Monday, March 27, 2006

Being Democratic

In the book No Place For Truth David Wells has been explaining how the "revival" movements tended to push a more democratic ideal when it comes to the practice of the church and theology. He compares unfavorably the practice of the church with American "democratic" government. He says this:
The triumph of the audience, which in contemporary evangelicalism has often also been a triumph of modernity, has been effected far more radically among evangelicals than in the nation as a whole. The reason it would seem, is that the nation is encumbered by a set of immovable institutions sanctioned by the Constitution, whereas evangelical faith has almost entirely liberated itself from the inconveniences and constraints that institutions might impose upon it. If the evangelical world has its theology, it is neither codified nor dignified as is the slogans, and often serves only to define the outer parameters of faith rather than to explore and confess what that faith means. Furthermore, it is open to revision on a whim or by a strong leader. And if evangelicals have their churchly structures, they are not permanent as are the structures of the nation's government. They can be set up, taken down, moved around, or dispensed with at will. The result is that, for better or for worse, democratic assumptions in religious mass movements suffer few of the frustrations that they do in the nation at large.
His previous point is that the theology of the church has fallen to the whims of the populace. Democracy's worst has seen fulfillment in the practice of the church. Even the American government has done a better job preserving its founders' ideals.

Friday, March 24, 2006

God-Centered Mind

Consider this line of reasoning:
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
If I can get encouragement in my suffering for Christ (see chapter 1) and you can have the same encouragement that what he offers is joy inexpressible even in the face of negative circumstance, if we can have that encouragement, if we can have the consolation of our Saviors love, if you have a heart like Paul's and compassion (on his situation? suffering), then...
2 Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Then, be of the same mind. How could they say no. But clearly this is very difficult. I'm not sure that the average fundamentalist church has two people that have ever been of the same mind about anything other than to criticize.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
4 Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Now it says earlier, "intent on one purpose." What is that purpose? What should we be of one mind to? A Christlike mind is one that is God-centered. It humbly accepts it's call to obedience and loves the purposes of God. This is a battle of the mind. Thoughts and arguments are the ammunition. We seek to justify our selfishness and argue for our own interests. But if we have the blessings of Christ, then Paul urges that we make our minds intention God-focused and not self-focused.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Who Says "Let's"

Piper says:
"At the heart of masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead"
This is the essence of Biblical manhood. Piper says you can see this in a marriage by who says "let's."
"Let's look over the finances."
"Let's go out to eat."
A husband should be one who takes the initiative to lead. Many wives are frustrated by their husband's inability to lead.

The Grand Canyon

To some the thought of a God that would seek his own adoration is completely revolting. To try to draw some sense out of this John Piper used this illustration. "Why do people go to the Grand Canyon? Is it to improve their self esteem?" The truth is that there is a tremendous void of satisfaction we wish to fill. God is completely loving not by making much of us but he is completely loving by making much of himself because ultimately He is what fills the void of longing of our soul! Praise God he freely gives himself to be my joy!


David Wells in No Place for Truth writes a very relevant bit concerning the effects of modernity on the idividual's phyche. He borrows from David Riesman when describing the "other-directed" person.

On the whole, contemporary individualism is thoroughly emancipated, declining to draw values from the past (even the previous generation). But, paradoxically, it gives up this emancipation from the normative precedents for enslavement to a different sort of external authority -- the desire to be like others in the larger culture. This entails more than just peer pressure: we are sensitive not only to the values of close friends and admired acquaintances but also the impersonal voice of fashion, a media consensus, the views of a celluloid idol, the message of a rock star. Having turned inward in a search for meaning, we turn outward in a search for direction (emphasis mine), scanning others for the social signals they emit regarding what is in and what is out, what is desirable and what is not. This produces a new kind of conformity...

...Typically the other-directed person thinks little about career, makes few long-term commitments, seems to have no inner core of character, little conscience, and seeks approval and even affection from a surrogate family, "an amorphous and shifting, though contemporary, jury of peers," as Riesman put it. This person is oriented not to inner values but to other people. It is in the peer group that acceptance is found and outcasts are named.

...Where once people took pride in their accomplishments and in their character, other-directed individuals think only of how they stand with others. The freedom from all that formerly constrained, such as cultural and family expectations, now "contributes to his insecurity," Lasch argues -- an insecurity "which he can overcome only by seeing his 'grandiose self' reflected in the attentions of others, or by attaching himself to those who radiate celebrity, power, or charisma." Where the older type of individualist saw the world as a wilderness to be cleared and shaped in accordance with his or her will, the contemporary narcissist sees it as a mirror in which to preen him or herself; in the television era, the world is no longer hard... Once people worked to achieve tangible ends, to accomplish things. Now, such accomplishments are of far less significance than one's "image." Once people worked; now they manipulate. Once people sweated; now they seduce. Once people wished to be respected, to have their accomplishments recognized; now they wish to be envied, regardless of whether they are envied for anything they have actually accomplished.