July 14, 2014

Valuing Life

Just a couple brief thoughts.

I was flipping back through Rodney Stark's, "The Triumph of Christianity" yesterday. And one of the themes he explains to be prominent in the early years of the church was the opposition to the (widely embraced) practice of infanticide. The exposing of children to the elements, often on dump heaps, was most often done to little girls because the culture valued men more highly. Christians, following in the footsteps of the Jews, rightly rejected this practice as abominable to God, who created mankind in His own image.

And this seeing of humans, women and girls included, as the image bearers of God, is the only sure footing for valuing human life and protecting the dignity of all persons.

And furthermore, this valuing of life provides a stark contrast to much of the world around us. It did in ancient Rome, it does in China with one child laws, it does in America with abortion on demand.


Most of my conservative Christian readers were totally with me to that point.

But I want to take this logic a step further and point out that if we value all human life as being in the image of it's Creator, this continues past the womb, and past infancy. We must care about children and adults as well. Like the flood of immigrants from Central America fleeing drug wars. Like the millions in our prison system. These are also people made in the image of God who deserve our care and compassion.

Many Christians in America need to re-think their positions on things such as prison and border reform. I am not here advocating a particular position, but I am asking to to realize this:

Jesus said "be in the world, not of the world." Not, "be in the world, and not of anything that sounds like a liberal might support it."

July 07, 2014

Christian America?

I have, for a while now, been attempting to communicate to very well-meaning folks that there is not, and has never been a truly Christian nation; and that this statement includes America. I mean to tackle this at length at a later date, but for now here are a couple quotes from Rodney Stark's book, "The Triumph of Christianity" (HarperCollins, 2011). Emphasis is added.

"In 1776, on the eve of the Revolutionary War, only about 17 percent of those living in one of the thirteen colonies actually belonged to a religious congregation; hence more people were probably drinking in the taverns on Saturday night than turned up in church on Sunday morning. As for this being an 'era of Puritanism,' from 1761 through 1800, a third (33.7) of all first births in New England occurred less than nine months after marriage, and therefore single women in Colonial New England were more likely to engage in premarital sex than to attend church." (353)

"The very low level of religious participation that existed in the thirteen colonies merely reflected that the settlers had brought with them the low level that prevailed in Europe. Keep in mind that few of the colonists were members of intense sects who had come to establish Zion in America - Puritans did not even make up the majority of persons aboard the Mayflower. That the Puritans ruled Massachusetts, imposing their morality into law, has tended to mask the fact that, even in Massachusetts most colonists did not belong to a church congregation - only 22 percent did belong." (354)

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought. This country never has been the massively Christian nation that many people seem convinced of. It is easy to look back and romanticize the past. This is not a wise thing to do (Ecclesiastes 7:10). We should be thankful for the good in our history, without feeling the need to cover things we might find less pretty.

About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).