Monday, January 15, 2007

Three Significant Quotes

Here are three quotes that have opened my eyes to the impact of secularism/humanism in our culture. I guess you can say, these quotes helped me put the pieces of the puzzle together.

First, before you read the quotes, I want you to picture in your mind the culture as the soil into which the Gospel is sown (Luke 8:5-15).

"No one indeed believes anything unless he first thought that it is to be believed.” St. Augustine

"False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion." Gresham Machen

Now, if you are getting it, I think this one nails the lid on the coffin and should send chills up and down your spine ...

"When people are taught for years on end that good thinking is naturalistic thinking, and that bringing God into the picture only leads to confusion and error, they have to be pretty dense not to get the point that God must be an illusion. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they become atheists, but they are likely to think about God in a naturalistic way, as an idea in the human mind rather than as a reality that nobody can afford to ignore.” “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds” by Phillip E. Johnson, pp 89

All three synoptic Gospels tell the parable of the sower; however, I like Luke's account best because it tells us the most about the heart in the culture (soil) that holds the word (seed) fast and bears fruit with perseverance. That heart is described as "honest and good" (NASB and KJV), "noble and good" (NIV). Note that it is not the seed that makes the heart this way; this is a precondition of receiving, holding fast, and bearing fruit. This is the heart that will open up to and allow the working of the Holy Spirit.

Look at our culture today, and it's plain to see that our culture does everything in its power (whose power? Satan's!) to pervert hearts away from being "honest and good". Whereas 60 years ago, there was sufficient Chrisitian influence in the institutions of culture for this kind of preconditioning to still be pretty dominant, today we cast seed on thoroughly rocky and hard soil.

Are you concerned with why more are not being saved?

Among other things we do to reach the lost as individual Christians and as the Church, we need to be cultivating the culture with God's definition of nobility, honesty, and goodness just as the farmer prepares his soil to receive the seed. Unfortunately, I don't see an emphasis, or even an awareness, of this in most evangelistic communities. We keep on pretending the soil is as it was 60 years ago -- and with predictable results.

And, don't forget the effect on those inside the church of swimming in this polluted culture every day - but that's a topic for a later post.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Diamonds for Peanuts - Abortion

This is probably the first of many Diamonds for Peanuts posts. This piece was submitted for publication in local newspapers for the 34th anniversary of the 1973 Rowe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision.

I’ll let you in on a secret, but, first, take this intelligence test. There are three pictures in a row: two sparkling diamonds and a peanut. Pick the two that are alike. Would you pick the peanut and a diamond? A lot of people think you would.

This is the way some people argue ideas; they take two things with vastly different values and make them appear alike. A recent editorial headline ran, “Abortion is wrong; so are protesters.” Whoever wrote that headline is equating the “evil of abortion” (the writer’s words) with the incivility of some abortion protesters – diamonds and peanuts.

Another good example is the pro-abortion argument that “unwanted” children are better off dead than for some to suffer abuse and poverty. Even if all “unwanted” children suffered abuse and poverty, is it really better that they be killed? Not to diminish abuse and poverty, but isn’t this another diamond (the value of life) vs. peanut (abuse and poverty) comparison?

Those who argue this way are trying to inflate the significance of their peanut to that of a diamond. But, like the politician’s favorite ploy, “I could never personally condone abortion, but who am I to push my beliefs on someone else,” reduces sanctity of life to personal preference like flavors of ice cream, this trick ends up reducing precious diamonds to cheap peanuts.

“Hey, lady, I’ll trade you a peanut for that diamond on your finger. OK, two peanuts.” Is life really so cheap?