Monday, September 30, 2013

Tozer: Victory through defeat

On Facebook I've been posting excerpts from A. W. Tozer's The Pursuit of Man. I'm continuing that series here. The following is from chapter 4: Victory through Defeat. Tozer's basic point in this chapter is that we must be conquered by the cross and know death thereon, before we can truly know life.

We might well pray for God to invade and conquer us, for until He does we remain in peril from a thousand foes. We bear within us the seeds of our own disintegration. Our moral imprudence puts us always in danger of accidental or reckless self-destruction. The strength of our flesh is an ever present danger to our souls. Deliverance can come to us only by the defeat of our old life. Safety and peace come only after we have been forced to our knees. God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance. Then He invades our natures with that ancient and eternal life which is from the beginning. So He conquers us and by that benign conquest saves us for Himself.

With this open secret awaiting easy discovery, why do we in almost all our busy activities work in another direction from this? Why do we build our churches on human flesh? Why do we set such store by that which the Lord has long ago repudiated and despise those things which God holds in such high esteem? For we teach men not to die with Christ but to live in the strength of their dying manhood. We boast not in our weakness but in our strength. Values which Christ has declared to be false are brought back into evangelical favor and promoted as the very life and substance of the Christian way. How eagerly do we seek the approval of this or that man of worldly reputation. How shamefully do we exploit the converted celebrity. Anyone will do to take away the reproach of obscurity from our publicity-hungry leaders: famous athletes, congressmen, world travelers, rich industrialists; before such we bow with obsequious smiles and honor them in our public meetings and in the religious press. Thus we glorify men to enhance the standing of the Church of God, and the glory of the Prince of Life is made to hang upon the transient fame of a man who shall die. . . .

. . . The loss, the rejection, the shame, both belong to Christ and to all who in very truth are His. The cross that saves them also slays them them, and anything short of this is pseudo-faith and not true faith at all. . . . How can we face Him who was crucified and slain when we see His followers accepted and praised? . . .

. . . [I]f I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a bright new ornament upon the bosom of self-assured and carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel, but whose voice is the voice of Cain. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter. The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross; before the cross it bows  and toward the cross it points with carefully staged histrionics--but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of that cross it stubbornly refuses to bear. . . .

. . . The life that halts short of the cross is but a fugitive and condemned thing, doomed at last to be beyond recovery. That life which goes to the cross and loses itself there to rise again with Christ is a divine and breathless treasure. Over it death hath no more dominion. . . .

Friday, September 6, 2013

Our President

President Obama stumbles from scandal to crisis. The unifying theme is that each is self-inflicted. The high-flying rhetoric is freighted with too much duplicity to get airborne. The hubris has come home to roost. Mocked abroad, distrusted at home, a disappointment to his supporters, a lawless Chicago con to his detractors, there's not a great deal he can do for an encore.

He is, in my opinion, a clear and present danger to our constitutional republic. Under Obama we have lost the rule of law and transitioned to the rule of something that bears more resemblence to a monarchy (to put the best light on it) than that of a chief executive beholden to a constitution and a tripartite division of federal power. Under Obama, the federal government now has a collective integrity that approximates something between pre-Katrina Louisiana and New Jersey.

The Justice Department has become the chief threat to justice, the EPA is a regulatory monster, the Education Department is the main obstacle to providing a real education in our schools (okay, hold the phone on that charge, that's been true in every administration), the IRS has been transformed into a political club with which to beat opponents of the President, the NSA has all the trappings of the prelude to a police state, and the Constitution has become the deadest "living document" you can imagine. And that's not even mentioning the confusion, uncertainty, and destruction he has wrought on American healthcare, nor the devastation his policies have worked on our economy. I suppose that the one thing I can say about him is that he is quite thorough.

And now he's driven his golf-cart into a box canyon called Syria, and there's no way out. As Victor Davis Hanson says, he has no good options. Some men make history by their leadership through the crises of their times. President Obama is about to make history, but unfortunately it will not be skilled leadership for which he will be remembered.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Review: The Facts on Roman Catholicism

John Ankerberg's The Facts on Roman Catholicism, is part of Ankerberg’s series on various religions and religious topics. It is very readable, very brief (86 pages of text, not including footnotes), and very well documented. The bad reviews it receives on Amazon are primarily from Catholics, who object to--and in some cases, demonstrate--the points that Ankerberg makes.

Ankerberg compares and contrasts the Bible and the official beliefs of Roman Catholicism in five sections: Divine Revelation and Authority, Introduction to Roman Catholicism, Salvation and Justification, the Roles of the Bible, the Pope, and Mary, and a Conclusion.

In each section, Ankerberg cites official Roman Catholic documents to establish the Catholic position, and then compares it to the Bible. Central to his argument, especially the section on Justification, is the charge that while Protestants and Catholics share the the same terminology—such as “justification”—what they mean by those terms is entirely different. Ankerberg clearly shows that the Catholic notion of salvation is wrapped up in works and personal (albeit, “infused”) righteousness.

This is a good, brief resource for those seeking clarification about Catholic beliefs, especially as they contrast with biblical teaching.