No Right to Appeal

From D.A. Carson’s The Cross and Christian Ministry (p.35):

Lazy preachers have no right to appeal to 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 to justify indolence in the study and careless delivery in the pulpit. These verses do not prohibit diligent preparation, passion, clear articulation, and persuasive presentation. Rather, they warn against any method that leads people to say, “What a marvelous preacher!” rather than, “What a marvelous Savior!”

Thanking God for a pastor who is neither indolent in his study, nor careless in his pulpit; a pastor who faithfully reminds me of who I am in Christ every week, because I forget every week.

Book Review: Ideas Have Consequences

200px-Ideas_Have_ConsequencesEvery now and again, you pick up a book that takes you on a ride roughly equivalent to that of the Kingda Ka roller-coaster. It takes you way up and it takes you way down, tearing along like a bat out of hell, and leaving its passengers with mixed feelings of terror and heady elation. Maybe nausea, too, at some points.

Ideas Have Consequences is sort of like that. It’s one of the most challenging, stimulating, and strangely exhilarating books I’ve encountered in a long time. I suspect – no, I’m certain – that one reading didn’t give me half of what can be gotten out of it. But then, as Stephen King would say, “good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.” And this, most definitely, is a good book.

Ideas Have Consequences is about “the dissolution of the West.” Richard Weaver writes in the Introduction,

I attempt two things not commonly found in the growing literature on this subject. First, I present an account of that decline based not on analogy but on deduction. It is here the assumption that the world is intelligible and that man is free and that those consequences we are now expiating are the product not of biological or other necessity but of unintelligent choice. Second, I go so far as to propound, if not a whole solution, at least the beginning of one, in the belief that man should not follow a scientific analysis with a plea to moral impotence.

Keep in mind this was penned in 1948. The social decay he’s talking about hasn’t gone anywhere; if anything, it has intensified. Weaver’s scalpel-keen examination of the breakdown of modernity is as relevant today as it was in the middle of the twentieth century. So I urge you: read this book.

The ills of modern man, as argued here, are essentially six-fold: they can be found in the denial of universals coupled with the embrace of utilitarianism/pragmatism; the undermining of order and hierarchy; the loss of focus and the rise of fragmentation; the unabashed exercise of ego and self-indulgence in art and work; the desensitizing effects of an irresponsible media; and the emergence of “the Spoiled-Child Psychology.”

Weaver’s solution to these issues? It begins with the preservation of the right to private property; an acknowledgement of the power of the word; and a rediscovery of piety and true justice. 

We have to inform the multitude that restoration comes at a price. Suppose we give them an intimation of the cost through a series of questions. Are you ready, we must ask them, to grant that the law of reward is inflexible and that one cannot, by cunning or through complaints, obtain more than he puts in? Are you prepared to see that comfort may be a seduction and that the fetish of material prosperity will have to be pushed aside in favor of some sterner ideal? Do you see the necessity of accepting duties before you begin to talk about freedoms?

Weaver’s writing is imbued with a wonderful anger. There is no bitterness here, no uncontrolled wrath, but there is a righteous indignation that tells the truth in all its stingingly painful glory. We can always use more of that.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he
that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Prov. 29:18)

The Pest of Nebulous Tradition

From Reformed Is Not Enough (p. 51):

God has created us in such a way that we do not have the luxury of a “no tradition” option. If we attempt it, the only thing we succeed in doing is incorporating a good deal of confusion into the tradition we hand down. This was seen by one wise Baptist pastor, who said, “We Baptists don’t believe in tradition. It is contrary to our historic position.” Our children grow up in our homes, and they learn countless lessons there – about worship, liturgy, devotion, cultural incarnation, and more. Most of what they know about these things is invisible to them. It is the teaching office of the Church, in part, to point out, identify, explain, and teach the biblical basis for such traditions. If there is no biblical basis for something, and the tradition is pernicious, then the point of the scriptural teaching should be in order to remove that tradition.

But the real pest is nebulous tradition. Traditions are at their worst when they grow up and are simply assumed in the bones, with no examination. But sinful human beings always need accountability – and sinful human opinions and traditions are the same. Those who compare themselves with themselves are not wise (2 Cor. 10:12).

“We do not have the luxury of a ‘no tradition’ option.” I love that. It reminds me of the case Carl Trueman makes in his book on creeds and confessions: namely, that the world is not divided between those who have creeds and those who don’t. It is divided between those who have creeds that are available for public scrutiny, and those who have private creeds, unavailable for others to see and test by Scripture.

In the same way, we are not looking at a division between people with traditions and people without traditions. Everyone has traditions. But not everyone tests their traditions by Scripture to see if they are worth keeping. Those who fail to do so are walking a dangerous road with a vertical drop at the end. The fall won’t be pretty.

Modern Day Mr. Smith

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Kentucky Senator Rand Paul continues his filibuster against the nomination of John Brennan to be the director of the CIA until questions have been answered regarding the constitutionality of drone strikes on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without due process. Continue reading —->

This filibuster began at 11:47 ET – and it’s still going strong. Epic stuff. You can watch it live here. Meanwhile, as Paul and his buddies take a stand for liberty, other members of the GOP have chosen to dine with Pres. Obama rather than “Stand With Rand.”

Proverbs 23:1, anyone?