Spiritual Formation & Deformation

I posted earlier about James K.A. Smith’s book, You Are What You Love, here. This book is so good that I commend it to you again.

In the book, he helps us to see that it’s not primarily what we know that forms us but rather the cultural liturgies that we regularly participate in, whether we realize that we’re being formed by them or not (the things that we do also do something to us).  We’re all post-Enlightenment people and thus, we tend to over-emphasize the importance of thinking in shaping us. Smith doesn’t argue that learning and knowledge are unimportant, just that they’re not the primary shapers of our heart … what we love.

He helps us to see that just as cultural liturgies (think about the kinds of things we do every day … he uses the shopping mall as an example) form us, they can also deform us. And, of course, deformation is exactly what happens when the cultural liturgies that surround us are not informed by Christianity. Continue reading “Spiritual Formation & Deformation”

Knowing God

“It has been said by someone that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold I am wise.’ But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumbline cannot sound its depth and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, ‘I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.’ No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God …

Continue reading “Knowing God”

Hopefulness for the Next World

“1. There is no crown without a cross.

With whatever kind of trials we may be afflicted, we should always keep our eye on this goal, that we accustom ourselves to the contempt [of the vanities] of the present life in order that we may meditate on the future life.

For the Lord knows that we are by nature inclined to love this world blindly; and even carnally, and, therefore, he uses an excellent means to call us back an to arouse us from our sluggishness, that our hearts may not be too much attached to such a foolish inclination …

Continue reading “Hopefulness for the Next World”

Neutral Education?

When we started Mars Hill, one of the core convictions was the comprehensiveness of the antithesis. The antithesis flows from God’s declaration concerning the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Abraham Kuyper’s statement that, “There is not a single square inch of creation over which Jesus Christ does not shout, ‘Mine!'” is an example of the antithesis. Christianity is a whole from which everything flows and not just a collection of individual truths leaving everything not represented by those truths unaffected by the same.

Following is a quote from a paper titled “Education that ‘Makes a Difference'” by Joseph Bayly that flows from this same truth:

“Today, we pretend as though we can ‘just present the facts’ and ‘let the student decide for herself’ what the correct response to those facts is. But this type of education is still motivated by spiritual and moral ideas. For example, it denies original sin, assuming that people are basically good, not bad, and that they will take the facts we give them and do ‘good things’ rather than ‘bad’. It also denies absolute truth, claiming that there is no right answer about what the takeaway from the facts ought to be. The religions behind this educational philosophy are relativism and humanism. So all the talk of keeping religion out of the schools is a red herring. The only way to keep religion out of a school is to shut it down.”

Continue reading “Neutral Education?”

Christian Nurture

“A child’s character is forming under a principle, not of choice, but of nurture. The spirit of the house is breathed into his nature, day by day. The anger and gentleness, the fretfulness and patience – the appetites, passions, and manners – all the variant moods of feeling exhibited round him, pass into him as impressions, and become seeds of character in him; not because the parents will, but because it must be so, whether they will or not. They propagate their own evil in the child, not by design, but under a law of moral infection … The spirit of the house is in the members of the children by nurture, not by teaching, not by any attempt to communicate the same, but because it is the air the children breathe … Understand that it is the family spirit, the organic life of the house, the silent power of a domestic godliness, working as it does, unconsciously and with sovereign effect – this it is which forms your children to God.”

Horace Bushnell, Christian Nurture

Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself

This is a very interesting article. Even if you don’t agree with his entire argument, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of the modern world and postmodernism’s influence over it, including ways in which this has seeped into the church. That said, I think his overall argument carries a lot of weight as well.

Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself

A Hard Life …

John Piper has said that Puritan writing is so powerful because they lived on the precipice of life and death. Their lives were naturally difficult, not having the conveniences that we enjoy today and without the health care advances that all of us profit from … many of them outlived some or all their children.

That’s part of the story for sure. But, in addition, they were also persecuted for their faith. Other than for a short period of time, they were on the outside of the established church and were ridiculed and persecuted, in some cases even to death, for what they believed and refused to compromise.

Much has been written about the soft life Americans, in general, live. We have heaters and air conditioners, food in abundance packed into refrigerators and stores that are a short drive away if we need anything else, doctors and hospitals providing the kind of care that would have been unthinkable even 50-100 years ago, and entertainment available 24X7 to distract us from “real life.”

Continue reading “A Hard Life …”