Last Words

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Last words are treasured by those left behind, eagerly attended to as a beloved person perches on the edge of eternity and speaks one last time. Ancients thought the dying to be prophets and pilgrims—seeing what we cannot see; going ahead to where we will one day travel. In this season where spring and Easter conjoin, a good practice I have found is to read each of John’s last marvelous chapters, eight in all, beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter. It is here we find Jesus’ farewell discourse, an extended end of life teaching on his last free night, delivered among his most intimate friends.

The soliloquy in Chapters 13-17 is unduplicated in any of the other gospels, and the beloved young teen, now an old man, recalls with great clarity the words that are burned into his memory. Its depth is so rich that it defies ... Continue reading this entry »

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Jefferson Failed
Wilberforce Persisted

Politics Is Not a Cure-All

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Tullian Tchividjian speaks to something I believe is so true--politics is downstream from culture. Fifty years of the Christian right have produced disdain for the church, a decline in morality and civility, and college campuses and city enclaves that rival the days of Rome. Ironically, the now rapidly declining mainline churches have triumphed as their teaching over these same years--moralistic-therapeutic-deism--reigns in our culture. We see it daily in the culture carriers of our age--film, TV, music, imagery of the internet, etc.--which places a premium on pluralism, inclusion, and simply being nice and not judgmental. The power of believing in what is true has not been well served by exercising that power in the voting booth or public office. The Tea Party is just the latest morph of that disastrous thinking. A little over 200 years ago, William Wilberforce had to make a choice--Prime Minister or raising the level of "manners ... Continue reading this entry »

The Campaign Within the Campaign: Thinking and Acting Christianly About the Election

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As America awaits the first presidential debate and endures the quadrennial, 24-7 televised food fight, there is a parallel campaign I am seeing occur: Christians appealing to fellow Christians to think more Christianly about their choices. Of course, depending upon which side you favor, the “Christian” vote is obvious—to you that is. As someone who teaches worldview and philosophy to Christian high school students, we are trying to think together about what, for some, will be their first ever vote. In the eyes of many, however, any ambiguity may seem odd. The general perception is that if you say “Christian” and “politics” in the same sentence the immediate response is “right wing conservative.” For a while now that has been almost true. For example, for evangelical Christians, largely outside what was previously the mainline churches (Presbyterian USA, United Methodist, and Episcopalian), the issue of abortion has loomed as the 500-pound canary. ... Continue reading this entry »

Protagoras Lives

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Michael Gerson's column in the Washington Post today (9/14/12) brings to mind conversations I have been having this week with Ad Fontes students about a dead Greek by the name of Protagoras. Not a household name to be sure, he was the subject of one of Plato's most insightful dialogues, Thaetatus, in which Socrates seeks to teach the brilliant young man that the great sophist philosopher, Protagoras, is misleading him and the Athenian youth--leaders of the future. Protagoras might have been the Ayn Rand of his day. as he advocated his doctrine of life and truth--"Man is the measure of all things." In essence, he wanted his students to understand that truth and knowledge were what each person perceives it to be; none being more valuable or useful than any other. "Relativism through individualism" might have been his banner. I was informed by some of my students that Plato on Protagoras ... Continue reading this entry »