Friday, July 04, 2008

Our Fragile Democracy

This came to my inbox, and I've cleaned it up as best I could from Snopes, etc.


About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Lord Woodhouselee Alexander Tytler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:
  • A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
  • The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
    1. from bondage to spiritual faith;
    2. from spiritual faith to great courage;
    3. from courage to liberty;
    4. from liberty to abundance;
    5. from abundance to complacency;
    6. from complacency to apathy;
    7. from apathy to dependence;
    8. from dependence back into bondage
Here are some interesting facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:

Number of States won by: Democrats: 20 Republicans: 30

Square miles of land won by: Democrats: 580,000 Republicans: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by: Democrats: 127 million Republicans: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Democrats: 6.5 Republicans: 4.1 (national avg. is 5.5)

In aggregate, the map of the territory Republican won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of this country. Democrat territory mostly encompassed urban zones (high concentrations of citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare, or divorced from manufacturing and agriculture.)

With others, I think the United States is now somewhere between the 'complacency and apathy' phase of Tytler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the 'governmental dependency' phase.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Eat this Malthus

I get criticized by some folks for having a large family (4 boys, 1 girl).


OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

I'm glad to know, however, that I could easily handly 15 more!

(P.S. Click here if the Malthus reference didn't ring a bell.)

(P.P.S. Click here if Malthus and his claims do make sense to you. This is why I'm not an greenieweenie.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Multi-generational Churches

There's a lot of talk about creating a multi-generational, multi-cultural church. It's half good and half bad. If you mean multi-generational in terms of all ages, I'm for it. If you talk about multi-cultural in terms of the redeemed (who are one race, one nation - spiritual Israel, and one blood per Acts 17), I'm for that, too.

But what about remembering that we're called to be a REGENERATIONAL church before any of those other things. Love for people that are unlike us is not an inherited trait. It is learned in each generation - and it helps when we come to the realization that all the redeemed are already alike in the most eternally important way.

What we need are REgeneration churches! So I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this post. It reminded me of the half-way covenant that was a feature of compromised (mainline?) puritanism:

In the first generation truth is a conviction.

  • Those who hold that conviction, hold it dearly.
  • They do not know the meaning of compromise.
  • They are willing to die for what they believe to be true.
In the second generation the conviction becomes a belief.
  • Sons hold to the truths they have been taught by their fathers,
  • and defend their beliefs in discussion and debate.
  • However the keen edge of conviction has been blunted,
  • and adherence to a body of beliefs inherited from the fathers is not so much a passion as a persuasion.
In the third generation the belief becomes an opinion.
  • By then some members of the movement are willing to trade in their opinions.
  • They feel it is time for a change.
  • They start talking about renewal,
  • but they may look to the world for ideas.
If there's a fourth generation, it's what you see in the legacy denominations (note: I rarely use "mainline" anymore because they neither represent the mainstream of Christianity in beliefs, values, or numbers).

PS: Please remember that it was the half-way covenant (the compromise that it bred) that so upset godly men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and the Wesleys, setting off the first great awakening. During that time, denominational barriers broke down and like-minded men and women came together for the sake of the Gospel! Like others, I believe God is ready to do just that same thing again in our day. Realign, brothers and sisters, with those who name Christ - not just those who share your name brand!

Shamelessly ganked from FIDE-O

Monday, June 30, 2008

What I didn't learn in CPE

Sometimes, less is more...

In all seriousness, in seminary we're given a psychological model for handling all pastoral crises. It has its legitimate and godly function within our churches. I've had the benefit of some training in these resources and have used them in counseling (formal and informal). I've also been shown that there are limits to my abilities and have made successful referrals to those more competent in therapy than myself.

However, I have been surprised at the number of issues raised (normally by middle-class+ white educated people) that could be solved with a more direct, straightforward, and biblical rebuke to quit sinning!

Westminster Confession of Faith in chapter XXX "Of Church Censures " in sections 3-4 proclaimed Biblical teaching of rebuke of sins:

III. Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethres, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders. (scriptural support)

IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord's Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person. (scriptural support)

Many times Bible exhorts us to judge righteous judgment (even mean old Jesus) and rebuke sins before all (classic "meanies" like Paul, who probably learned it from that nasty Old Testament... or from archmeanie Jesus). Bible says there that sin must be condemned and judged. In Lev. 19:17-18 we see that love and rebuke are together and cannot be divorced. In fact, true wisdom (listen up, those who love Sophia) declares that rebuke is a loving act!

I end with a collection of verses that have been hidden in my heart for a long time. They're in KJV because that's what I used when I came back to the faith, and it's the official translation of my new ecclesial stuff it (yeah, I mean that with love).
"Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" (1 Timothy 5:20)

"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." (Isaiah 58:1)

James 5:19-20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

Leviticus 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1).

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Titus 1:13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Proverbs 9:7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.

Proverbs 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

Proverbs 10:17 He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.

Proverbs 12:1 Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.

Proverbs 13:1 A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.

Proverbs 15:5 A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.

Proverbs 15:10 Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.

Proverbs 15:12 A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.

Proverbs 15:32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.

Proverbs 19:20 Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.

Proverbs 19:25 Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.

Proverbs 24:25 But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.

Proverbs 25:12 As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.

Proverbs 28:11 The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.

Proverbs 28:23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.

Proverbs 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

Proverbs 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Ecclesiastes 7:5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

Amos 5:10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.

That last one I can attest to in my dealings with adultery and apostasy and financial chicanery in my old presbytery. When you start pointing out problems, you become the problem.