On the organization of the theological seminary at Princeton university in 1812, Dr. Archibald Alexander was unanimously chosen as the leading professor. As the number of students increased and other professors were added to the faculty, he was enabled to direct his attention more particularly to the department of pastoral and polemic theology. He labored with zeal and success within the halls of Christian academia till his death, a period of nearly forty years. His powers both for pulpit oratory and polemic exposition were considered extraordinary in his day. His work “Outlines of Moral Science” earned this praise from the Westminster Review: “a calm, clear stream of abstract reasoning, flowing from a thoughtful, well-instructed mind, without any parade of logic, but with an intuitive simplicity and directness which gives an almost axiomatic force.”
He had an exquisite intellect.
After Dr. Alexander had labored as a preacher of Christ for sixty years, and a professor of divinity for forty, he died on the 22nd October, 1851. On his death-bed, he was heard to say to a friend:
“All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass—Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.”
Moral of the story? Don’t be enamored with the great minds who may argue for or against Christianity. Be enamored with the sinless Savior who saves worthless sinners (2 Cor 5:21).
The glaring void of journalistic integrity in the media has manifested itself again.
Within hours of hearing the tragic news out of Norway, a diversion was quickly created to make the deranged attacks less about the dozens of young victims and more about an ideological war.
While some would point to the knee jerk Islamic terrorist reporting of many commentators, they are forgetting one important tidbit: Al Qaeda initially claimed full responsibility for the attacks although it was soon found out they were in no way involved. As they should have, most of the media denounced their own poor reporting skills which led them to jump the gun and convict the wrong perpetrators.
But in haste, the journalistic pendulum was swung the other way in order to pen the blame on the perceived greatest enemy of Western secularism: Conservative Christianity. Strangely enough, there were exactly zero fundamentalist conservative Christian groups applauding the awful massacre in Norway after it happened. You also will never find a militant Tea Party group in Idaho trying to claim the carnage of a suicide bombing in Pakistan. The media moral equivocation of Tea Parties and Islamic terrorism is laughable.
The Perfect Face of Terrorism
But in Anders Breivik, a softball was gently lobbed up to the medias liking, and in their hasty swinging true motives were laid bare.
A pasty white blue-eyed blonde haired Christian fundamentalist is just what they ordered. Just in time to discount the Tea Parties and Sarah Palin as similar extremist ilk. This act inexorably proves contemporary radical Islam is not alone in its propensity for horrific violence on a mass scale.
Breivik asserts that a majority of the atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians. This comes as a surprise to us all, I suppose. The key to understanding his manifesto, his mania and the confusion currently dominating news headlines lies in the reality that by “Christian” he almost always means “European.” In the massive introduction to his manifesto, for example, there is not a single quotation from Scripture, mention of the creeds, allusion to the Church or reference to Jesus Christ himself. And we learn, through the video he posted, that his heroes are not religious figures like Paul or Martin Luther but political figures like Charles Martel and Nicholas I.
Anders Breivik is a cultural fundamentalist. He is a European fundamentalist. But he disowns orthodox Christianity, and this makes it all the more ironic, and disgusting, that he saw himself as a kind of representative against threats to “Christendom.”
The Face of Christ-less Fundamentalism
Breivik is not a Christian fundamentalist. In fact, it should be crystal clear he doesn’t believe in any of the basic “fundamentals” of Christianity. He may be a cultural Christian sympathizer but he is by no means a born again blood bought believer. He may love the societal effects of Christendom on a nation, but he shuns a living personal relationship with Christianity’s founder.
Breivik admits this:
So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians? If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform.
Breivik uses religion as a convenient tool to build his case for ethnocentrism and twisted patriotism. He is a lone deranged crusader, and is not tied to any church or group of greater consequence.
He never once intimates biblical Christianity; where humble service, self sacrificial love, and committing swift violence against one’s own sins are the order of the day.
Surely, many atrocities have been committed by those with a Christian veneer; even more surely, Christ has the purchased forgiveness of all sins and atrocities through the cross, where the Father’s just wrath was poured out for twisted misguided sinners. Even those who have no business claiming His name.
Mr. Anders Breivik: Repent and believe the biblical gospel. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is your only hope in this world.
I’m always intrigued how art and popular culture use themes such as redemption and transcendence. This thread is most apparent in the movies.
Captain America, Batman, Harry Potter and all cultural blockbusters grapple with major philosophical concerns such as good vs. evil, justice, and sacrificial love. This is an undeniable God-planted yearning in the heart of every man, even those bred on the post modern values of Hollywood or Broadway. Many times in film and literature, the most hardened unbeliever, in creating his own art, will necessarily borrow from a worldview he scoffs at.
This Imageo Dei must make its way out in some way, even if inadvertently.
Tom, the lead character of Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie, knows of this internal groping. He wants more to life than his nightly routine of movie screening after another monotonous workday. He’s not buying what his culture is selling anymore.
“I’m tired of movies… Look at them! All of those glamorous people – having adventures – hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up! You know what happens? People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them! Yes, until there’s a war. That’s when adventure becomes available to the masses! Everyone’s dish, not only Gable’s! Then the people in the dark room come out of the dark room to have some adventure themselves Goody, goody! – It’s our turn now, to go to the South Sea Islands – to make a safari – to be exotic, far-off! – But I’m not patient. I don’t want to wait till then. I’m tired of the movies and I am about to move!”
Tom’s aching for self-actualization is misplaced. He knows he’s made for more than watching movies. But he deduces that means he should be the star and the center of the screenplay. As always there is a mixed bag of truth here for us.
People go to the movies instead of moving. I like the way Tom puts it. People go through the motions of life instead of living. The pit we can fall into is very similar. A self-professed Christian may go to church instead going out into the world. They sit in comfortable pews instead of reaching and loving until in hurts. They gaze into their narcissistic mirrors in preparation every morning instead of beholding the face of Christ in prayer and study. They watch T.V. programs about fictional families and friends instead of spending quality time with their own family and friends. In many ways, and many times quite literally, many of us go to the movies instead of moving.
Move Like An Illiterate Farm Girl
This trap of mere examination can be fallen into by philosophers, authors and theologians. G.K. Chesterton observes the common snare when comparing Joan of Arc to some of the respected thinkers of his day, Tolstoy and Nietzsche:
Joan of Arc….chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. I thought of all that was noble in Tolstoy, the pleasure in plain things, especially plain pity, the actualities in earth, the reverence of the poor, the dignity of the bowed back. Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find its secret…I thought of his (Nietzsche) cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their antagonistic ideals….she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing.
Unfortunately, I find a large portion of my life strongly parallels that of Nietzsche and Tolstoy rather than that of Joan of Arc. Many times I am no more than an onlooker in the spectator sport of careful scrutiny. The sad narrative may be that many 21st century cultural Christians do have more in common with an atheist philosopher than a fearless crusader and national hero. The dilemma for the elitist philosopher and peasant believer is one and the same: We have grown accustomed to going to movies instead of moving. Nietzsche had a belief system but it rarely compelled him to any valuable action (and when his belief system was really strictly adhered to in Nazi Germany it was ultimately exposed as the malicious sham it was).
Move Like A Nerdy British Boy With A Wand
An illiterate teenage farm girl is rebuke to all ivory tower speculators and intellectuals who talk much and do little. The same is true for our modern-day cultural icons. We don’t admire Harry Potter for his views on evolution or the string theory, we admire him for his fearless stand for justice in the face of utter darkness and evil.
What Harry is in fiction, the saints of God have been (and are) in fact.
Similarly, we may have a stalwart of good doctrine but no accompaniment of sound action. A Christian worldview means little if not lived out in view of the world.
You know, those inescapable elementary twin truths of “faith and works”.
I pray my theology has hands and feet.
And I pray I find myself swept up into the only real eternal drama of good vs. evil, justice, and sacrificial love. It’s not found in a nerdy teenager with a magic wand, or a cheesy grown man wearing red, white, and blue tights.
It’s found at the cross of Jesus Christ. Forevermore. There every knee, expression of art, and philosophical musing will bow in humble awestruck reverence and fascination.
Whether you’re a FSU fan or not, if the above vid doesn’t get your blood simmering for college football season then your testosterone levels are dangerously low. I don’t have an overly obsessive personality (compared to hoarders), but when college football comes around every fall my wife will attest to my meticulous devotion to the garnet & gold. I’ll just say I’m glad my sons were born in the Spring so we didn’t run into any game viewing issues during delivery.
If I had fathered a kid in the dynasty era (1987-200) I probably would have named him/her “Bobby” regardless of sex. I could make an open and shut case that Ron Simmons is the greatest college football defensive lineman AND professional wrestler you’ve never heard of.
I’m expecting FSU to have the best year it has had since the inception of the lost decade (where Jeff Bowden was given the reigns to OC in 2001). I do think one big game loss is on the slate for the Noles. Probably against OU at Doak in week 3. If Greg Reid learns he has arms for tackling and the Noles squeak by OU, I predict they will lose to Clemson the very next week in Death Valley. I don’t know why FSU allowed the ACC to schedule its two toughest games back to back like that. Regardless, FSU will probably meet Virginia Tech in another ACC Championship match up, which I believe they will win on the backs of an improved defense under Mark Stoops and a strong healthy Cam Newton clone (minus the laptop and wads of cash) named EJ Manuel.
I’m expecting solid but unspectacular seasons from FSU’s rivals, UM and UF. Both teams are chock-full of talent, but both teams are breaking in new coaching staffs and systems. Such processes take more than a year to gain championship results (see Saban at Alabama).
According to EA Sports FSU will meet Louisville in the Orange Bowl and win by a comfortable two touchdown margin.
Saturday in the fall is the only day I don’t have anything overtly school or football related to personally attend to, so I am grateful for my wife’s forbearance with my limited time during the fall, especially with a sport she doesn’t particularly care for.
So the countdown is on my fellow football fiends, and in no time we will be relishing the hilarious senile rantings of FSU grad and true American hero, Lee Corso. Obnoxious headdresses were never met with such early morning drunken frat boy jubilation. Little know fact: During his FSU football career, Lee Corso had an equally awesome teammate and friend by the name of Mr. Burt Reynolds. Just two more great reasons to be a diehard FSU fan.
But remember, when you’re digging out chicken wing skin from your belly button and you can’t explain why you’re being drawn to an uninspiring midnight West Coast game starring UNLV and Washington State: “We’re prepared for this. We’re tough enough for this. We deserve this!”
Fred Phelps and fam have stuck their attention-hungry grills back into the national spotlight. There used to be a consistent, albeit disgusting, message in the fam’s maniacal rantings and staged pickets. They first hated gays, then the military, then Billy Graham, then Barack Obama.
As time goes on, the incoherence of the Family’s rantings has probably risen with the senile Alzheimer-ridden state of Fred Phelps psyche.
Now the target of the Family Phelps’ venom is a dead…….family. Fred Teutenberg, 42, was reportedly trying to land the small Cessna C421 at the Demopolis Airport late Saturday night, with his wife Teresa and their 5 children onboard. The plane crashed in a heavily wooded area, killing all of them.
Five children. Tragically dead.
Daughter Emma, 2; son Peyton, 4; daughter Ellie, 6; son Brendon, 9; and son Will, 10.
They were from Niceville, Florida; which as far as Northwest Florida goes, is in my neck of the woods.
Niceville United Methodist Church, where Fred Teutenberg played in the worship band, is holding a memorial for the family tomorrow. By all accounts, they seemed to be a delightful family.
Now, even the shocking deaths of delightful young families receive the vitriolic ire of Phelps and clan. Religious depravity knows no bounds.
According to Westboro Baptist Church’s press release, Fred Phelps and fam have announced they will picket the funeral of those “killed in a plane crash by an angry God for the sins of a wicked nation.”
The press release also addresses the “fag-loving” residents of Florida who, according to Phelps, have done “rebellious deeds (institutionalizing sin with fag marriage, abortion, divorce, remarriage, etc.)”. Other than being hateful, ignorant and downright nauseating with their ungodly tactics, I guess one could add “lazy” to the indictments against the fam. If they had cared to research it for two seconds they would have seen Florida has never institutionalized gay marriage. Under current Florida law, same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are not recognized. Same-sex marriage and civil unions were constitutionally banned in Florida in November of 2008.
This betrays WBC’s true motives. Phelps and the fam doesn’t really care about picketing against gay marriage, the military, or young families. They don’t care about sin or sharing the gospel at all. They care about maximizing their platform for their own selfish, Pharisaic, anti-biblical purposes.
I hope some humble, firm, and righteous opposition rise up in Niceville’s church and military community that puts to shame the Phelps clan. I hope the endearing gospel light is shed brightly in the midst of their legalistic darkness. I hope God is glorified and the love of Christ is shared and known to all with an ear to hear it, even those misguided souls in the Phelps camp.
A grieving community needs balm for their wounds not salt.
Continue to pray for the extended Teutenberg family, Niceville community and Westboro Baptist Church.
UPDATE: Panama City’s Rock Station 97x stepped up and issued an invitation for a WBC representative to be a guest of the highly successful afternoon programming entitled “Afternoon Riot with Dr. Stroke and ShortBus” during the 5PM hour. The airtime was given to the group under the condition that they would not picket at the funeral of the Teutenberg family. They didn’t. This only confirms my suspicions that the WBC is only an attention hungry group of religious trolls. Phelps’s son led the fruitless hour of insults and shout matches.
Many pro-choicers claim no man should have an opinion on abortion since it only affects a woman and her body (I don’t agree with that). Many would add that no one should have an opinion unless they have had to raise a child with a genetic disorder that causes lifelong suffering (I don’t agree with that either). So here is a woman who exceeds both qualifications. I’ll let her eloquent appeal speak for itself:
I am so sorry that you received this news. Please know there are hundreds around you who have been in this same or a very similar position. We know the pain that facing this decision brings you. Many others before you have followed the advice of doctors, family, and friends to terminate such a pregnancy. I understand that the decision they make is almost always out of the highest love for their child and a desire to prevent suffering. I want to be very sensitive to that, but to also encourage you to look from a different point of view.
It seems to be a foregone conclusion in our culture that preventing suffering is the highest goal, but I think we lose sight of the fact that sometimes in our lives the greatest blessings come to us after we have gone through the greatest suffering. I was advised to terminate with two of my ARPKD daughters after their 20 week ultrasounds. The following weeks, months, and years have been difficult and even terrifying, but I am so glad that I did not follow my doctors’ advice. Yes, my daughters have suffered to some degree (though I know not as much as many other ARPKD kids do), but their pain and tears have grown them into strong little girls who do not take life or health for granted, and who know how to be thankful for the little things in life. They are more mature, more wise, more grateful, more loving, than so many other children their age who have always had “perfect” lives.
Children with special needs have a way of blessing and inspiring those around them too, in a way that healthy children never could. I know greater suffering probably lies ahead for our girls as we face esophageal bleeds and organ transplantation, but we have talked these things through with our oldest, and if my seven year old daughter can face these things with courage, then perhaps she doesn’t need to be shielded from the suffering, but only equipped to walk through it. Someday my girls will take the faith and the strength that they learned from their sufferings and use it to inspire and bless all those around them. It would have been great loss for all who know them to have ended their lives early.
I know that this is one of the most sensitive and personal topics. I pray that I do not sound judgmental in any way. I only mean to offer hope.
I am thankful for the composed thoughtful response of this mother.
But I don’t comprehend how values have gotten so twisted in our culture; Let’s try to explain this abortion reasoning to the unborn child: “You see, I didn’t want to see you suffer, so my only option was to murder you….”
Since when was murder no longer an extreme form of suffering?
I’m personally done mincing words with this tragic issue.
The culture of death must stop. Recent studies have shown an upwards of 90 % of down syndrome babies are aborted when diagnosed prenatally. The disgusting demonic doctrine of negative eugenics wasn’t just an historic aberration with the gas chambers of the Holocaust. The prejudiced science that made the concentration camps so horrific still maintains a stronghold in American thought and politics.
Yet God can turn the crimson tide of innocent blood with the blood of His own dear Son.
So I’m sorrowful yet hopeful. And still pleading the blood of Christ which speaks better things on our behalf (Hebrews 12:24).
Our only pet cat was an “outside” calico breed named Tramp. She was the neighborhood pet bully, backhanding all rival puppies and felines off our property line. Tramp frequently left a sacrificial squirrel or blue jay offering on our back deck too. I steered clear of her, if you endeavored to pet her you may be given a cute purr or an ankle mauling in return.
Giving Tramp affection was like playing Russian roulette. Cats are unpredictable little beasts. They would probably eat their owner alive if they were a more delectable hobbit size.
I’ve heard the distinction between cats and dogs put in theological terms: Cats say, “You love me, you feed me, you take care of all my needs; I must be God.” Dogs say, “You love me, you feed me, you take care of all my needs; You must be God.”