"I crossed Alex Bell Rd today to ask if we could use our two business neighbors’ parking lots for overflow on 10/2. Not only were they happy to let us use them, it turns out both of the people I spoke with are believers who were planning on checking out our church in the future, and are now interested in coming to the party!"Read More
I’ve been tasked with answering the question: How should we do small groups at SDPC?Read More
Last week we prayed for the planning of the event, and I can tell you that God answered those prayers in a big way! A lot of little details have fallen into place this week, but there is still more to do.Read More
This month I’d like to ask you for prayer for the SDPC Community Celebration on October 2. Right now it’s just 31 days away! So starting this Sunday, September 4, I’d like make every one of those days a day of petition for God to wonderful things in the planning, invitation, execution, and aftermath of it.Read More
The fact is that memorizing God's words cannot save me or you or make you love him. The Devil knows the Bible better than I probably ever will. But he knows it from the outside, as something to be used and manipulated. When Christians memorize the Bible, we are invited by God to learn it from the inside and to be molded by it into creatures of his glory.Read More
If Lewis is right, then the people who have been heading the financial world for the past thirty year or more have done so with an unswerving commitment to squeeze every last penny out of the system and the people they are supposed to be working for, not against.Read More
C.S. Lewis began a sermon in 1941 war-time Oxford students by remarking, “If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness.” Lewis argues, and I agree, that in reality the highest virtue is Love. At the top levels of American society in 2016, it seems to me that the virtue of Unselfishness has been thoroughly replaced with Tolerance.
In principle, Tolerance & Unselfishness are different manifestations of the same ethical orientation. The question being asked is, “How can I not hurt others?” Unselfishness answers the question in terms of how I as an individual might not be a burden to others, whereas Tolerance answers it in terms of how I might not infringe on the rights of others.
Unselfishness is about submission of self. Tolerance is about permission for others.
It may seem as though Tolerance is an advancement in the right direction, since it is more other-oriented. The Tolerance of today avoids numerous atrocities that have been committed during the reign of Unselfishness, such as the disastrous hormonal treatment for homosexuality given to the likes of Alan Turing in 1952, memorably depicted in the 2014 film The Imitation Game. If Turing were alive today, he would certainly not suffer the same fate.
At the same time, the Turing case demonstrates an important similarity between Tolerance & Unselfishness, which is that while the latter is principally self-oriented, it has very concrete ramifications for others when applied at the social level. In other words, “If you are not willing to unselfishly submit to the order of our society by refraining from certain acts, we will help you to do so by force.”
Tolerance, though other-oriented in principle, has equally concrete ramifications for individuals when applied to society at large. The student-led skirmishes between free speech & safe space at Yale & Missou last fall, for example, suggest that Tolerance can and will commit the same atrocities as Unselfishness in the next generation. It is the same logic as the Turing case: “If you are not willing as to subscribe to the social virtue of tolerance, then we will help you do so by force.”
As Lewis wrote, Love is at the center of Christian virtue. Love is both unselfish & tolerant, but it is not exclusively so. Love cannot tolerate it when you hurt others or yourself, nor is love unselfish when that means withdrawal from pain and suffering. The difference is that Unselfishness & Tolerance are both essentially negative, whereas Love is positive and dynamically other-oriented. Love is being-for others as Christ was and is for us.
The question, “How can I not hurt others?” is a noble attempt to practice the Hippocratic Oath: "Do no harm." As wise men & women have pointed out through the centuries, though, every "Thou Shalt Not" is the negative expression of something that must also be understood positively, which means that a negative ethic can only ever be partial at best. The positive side of "Do no harm" (cf. Ex. 20) is given in the Bible as Love: "Love one another" (Jn 13:34) and "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev 17:18) and "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and might and strength" (Dt 6:5).
Lewis prescribed an antidote for his Unselfish compatriots that we would probably do well to take: the cultivation of promise-oriented hope in God’s future for the world. That world, as the Bible affirms it, (e.g. Rev 21–22, Is 65) is characterized by peace, fullness of joy, and justice. It is a renewed heaven and earth which is so real that our present existence will be remembered as a mere shadow of the true life we shall know then. Love is the thread runs from here to there because, as Paul writes, it is the one thing that never ends (1 Cor 13).
 C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 25.
The deaths of two black men shot by police in Louisiana and Minnesota unleashed a fury that culminated in the death of five Dallas police officers on Friday, from the gunpoint of a former sniper. There is little doubt that we have a serious problem in our country.Read More
"...yet he saw nothing wrong with using every means possible to win some (1 Cor 9:22). He deliberately did everything in his power to increase the size of his crowds, even using “the meanest instruments” where other ministers were more cautious, in order to “excite people’s curiosity and serve to raise their attention.”Read More
I would like to formally apologize for my blog post last week. My goal was to promote the possibility of meaningful discussion in a presidential election where most conversations I hear on the topic fall squarely within the spectrum of despair. I don’t think despair over less-than-perfect candidates is an appropriate Christian way of dealing with elections, and so I intended to provide a non-despairing perspective.Read More
Rhetoric is a minimally revised PhD thesis, and as such it is heavy sledding for the ordinary reader. But having tasted the power of rhetoric, Hwang clearly offers a discussion that is stimulating by anyone’s perspective. His lucid style and punchy quips render a rather dense subject palatable for most readers, though still on the heavy side.Read More
The problem with reading the Westminster standards today is not only the language barrier between the 2010s US & the 1640s England, but also the centuries of reinterpretation and misinterpretation that stand between us and the Westminster divines (the authors of the standards). If you have ever picked up the WCF, the WLC, or the WSC and felt a sense of uncertainty about what exactly they were trying to get at, Letham is here to help. If you have ever believed that you perfectly understood the doctrines (and the boundaries of the doctrines) outlined in the Standards, then Letham is here to show you how wrong you are.Read More
I love WB for his passionate expression, but primarily for the way in which he continually pushes me to meet God both in the text and in my life, and to see the text as a world-creating voice from which I cannot escape unscathed.Read More
In the first pages of the book, Finke & Stark remark that at the outset of this project they did not intend to rewrite American church history from the ground up. Of course, this most certainly is what they wound up doing.Read More
Guest Post from Chris CorkernRead More
Having been a staunch atheist and philosophical materialist in his early days, Schumacher became attracted to the values of the Buddhism, then Christianity, and he officially converted to Catholicism in 1971. Six years later, A Guide is the fruit of much wrestling and a lasting testimony to the grace of God in this man’s life.Read More
Myers’ portrait of Putin is hailed as the best one to date, both for its comprehensiveness, and for its fairness. Having read exactly zero other biographies about Putin, I can attest to Myers’ relative fairness only from the fact that I was really starting to like Putin up until he became President.Read More
This book is a testament to robust Easter Christian hope in the Resurrection.Read More
Probably the most interesting thing about this account is the extent to which Patrick expresses his own life in the words of Scripture. Nearly every few sentences, Patrick quotes a biblical account of suffering or triumph to express his own life’s story. I find it wonderful, because I think it says something about his relationship to God and to the other authors of Scripture.Read More