Archives for November 2007
Olasky provocatively raises the issue of Pakistan–where both democracy and liberty are in short supply:
“Pro-American dictator or anti-American democracy? That’s the choice in Pakistan now, where President (and top general) Pervez Musharraf has suspended his country’s constitution, fired the country’s chief justice, and shut down nongovernmental television stations. He said that had he not acted, Islamist extremists would have taken over the country.”
Olasky suggests that the U.S. finds itself in this position because it prioritized the advocacy of democracy over the advocacy of liberty. He explains that lack of liberty has had devastating effects for Muslim nations:
“Lack of liberty within Islam contributed to its centuries of decline in many ways. The Ottoman Empire banned printing presses for Muslims in 1485, which meant that many in Europe enjoyed a knowledge explosion and many Muslims did not. Ever since then Islam has been on a geopolitical losing streak. Now, the 57 majority-Muslim countries contain 1.4 billion people, but half of them are illiterate. Those countries contain 57 universities, compared to 5,000-plus in the United States. Western nations spend 5 percent of their GDP on producing knowledge, Muslim countries 0.2 percent.”
And Pakistan is another casualty. Olasky argues that U.S. foreign policy must include the passionate promotion of religious and intellectual liberty, because mere democracy apart from genuine freedom will nevertheless breed economic stagnation and the exportation of hostility.
Read the whole thing. (You may need to have a World magazine subscription — which is well worth it.)
John Piper responds to prominent atheist Christopher Hitchens and (retired) Bishop John Shelby Spong of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. Upshot:
You both seem to assume that the affection of gratitude is puerile and unsatisfying—something we need to grow out of if we would be deeply joyful and useful people. Presumably you feel that way because, in your experience, being self-sufficient and being thanked is more satisfying than feeling dependent and thankful. I have tasted this pleasure you seem to prefer. It is the pleasure of power—the pleasure of being above others so that they must give you thanks rather than the other way around.
This is what Jesus warned against when he said, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors” (Luke 22:25). “Benefactors”—people who don’t want to say thank you to others, but like it when people say thank you to them. Your discomfort with gratitude—your sense that it is an unhappy and dissatisfying disposition—is not auspicious for your souls. It is very dangerous.
May I humbly invite you, and others you have influenced, into the lowly ranks of the dependent, thankful, happy, children of the living God on this Thanksgiving Day. There is great grace. Great forgiveness. All-supplying mercy. All-satisfying Beauty. Inexhaustible wisdom. It is all in Jesus Christ. And it lasts forever. May we say together, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable Gift.”
Read the whole thing.
This ad will air in Iowa starting tomorrow. Recent polls (immediately before Thanksgiving) showed Huckabee in a statistical dead heat with Gov. Romney for first place in Iowa, and tied for second place nationally among likely Republican primary voters.
Also: Randy Alcorn on why he supports Huckabee and why he wrote a letter to the NRLC protesting their decision to endorse Senator Thompson.
Francis Schaeffer argued that “at its core, the Reformation was the removing of the humanistic distortions which had entered the church.” Schaeffer explains:
…The Christianity of the Reformation, therefore, stood in rich contrast to the basic weakness and final poverty of the humanism which existed in that day and the humanism which has existed since.
It is important that the Bible sets forth true knowledge about mankind. The biblical teaching gives meaning to all particulars, but this is especially so in regard to that particular which is the most important to man, namely, the individual himself or herself. It gives a reason for the individual being great. The ironic fact here is that humanism, which began with Man’s being central, eventually had no real meaning for people. On the other hand, if one begins with the Bible’s position that a person is created by God and created in the image of God, there is a basis for that person’s dignity. People, the Bible teaches, are made in the image of God — they are nonprogrammed. Each is thus Man with dignity.
That Man is made in the image of God gives many important answers intellectually, but it also has had vast practical results, both in the Reformation days and in our own age. For example, in the time of the Reformation it meant that all the vocations of life came to have dignity. The vocation of honest merchant or housewife had as much dignity as king. This was strengthened further by the emphasis on the biblical teaching of the priesthood of all believers — that is, that all Christians are priests. Thus, in a very real sense, all people are equal as persons. Moreover, the government of the church by lay elders created the potential for democratic emphasis.
The Bible, however, also says that man is fallen; he has revolted against God. At the historic space-time Fall, man refused to stand in the proper relationship with this infinite reference point which is the personal God. Therefore, people are now abnormal. The Reformation saw all people as equal in this way, too — all are guilty before God. This is as true of the king and queen as the peasant. So, in contrast to the humanism of the Renaissance, which never gave an answer to explain that which is observable in people, the Bible enabled people to solve the dilemma facing them as they look at themselves: they could understand both their greatness and their cruelty.
This video has almost 300,000 views in its first 24 hours of existence.