Guillotined for His Faith

“People want to observe Christians who have taken a stand in the contemporary world, Christians who live amid all of the darkness with clarity, insight, and conviction, Christians who live with the purest peace of mind, courage, and dedication amid the absence of peace and joy, amidst the self-seeking and the hatred. People are looking for Christians who are not like a wavering reed that is pushed back and forth by every light breeze, for Christians who ask primarily about the teaching of Christ and our faith, Christians who do not watch to see how their associates will respond to this or that point. If signposts are set in the ground so loosely that they can be turned by every wind and as a result, point in this direction and then in that direction, is someone for whom the way is unfamiliar able to find the right path?

-Franz Jägerstätter, Notebook 3, p. 211

Franz Jägerstätter (1907-43) was executed by the Nazi Regime on August 9, 1943 for refusing to take the oath of combat and fight for the Third Reich. He refused to “compromise his Christian faith by serving what he considered [to be] an evil leader, Hitler, and a warring state that was pillaging, ravaging, and destroying human lives.”

-Kidder, Annemarie. Ed., Ultimate Price: Testimonies of Christians Who Resisted the Third Reich, pp. 34; 46

Do We Dare Defend Our Rights?

Awesome post from Collin Hansen on the Christian and political involvement. Very timely as we see politics dominating the American public forum as we approach the fall elections. Full post here:

Here’s an excerpt:

“…Those of us who live in democracies give thanks that we can be involved in the political process and shape policies out of love for our neighbors.

But we seem to be fighting a losing cause of late, at least in theUnited States. Our vision for the common good is being eclipsed by a new order that seems not to understand Western culture’s debt to the Christian vision for humanity.

Contrary to appearances, this new vision does not support a “live and let live” ethic. Religion continues its centuries-long retreat into the private sphere. Christians replace gays in the closet. Our future feels tenuous, so we appeal to help from the state. But we haven’t yet determined if the state is friend or foe.

“For democracies, like all governments, are based on affirming and supporting certain values and visions of reality, and proscribing others,” D. A. Carson writes in his new bookThe Intolerance of Tolerance. “But when the values and visions of reality that sustained such democracies in the past shrivel away, in the domains where the shriveling takes place the only über-value is the new tolerance, backed up by the coercive power of the state.”

We may have only a few reasons for optimism about the difference we can make in coming days. But neither should we fall prey to faithless pessimism. Though embattled, thousands of evangelical churches thrive across the country. We can learn from the example of congregations worldwide that maintain a vigorous witness where Christian rights have been restricted most severely.

Or we can look back to the body of beleaguered believers encouraged thus by the apostle Peter: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

Though slandered and scattered, these believers trusted that God would glorify himself among unbelievers through their good deeds and patient endurance. That’s the ethic captured in The Gospel Coalition’s Theological Vision for Ministry. Notably, this document says nothing about our rights. But it does hold out hope for significant cultural influence if we seek service rather than power. And it warns, “But if we seek direct power and social control, we will, ironically, be assimilated into the very idolatries of wealth, status, and power we seek to change.”

We dare not defend our rights if this defense assimilates us into the culture of ressentiment [sic]. State-sanctioned persecution would be a better fate.

But there is a better way, laid out by Carsonat the end of The Intolerance of Tolerance. Let us practice civility toward our neighbors, believers or not. Preach the gospel and watch seeds of faith sprout. Be prepared to suffer—“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

All the while, trust and delight in God. No one can snatch your joy from the Father’s hand. But you can squander divine delight and squelch the witness of the Spirit by fighting for your rights while forgetting the sovereign Creator who endows them.”

-Collin Hansen, 03-01-2012

Love for Jesus

“Christ Jesus is the life of all the graces and comforts of a Christian in this world. By the knowledge and contemplation of Him, and of His death in our stead, faith lives, and is strengthened from day to day; all the springs of repentance are opened, and flow freely, when the heart is melted by views of a dying Savior; love feels the attractive power of its glorious object, and is kindled into a holy flame; sin is mortified; the world is subdued; and the hope of future glory is supported, enlivened, and confirmed, so as to be sure and steadfast, like an anchor of the soul. But without Him, whom having not seen we love, these graces would wither and die, or, to speak more properly, they would have no existence.”

-John Fawcett, Christ Precious to Those That Believe: A Practical Treatise on Faith and Love, 5

Music as Pedagogy in the Church Part. 1

“Like it or not, today’s songwriters are teachers too. Many of the lyrics they are writing will soon be far more deeply and permanently ingrained in the minds of Christians than anthing they hear their pastors teach from the pulpit. How many songwriters are skilled enough in theology and Scripture to qualify for such a vital role in the catechesis of our people?”

–John MacArthur, Joni Eareckson Tada, Robert and Bobbie Wolgemuth, O Worship the King, pp. 12-13

Problem of Evil

“If you sense that as you answer your theological question your reach exceeds your grasp, there is good chance that you are talking about God.”

“We don’t know. The fall and its consequences are like a misshaped jigsaw puzzle piece. No matter how hard we twist and cram, we can’t fit its angular and grotesque form into our picture of God. It’s not supposed to fit, because it’s the fall. The fall is evil, and for that reason it should never make sense. As Cornelius Plantinga Jr. explains in his breviary of sin, the fall and its devastating effects are simply ‘not the way it’s supposed to be.’ The fall and its consequences are damnable, tragic, and out of sync with what even our hearts tell us of a life of love, joy, and peace should be like. If we could ever wrap our minds around evil and declare, ‘I get it now! I understand why the fall occurred and why God allows everlasting torment in hell,’ we would only prove that we are no longer talking about evil. We would be chattering about a weak, domesticated evil, a superficial evil that makes sense only because of our foolish belief that if we can somehow identify it, understand it, and limit it we can then deal with it–apart from God.”

“When it comes to the problem of evil–If God is all-powerful and all good, why is there evil?–we must choose whether we are going to loosen up one of God’s perfections–usually his power–to explain the existence of evil. Many people say that God does not want evil but he risked it when he granted us freedom. There is truth in this–God does not desire evil and we are genuinely free–but the situation is undoubtedly more complex If we solves the problem of evil by saying the omnipotent God cannot guarantee what his creatures freely choose, then we have saddled ourselves with an even larger God problem. Better to believe that God is all-powerful and all-loving and wrestle with evil than to weaken one aspect of God to make room for evil.”

Michael E. Wittmer, Christ Alone, 2011, pp 12-14

Tolkien on Sex

“The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favorite subject,”

“He is as good every bit at catching you through generous romantic or tender motives, as through baser or more animal ones.”

“Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify and direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him–as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state, as it provides easements. No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), courtesy of Dr. Albert Mohler