It is Possible

It seems that sides are being taken up, but I’m refusing to be a part of it.

It is possible to think this: that to bring refugees who are adherents of Islam (which is by design a violent religion) into Canada is a very bad idea. I think it is a very bad idea.

It is also possible to believe: that it is a cynical political ploy of of leaders in government to mask this immigration as “compassion.” I have no reason to think otherwise.

It is also possible, probably necessary, to know: that violence and terror will get into Canada, and be carried out here. I am afraid this will happen–this is the direction of history.

Again, it is also possible, while holding all of the above, to know: a number (small or large, majority or minority, I don’t know) of refugees are truly in need and escaping for their lives.

It is possible to be fully conscious of these things, and even to disapprove of our government’s actions, and yet also accept that nothing happens outside the will of God, and that He has written the end of this story. Whether or not we approve of it, the mission has arrived in Canada.

It is possible, at the same time and in the same head, to be skeptical of motives, cynical, fearful, concerned, realistic, angry, sympathetic, welcoming, loving, and Gospel-preaching. For this is the mind of the Christian.

I see no need to sign petitions welcoming or refusing refugees. Just be Christian, no matter what comes.

“But Church is Boring!”

Tozer

Religious Boredom

A. W. Tozer

THAT THERE IS SOMETHING gravely wrong with evangelical Christianity today is not likely to be denied by any serious minded person acquainted with the facts. Just what is wrong is not so easy to determine.

In examining the situation myself I find nature and reason in conflict within me, for I tend by temperament to want to settle everything with a sweep of the pen. But reason advises caution; nothing is that simple, and we must be careful to distinguish cause from effect. As every doctor knows there is a wide difference between the disease and the symptoms; and every Christian knows that there is a big difference between cause and effect in the sphere of religion.

At the root of our spiritual trouble lie a number of causes and these causes have effects, but which is cause and which effect is not always known. I suspect that many things currently under attack by our evangelists and pastors (and editors, for that matter) are not the causes of our troubles but the effects of causes that lie deeper. We treat the symptoms and wonder why the patient does not get well. Or, to change the figure, we lay down a heavy fire against nothing more substantial than the cloud of dust raised by marching enemy troops long gone by.

One mark of the low state of affairs among us is religious boredom. Whether this is a thing in itself or merely a symptom of the thing, I do not know for sure, though I suspect that it is the latter. And that it is found to some degree almost everywhere among Christians is too evident to be denied.

Boredom is, of course, a state of mind resulting from trying to maintain an interest in something that holds no trace of interest for us (the boss’s jokes, say, or that lecture on the care and nurture of dahlias to which we went because we could not resist the enthusiastic urging of a friend). No one is bored by what he can in good conscience walk away from. Boredom comes when a man must try to hear with relish what for want of relish he hardly hears at all.

By this definition there is certainly much boredom in religion these days. The businessman on a Sunday morning whose mind is on golf can scarcely disguise his lack of interest in the sermon he is compelled to hear. The housewife who is unacquainted with the learned theological or philosophical jargon of the speaker; the young couple who feel a tingle of love for each other but who neither love nor know the One about whom the choir is singing-these cannot escape the low-grade mental pain we call boredom while they struggle to keep their attention focused upon the service. All these are too courteous to admit to others that they are bored and possibly too timid to admit it even to themselves, but I believe that a bit of candid confession would do us all good.

When Moses tarried in the mount, Israel became bored with the faith that sees the invisible and clamored for a god they could see and touch. And they displayed a great deal more enthusiasm for the golden calf than they did over the Lord God of Abraham. Later they tired of manna and complained against the monotony of their diet. On their petulant insistence they finally got flesh to eat, and that to their own undoing.

Those Christians who belong to the evangelical wing of the church (which I firmly believe is the only one that even approximates New Testament Christianity) have over the last half-century shown an increasing impatience with things invisible and eternal and have demanded and got a host of things visible and temporal to satisfy their fleshly appetites. Without Biblical authority, or any other right under the sun, carnal religious leaders have introduced a host of attractions that serve no purpose except to provide entertainment for the retarded saints.

It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.

This has influenced the whole pattern of church life, and even brought into being a new type of church architecture, designed to house the golden calf.

So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed and heterodoxy in practice. The striped-candy technique has been so fully integrated into our present religious thinking that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

Any objection to the carryings on of our present golden-calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning them!” And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ? Of course the answer to all these questions is no.

We are paying a frightful price for our religious boredom. And that at the moment of the world’s mortal peril.”

"But Church is Boring!"

Tozer

Religious Boredom

A. W. Tozer

THAT THERE IS SOMETHING gravely wrong with evangelical Christianity today is not likely to be denied by any serious minded person acquainted with the facts. Just what is wrong is not so easy to determine.

In examining the situation myself I find nature and reason in conflict within me, for I tend by temperament to want to settle everything with a sweep of the pen. But reason advises caution; nothing is that simple, and we must be careful to distinguish cause from effect. As every doctor knows there is a wide difference between the disease and the symptoms; and every Christian knows that there is a big difference between cause and effect in the sphere of religion.

At the root of our spiritual trouble lie a number of causes and these causes have effects, but which is cause and which effect is not always known. I suspect that many things currently under attack by our evangelists and pastors (and editors, for that matter) are not the causes of our troubles but the effects of causes that lie deeper. We treat the symptoms and wonder why the patient does not get well. Or, to change the figure, we lay down a heavy fire against nothing more substantial than the cloud of dust raised by marching enemy troops long gone by.

One mark of the low state of affairs among us is religious boredom. Whether this is a thing in itself or merely a symptom of the thing, I do not know for sure, though I suspect that it is the latter. And that it is found to some degree almost everywhere among Christians is too evident to be denied.

Boredom is, of course, a state of mind resulting from trying to maintain an interest in something that holds no trace of interest for us (the boss’s jokes, say, or that lecture on the care and nurture of dahlias to which we went because we could not resist the enthusiastic urging of a friend). No one is bored by what he can in good conscience walk away from. Boredom comes when a man must try to hear with relish what for want of relish he hardly hears at all.

By this definition there is certainly much boredom in religion these days. The businessman on a Sunday morning whose mind is on golf can scarcely disguise his lack of interest in the sermon he is compelled to hear. The housewife who is unacquainted with the learned theological or philosophical jargon of the speaker; the young couple who feel a tingle of love for each other but who neither love nor know the One about whom the choir is singing-these cannot escape the low-grade mental pain we call boredom while they struggle to keep their attention focused upon the service. All these are too courteous to admit to others that they are bored and possibly too timid to admit it even to themselves, but I believe that a bit of candid confession would do us all good.

When Moses tarried in the mount, Israel became bored with the faith that sees the invisible and clamored for a god they could see and touch. And they displayed a great deal more enthusiasm for the golden calf than they did over the Lord God of Abraham. Later they tired of manna and complained against the monotony of their diet. On their petulant insistence they finally got flesh to eat, and that to their own undoing.

Those Christians who belong to the evangelical wing of the church (which I firmly believe is the only one that even approximates New Testament Christianity) have over the last half-century shown an increasing impatience with things invisible and eternal and have demanded and got a host of things visible and temporal to satisfy their fleshly appetites. Without Biblical authority, or any other right under the sun, carnal religious leaders have introduced a host of attractions that serve no purpose except to provide entertainment for the retarded saints.

It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.

This has influenced the whole pattern of church life, and even brought into being a new type of church architecture, designed to house the golden calf.

So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed and heterodoxy in practice. The striped-candy technique has been so fully integrated into our present religious thinking that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

Any objection to the carryings on of our present golden-calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning them!” And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ? Of course the answer to all these questions is no.

We are paying a frightful price for our religious boredom. And that at the moment of the world’s mortal peril.”

Peace, Affluence, and Liberty Compromised

Schaeffer on affluence

The largest block of people are those who in the 1970s were called the “silent majority.” They are the majority in the United States, England and many other countries. They can elect whomever they will under our present democratic voting procedures.
These, however, must be clearly understood to consist of two unequal parts: (1) the Christians, standing in the stream of historic Christianity, living under the propositional revelation of God as He has spoken in the Bible, and therefore having absolutes; and (2) the majority of what was called the silent majority, who are living on the memory of the practical advantages that Christian culture gave, but without a base for these advantages. Their values are affluence (they are practical materialists) and personal peace at any price. Having no base, no absolutes, most of them will compromise liberty if they are finally forced to choose between their affluence and personal peace on the one hand and giving up a piece of liberty on the other. They are no closer to the true Christian than was the hippie community and the New Left. In fact, they are probably further away, for they have no values that deserve the name values. Affluence and personal peace at any price as the controlling factors of life are as ugly as anything could be.

Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, vol. 4 (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 28–29.

Duty is Subordinate

 

Baxter on duty

“2. It is not a note of a legalist neither: it hath been the ground of a multitude of late mistakes in divinity, to think that ‘Do this and live,’ is only the language of the covenant of works. It is true, in some sense it is; but in other, not. The law of works only saith, ‘Do this,’ that is, perfectly fulfil the whole law, ‘and live,’ that is, for so doing: but the law of grace saith, ‘Do this and live’ too; that is, believe in Christ, seek him, obey him sincerely, as thy Lord and King; forsake all, suffer all things, and overcome; and by so doing, or in so doing, as the conditions which the Gospel propounds for salvation, you shall live. If you set up the abrogated duties of the law again, you are a legalist: if you set up the duties of the Gospel in Christ’s stead, in whole or in part, you err still. Christ hath his place and work; duty hath its place and work too: set it but in its own place, and expect from it but its own part, and you go right; yea, more, how unsavoury soever the phrase may seem, you may, so far as this comes to, trust to your duty and works; that is, for their own part; and many miscarry in expecting no more from them, as to pray, and to expect nothing the more, that is, from Christ, in a way of duty: for if duty have no share, why may we not trust Christ, as well in a way of disobedience as duty? In a word, you must both use and trust duty in subordination to Christ, but neither use them nor trust them in co-ordination with him. So that this derogates nothing from Christ: for he hath done, and will do all his work perfectly, and enable his people to do theirs: yet he is not properly said to do it himself; he believes not, repents not, &c., but worketh these in them: that is, enableth and exciteth them to do it. No man must look for more from duty than God hath laid upon it; and so much we may and must.”

Richard Baxter and William Orme, The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, vol. 22 (London: James Duncan, 1830), 32–34.