“Greek Life” @ Cary Christian School – Training the Next Generation of Reformers

[Some All Saints Day (and late “Reformation Day”) musings, tying together my dual roles as a high school Biblical Greek teacher and a student of church history.]

Martin Luther did not mean to start the Reformation. In 1517, Luther, a teacher of theology in Germany, posted some items for an academic discussion on the church door in Wittenberg (really a community bulletin board back then).  At this point in his career, he had no intention to break away from the Roman Catholic church—as a “doctor” of theology Luther had the right, and the obligation, to express concerns about the church. Luther was attacking the practices of some extreme “indulgence preachers” who were basically selling get-out-of-Purgatory-free cards (indulgences). Luther had no idea how far up the chain of authority this corruption went. In fact, Pope Leo X gave his official blessing to this indulgence fund-raiser in order to finance his massive building project at St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in Christendom. Continue reading

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H.L. Mencken Defending Women?

I just started reading H.L. Mencken’s In Defense of Women.  For those who don’t know, Mencken was a terribly witty journalist in the early 20th century.  He was witty, and he was terrible.  He was enamoured of Nietzshe’s philosophy and hated Christianity.  Oddly enough, he could praise a theological stalwart like J. Gresham Machen because Machen was a stalwart.  Mencken hated hypocrisy, but he respected a man who could defend what he believed, even if Mencken could not accept that defense.  All that to say–Mencken was a clever pagan and a talented wordsmith.  We who would defend Christianity can, and should, learn a lesson or two from him.

In the Introduction, Mencken writes, “in the United States, alone among the great nations of history, there is a right way to think and a wrong way to think in everything–not only in theology, or politics, or economics, but in the most trivial matters of everyday life” (xix). 

Mencken was writing in the 1930s, and so he is railing against “traditional morality,” but his words apply equally today–in the realm of political correctness and the holy dogmas of Tolerance.  “For an American to question any of the articles of fundamental faith cherished by the majority is for him to run grave risks of social disaster” (xx).  The difference now is which “articles of fundamental faith” the majority hold to.  Back then it was the veneer of Christian morality–now it is the veneer of Toleration for every belief and moral practice … except for Intolerance and believing that one belief means that others are wrong!

And Mencken had no illusions about the redemptive value of democracy:  “All such toyings with illicit ideas are construed as attentats against democracy, which, in a sense, perhaps they are.  For democracy is grounded upon so childish a complex of fallacies that they must be protected by a rigid system of taboos, else even half-wits would argue it to pieces.  Its first concern must thus be to penalize the free play of ideas” (xxi). 

When was the last time we really had a debate in American politics, rather than slogan-tossing festival? 

Mencken could sound like a Calvinist with no Cross and no Christ.  That is, he understood human depravity, but did not have the hope of Resurrection:  “In truth, I am very suspicious of all remedies for the major ills of life, and believe that most of them are incurable” (xxiv).

The book promises to entertain and infuriate.  I’ll try to post his best observations here (mostly to help me study how he writes!).

Interesting Articles

Scot McKnight –  “The Gospel for iGens” – “Sometimes I think we forget that no where in the pages of the New Testament do we find what many of us heard when we were gospeled: God loves us, we are sinners, God still loves us and sent his Son to die for our sins, and if we receive God’s plan we will spend eternity with him and be empowered by grace for a new life now. I believe every line in that gospel to be true, but no one said it quite that way in the New Testament.”  (This article is very helpful for Christian teachers, as we struggle to communicate the gospel to the next generation.)

“Muslims Next Door” – An interview with Naeem Fazal

Why We Need Christian Colleges

Dr. Steve Henderson – “Investing in Their Faith: How your teen’s college choice can impact their future” – some depressing studies show that tons of Christian kids fall away at college.

Covenantal Education

Paul House provides a succint summary of Deuteronomy’s priniciples for covenantal education.  It is both inspiring, as well as humbling, as I consider my role as a teacher and a parent:

“Third, Yahweh commands the people to internalize the covenant and teach their children to do the same (6:6-9).  Each new member of the holy community must be taught God’s ways.  Faith does not occur automatically.  It must be understood and owned (6:6), so each parent must teach his or her children, just as Moses has been teaching them.  Instruction must be purposefule, even to the point of becoming public (6:9).  The idea is to ‘impress, or inscribe’ truth on the heart, not simply to suggest it.  Such careful teaching will help avoid forgetting Yahweh in prosperity (6:10-12), in new settings (6:13-19) or when new generations emerge, uncertain of what the old revelation means (6:20-25).  Only scrupulous intergenerational teaching can keep exclusive love of Yahweh alive in a polytheistic culture” (Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology, 178).