Sunday, September 27, 2009


“Of Mature age” is how people of my vintage are described in this country. Probably true where you live. In this age of easy communication it doesn’t take long for terms, such as that, to spread.

But I wonder whether the inclusion of the word “mature” is always appropriate when we see the way many of we “older” folk express our thoughts on matters about which we differ.

Maybe the rudeness and arrogance of many of the younger ones can be put down to the behavior of their elders? The lack of practical example, the failure to nurture because of "busy-ness"?

There are so many points we could throw into a discussion about this, but I think my blogging friend Paul at VTBottomline has brought a very important one to the fore in his article entitled “FACTS ABOUT CIVILITY”.

Reading Paul’s definition of civility raises some very obvious questions when applied to, possibly a majority of, what has become known as “Christianity”.

CIVILITY-----A Definition.

Courteous behavior...
A courteous act...

CIVILITY is connected to-----Civilization.
An advanced development of society.

Having advanced in cultural or social

Synonyms-----Respectfully, graciousness.

Antonyms-----Rudely, disrespect.

Courteous behavior, politeness ? An ADVANCED development of society? Civilized, respectful, gracious?

Now, we could easily dismiss what he says as the rambling of another old feller, like me, but, Paul’s right, and if claims to be a follower of Christ are genuine, as we read what he goes on to write, we would ask ourselves some very hard questions about how we respond to people who disagree with us, or have a different point of view, or………Well you read what he says:

UNFORTUNATELY----Lack of civility can be seen as....

RACISM...A belief that race is
the primary determinant of human capacities and traits.

MISOGYNY...Hatred of women.

MISANTHROPY...Hatred of men.

the Jews.

Paul certainly puts his finger on a few of the appropriated character traits, of many who claim the name of Christian, and as he rightly points out:

All this depends on the heart of the one who is being rude [And we can't know that always.] and on the race or gender of the one who is the object of the rudeness or incivility.

Incivility is NOT appropriate or proper for our society and is certainly out of bounds for a true Christian.

INCIVILITY---in our culture is rampant but not surprisingly so since group or accepted guidelines for personal behavior are boundaries that people who see others to be of value and worth are willing to impose on themselves for the good of all. Our society is now emphasizing the individual to the exclusion of others with little respect for the sacredness of life that should begin before the birth experience. That disrespect for the sacredness of life is slowly permeating the entire fabric of our society.

How I like Paul’s next words as he comes to the crux of the matter, for those claiming to be Christian:

CHRISTIAN CIVILITY---is because of the rule of Christ in our lives, however, and is NOT to be taken from or borrowed from our culture.

Our civility comes from truly loving others as we are loved "in Christ" and that includes loving even our enemies.
(my emphasis)

Surely, if you and I really are what we claim we would have no negative comment about Paul’s


One--It is not optional for the believer.

Two--It is not our goal. Loving Him in return is our goal and that is what is mirrored in our love for others for good or bad.

Three--It would make for a better society any time we're willing to embrace it.

Remember! Paul’s not speaking about religion, or doctrine, or theology, but simple, plain, indwelling Holy Spirit induced relational behavior expected of followers of Christ.

Of course, as Christians we have no trouble claiming 1 John 4:14 as applicable to ourselves, So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Can we honestly claim these words to be true of us if our LACK of civility towards others indicates otherwise?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Laurel Wreath or Paper Bag?

Once one reaches that time of life when three-score years and ten are past tense, and there are days when one cannot get much more physical than eating and keeping oneself clean (thankfully not too many days like that), it’s during those times thinking and praying are the major exercises available.

During such times reading some of the really good blogs becomes a much anticipated part of the process.

Brother Dave Black’s pages are perfect for such times because they often remind me of the struggles we experienced as a family, and I as the bread winner, regarding the abandoning of the life we knew and entering into a lifetime committed to the preaching and teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One such entry on Dave’s blog on Sunday September 20, he comments regarding some for whom “Christianity is a faith to be admired or else merely a subject to be studied objectively and historically -- nothing more.”

Writing in the context of some theology students our brother says, “For them the New Testament was nothing more than an analyzable datum of linguistic and historical investigation. For all their audacious ideas, they had no courage to follow the teachings of the One they claimed to have studied so thoroughly. What is true of university students is no less true of the modern church-goer. It really boils down to courage. Do we have the guts to give ourselves to something as costly as genuine Christianity?”

Note that sentence,” What is true of university students is no less true of the modern church-goer.”

How sad! How true!

But I’m drawn back to the comment made the day before the above-mentioned contribution on Dave’s blog, when he draws attention to an article on Henry Neufeld’s blog regarding our propensity to have “concept idols”.

Dave quotes Henry thus: “What's even more dangerous is that once we have made that "concept idol" we become less and less capable of hearing the very proper challenges to our idol and the pedestal on which we have placed it. We hear the challenges to the idols of others. Egalitarians, such as myself, can quite clearly see the dangers of patriarchy and hear clearly when its place on the pedestal is challenged. "Tear down that idol!" we shout!”

How right Dave is when he says, “.. it is sometimes necessary to remove the laurel wreaths around our heads and replace them with paper bags. Our convictions on rightness and wrongness are often ridiculously absurd.”

Just as absurd as are the “concept idols” which stand tall in most groups of Christians, where the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, despite protestations, is at least secondary.

Read these men , and others such as Alan Knox, and have your “concept idols” challenged, if you dare..

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Little Too Familiar

I’m very sorry,but, living on the other side of the world, I haven’t a clue who Gary North is, but I like what he is reported to have written in Reality Check, August 18, 2009
Apparently, to quote Mr. North, “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has begun the most revolutionary experiment in the history of education, stretching all the way back to the pharaohs. It now gives away its curriculum to anyone smart enough to learn it. It has posted its curriculum on-line for free.”

As the article proceeds the author, under the heading, “The Nature of this Revolutionary Experiment”, goes on to say, “For as long as there have been priesthoods, there has been formal classroom education.
The Egyptian priests had classrooms, lectures, and students taking notes.
The Jews had schools where bright young men came to learn the Hebrew texts and memorize the oral tradition, which began being written down in the second century A.D. This oral tradition was written down centuries later: the Mishnah and the Talmud.
The Classical Greeks had academies. Plato and Aristotle taught young men the rudiments of philosophy.
The Greeks also had medical schools.
These programs were closed to most outsiders. A student had to be accepted. He also had to pay. In most cases, the information was secret.

He then goes on to say that the student was bound by an oath of secrecy. In the case of the above medical students, the Hippocratic Oath, which, apart from being sworn in the name of pagan entities, included the following words,
“To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art -- if they desire to learn it -- without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.”

I couldn't help but think how familiar it sounds as North rightly asserts that “the training created a medical guild”, which, “functioned as an oligopoly. It kept prices high by restricting access to the training.
This is what the college diploma has always done. It has created a guild that restricts entry by non-certified people. This keeps wages high.
To obtain the diploma, a person must pay money to the trainers. The trainers are located at one center or special regional centers. Journeying to the center adds costs. Quitting a full-time job back home also adds to the expense. Forcing students to attend pre-requisites adds to the cost. Everything is done to screen access to the knowledge.
So, the knowledge does not spread. This is the crucial function of the academic screening system, especially for practical knowledge: healing people and building things.
“For the first time in the history of man, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has opened the gates to all comers. It has said, "You won't get certified by us, but you can get the classroom knowledge. If you are smart enough to teach yourself, you will have the knowledge."
MIT has now removed the most important layers of bureaucracy: the layers associated with classroom instruction.
1. The fee to obtain the training
2. The cost of journeying to a training center
3. The pre-requisite system
4. The cost of quitting your job
This has de-mystified the entire guild procedure. It says this: "If you are smart enough, you can master the initial content."
This opens the door for the revival of the local apprenticeship system. Here is where a student masters the non-textbook basics of a field, which are at least as important as the textbook content.

Think about it! Isn't the "guild system" what we have in the traditional church
scene today, with a few holding the "secrets" and passing on just enough information to keep people dependent on them?

The local church is the theological college of Scripture, the elders the academic staff, those they disciple, their apprentices. With the tutelage of the elders (who ought not be elders unless demonstrating, wisdom , knowledge of the Scriptures and character, all of which has grown from long experience as a follower of Christ), both the text book and the non-text book aspects can be taught, without the top heavy, expensive bureaucracies we have inherited from secularism.