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Archive for the ‘The Reformation’ Category

The Liberty Bell

Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.

  • Leviticus 25:10

“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” That passage from Leviticus 25:10 is inscribed around the top of the famous Liberty Bell, a bell that hung in what was then known as the Pennsylvania State House, which we now know as Independence Hall, the place of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

Although the bell was cast, or, more precisely, recast in 1753, some 23 years before the Declaration was signed, the inscription from Leviticus reflects the colonists’ understanding of the intimate connection between political and economic liberty and Word of God.   Many Americans, including many American church goers, would be surprised to hear that there is any connection between the Bible and political and economic liberty, but the colonists of the 18th century were not so ignorant as we are today.     

In his introduction to Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville wrote, “Among the new object that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck my eye more vividly than the equality of conditions” (1). Later in the Introduction, De Tocqueville observed, “Christianity, which has rendered all men equal before God, will not be loath to see all citizens equal before the law.” It was the Reformed Christianity of the colonists and early Americans applied to politics that served as the philosophical basis for Americans’ remarkable equality before the law.

The idea of equality before the law was not some idea hatched in the New World either.  Rather, it was a product of the Protestant Reformation brought to America by the Puritans, whose arrival in America, not the American Revolution, De Tocqueville viewed as America’s point of departure.  Writing in the introduction of their translation of Democracy in America, Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop wrote, “Americans did not make themselves democrats but came to America as democrats.”

The American republic is a product, not of Greece and Rome, but of the Biblical Christianity preached and believed by the Protestant Reformers and their spiritual descendants. 

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A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.

  • Proverbs 27:12

Here we stand at the end of the Year of Our Lord 2020 and at the precipice of 2021.  My, how time flies.

When I was pondering what to write this week, it took some time, but it finally dawned on me that this would be my last Sunday post of 2020.  “Of course,” I thought to myself, “it’s time for my year-in-review post. Problem solved!”

Before launching into a review of 2020 and casting an eye toward the future in coming year, I would like to take this occasion to thank my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus for all the blessings he has brought into my life over the past year.  For the grace he has shown me in forgiving all my sins and patiently teaching me, for a job to pay my bills, for health to do that which I needed to and wanted to accomplish, for the love of family and friends.

It would be remiss of me not to mention how thankful I am for the Lord’s gracious provision in my life to write this blog.  I began blogging in March of 2009, so it won’t be long before I celebrate 12 years of posting online.  Most blogs make it only a few months.  That I have had the strength to sustain this work for so long is a testament, not to my skill or smarts or energy or anything in me, but to the calling and faithfulness of the Lord.  During my first five years of blogging, I posted occasionally.  Here a little, there a little.  It was in November 2014 that I prayed God would help me to reach the goal of posting at least once a week, and he heard me.  From that time until now, I have not gone a week without writing and posting at least one article.       

I thank God also for the opportunity to resume work on my podcast, Radio Lux Lucet.  I mentioned in last year’s end of year podcast that I wanted to start podcast again more regularly.  As it turned out, although I didn’t start out the year all that well, I have managed to string together about eight weeks in a row of podcasts, so that’s progress!

Finally, I would like to thank my readers for their support during 2020.  It is my prayer with each post that the name of God would be glorified and that my words would edify his people.  With every post, it is my goal to bring you perspective on the events of the day that you won’t be able to find just anywhere.  As John Robbins was wont to point out, the Bible has a systematic monopoly on truth.  This includes truth in the areas that I like to write about, namely, economics and politics.  The psalmist wrote, “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.”  Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” While I don’t claim to have greater understanding than all my teachers, I can testify to the fact that there is nothing that can prepare the Christian to take on the received “wisdom” of this world more than a solid grounding in the Scriptures.  All the truths of philosophy, politics, and economics are hidden in Christ Jesus.  And there is no other source to which Christion must repair to fight the good fight of faith against the lies of this world – and how many lies there are and how great! – than to the 66 books of the Bible.  It is from the Word of God that Christians must rebuke senators, judges, governors, presidents, prime ministers and popes for their sinful and foolish words and actions.  And this, the Apostle tells us, is a good work for which the Scriptures thoroughly equip the Christian man.  It is this good work I aim to do with each post.

Thanks is also due to those who have graciously donated to support the work of this blog.  I greatly appreciate your kindness.

Special thanks is also owed to John Bradshaw, brother in Christ, friend and keen eyed and patient editor of my posts.  This blog is much better for your work.  Thank you.     

So, with all that said, what about 2020?

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If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. 

  • John 8:36

Perhaps it’s trite to say this, but 2020 has been a very dark year in the formerly Christian West.  Here in the United States, we’ve experienced months of violent rioting. 

Marxist and racist rhetoric targeting white Americans pours forth from government, academia, churches, the mainstream media and businesses.  Indeed, such rhetoric has become a commonplace in 2020 America. And those who advance such ideas, far from being condemned in the public square, are lauded as courageous truth tellers.

Aggressive homosexuals have managed to push their agenda to the point that simply denying there’s such a thing as same-sex marriage, or that a man can become a woman, can get a person in a world of trouble both politicly and professionally.  A recent story in New York Magazine reveals how normalized homosexual practice has become in the United States. The story claims that, “roughly 30 percent of American women under 25 identify as LGBT.” If true, then a large minority of American young women have “chang[ed] the natural use into that which is against nature.” Can such a civilization long survive?

In their response to Covid, federal, state and local governments have routinely trodden underfoot what were, until very recently, thought inviolable personal liberties.  No let up to the lockdowns is in sight either.  In fact, governments throughout the West seem prepared to crank up their violations of personal freedom and property rights with ever more stringent lockdowns.  These lockdowns, supposedly designed to fight the spread of Covid, represent, in the view of this author, the imposition of arbitrary government on the formerly free nations of the West.  If those who have imposed these lawless restrictions get their way, arbitrary lockdowns, mask requirements, travel restrictions, immunity passports and forced vaccinations will become a permanent way of life.

Then there’s the matter of the presidential election, just nine days away as of this writing.  Americans are faced with choosing between two leading candidates. One, the corrupt, semi-senile, Roman Catholic Joe Biden – Biden most likely is a Trojan Horse for the Democrats to smuggle in the Monstrous Regiment in the person of the radical progressive and highly immoral Kamala Harris – and two, Donald Trump, who, for all his imperfections, manages to get some things right, holding to something like a traditional American understanding of personal liberty and economic freedom. Naturally, the corrupt national media blindly supports Biden and shows open disdain for Trump and his supporters. The winner for most exceptionally egregious example of media bias is NPR, which has, so far, refused to cover the explosive Hunter Biden email story linking Joe and his son Hunter to shady foreign dealings in Ukraine and China.  NPR’s Managing Editor for News  dismissed the Hunter Biden story, writing, “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories.”             

Indeed, America, and the West more broadly, seem to be at a major inflection point.  If present trends continue, it’s hard to see how Western Civilization survives much longer, if it isn’t already dead, except in remnant form. 

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“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me, Amen.”

    – Martin Luther

Here I Stand, A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton (New York, New York: Meridian, 1995, 302 pages with bibliography, references, source of illustrations and index).

Luther_HIS

Many years ago, when first I began to read about the Reformation, I came across Roland Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther and couldn’t put it down. I thought then, and think to this day, that it is a classic on the subject of Martin Luther and the Reformation.

Born in England in 1894, Bainton lived most of his life in the United States, graduating from Yale University with a Ph.D., where he later served as the Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History. With a background like that, readers it may be tempted to suppose that Bainton’s writing, while scholarly, would have little appeal to the non-specialist. He would be half right. While it is true that Bainton was a gifted scholar, Here I Stand is anything but a dull read.

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Pence_Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence.  Fred Reed rightly criticizes these neo-conservatives for their belligerent foreign policy and tendency to conflate U.S. interests with those of Israel, but misses the mark when recommending an alternative.

“Pence A Christian? POMPEO?: There Are Christians Who Love and Christian Who Hate,” a recent article by veteran journalist and commentator Fred Reed caught my eye this week. Reed, a gifted and independent-minded columnist, takes an approach to politics that can, I think, fairly be described as Libertarian.

As to his religions background, in his biography on his website he writes, “In general my family for many generations were among the most literate, the most productive, and the dullest people in the South. Presbyterians.” That said, in reading him over the years, my sense is that he has rejected the faith of his forebears and now seems rather hostile to the Presbyterianism of his family. Writing about the Catholic churches of Mexico, he commented in one column, “In any of these them (sic), before Protestantism cast its drab cloak of half of the faith, a traveler could enter and understand everything he saw.” In the same column, he has high praise for Russian Orthodox ceremony as well.

All that said, Reed has a wonderful talent for exposing the many nonsensical pieties which in our time are presented to the public as the very height of wisdom. In his article Reed – the author has a penchant for ribald language, which I have edited out as both unnecessary and inappropriate for this blog – makes many spot on observations about the anti-Christian foreign policy espoused by supposedly Christian government officials. On the other hand, some of his statements are wide of the mark. My comments are interspersed.

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Martin Luther

Just over a month back, Protestants celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It was a noteworthy occasion. October 31, 2017 marked 500 years since a little known Augustinian monk nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door and changed the course of history.

But while as Protestants we look back with joy at Luther’s bold stand against the papacy and proclamation of the Gospel of Justification by Belief Alone, not everyone was or is so appreciative of his achievements and the achievements of the other Reformers. But to call them unappreciative is really far too mild. The truth is, Luther and his contemporaries were hated unto death by representatives of the Roman Church-State (RCS), who did everything in their power to frustrate the spread of the Gospel in the 16th century.

And their efforts to quash the preaching of the Gospel did not stop in the 16th century, but continue unabated to this day. One example of this is the way the Pope Francis and the RCS attempted to co-opt this year’s Reformation Day celebration and turn it into a great big group hugging, Kumbaya singing rapprochement between Rome and her erring children, the “separated brethren” of the Reformation.

But Rome isn’t the only false church singing a false Gospel siren song in the hopes of wooing Protestants onto the rocks of works righteousness. No, Eastern Orthodoxy wants in on the act too.

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