Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Footnote on no religion and its effects on the French Revolution

The following is from a lengthy footnote in a history book I have. Tell me if you see any parallels to America today.

*On the demoralizing effects of infidelity, and to show what would be the result of throwing off the salutary restraints of religion in this country, we quote a few paragraphs from ‘Dick on the Improvement of Society,' a cheap and valuable work, worthy of universal perusal. Without revealed religion ‘the present world would be considered as the only scene of action and enjoyment; the hope of immortality, which supports and gladdens the pious mind, would be exterminated, and every thing beyond the shadow of death involved in gloom and uncertainty. The only true principles of moral action, which revealed religion inculcates, being overlooked or discarded, every one would consider himself as at liberty to act according as his humor and passions might dictate; and in such a case, a scene of selfishness, rapacity, and horror would quickly ensue, which would sap the foundations of social order, and banish happiness from the codes of men.

‘That these are not imaginary forebodings might be illustrated from the scenes which were lately exhibited in a neighboring nation. The first revolution in France, in 1789, was a revolution not merely in politics and government, but in religion, in manners, in moral principle, and in the common feelings of human nature. Revelation was not only impugned, but entirely set aside; the Deity was banished from the universe and an imaginary phantom, under the name of the Goddess of Reason, substituted in his place. Every thing was reduced to a system of pure materialism; the celestial spark of intelligence within us was assimilated to a piece of rude matter, and the fair prospects of immortality which Christianity presents transformed into the gloom of an eternal night. Every precious standard of morals was discarded; every one was left to act as selfishness, avarice, and revenge might dictate; religion of every description fled from the torch of the prevailing philosophy; while “justice and morality” were proclaimed as the “order of the day,” every moral principle and every humane feeling, was trampled under foot. It is stated on good authority, that a little before the revolution, a numerous assembly of French literati, being asked, in turn, at one of their meetings by the president, “whether there was any such thing as moral obligation,” answered in every instance that there was not. Soon after- that revolution the great body of French infidels, who then ruled the nation, not only denied all the obligations which bind us to truth, justice, and kindness, but pitied and despised as a contemptible wretch, the man who believed in their existence. Atheism was publicly preached, and its monstrous doctrines disseminated among the mass of the people, an occurrence altogether novel in the history of man. A professor was even named by Chaumette, to instruct the children of the state in the mysteries of atheism. De la Metherie , the author of a philosophical journal, when discussing the doctrine of crystallization, made the wild and hideous assertion, “that the highest and most perfect form of crystallization is that which is vulgarly called God.” In the national convention, Gobet; archbishop of Paris, the rector Vangirard, and several other priests, abjured the Christian religion ; and for this abjuration they received applauses and the fraternal kiss. A priest from Melun stated , that there is no true religion but that of nature, and that all the mummery with which they had hitherto been amused is only old wives' fables; and hew was heard with loud applause. The Convention decreed, that “all the churches and temples of religious worship known to be in Paris should be instantly shut up, and that every person requiring the opening of a church or temple should be put under arrest, as a suspected person, and an enemy to the state.” The carved work of all religious belief and moral practice was boldly cut down by Carnot, Robespierre, and their atheistical associates, and the following inscription was ordered to be displayed in all the public burying grounds—“Death is only an eternal sleep;” so that the dying need no longer be afraid to step out of existence. Nature was investigated by these pretended philosophers only with a view to darken the mind, to prevent mankind from considering any thing as real but what the hand could grasp or the corporeal eye perceive, and to subvert the established order of society.

‘The consequence of the operation of such principles were such as might have been expected. They are written in characters of blood, and in crimes almost unparalleled in the history of nations. A scene of inhumanity, cruelty, cold-blooded malignity, daring impiety, and insatiable rapacity was presented to the world, which excited in the mind of every virtuous spectator amazement and horror. Savage atrocities were perpetrated which would have been shocking in the most barbarous and unenlightened age; and perhaps, at no era has there been more wretchedness occasioned by licentious principles and moral degeneracy. The ties of friendship were cut asunder, the claims of consanguinity disregarded, and a cold-blooded selfishness pervaded the great mass of society. “The kingdom appeared to be changed into one great prison, the inhabitants converted into felons, and the common doom of man commuted for the violence of the sword, and the bayonet, and the stroke of the guillotine." Such was the rapidity with which the work of destruction was carried on, that within the short space of ten years, not less than three millions of human beings (one-half more than the whole population of Scotland) are supposed to have perished in that country alone, chiefly through the influence of immoral principles, and the seductions of a false philosophy. The following is a brief sketch of some of the scenes to which we allude, drawn by one who was an eye witness of the whole, and an actor in several parts of that horrid drama. “There were,” says the writer, “multiplied cases of suicide ; prisons crowded with innocent persons; permanent guillotines; perjuries of all classes; parental authority put at naught; debauchery encouraged by an allowance to those called unmarried mothers; nearly six thousand divorces in the city of Paris within a little more than two years; in a word, whatever is most obscene in vice and most dreadful in ferocity.”

Notwithstanding the incessant shouts of “Liberty and equality," and the boasted illuminations of philosophy, the most barbarous persecutions were carried on against those whose religious opinions differed from the system adopted by the state. While infidelity was enthroned in power, it wielded the sword of power with infernal ferocity against the priests of the Romish church, who were butchered wherever found, hunted as wild beasts, frequently roasted alive, or drowned in hundreds together, without either accusation or trial. At Nantes, no less than three hundred and sixty priests were shot, and four hundred and sixty drowned. In one night, fifty-eight were shut up in a barge, and drowned in the Loire. Two hundred and ninety-two priests were massacred during the bloody scenes of the 10th of August and 2d of September, l792; and eleven hundred and thirty-five were guillotined under the government of the national convention, from the month of September, 1792 till the end of 1795, besides vast numbers, hunted by the infidel republicans, like owls and partridges, who perished in different ways, throughout the provinces of France.

Such were some of the dismal effects which flowed from the attempts to banish religion from science, from government, and from the intercourses and employments of society. Were such principles universally to prevail, the world would soon become one vast theatre of mischief and misery—an immense den of thieves and robbers—a sink of moral pollution—a scene of impiety, injustice, rapine, and devastation ; a Golgotha, strewed with carcasses and “dead men’s bones.” All confidence and friendship between intelligent beings would be destroyed; the dearest and most venerable relations would be violated by incestuous pollutions; appetite would change every man into a swine, and passion into a tiger; jealousy, distrust, revenge, murder, war, and rapine would overspread the earth, and a picture of hell would be presented wherever the eye roamed over the haunts of men."

The above passage is a footnote in Book of the United States, Grenville Mellen, ed. (Hartford: H. Frederick Sumner, 1842), 449-451. I believe the book from which they quote a few paragraphs, 'Dick on the Improvement of Society' was published in 1833.

Getting a little too close to home, isn’t it?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Excellent teaching video dealing with OSAS

Wow. This teaching is powerful. He compares the teachings of Jesus directly against popular OSAS folks such as John Calvin, Charles Stanley, Charles Swindoll, and John MacArthur. If you are a fan of these teachers, you owe it to yourself to compare what they say against Scripture.
This is Scripture based teaching. Joe makes an interesting comparison of the lies of Satan with OSAS claims.

Joe Schimmel: The Great Deception—Once Saved, Always Saved

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I don't expect Jesus to lie for me

I called my blog Phillipians 4:8 because I think it captures much of what I hope characterizes the content of my blog. I'm certainly not claiming that I am always true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. But Christ is and I'm counting on Him to be my advocate when I have to stand before God someday.

I don't expect Jesus to lie for me though, so I'm depending on Him to change me and make me like Him. He needs to teach me how to die to self and live for God our Heavenly Father. Thanfully, He hasn't left me alone in this struggle though. He's given me His Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, to lead me, convict me, guide me, and reveal truth to me. He's also given me other brothers and sisters in Christ who I can learn from and grow with. It's a great deal! I give up my life (which I have already messed up) in exchange for Jesus Christ's life which He lived perfectly. He's true, He's noble, He's right, He's lovely, He's admirable, He's excellent, and He's praiseworthy. Think about Him.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Phillipians 4:8 (NIV)

P.S. Maybe when I'm standing before God with Jesus as my advocate, He'll simply tell the Father, "This is James. He trusted me and abided in me. He's family."

Is it reasonable to assume a true Christian can never fall away from the faith?

These are just a few thoughts I've had on the subject of once saved always saved, eternal security, apostasy, and numerous warnings that we see in Scripture about falling away or departing from the faith. I have a feeling this will generate some comments. I know there are very sincere believers on both sides of this doctrinal issue. If you come from the "once saved, always saved" position, I highly recommend that you read the book Life in the Son by Robert Shank. It is EXCELLENT and worthwhile reading for any person who cares about this subject. It is simply a great (and very thorough) scriptural study of the doctrine of persevereance! OK. These are some of my thoughts...

1. How can we know who are our brothers and sisters in Christ? I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us discernment as to who our brothers and sisters are and who aren’t. Of course, we are sometimes fallible in our discernment but the Holy Spirit is never wrong. I have known too many Christians who have turned away from the faith and denied Christ. Those who believe “once saved, always saved” will either claim these people are still saved (in spite of any sin they wallow in) or that these people were never saved in the first place. If that is true, then we can’t ever really know who are our brothers and sisters in Christ and who are not.

I think an alternative position that aligns much better with Scripture is that some people do in fact walk away from the Lord after having confessed with their mouths that He is Lord, received Him into their hearts, and born real fruit for the kingdom while they were abiding in Him and fellowshipping with other believers.

2. We know a tree by its fruits. If a person has good fruit (the fruits of the Spirit) and then falls away from the faith (as evidenced by a denial of Christ and consistently bearing sinful fruit), how do we explain the good fruit that he once bore? If you claim it was false fruit, then we simply can’t tell a tree by its fruit as Jesus said we could.

3. Ironically (for the once saved, always saved folks) it seems to me like assurance of salvation would be impossible or an illusion if we can only truly know we (and others) were truly saved after we see if we (or they) ever fall away. The Bible clearly teaches that we can have assurance though. It is assurance that we are completely safe and secure if we abide in Him by faith.

4. Does God play games with us? Does he warn his children about things which really are not a danger? Doesn’t this make Him less than honest or somewhat deceitful? We know He is not. The alternative then is that God is not playing games with us and warning us about things which are not dangerous. Falling away is a danger.

5. If a person throws me a life saver when I am drowning and I grab onto it as he pulls me onto the deck of a rescue ship, have I saved myself? No. I have no more saved myself than a person who has chosen to put his faith in Christ and follow Him has saved himself. Rejecting the "once saved, always saved" position does not mean that one believes we somehow save ourselves. We are saved by grace through faith. It is an active, living, abiding faith though rather than a one-time event. It is important that we start the race properly but it is equally important that we finish the race (through faith) that the Lord has enabled us to run.

6. If man exercises no agency (or choice) whatsoever in entering into relationship with God, then are we not like robots? Surely man has free will and we are not simply machines or robots. The "once saved, always saved position" seems to remove man's ability to freely reject God. Love relationships are never maintained by force or removal of one's free will.

7. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Man has always had to respond to God with faith for salvation. People who lived before Christ by faith looked forward to His sacrifice. We who live after his death and resurrection by faith look backwards to what He accomplished for us. The point here is that terms of salvation have not changed. And we find examples in the Old Testament where people apparently lost their salvation. In fact, David prayed that the Lord would not take His Spirit from him. Why would God allow people in the Old Testament to lose their salvation but not allow people to lose their salvation after He died and was resurrected? I don’t think He does. I believe salvation is a free gift from God that we can accept or reject by faith. We must abide in Christ by faith. By faith, we look backwards to His death and resurrection. By faith, we abide in Him now, we fellowship, we take communion, we pray, we see people healed, and we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” By faith, we look forward to the day of the Lord in which He will come for his bride, the Church. We were saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. It is a past, present, and future reality for us but we must abide in Him by faith.

As I mentioned, an excellent book on this subject is:
Life in the Son by Robert Shank
It is really one of the best books I have ever read!

Mark Driscoll Discusses The Emergent Church at Southern Baptist Seminary