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“The Future Belongs to the Brave”

Chris —  September 5, 2013

What President Reagan said to school-children following the Space Shuttle Challenger accident:

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.

You can read the whole thing here or watch below. It is under 5 minutes.

 

Rosaria Butterfield, author of the recommended  Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert writes:

In 1996, when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I grieved with my people. I was an atheist then, and lived in a monogamous lesbian relationship, working as a tenure-track professor specializing in English literature and Queer Theory.

Now, some 17 years later, in the summer of 2013, the Supreme Court has delivered its historic DOMA decision. I am now a Christian, married to a man who serves God as a pastor, and I homeschool in the Classical Christian tradition the two youngest of my four children. And again, I grieve with my people.

Standing with the Disempowered

Perhaps you think that I have a knack — call it a spiritual “gift” if you like — of affiliating with the losing team?

One of my enduring life values, which carried me through the Feminist and Gay Rights movements of the 1990s, and continues to motivate me today as one of Christ’s own, is the desire to stand with the disempowered. So here I am. Standing in a familiar place . . .

Read the rest here.

Cal Thomas contrasts the current Prime Minister’s evaluation of Islam with Winston Churchill’s summary:

Following the hacking death of a British soldier by two alleged Islamic extremists, Prime Minister David Cameron said, “There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”

Winston Churchill thought otherwise, but he lived in a time before political correctness ran amok and drew on his personal experiences serving in the Sudan and in the Crimean War.

In his 1899 book “The River War,” Churchill described what he witnessed in countries where Islam ruled: “Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.” . . .

Read the rest here.

Should Christian voters who forgive Mark Sanford for his betrayals of trust have voted him back into office? He thinks so. Mark Sanford interpreted his return to the national political stage through a biblical lens.

To be sure, it was something of a political resurrection for Sanford whose career imploded in 2009 when an extra-marital affair with a woman in Argentina was uncovered.

Ross Douthat rightly questions Sanford’s theological analysis. Douthat writes:

Part of [my concerns with Sanford], I admit, stems from the combination of my personal preoccupations and the experience of reading quotes like these, from Sanford’s victory lap:

“Some guy came up to me the other day and said you look a lot like Lazarus,” Sanford told the crowd Tuesday night, referring to the man who, according to the Bible, Christ raised from the dead. “I’ve talked a lot about grace during the course of this campaign,” he said. “Until you experience human grace as a reflection of God’s grace, I don’t think you really get it. And I didn’t get it before.”

“I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances,” Sanford said in his victory speech in Charleston, referring to his first TV ad in which he asked voters to support him despite his past problems. “But a God of third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth chances because that is the reality of our shared humanity.”

Because of course when Jesus told his disciples to forgive sinners seven times seven times, what he really meant was that they should affirm people in whatever they’ve done and want to do and then return them to high office as swiftly as possible. And when he raised Lazarus from the dead, it was likewise a sign that no political ambition need ever be set aside or abandoned, no matter how the politician in question has failed the public trust. For that matter, who can forget the famous gospel passage where John the Baptist officiated at King Herod’s second marriage, and then encouraged the Roman government to give Herod a few new titles and honors? I’m surprised Sanford didn’t reference that one!

Douthat is right to question Sanford’s theology. Below is an excerpt from Unpacking Forgiveness:

Forgiveness does not mean the elimination of all consequences.

If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you are saved (Acts 16:31). So far as east is from the west, so far does God remove the transgressions of his children from them (Psalm 103:11-12). There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). Nevertheless, these truths do not teach that those forgiven by God face no consequences for sin. On the contrary! This side of heaven, we will continue to work through the consequences of our rebellion against God. One of the most famous examples of this are the consequences David faced for his adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent attempts to cover up the sin through deceit and murder.

When God used the prophet Nathan to confront David, he realized the magnitude of his sin and was truly repentant (2 Samuel 12:7). Nathan told David that God would forgive him for his sin (2 Samuel 12:13). However, there were still consequences, and severe ones at that. Nathan told David that there would be violence amongst his family (2 Samuel 12:10) and that the baby Bathsheba and he had conceived would die (2 Samuel 12:13). Even after the death of the baby, David faced those horrible consequences of ongoing violence in his family. One son, Amnon, raped David’s daughter Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-22). Another son, Absalom, then killed Amnon (2 Samuel 13:23-33). Later, Absalom attempted to take over David’s kingdom (Samuel 15-19).

The reality of consequences raises a question: If God truly forgives, if he no longer holds the sin against the forgiven, then why are there are consequences? The answer is that God disciplines His own, not for the purpose of punishing them but for his glory and their joy in the future. These consequences are not punishment. Rather, they are how God trains and teaches.

The author of Hebrews stressed this point in Hebrews 12:5-12 when he wrote that God disciplines his children as a father the son he delights in. Two words are used to refer to the idea of disciplining. The first one means “to train.” This word was used in relation to raising children.Believers can expect to be “trained” by God. The second word we see is a harsher one. It means to scourge or punish. The ESV translates it “chastises.”This word appears seven times in the New Testament, and every other time it refers to literal “flogging.” Hebrews 12:6 says that we can expect discipline and direction from God, and at times it will be painful.

The reason God disciplines his children is given in Hebrews 12:10-11.

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:10-11

God allows us to face the consequences of sin for our own ultimate good, that we may eventually share more fully in his holiness and reap an abundant harvest of righteousness and peace.

Once when our son Christopher was only two, he made an unauthorized trip to our neighbor’s house. He snuck out our front door and crossed the street before my wife Jamie even missed him. He trotted up to our neighbors’ front door, knocked, and asked if he could play with their sons. Now obviously, we could not allow a toddler to leave our home without permission and cross a street again. So, we did our best as parents to make that a painful memory for Christopher. We lovingly sought to associate pain with his memory of disobedience.

Why did we do that? It certainly wasn’t that we wanted to “get him back” for going out on the street. Jamie and I weren’t thinking, “Okay, buddy, now you’re gonna pay.” Rather, we were seeking to train and instruct him for the future.

If you choose to disobey, then expect consequences. God loves his children too much to allow you to “play in the road.” But don’t confuse discipline and penalty. Discipline is the loving correction of a parent. Penalty is the price required for the offense. If you are a believer, the purpose of God’s discipline is not to inflict upon you the punishment you deserve. If that were the case, then God would send you to hell. God disciplines his children so that they might understand the seriousness of sin and be increasingly conformed to the image of his Son.

Such poise! Click through and watch Amanda Thatcher’s reading of an amazing choice of passages for her grandmother’s funeral.

Click through and watch the clip.

If you watch the Peter Schiff clip, you will want to buy his books. (I haven’t read anything  by him yet).

Chris Cox and Bill Archer have written an unsettling piece for the Wall Street Journal about the sobering reality of the US Debt. Though some may be familiar with the $16 trillion figure, there are few who realize that this is actually just the tip of the iceberg. According to the article, the true number is actually closer to $86 trillion (which amounts to 550% of our GDP).

Cox and Archer argue that the government has gotten away with underestimating the actual price of our national debt since it has not needed to furnish the kind of financial documentation required of most businesses. “The actual figures,” they write, “do not appear in black and white on any balance sheet.” While the U.S. Treasury “does list liabilities such as Treasury debt issued to the public, federal employee pensions, and post-retirement health benefits…it does not include the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and other outsized and very real obligations.”

The problem is that all the revenue collected for these particular entitlement programs is not actually being saved for the future, but is being paid out to current retirees. And this will all fall apart when more and more of our nation’s baby boomers start collecting retirement benefits. The government is currently borrowing 1 out of every 3 dollars that it spends, so what will we do when the majority of the boomers are retired? According to the authors, “Borrowing at this scale could eclipse the capacity of global capital markets–and bankrupt not only the programs themselves but the entire federal government.”

Peter Schiff, an American economist who won my respect after correctly predicting the ’08 housing bubble crisis and ensuing recession (check out “Peter Schiff was right” on YouTube), has written in his most recent book that politicians from both parties do not have the courage or will to face this issue squarely. And so he argues that our representatives will most likely continue to underemphasize the magnitude of this problem year after year until eventually the entire system collapses.

The rest here.

John Piper wisely interacts with the news that Anders Breiviks was sentenced to only 21 years:

Anders Breivik’s sentence for killing 77 people in Norway on July 22, 2011 is outrageous. He was deemed sane and sentenced to serve 21 years in prison “in a three-cell suite of rooms equipped with exercise equipment, a television and a laptop.” That’s 100 days of posh prison time for each person he murdered, with a legal release possible at age 53. Life is cheap in Norway.

The news agencies explained that such a sentence

is consistent with Norway’s general approach to criminal justice. Like the rest of Europe . . . Norway no longer has the death penalty and considers prison more a means for rehabilitation than retribution.

They explained that “many Europeans” consider America’s criminal justice system to be “cruelly punitive.” And the blog post I am now writing, naturally, would fall into the category of vindictive.

Do you see the error in this? C. S. Lewis did. . . .

Read the rest here.

Owen Strachan writes for Christianity Today. An excerpt:

. . . American Christians who are engaged in the life of this country likely desire an evangelical candidate who not only loves the Lord but who also governs wisely and justly.But living in a fallen world—and an increasingly diverse and secular nation—means that believers will not always find a candidate who shares their worldview. If nature is red in tooth and claw, politics are red in tariff and clause.

Engagement in the nation’s public life often means dealing with less-than-ideal choices, circumstances, and candidates. Christians bemoan this reality, but it is part of life in a fallen world. Pursuing our good and the good of our neighbor—publicly practicing Christ’s command in Mark 12:31—means that we must often make difficult choices and go with the best possible candidate given a biblical worldview.

On the other hand, evangelicals might support religious candidates from a range of traditions with whom they have major doctrinal disagreements. When this is the case, believersshould recommit themselves to the City of Man even as they find their essential identity and their undying hope in the City of God.We want a virtuous head for our country, but we do not want an Orwellian “Dear Leader,” a political figure to whom we attach spiritual significance and from whom we expect messianic deliverance.The only one who deserves such adoration is not physically here yet—but when he comes, term limits won’t apply.

What of the upcoming election, which features a Mormon candidate for the presidency? . . .

Read the whole thing here.

Ross Douthat against demonstrated why he is one of our day’s most insightful commentators. In his column for the New York Times Sunday paper he argued that there is a difference between freedom of belief and the free exercise of religion. He begins:

THE words “freedom of belief” do not appear in the First Amendment. Nor do the words “freedom of worship.” Instead, the Bill of Rights guarantees Americans something that its authors called “the free exercise” of religion.

It’s a significant choice of words, because it suggests a recognition that religious faith cannot be reduced to a purely private or individual affair. Most religious communities conceive of themselves as peoples or families, and the requirements of most faiths extend well beyond attendance at a sabbath service — encompassing charity and activism, education and missionary efforts, and other “exercises” that any guarantee of religious freedom must protect.

I cannot improve upon the way the first lady of the United States explained this issue, speaking recently to a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday,” Michelle Obama said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well … Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church. He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day.”

But Mrs. Obama’s words notwithstanding, there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today.

Read the whole thing here.