Deadly Progressivism

Peter Kreeft
It is in ethics that “pro­gres­sivism” is most dead­ly. Aston­ish­ing­ly, few mod­ern minds see the sim­ple and obvi­ous point that an unchang­ing stan­dard, far from being the ene­my of moral progress, is the nec­es­sary con­di­tion for it: “Does a per­ma­nent moral stan­dard pre­clude progress? On the con­trary, except on the sup­po­si­tion of a change­less stan­dard, … progress is impossible…if the ter­mi­nus is as mobile as the train, how can the train progress toward it?”

— Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis for the Third Mil­len­ni­um, pg. 16

Two-hundred proof grace

Robert Farrar Capon
The Ref­or­ma­tion was a time when men went blind, stag­ger­ing drunk because they had dis­cov­ered, in the dusty base­ment of late medieval­ism, a whole cel­lar full of fif­teen-hun­dred-year-old, two-hun­dred proof grace—bottle after bot­tle of pure dis­til­late of Scrip­ture, one sip of which would con­vince any­one that God saves us sin­gle­hand­ed­ly. The word of the Gospel—after all those cen­turies of try­ing to lift your­self into heav­en by wor­ry­ing about the per­fec­tion of your bootstraps—suddenly turned out to be a flat announce­ment that the saved were home free before they started…Grace was to be drunk neat: no water, no ice, and cer­tain­ly no gin­ger ale…

— Robert Far­rar Capon, Between Noon and Three

It is a glorious phrase – “He led captivity captive”

James Stuart Stewart (1896–1990)

The very tri­umphs of His foes, it means, He used for their defeat. He com­pelled their dark achieve­ments to sub­serve His end, not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree, not know­ing that by that very act they were bring­ing the world to His feet. They gave Him a cross, not guess­ing that He would make it a throne. They flung Him out­side the gates to die, not know­ing that in that very moment they were lift­ing up all the gates of the uni­verse, to let the King come in. They thought to root out His doc­trines, not under­stand­ing that they were implant­i­ng imper­ish­ably in the hearts of men the very name they intend­ed to destroy. They thought they had defeat­ed God with His back to the wall, pinned and help­less and defeat­ed: they did not know that it was God Him­self who had tracked them down. He did not con­quer in spite of the dark mys­tery of evil. He con­quered through it.

— James Stu­art Stew­art (1896–1990), Scot­land

Psalm 68:18 KJV

Thou hast ascend­ed on high, thou hast led cap­tiv­i­ty cap­tive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebel­lious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.

Eph­esians 4 KJV

1 I there­fore, the pris­on­er of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk wor­thy of the voca­tion where­with ye are called, 2 With all low­li­ness and meek­ness, with long­suf­fer­ing, for­bear­ing one anoth­er in love; 3 Endeav­our­ing to keep the uni­ty of the Spir­it in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spir­it, even as ye are called in one hope of your call­ing; 5 One Lord, one faith, one bap­tism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is giv­en grace accord­ing to the mea­sure of the gift of Christ. 8 Where­fore he saith, When he ascend­ed up on high, he led cap­tiv­i­ty cap­tive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascend­ed, what is it but that he also descend­ed first into the low­er parts of the earth? 10 He that descend­ed is the same also that ascend­ed up far above all heav­ens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apos­tles; and some, prophets; and some, evan­ge­lists; and some, pas­tors and teach­ers; 12 For the per­fect­ing of the saints, for the work of the min­istry, for the edi­fy­ing of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the uni­ty of the faith, and of the knowl­edge of the Son of God, unto a per­fect man, unto the mea­sure of the stature of the ful­ness of Christ: 14 That we hence­forth be no more chil­dren, tossed to and fro, and car­ried about with every wind of doc­trine, by the sleight of men, and cun­ning crafti­ness, where­by they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speak­ing the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fit­ly joined togeth­er and com­pact­ed by that which every joint sup­pli­eth, accord­ing to the effec­tu­al work­ing in the mea­sure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edi­fy­ing of itself in love. 17 This I say there­fore, and tes­ti­fy in the Lord, that ye hence­forth walk not as oth­er Gen­tiles walk, in the van­i­ty of their mind, 18 Hav­ing the under­stand­ing dark­ened, being alien­at­ed from the life of God through the igno­rance that is in them, because of the blind­ness of their heart: 19 Who being past feel­ing have giv­en them­selves over unto las­civ­i­ous­ness, to work all unclean­ness with greed­i­ness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off con­cern­ing the for­mer con­ver­sa­tion the old man, which is cor­rupt accord­ing to the deceit­ful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spir­it of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is cre­at­ed in right­eous­ness and true holi­ness. 25 Where­fore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neigh­bour: for we are mem­bers one of anoth­er. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Nei­ther give place to the dev­il. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, work­ing with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no cor­rupt com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­ceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edi­fy­ing, that it may min­is­ter grace unto the hear­ers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spir­it of God, where­by ye are sealed unto the day of redemp­tion. 31 Let all bit­ter­ness, and wrath, and anger, and clam­our, and evil speak­ing, be put away from you, with all mal­ice: 32 And be ye kind one to anoth­er, ten­der­heart­ed, for­giv­ing one anoth­er, even as God for Christ’s sake hath for­giv­en you.

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again

Annie J. Flint
He Giveth More Grace

He giveth more grace as our bur­dens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflic­tions He addeth His mer­cy,
To mul­ti­plied tri­als He mul­ti­plies peace.

When we have exhaust­ed our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoard­ed resources
Our Father’s full giv­ing is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His pro­vi­sion,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm ever­last­ing, avail­ing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no lim­its, His grace has no mea­sure,
His pow­er no bound­ary known unto men;
For out of His infi­nite rich­es in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

— Annie J. Flint — 1866–1932

Today rep­re­sents pos­si­bly the third or fourth time I’ve heard Ravi Zacharias quote this hymn, and in his usu­al man­ner, I find his deliv­ery [ lis­ten ] to give prose far greater impact than when I ren­der with my own phras­ing when read­ing or recit­ing. He includ­ed this in part two of his most recent Let My Peo­ple Think mes­sage, “What answer for the wicked human heart?”. Pt 1, Pt 2

A Sad Truth about the ‘Average’ Evangelical Christian

A.W. Tozer
Repost­ed from Tony Miano’s blog at OnTheBox.us

The aver­age evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian who claims to be born again and have eter­nal life is not doing as much to prop­a­gate his or her faith as the busy adher­ents of the cults, hand­ing out their papers on the street cor­ners and vis­it­ing from house to house and going door to door.”

— A.W. Toz­er

What you win them .with. is what you win them .to.

Ravi Zacharias

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The Ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2” @15:39

Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, Part 1 — Mp3
Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, Part 2 — Mp3

Once To Every Man and Nation


James Rus­sel Low­ell, 1819–1891

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with false­hood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great deci­sion, offer­ing each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by for­ev­er, ’twixt that dark­ness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and prof­it, and ’tis pros­per­ous to be just;
Then it is the brave man choos­es while the cow­ard stands aside,
Till the mul­ti­tude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burn­ing mar­tyrs, Christ, Thy bleed­ing feet we track,
Toil­ing up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occa­sions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil pros­per, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her por­tion be the scaf­fold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaf­fold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God with­in the shad­ow, keep­ing watch above His own.

Ravi Zacharias quot­ed the first stan­za of this hymn in his lec­ture Char­ac­ter Counts, Part 1.

Addi­tion­al: This hymn was quot­ed by Rev. Mar­tin Luther King at the con­clu­sion
of his speech, ‘Viet­nam: A Time to Break Silence’ in April 4th, 1967 at a
meet­ing of Cler­gy and Laity Con­cerned at River­side Church in New York City, USA.

Ozymandias

Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley

I met a trav­eller from an antique land
Who said: ‘Two vast and trun­k­less legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shat­tered vis­age lies, whose frown,
And wrin­kled lip, and sneer of cold com­mand,
Tell that its sculp­tor well those pas­sions read
Which yet sur­vive, stamped on these life­less things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear –
“My name is Ozy­man­dias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Noth­ing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colos­sal wreck, bound­less and bare
The lone and lev­el sands stretch far away.’

— Per­cy Bysshe Shel­ley

Pearls Before Swine

To give truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more mul­ti­plied rea­sons [plen­ti­ful mate­r­i­al] for mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion.”

George Mac­Don­ald, Min­is­ter, poet, and nov­el­ist (1824 — 1905)

I am com­ing to believe that this quote suf­fers from the same symp­toms with which Jim Elliot’s “He is no fool” quote is beset, in that there are many vari­a­tions float­ing around out there and lit­tle to sug­gest which has greater verac­i­ty. Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is that the author may have com­mu­ni­cat­ed, in print or per­son, the same mean­ing­ful phrase mul­ti­ple times and per­haps not the same way every time. The first time I heard Ravi Zacharias relate this quo­ta­tion it was with the “more mul­ti­plied rea­sons” word­ing and that remains my favorite, but I’ve sub­se­quent­ly heard him quote it as “more plen­ti­ful rea­sons” and so I am left in doubt if one or the oth­er is real­ly more accu­rate. Search­ing the inter­webs I find both ver­sions in sim­i­lar abun­dance.

Words of a skeptic…

The char­ac­ter of Jesus has not only been the high­est pat­tern of virtue, but the strongest incen­tive in its prac­tice, and has exert­ed so deep an influ­ence, that it may be tru­ly said that the sim­ple record of three years of active life has done more to regen­er­ate and to soft­en mankind than all the dis­qui­si­tions of philoso­phers and all the exhor­ta­tions of moral­ists.”

— William E. H. Lecky, “The His­to­ry of Euro­pean Morals from Augus­tus to Charle­magne”.

Him­self not a believ­er (Ravi describes his as a skep­tic) but unable to draw any con­clu­sion but this.

~ “Let My Peo­ple Think: One God Among Many, Pt 2 of 2”, Ravi Zacharias, April 20, 2013

The “Progressive” Man

Clive Staples Lewis

First, as to putting the clock back; Would you think I was jok­ing if I said that you can put a clock back, and that if the clock is wrong it is often a very sen­si­ble thing to do? But I would rather get away from that whole idea of clocks. We all want progress. But progress means get­ting near­er to the place where you want to be. And if you have tak­en a wrong turn­ing, then to go for­ward does not get you any near­er. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walk­ing back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soon­est is the most pro­gres­sive man. We have all seen this when doing arith­metic. When I have start­ed a sum the wrong way, the soon­er I admit this and go back and start again, the faster I shall get on. There is noth­ing pro­gres­sive about being pig-head­ed and refus­ing to admit a mis­take. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­takes. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, Chap­ter 5, “We Have Cause to be Uneasy”

Creed” — by Steve Turner

Lis­ten Mp3: Ravi Zacharias’ read­ing of “Creed” by Steve Turn­er

We believe in Marxfreudand­dar­win.
We believe every­thing is OK
as long as you don’t hurt any­one,
to the best of your def­i­n­i­tion of hurt,
and to the best of your def­i­n­i­tion of knowl­edge.

We believe in sex before, dur­ing,
and after mar­riage.
We believe in the ther­a­py of sin.
We believe that adul­tery is fun.
We believe that sodomy is OK
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s get­ting bet­ter
despite evi­dence to the con­trary.
The evi­dence must be inves­ti­gat­ed, and
you can prove any­thing with evi­dence.

We believe there’s some­thing in horo­scopes,
UFO’s and bent spoons;
Jesus was a good man just like Bud­dha,
Mohammed, and our­selves.
He was a good moral teacher although we think some
his good morals were bad.

We believe that all reli­gions are basi­cal­ly the same;
at least the one that we read were.
They all believe in love and good­ness.
They only dif­fer on mat­ters of cre­ation,
sin, heav­en, hell, God, and sal­va­tion.

We believe that after death comes The Noth­ing
because when you ask the dead what hap­pens they say Noth­ing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied,
then it’s com­pul­so­ry heav­en for all
except­ing per­haps Hitler, Stal­in and Genghis Khan.

We believe in Mas­ters and John­son.
What’s select­ed is aver­age.
What’s aver­age is nor­mal.
What’s nor­mal is good.

We believe in total dis­ar­ma­ment because We believe
there are direct links between war­fare and blood­shed.
Amer­i­cans should beat their guns into trac­tors
and the Rus­sians would be sure to fol­low.

We believe that man is essen­tial­ly good.
It’s only his behav­iour that lets him down.
This is the fault of soci­ety.
Soci­ety is the fault of con­di­tions.
Con­di­tions are the fault of soci­ety.

We believe that each man must find the truth
that is right for him.
Real­i­ty will adapt accord­ing­ly.
The uni­verse will read­just. His­to­ry will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
except­ing the truth that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejec­tion of creeds
and the flow­er­ing of indi­vid­ual thought.

*Post Script*

If chance be the father of all flesh,
dis­as­ter is his rain­bow in the sky,
and when you hear:
‘state of emer­gency’,
‘sniper kills ten’,
‘troops on ram­page’,
‘youths go loot­ing’,
‘bomb-blast school’,
it is but the sound of man wor­ship­ing his mak­er.

— Steve Turn­er

Chapter One of the Great Story

C.S.Lewis-QuoteFromTheLastBattle

“All their life in this world
and all their adven­tures in Nar­nia
had only been the cov­er and the
title page: now at last they were
begin­ning Chap­ter One of the
Great Sto­ry which no one on earth
has read: which goes on for­ev­er:
in which every chap­ter is
bet­ter than the one before.”

—C. S. Lewis,
The Last Bat­tle

Spiritualizing Words — “Who are you…?”

Clive Staples Lewis

Peo­ple ask: “Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Chris­t­ian?”: or “May not many a man who can­not believe these doc­trines be far more tru­ly a Chris­t­ian, far clos­er to the spir­it of Christ, than some who do?”

Now this objec­tion is in one sense very right, very char­i­ta­ble, very spir­i­tu­al, very sen­si­tive. It has every ami­able qual­i­ty except that of being use­ful. We sim­ply can­not, with­out dis­as­ter, use lan­guage as these objec­tors want us to use it. I will try to make this clear by the his­to­ry of anoth­er, and very much less impor­tant, word.

The word gen­tle­man orig­i­nal­ly meant some­thing recog­nis­able; one who had a coat of arms and some land­ed prop­er­ty. When you called some­one “a gen­tle­man” you were not pay­ing him a com­pli­ment, but mere­ly stat­ing a fact. If you said he was not “a gen­tle­man” you were not insult­ing him, but giv­ing infor­ma­tion. There was no con­tra­dic­tion in say­ing that John was a liar and a gen­tle­man; any more than there now is in say­ing that James is a fool and an M.A.

But then there came peo­ple who said — so right­ly, char­i­ta­bly, spir­i­tu­al­ly, sen­si­tive­ly, so any­thing but use­ful­ly — “Ah but sure­ly the impor­tant thing about a gen­tle­man is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behav­iour? Sure­ly he is the true gen­tle­man who behaves as a gen­tle­man should? Sure­ly in that sense Edward is far more tru­ly a gen­tle­man than John?” They meant well. To be hon­ourable and cour­te­ous and brave is of course a far bet­ter thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing every­one will agree about. To call a man “a gen­tle­man” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giv­ing infor­ma­tion about him, but a way of prais­ing him: to deny that he is “a gen­tle­man” becomes sim­ply a way of insult­ing him. When a word ceas­es to be a term of descrip­tion and becomes mere­ly a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s atti­tude to that object. (A ‘nice’ meal only means a meal the speak­er likes.) A gen­tle­man, once it has been spir­i­tu­alised and refined out of its old coarse, objec­tive sense, means hard­ly more than a man whom the speak­er likes.

As a result, gen­tle­man is now a use­less word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not need­ed for that use; on the oth­er hand if any­one (say, in a his­tor­i­cal work) wants to use it in its old sense, he can­not do so with­out expla­na­tions. It has been spoiled for that pur­pose. Now if once we allow peo­ple to start spir­i­tu­al­is­ing and refin­ing, or as they might say ‘deep­en­ing’, the sense of the word Chris­t­ian, it too will speed­i­ly become a use­less word. In the first place, Chris­tians them­selves will nev­er be able to apply it to any­one. It is not for us to say who, in the deep­est sense, is or is not close to the spir­it of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We can­not judge, and are indeed for­bid­den to judge. It would be wicked arro­gance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Chris­t­ian in this refined sense. And obvi­ous­ly a word which we can nev­er apply is not going to he a very use­ful word. As for the unbe­liev­ers, they will no doubt cheer­ful­ly use the word in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths sim­ply a term of praise. In call­ing any­one a Chris­t­ian they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrich­ment of the lan­guage, for we already have the word good. Mean­while, the word Chris­t­ian will have been spoiled for any real­ly use­ful pur­pose it might have served.

We must there­fore stick to the orig­i­nal, obvi­ous mean­ing. The name Chris­tians was first giv­en at Anti­och (Acts 11:26) to ‘the dis­ci­ples’, to those who accept­ed the teach­ing of the apos­tles. There is no ques­tion of its being restrict­ed to those who prof­it­ed by that teach­ing as much as they should have. There is no ques­tion of its being extend­ed to those who in some refined, spir­i­tu­al, inward fash­ion were ‘far clos­er to the spir­it of Christ’ than the less sat­is­fac­to­ry of the dis­ci­ples. The point is not a the­o­log­i­cal or moral one. It is only a ques­tion of using words so that we can all under­stand what is being said. When a man who accepts the Chris­t­ian doc­trine lives unworthi­ly of it, it is much clear­er to say he is a bad Chris­t­ian than to say he is not a Chris­t­ian.

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, Pref­ace