessee, where Walsh lives. It is mind-blowing to me that Republicans have not made an issue of this — not because it will help them win votes, but because it is just so damn evil. But then, how many pastors are making an issue of it? How many pastors are explaining to their congregations why it’s bad, and how parents and their kids can resist it? How many people in the pews want to hear it? This is what it means to be a post-Christian country. This is what it means to have bought the modern story that the material world, especially the human body, is meaningless matter upon which we can impose our will, without limits. Again, so many Christians have bought into this story, and know so little about the faith that they don’t understand what they are doing. An Evangelical pastor friend of mine texted me yesterday to say that he had spoken to a group of about 60 Evangelical college students at a big Southern university, and was shocked to find that none of them knew much of anything about the Bible, or the faith. They were blank slates. They didn’t choose to be that way: this is what their parents and grandparents did to them. We Christians — in part because we put too much faith in politics — have created a generation of men (and women) without chests, and we wonder why they consent to becoming men and women without breasts and balls.
You think Pope Francis’s “synodal” church, a church of “inclusivity” and “accompaniment” is going to form Catholics capable of resisting? Read this column by Gavin Ashenden, a former Anglican priest, now Catholic. He saw what this kind of talk did to his former church, and he’s now sounding the alarm. Excerpt:
[I]n the world of Anglicanism, an essential part of the leftist sociological take-over of the church was almost always accompanied by the promise that the Holy Spirit was very much part of the project. It turned out, at the end of the process that the progressives had in fact mistaken the spirit of the age for the Holy Spirit. Having seen the ploy used once to such divisive and destructive effect, the ex-Anglicans are hoping to share their experience of the danger this constitutes to the integrity of the Church.
By Keith A. Mathison — 1 year ago
Written by Keith A. Mathison |
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
We should be extremely grateful for the overturning of Roe v Wade. It is a true milestone that many did not believe they would ever see in their lifetime. But the fight isn’t over. Unborn children will continue to be killed in those states which continue to treat the unborn as less than human. We should prepare for the work that remains if we are to protect the lives of all unborn children in these United States.
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a landmark decision in the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization and overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. It also overturned the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. In Dobbs v Jackson, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution “does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives” (Dobbs v Jackson, p. 69; cf. pp. 78–79). In short, the legality of abortion is now in the hands of each of the fifty states.
For those who oppose abortion, this represents progress for which we should be thankful. Prior to the Dobbs decision, individual states could not legally protect the lives of unborn human beings in any meaningful way. When attempts to do so were made, those laws were inevitably found to be in conflict with Roe or Casey or both and struck down. Now, after the Dobbs decision, such laws are possible. The immediate task now of those who oppose abortion is to work to enact state laws that protect the lives of unborn children.
The fact that Dobbs has made this a real possibility is good news, but it must be understood that it is not unqualified good news. Just as it is now possible for states to enact laws that protect the lives of unborn human beings, it also remains possible for states to allow unrestricted abortion on demand. Some states will move in one direction, while others will move in the opposite direction. In other words, the fight isn’t over yet. The United States still has a long way to go before the lives of the unborn are protected in every state.
The fight will not be won until and unless the status of the fetus is legally and permanently resolved at a national level. In the Dobbs decision, the Supreme Court explicitly refused to address that question. The decision states: “The contending sides also make conflicting arguments about the status of the fetus. This Court has neither the authority nor the expertise to adjudicate those disputes . . .” (p. 65). In other words, the legal status of the fetus is in the hands of individual state legislatures. Some of these state legislatures will determine that the fetus is a human person deserving of the same rights as any other human person. Other state legislatures will determine that the fetus is not a human person and not deserving of legal protection.
In one sense, the United States is in a position similar to the position it was in prior to the Civil War with regard to the status of people of African descent. Before the Civil War, some states passed laws acknowledging the fact that people of African descent were just that – people, human persons deserving of the same rights as every other human person. Other states determined that they were property and denied them the rights of human persons. This issue was not resolved until the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution were adopted between 1865 and 1870. These amendments abolished slavery and mandated the same protection under the law for people of African descent as for any other human person. Obviously, the change in the Constitution did not automatically cause a corresponding change in the hearts of those who believed people of African descent were less than fully human, but it was step in the right direction.
Something along these lines is what is now required in the United States if we are to take another step in the right direction with regard to the abortion question. The current Supreme Court does not believe it possesses “the authority either to declare a constitutional right to abortion or to declare a constitutional prohibition of abortion” (See Dobbs v. Jackson, J. Kavanaugh, Concurring, p. 5). It appears that the majority of this Court believes the Constitution as it stands is silent on the status of the fetus.
I’m not convinced that this is the case. I believe that an argument can be made that something about the status of the fetus can be inferred from the wording of the 14th amendment. Section 1 of the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The first thing that must be observed is that this amendment was originally written in the context of Reconstruction immediately after the Civil War. It is explicitly addressing the status of former slaves. This does not mean, however, that it cannot be applied to other related issues, such as the status of the fetus. In the first place, the Supreme Court has long acknowledged that the words of the constitution may extend beyond the matter they were originally intended to address. Second, the very use of the word “born” in the first sentence of the amendment invites such an application. When carefully considered, it can be seen that the words of the 14th amendment implicitly protect the lives of unborn children.
The first sentence begins “All persons born or naturalized in the United States . . .” These persons are then said to be citizens of the United States and citizens of the state in which they reside. In other words, those who are born or naturalized in this country are citizens of this country. At this point, then, we have a reference to “persons” and to “citizens.” The amendment goes on to say that no state “shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” This refers to those who have been born or naturalized in this country and have therefore become citizens. The amendment then continues, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The category of person is a broader category than that of citizen. It certainly includes people in this country who have not yet been naturalized and who are not yet citizens. In other words, a non-citizen is still a person who is owed protection under the law. The important question is whether the unborn are also persons who are owed protection under the law.