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By In Culture, Theology

What NOT To Give Up For Lent

Everyone will soon be sharing what they will “give up” for this Lenten season. And whether you’re Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, or Lutheran, it is easy to predict that most people will choose silly things to “give up”.

Christianity Today posts a list from Twitter of the top 100 Lenten sacrifices, I’ll post the top ten here to show what I mean.

1. Twitter
2. Chocolate
3. Swearing
4. Alcohol
5. Soda
6. Facebook
7. Fast food
8. Sex
9. Sweets
10. Meat

These are great examples of what NOT to give up for Lent. Lent is not a 40 day long New Years resolution, yet this is what “fasts” like these above make it out to be.

Like all the Church Calendar, Lent is modeled after the ministry of Christ. Forty days, in commemoration of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, enduring temptation by Satan before the beginning of his public ministry.

Rev. Steven Wilkins describes the abuses of Lent as such,

I know that traditionally, Christians have “given up” something for Lent and usually that “something” has been something they particularly enjoy. This may be seen as a form of “fasting” I guess, but if it is, it’s a very pale shadow of what “fast” (doing without food of any kind) really means. I understand the rationale for the practice, but given it’s very limited focus, it seems to me to miss the point of fasting in general and is easily metamorphosed into something like a “Pharisaical” act (i.e. “God surely must be pleased with me since He sees me foregoing my usual afternoon grande chocolate-caramel-cinnamon mocha latte with extra foam, which I’m absolutely dying to have right now!”).

Read his Post Why Lent? here

The heart of Christian reality is a society – a trinity- of persons living with and for one another. Our Lenten sacrifices should remind us of how we have sinned against the Triune God, and our neighbor-not serve as some superficial monastic flagellation.

As we develop our Lenten sacrifices we should move away from petty moralism and understand that as a Reformed Protestant, Lent is going to look much different for us than for the Roman Catholics. The early protestants were accused by the Roman Catholics of having a faith that was, “too glad to be true,” as C.S. Lewis once said. The Bible tells us that Jesus, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). If the gruesome cross was a joy, what does that say about his fast in the wilderness?

All of Christian living is joyous, not morbid. Fasting and somberness in themselves do not contribute to holiness, and the council of Nicaea even forbade fasting on the Lord’s day.

In closing:

And if you fast, let your fasting and prayer be toward particular ends, particular needs, particular hurts, not vague feelings. Fasting does not benefit us. Fasting is a bodily posture. Just as you might kneel or lift your hands in prayer, so too fasting is a posture of humility and urgency… abstaining ought to always be pointed toward some sort of giving. If we celebrate Lent as a community it ought to be an obvious blessing to everyone around us. – Pastor Toby Sumpter

Remembering that we are to:

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart.
Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 (NKJV)

Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a link is given.

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By In Culture, Politics

Tyranny’s Bane

“Abraham Kuyper was one of the most remarkable men of the twentieth century. A true polymath, the Dutch statesman made his mark as a pastor, theologian, journalist, educator, orator, publisher, politician, and reformer.” ~ Grantian Florilegium

Be enheartened and encouraged  this day by listening to this two-part lecture series delivered, by Dr. George Grant before an audience at the 2007 ACCS Conference in Atlanta, as a primer on the reformer of Dutch culture.

The Kuyperian Vision of Christ’s Lordship
(made available for free download or streaming by WordMP3)

Part 1 of 2
Part 2 of 2

“…Six months in to the German occupation of the Netherlands, Hitler issued a command that every single student who had ever graduated from Abraham Kuyper’s school, the Free University of Amsterdam, was to be hunted down, arrested, and treated as a Jew…high praise indeed.” ~ Dr. Grant<>заказ на написание статейработа в яндекс в москве

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By In Culture

Virginity: Christianity’s Main Idol?

Last October my daughter turned 13, and my wife and I took her out for her “promise ring” event.  The evening was a blast, the food was terrific, and the conversation was over-the-top.  We presented her with a ring to commemorate the event.  It was beautiful; she was beautiful; my wife was beautiful; the whole evening was just… beautiful.  During the conversation we focused in on the fact that she was becoming a woman and boys were probably going to start to notice.  The promises that were made that night concerned keeping lines of communication open about whatever may be going on in her life over the next few years. We want to rejoice with her as things go well, and help her through any times when things might not go so well.  We promised to talk about whichever boy that may show an interest, or that she might take an interest in when he comes calling.  The issue of virginity may have come up at certain points in the conversation, but that ideal is not one that is new to her.  Scripture is replete with references to God’s desire for sexual purity, so we did not wait until she was 13 to introduce them.  True love does not wait until your children are 13 to tell them that “true love waits”.

Attached to this post is a link to an article concerning the “downside” of the “True Love Waits” movement.  Perhaps that is the downside–that it is a movement of a Christian bookstore instead of the modus operandi of Christian families in the church.  The downsides referred to in the article concern “damaged goods” and “virginity as a commodity”.  The “damaged goods” issue comes into play since virginity can only be “lost” once.  After it’s gone, by definition, it’s gone.  The article raises some valid questions about how the emphasis on mass-marketed virginity can ostracize the young ladies who are no longer virgins and cannot possibly retrieve it.  They can be forgiven, but not be really “pure” like a girl who is still a virgin.  Is this loving to our neighbors?  Is this how we would want to be treated?  These are questions the article addresses.

I wouldn’t trade the evening with my wife and daughter last October for anything.  I do not plan on changing the general direction of how I am approaching my own daughter, but I appreciate the issues raised in this article.  I love my daughter enough to instruct her in righteousness and be there with her as she matures. Do I love my neighbor’s daughter enough to be careful with my words?  Are we wise and loving enough to preach “as far as the east is from the west” right alongside “you reap what you sow”?

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By In Culture

The Role of Heretical Christianity in the Rise of Islam

Although North Africa enjoyed the blessing of the presence of Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage and Augustine of Hippo, the impact of these great Catholic leaders was unable to maintain a long-lasting effect. The influence of Vandal Arianism supplanted Trinitarian Catholicism to the point that when the Muslims invaded from the East, there was no sufficient, theological base in the North Africans to resist the new Islamic heresies. Through a series of events, over a couple of centuries, the Byzantine people, and their Catholic culture, had become undesirable to the North Africans. When Vandal Arianism arrived on the scene, the North Africans were emotionally and psychologically prepared to have their Catholic dogma replaced. They did not specifically seek it out, but they were unprepared to repel the Vandal Arian heresy. Upon the acceptance of Vandal Arianism, the North Africans rejected Chalcedonian Christology and therefore, had no problem with the Islamic idea that Jesus was only a great prophet and that Mohammed had come as an even greater, and final, prophet. It was this religious difference between North Africa and the rest of Europe and southwest Asia, rather than any economic or socio-political differences, that opened the door for Islam to nearly eradicate Christianity from northern Africa.

Vandal Arianism developed in the Teutonic regions of northern Europe where Christ was viewed as a step above the average man, rather than a “second degree” God as he was viewed in Hellenic Arianism.  Jesus was a hero, a commander, or king, but not God like the divine All-Father.  This is as clearly heresy as the Hellenic version, albeit distinctive in the details.

In the early 430’s, the Teutonic general, Geiseric moved down through the Iberian Peninsula across the Straits of Gibraltar into North Africa.  By 439 he had conquered North Africa from present-day Mauritania to Tripoli in Libya.  He had become “master of North Africa”.  As surely as modern politicians show favors to those who will be favorable to advance their campaign, Geiseric, a Vandal Arian, promoted his religion in all the cities of his dominion.  Things were much easier for adherents to Vandal Arianism than for those who maintained the Trinitarian Catholic faith. Many clerics were exiled to Italy and the treasures of the local churches confiscated for Arian use.  To portray Geseric and his successors as merely religious zealots would be to oversimplify the matter, for politics played an important role in establishing their rule over the Berber people of North Africa.  With little to no religious allegiance to Rome or Constantinople, a North African ruler could count on that much more fidelity from his constituency. These anti-Catholic moves by the North African leaders, as well as some dumb moves by the Byzantines and Catholics themselves, solidified the shift from Trinitarian Christianity to Vandal Arianism.

Mohammed crafted his vision in 610 A.D., and within 80 years of his death in 632 A.D., his followers had spread the Muslim religion and kingdom throughout the Middle East, Egypt, North Africa and Spain.  Although the Byzantine generals and troops put up a fight every step of the way, the Arian predisposition of the Berber peoples in North Africa made them prime candidates for conversion to the Muslim faith.  This predisposition to a subordinate Christology aligned them more closely with an Islamic view of Jesus than a Catholic one.  The Quran refers to Jesus as a Prophet and the son of the virgin Mary but also says that Mohammed was a greater servant of God than Jesus. The Vandal Arian heresy had primed the pump for the next greater one than Jesus to come along.  As C.J. Speel surmises,

“Conversion from Teutonic Arianism, the faith of the bulk of North Africa’s population from ca. 450 to ca. 670 A.D., to Islam was an easy step.  In Teutonic Arianism Jesus was not God; neither was He the “Second degree” God of Arius, a philosophical logos.  He was a great tribal leader, or healer, or commander, an historical figure, a man who was manifested as the Son of God. Islam did not seriously alter this picture of Jesus; it simply added another and even more distinguished figure—the Prophet of Mecca to whom was revealed in most recent times the will of God.”

By 698 A.D. Carthage had fallen to Muslim invaders and has not yet risen from the ashes.  This is not simply an accounting of things that happened a long time ago on a continent far, far away.  We are not only concerned for the conversion of North Africans to Christianity, but we must take note of the current state of Christianity in our own land.  If a shift from the Trinitarian Catholic Faith of the historic creeds of the church is a tell-tale sign of what is coming, then we need to hang on tight.  This ride is about to get a lot bumpier.

For example, we are not too far removed from the Republican Mormon that was offered to us for consideration last November.  He was weighed in balances and found wanting, but the sobering thing is that he accomplished being the last “conservative” on the scale.  What are conservative Americans attempting to accomplish if a Mormon is the man for the job?  Trinitarian Christianity cannot be anywhere but on the fringes of American culture if Mitt Romney made it as far as he did.  Not to mention the support he received from overtly Christian organizations like Billy Graham’s, who removed Mormonism from its list of cults on their website a few months before the election.  “Christian” leaders like Joel Osteen, the pastor of a Houston church, with about a million members, says that “Mitt Romney is a believer in Christ like me.”  If Osteen was the exception rather than the rule, it would be different, but American Christians bought it hook, line and sinker, and sent Romney up against Obama.  As least the Vandal Arians imposed the rule on the North Africans as their conquerors, as opposed to the GOP, who has willingly traded Nicaea and Chalcedon for some golden plates found buried on a hill in New York.

This is not meant to be a harsh judgment of folks who view the General Election as a zero-sum game, and therefore felt compelled to vote for one of the two options, however abhorrent the choices were.  It’s not the individual’s vote in November that is as disconcerting as the fact that Romney was ever considered viable by the conservative populace.

I did not intend for this to end up being a rant about last November as much as a recognition that America is following in the footsteps of the North African culture, which has not known Christendom for over 1300 years.  She walked away from orthodoxy and God let her keep walking.  America is just a flash in the pan compared to many cultures, and we’ve already walked away.

Speel II, C.J. “The Disappearance of Christianity from North Africa in the Wake of the Rise of Islam.” Church History 29, no. 4 (1960): 379-397. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3161925. Accessed February 1, 2013.<>dobavitоптимизация страницы а

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By In Culture, Pro-Life

Killing The Inconvenient

Readers of Kuyperian Commentary may have noticed an abortion theme in my articles over the last few weeks. With the celebration of Christ’s incarnation upon us, there is no better time to talk about pregnancy, birth, life and abortion. My original motivation for this trend, however, was from conversations I’ve recently had with pro-choice acquaintances (some being Christians). Here is a summary of how these conversations usually go:

Acquaintance: I believe in a woman’s right to choose.

Me: Oh, really? Why’s that?

Acquaintance: Because a woman should have the right to do whatever she wants with her body.

Me: What about the unborn fetus? Is it not a person with rights itself?

Acquaintance: Nope, it’s not a person until it can survive outside its mother’s womb.

Me: Ok, but premature babies born at only 21 weeks have survived outside of their mother’s womb. Should a woman be limited after 21 weeks from doing whatever she wants with her body?

Acquaintance: No, I still think she has the right to choose until birth. If she doesn’t want something growing inside of her, she shouldn’t be forced to keep it.

Me: But if the fetus is a human person, then abortion would be murder, right? There’s only four scientific differences between the born and unborn: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency. None of these differences are relevant to determining personhood because they also exist between infants, teenagers, adults and the elderly. To avoid the charge of murder you have to prove that the fetus isn’t a person.

Acquaintance: So, what if a teenage girl is raped and gets pregnant? What if the mother’s health or life is at risk? What if the baby has birth defects from incest? What if she can’t afford to raise the child? You’re saying she should be forced to have it?!

At that point the topic turns to morality and whether or not killing innocent life is ever justified. From my experience, the abortion advocate always returns to the emotional and circumstantial arguments mentioned above. They may use scientific rhetoric to justify abortion (e.g. denying personhood) but their fundamental reason for being pro-choice is a matter of inconvenience – not science or morality.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that rape, health risks, birth defects and poverty are horrible circumstances. My heart goes out to any family that has to carry the weight of such tragedy. I believe churches should take a more prominent role in providing counsel, healthcare and safety for women in those situations. But to use the inconvenience of an unwanted pregnancy as reason for abortion only begs the question.

Children are always inconvenient, even when parents love them dearly. Children change your entire life, interrupting and altering your normal routines. They constantly depend on you for food, shelter, clothing, education and entertainment (which can be emotionally and financially stressful). They get sick or injured at the worst possible times and you take extra precautions to protect them from harm. The inconveniences of having a child obviously do not stop after birth.

So, is killing a person for the sake of convenience permissible? In the case of the born child, pro-choicers say “absolutely not!” In the case of the unborn child, they say “absolutely,” without providing any significant distinction between the two. This position is as arbitrary as it is immoral; a classic case of being illogical and inconsistent. Perhaps doing otherwise is just too inconvenient.<>go-linkбиржа копирайтинга

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By In Culture, Theology

Culture-Changing Christians

By Kuyperian Commentary Special Contributing Scholar, Dr. Thomas Kidd

Many disappointed Romney supporters have suggested that his defeat spoke to an American culture in decline. For politics to change, they say, culture must change. Glenn Beck, for example, tweeted that “the time for politics is over. I’m doubling down on my efforts to shift the culture.”

Evangelical Christians are especially attuned to talk of changing culture. But what culture is, and just how it changes, is often less clear. Books such as Andy Crouch’s Culture Making and James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World should be required reading for any Christian making plans to change culture. Both books show that culture, or “what human beings make of the world,” in Crouch’s words, is extraordinarily complex, and not susceptible to quick change, especially through politics.

We can certainly point to Christian politicians who have helped change culture in explicitly Christian ways. The great abolitionist William Wilberforce is an excellent example. But think over the past century: many of the culture-changing Christians that jump immediately to mind have not been directly engaged with politics. For example:

C.S. Lewis, the Oxford professor whose greatest influence came through writing children’s books.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian martyred for his resistance against Nazi tyranny.

Mother Teresa, the Albanian-born nun who devoted her life to caring for lepers and AIDS patients, who testified to the dignity of all human life, including the outcast and unborn.

Each of these heroes had things to say of political consequence, but they did not see politics as their method of Christian witness or culture change.

So before we plunge headlong into changing the culture before the 2016 election, let’s think about a few principles for how evangelicals can influence culture.

1) James Davison Hunter argues that culture is shaped most by institutions that have great “symbolic capital,” including universities such as Harvard and Yale, and newspapers such as the New York Times. Popular Christian books may sell millions of copies, but they do not have the symbolic capital or cultural influence of a Pulitzer Prize winner. Christians not only need to engage with institutions of high symbolic capital, but we need Christian voices to be present in those institutions, as professors, journalists, and artists. Christian parents and teachers need to cast a winsome vision of Christian cultural engagement for children and students.

2) Christians should worry as much about preserving orthodox Christian culture as they do about changing secular culture. Indeed, preserving traditional Christian culture is an essential precondition to any wholesome changes in the broader culture. If American Christian culture is infected by theological vacuousness and historical ignorance, by shallow consumerism, or by ethical corruption, then on what basis can we hope to transform the broader culture? As Christopher Dawson’s classic Religion and the Rise of Western Culture demonstrates, Christians have often found themselves having to preserve the heritage of biblical Christianity from a hostile surrounding culture. There’s nothing especially new in our situation today.

3) While some Christians may be called vocationally to institutions of high symbolic capital, all of us can take responsibility for the mini-cultures of our family, church, and neighborhood. I’m afraid that I can’t do much about the voting patterns of Ohio, but I can sure do something about the culture of my dinner table. When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize, she was reportedly asked what we can do to promote world peace. She answered “Go home and love your family.”

Evangelicals can certainly participate in politics, but we should remember that politics tends simply to reflect culture. And culture is not easy to change, especially at the broadest levels. Christians can (and must) do more to bring a witness into institutions of high symbolic capital, but we should never underestimate the sanguine influence we can have, by God’s grace and prayer, on the little cultural spheres we inhabit on a daily basis.

(Article first published at Patheos)<>контентаподбор слов яндекс

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By In Culture, Politics, Pro-Life

Champion of the Unborn

I confess: I supported Congressman Ron Paul during the presidential primaries. I thought he was the only candidate anywhere near to a biblical view of government on the major issues. What are the major issues, you ask? Well, there’s that annoying idea about actually obeying your oath to follow the Constitution; economic and monetary policy; war and foreign policy; and civil liberties. These are broad categories that include numerous issues. Overlapping each of them is the issue of abortion. I highly respected Paul for his firm stance against abortion. He seemed to truly care about the unborn in a way other pro-life candidates didn’t. Not only did he spend a career delivering babies, he published two full books against abortion and introduced legislation each session of Congress that would have outlawed abortion nationwide. There is no politician in recent history that can match Paul’s zeal when it comes to protecting the unborn.

All pro-life candidates say they want to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade. They say they are for a constitutional amendment defining the unborn as persons under the law. These two positions alone will give any candidate an automatic stamp of approval from pro-lifers, even if all evidence points to the candidate being insincere. I think it’s time to raise our standards.

Paul certainly wants Roe v. Wade overturned and the unborn defined as legal persons, but both methods mentioned above are unrealistic. The majority of Supreme Court justices in the last forty years have been Republican-appointed. Five of the seven justices who passed Roe v. Wade were Republican-appointed. Have we seen any attempts to overturn Roe since then? Of course not. And don’t forget, a Republican-appointed justice was the deciding factor in passing Obamacare. Gambling the lives of innocent children to the Supreme Court has been a losing game from the start. Only delusional gamblers keep playing.

Likewise, a constitutional amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states before it becomes law. Do we really think there are thirty-eight states willing to do so? Declaring the personhood of the unborn would take years to pass (if ever) with millions of abortions continuing in the meantime. This strategy is simply a distraction from the true solution.

Paul’s Sanctity of Life Act would have removed jurisdiction from the Supreme Court and defined the unborn as persons with full protection under the law. You don’t need new justices or amendments – the Constitution gives Congress the power to remove jurisdiction from the Supreme Court. Republicans could have passed this bill when they controlled all three branches of government under George W. Bush. Did they? Nope. Paul never received more than five cosponsors, but that didn’t stop him from introducing his bill every congressional session. In his current and final year in Congress, Paul’s bill has zero cosponsors.

Unfortunately, conservative evangelicals were largely critical of Paul during his political career. He was mistaken by many as “not pro-life enough” all because he didn’t use the typical rhetoric. In reality, Paul was perhaps the most pro-life congressman of this generation. The pro-life movement will not see many victories until we reassess our strategies and start following Paul’s example. May his efforts not be in vain; and may the Lord Jesus Christ raise up leaders who will carry on his legacy.<>race game onlineразработка корпоративного а

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