Exploring New Frontiers in Education: Scattered Thoughts on Critical Thinking

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I’m probably not a die hard proponent of home schooling. Home schooling is a mixed bag of pros and cons, and it usually depends on the family to take responsibility to do the best they can with the task of schooling children at home. Of course, personal responsibility is always a good thing. Personally, I had a good experience with home schooling, having gone through the Tree of Life homeschooling program, and a most excellent mother who challenged us to excel.

What I really appreciate about what home schooling has done over the last 50 years is challenge the existing paradigms in education. A paradigm is defined as “a typical example or pattern of something; a model.” Or as Merriam-Webster defines it: “an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype.”

Now, there are a couple dangers in challenging paradigms. First, your ideas could just be wrong (take unschooling for example). Second, some of the paradigms you are challenging might be right, and you shouldn’t be challenging them. Third, you will be ostracized, whether you are right or wrong (but that’s not the biggest problem).

But there are also positives in challenging paradigms. Those who challenge paradigms are explorers, they are the adventurers of academia and the various schools of thought and talent within academia. Without exploration, you don’t strike out and build on what we have. I’m afraid that the reason much of higher education focuses on information transfer rather than critical thinking, is that the danger of teaching critical thinking, is when a good thinker challenges old paradigms in teaching, industry, education, life in general.

Now, I would argue that liberals have stolen the word ‘liberal’ from Christians. Christians of course, have lead and still lead in the ‘liberal arts’, a line of education that encourages a broad scope of learning as well as critical thinking. To be ‘liberal’ essentially means that you are a free-thinker. To be ‘conservative’ essentially means that you are seeking to conserve, to hold on to something. Christians know the importance of history and the wisdom of the past, the Bible, proves this on many counts. But they also know the effects of sin on human knowledge, so they see the need to challenge sin and the forge the way into the future for the glory of God and the benefit of future generations.

What brings conservative and liberal thought together (as defined above), is submission to authority: primarily the authority of God’s Word. We believe that the Word of God is the inspired revelation of God into our sin-stained realities. Man is not autonomous, and human reason has been affected by sin, and so we must continually go back to the Word and challenge our mis-interpretations with the works of men of God throughout history.

Francis Schaeffer once wrote: “One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary.” I fully agree with Francis Schaeffer. Why are we asking them to be conservative when it is possible that conservatives are getting certain things wrong? I am a bit more careful with the term revolutionary, but at the same time, the gospel is supposed to challenge the status quo. The gospel is supposed to turn the world from being upside down, to right side up. Christians can challenge both Conservative and Liberal thought with the authority of the Word.

So what are some ideas to challenge a few popular paradigms?

  • Education (especially higher education) is about critical thinking more than information transfer.
  • Classes should be followed by organized discussion (especially in higher education).
  • Some of the most important education happens at home (especially for younger children).
  • School doesn’t have to happen 5 days a week. You could potentially have a school where kids are at school in the mornings or only go to school for three days a week.
  • Not every student should have to go all the way through high school. We need intellectuals, but we also need skilled laborers.

This may not necessarily challenge a popular paradigm, but hopefully, this very general statement, clarifies the purpose of these stages. On a very broad scale, I see 3 levels of learning (which also have transitions).

  • K-grade 8: memorization, stories, information transfer. This is where an individual’s imagination is shaped and formed.
  • High school: Heavy focus on forming tools for critical thinking. Less facts. More papers.
  • Post-secondary: either specialization or lots of reading, debate, oral/written exams, papers, presentations, classes that are followed up by reading/research/guided debate.

Just a few thoughts. Not too revolutionary. Much, much more could be said, but this is just a start. Much of modern education creates clones, but not necessarily explorers and adventurers. Critical thinking teaches people not just to say that we need change, but to offer real solutions, to think cross-culturally, to build on the past and look to the future.

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the very first time.” TS Elliot

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Why Do the Academics Rage?

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Why do the academics rage and the scientists plot in vain?

The doctorates of the earth set themselves

and the professors take council together

Against the Lord and His Anointed, saying

Let us burst their doctrines apart

And cast away their Word from us

———————————————————–

Now therefore oh doctorates be wise

Be warned oh professors of the earth

Study before the Lord with fear

and enjoy it with trembling

Kiss the Son

Lest He be angry and you perish at your podium

for his wrath is quickly kindled

Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him


This is an interpretative rendition of Psalm 2, also realize that academia and science as well cohere in the Son, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:17).


 

10 More Theses on Baby-Baptism

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Baby-baptism is one of those fun topics in Ontario right now. Or at least, it could be. With about 80 NAPARC churches, a growing movement of Harvest Bible Churches, and a good number of Reformed Baptist churches around Ontario, there could be a lot of rigorous and fun conversations between Christian brothers. A little over a year ago, I wrote 10 theses on baby-baptism, oriented to Reformed and Baptist debates. I want to follow this post up with another post, seeking to lay out a view of baptism that follows the pattern of Scripture. Again, I am open to discussion/clarification. I hope these 10 theses are useful for further discussion!

1. A new believer is baptized when he/she turns in repentance and faith and believes in the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37-29, Acts 8:26-40). Abram was circumcised when he believed by faith in the promises of God (Acts 17:24, Rom. 4:11).

2. The New Testament speaks of household baptisms (Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33-34, 1 Cor. 1:16). The promise of God to new believers and too their children (Acts 2:37-29) parallels a similar promise to Abraham and his household circumcision (Acts 17).

3. The New Testament speaks of the children of believers as being holy (2 Cor. 7:14, I Peter 2), but there is no reference to them being eternally elect. Election is treated separately from baptism in Ephesians 1. This does not mean that they are mutually exclusive, but we can establish from the Scriptures that baptism is not the same as election.

4. Baptism is not a meaningless symbol. It symbolizes the liberation from Egypt (I Cor. 10:1-2), the salvation of Noah and his sons from the waters of judgement (I Pet. 3:20-21), and the mighty deeds of the Lord in history. In baptism, the Lord claims the baptizand as His own (Ex. 20:2).

5. Those who are baptized have been baptized into Jesus Christ, and they have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). That means that Christ is the object of baptism. Baptism points away from itself. Assurance is not found in baptism (or in the doctrine of election for that matter) but in Christ. Look all the references to ‘in Christ’ in Ephesians 1.

6. Repentance and faith are a requirement for the baptism of a new believer (Acts 2:37-29), but they are also a demand of baptism (Heb. 10:26-31).

7. Baptism is not an excuse to presume on the riches and kindness and forebearance of God (Rom. 2:4). In other words, a baptized person must be diligent to confirm his calling and election (2 Pet. 1:10). Remember that God was displeased with most of those who were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the red sea, and most were overthrown in the wilderness (I Cor. 10:5). The Apostle Paul uses this to warn the baptized in Corinth.

8. Any concept of sowing your wild oats, finding freedom to live a wild life before you profess your faith, having some “fun” in highschool, is expressly forbidden. Life can be fun, but pursue that life. Don’t trample the blood of Christ underfoot (Heb. 10:26-31).

9. It is paramount that parents raise their children in the fear of the Lord (Deut. 6, Proverbs, Eph. 6:4).

10. If baptism is a sign and a seal of the promises of God (Acts 2:37-29, Gen. 17), then we should ask ourselves what those promises are. Jesus Christ is the promise. In other words, a theologically astute father or mother will teach their children to look to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29.

Photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash

The Problem with all the Training Sessions on Evangelism

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I sometimes struggle with the concept of evangelism training. Growing up, I have seen many evangelism talks in various churches. Many people were excited, they knew the techniques and argued over the techniques. But while there may have been a growing interest in the concept of evangelism, there was not always growth in evangelism or a love for people. The students who came and did hands on work at the various church plants and the people who simply reached out to their neighbours in established churches seemed to learn a lot more than the people at these training lectures. The people who immersed themselves in the culture of the various church-plants seemed to learn more than those who attended a conferences. The people who just did something in their community were 10 steps ahead. Think about it: evangelism isn’t so much a technique but a way of life.

I want to suggest that the early Christians were not so concerned with evangelism, but in following Christ, and they wanted to see that good news that Jesus is Lord capture people’s hearts. This vision was evangelistic in nature. Michael Green writes in his book Evangelism in the Early Church: “Unless there is a transformation of contemporary church life so that once again the task of evangelism is something which is seen as incumbent on every baptized Christian, and is backed up by a quality of living which outshines the best that unbelief can muster, we are unlikely to make much headway through techniques of evangelism.”

Now, this way of life is a difficult point to get too. You make mistakes along the way. You face intense and harsh criticism. Not only from unbelievers, but also from Christian brothers and sisters and sometimes most intensely from Reformed and Presbyterian leaders. Many want to lead in evangelism, but not many want to do the dirty work of making mistakes, being laughed at, and facing what sometimes seems to be failure. Many want to be the leader in evangelism, but not many are willing to suffer for the Name of Christ. But the problem with this is that triumph only happens through trial, victories only happen through suffering. Jesus rebuked Peter for not understanding this in Matt. 16:21-23. This is the pattern of Jesus Christ Himself and we are called to imitate it: see I Peter 3:13-22.

So how should we proceed? Well, under the banner of Christ, in repentance and faith, in love and charity, in truth and love. But how? The Bible doesn’t really outline methods and tactics. We can look at examples: such as the methods of the Deacon Phillip (Acts 8), the methods of Paul (Acts 17), and look at the commands of Paul such as in his letter to the Church in Colossae: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:6) There are many more examples, but the common theme is that the glory of the Triune God has been revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, all the leaders are completely and utterly infatuated with Christ and what Christ is doing. I always appreciate these words from Remi Brague: “What interested them was Christ, and the reverberations of his coming on the whole of human existence.” So let us stop talking about evangelism and start talking about Christ.

I’ll admit, there are a lot of useful tactics and a lot of useful how-too books. But nothing is more useful than making a friend and truly being a friend. There is nothing more useful than loving God first and your neighbour in that perspective. Nothing is more useful than speaking the truth and maintaining a loving composure no matter how hot and thick the scorn and hatred of those in the church and the culture rains down upon you. Nothing is more useful than sticking as close as possible to the Word of God and following in the path of Jesus Christ.

Do I have a hope? Have I made the Lord Jesus Christ holy within me? Then the conferences and books will be a little more useful. Do I seek to be always as ready as possible to explain that hope? Tactics are good, but there are also people. You can make fun of the fact that Reformed Christians dress well for Church, but people matter more. People who are hurting, people who have experienced deep pain. There are people made in the image of God, and yearn for Him even though they run from Him. Just read Augustine’s Confessions. Does the depth of my hope in Jesus Christ run deeper than all the pain in the world? Then I will be ready to roll with the punches, to face the challenges of adapting to new scenarios and quickly changing situations.

This is the reason I desire to enter ordained ministry. I want to share a vision of Jesus Christ with the world around me. This is a vision that comes from the Word. I have had to wrestle with the pain and heartache I see in the world and in the Church. I still do. I grew up in a cross-over setting between the mission field and the established Church. My family worked with our Dad and Mom and a handful of Punjabi and Dutch Christians to establish a church plant in North-West Toronto. It has always struck me that this is the Church. It is the Church to sing both Punjabi and English songs and to always be reaching out to those who need Jesus Christ. It is the Church to face criticism and mockery and apathy, and to fight back with a vision of Jesus Christ that is able to save everyone. It is the Church to wrestle with internal struggles and be captured by a vision of Christ who saves and transforms. No Church is ever truly established until we find ourselves in perfection in heaven. Yes, it extends from generation to generation, but its arms are always reaching out into the world. I have never seen the point of a false dichotomy between raising covenant children and sharing the gospel. The two always support each other. The task of the church has many arms.

I still find terms such as established church and mission church are strange, and while I believe that the leaders in the New Testament times were strongly covenantal, they were also strongly missional. Acts 2: 38-39 brings these two things together in the call to believe in Jesus Christ. The Church is the Church and its task is to raise up young people in the fear of the Lord, but that task also has implications. If young people fear the Lord, that will blow a crater of light into a dark world. This light is not supposed to be a light under a bushel, but a light set on a hill. Their knowledge of Jesus Christ is supposed to have an impact on the world around them. The doctrine of the covenant is inherently and forever evangelistic because both are focused on Jesus Christ. 

I used to make fun of the song “Shine Jesus, Shine” as a sappy contemporary ditty. I repent. I really want Jesus to shine: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.” (Mal. 4:2) I long for Him to fill this land with the Father’s glory. I want the Spirit to make our hearts blaze within us, as the nations flood with grace and mercy. I want Jesus to set us free by the truth He brings us. There is a lot of pain, and I want Jesus to break through that pain with the glorious salve of His mercy and grace. There is a lot of hatred, and I want Jesus to wage war on that hatred with the peace that comes at the cross.

I long for the Church to have a growing vision of Christ that all those around us are captured and transformed by.

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Why the Fuss Over Tats and Debts?

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I am observing an interesting internet debate from my patriarchal den here in Paris, ON. Lori Alexander wrote an article entitled: “Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos” here. Phylycia responded with an article entitled: “God’s Not Looking For Debt-Free Virgins” here. Another lady, Brooke Ventura, responded with an article entitled: “Does God Require Women to be Debt and Tattoo-Free Virgins” here. I appreciated all of their thoughts.

It’s quite obvious that men have issues and women have issues too. But here’s the thing. There were many excellent women who raised godly young men throughout the book of Kings. If you notice, every time a godly king is mentioned, the text always mentions his mother’s name. But also notice that there were some interesting women who were included in the line of promise. Notice that Rahab who was a prostitute was the mother of Boaz. Boaz was that godly man who treated Ruth the Moabitess with such kindness. I don’t know if Rahab or Ruth had a debt or tats. I don’t really care. Whatever they were in the past, they became godly women.

There is this temptation to think that the calling to motherhood means the calling to be a doormat woman who is chained to the stove and is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Both from its supporters and its opponents. But there are a variety of gifts among women as there are among men. Some are avid readers, some are great with business, some are artistic. So what? Let them develop their gifts and take care of their homes with their gifts (Prov. 31, Titus 2). They should have the freedom to grow in their gifts. Strong women raise strong men. Strong women who don’t have a man strong enough to marry them, raise the bar for men and women. Men can marry career women. Every woman can go through a career change. And one of the most glorious careers is to raise children! Look at Boaz. He married Ruth who was out in the field roughing up her hands and building her muscles. And then she proceeded to become the great grand mother of King David.

I am lost in the debate over debts and tats. Godliness calls women to be faithful in their finances and the way they treat their bodies and respond to their husbands and other men around them. Repentance provides a way of escape for their foolish mistakes. The same goes for men. Virginity is a bigger deal than tats or debts (I Cor. 7). But for the loss of virginity, God also provides a way of escape. Look at the great deeds that Rahab did in saving the men and bringing down the wicked city of Jericho.

I have always been inspired by Rahab and Ruth and Jael and Deborah, and all those godly mothers and women of old. I have always been inspired by women who supported the leadership in the church in the New Testament times. I don’t know if Lydia the cloth-seller had a tattoo. Who really cares? She became a woman of God.

The problem is that women give up focusing on character and focus on appearances. It is possible to repent of that. Sure, the problem is that men also don’t look for character. For that we have to repent. This means that there is hope for every woman out there with or without tats who grew up home-schooled or in Christian school or in public school. That hope is the path of faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

Are you a woman distinguished by your deeds of faithfulness that you are doing for the Lord? Do you seek to build up the kingdom of God by pushing the men around you on to greatness like Deborah did when she rebuked Barak? Do you want to do what is right? Are you willing to enter a life-calling where you are called to be a help-meet (Gen. 2) and to submit to your husband (Eph. 5) and to raise children (Titus 2)? Then don’t worry about the tat that you got on your arm in your past. Do what is right, and if the Lord wills, He will inspire a man to lead you. Ruth did what was right. Boaz then saw what was right and lead the way.

Every man marries a woman with faults. Every man has faults. Personally, what I was looking for was a woman who desired to serve God faithfully according to His Word, could repent, and had a desire to grow. Everybody has a story. By God’s grace, anybody’s story can be headed in the right direction.

 

 

Life Together: Thinking Critically about Criticism

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Everybody loves criticism. Until they are the one criticized. I’m often asked about criticism. Here are some thoughts.

One of the joys of exhorting from the Word of God, is that every Sunday before corporate worship, I get to sit under the criticism of the Word. The writer to the Hebrews states: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). As the minister of the Word (the servant of the Word) sits before the Word before the Sunday in his study, it pierces him first before it pierces the congregation.

One of the joys of preaching through the book of Hosea, was that Hosea leaves no one untouched by the criticism of the Word. There is an application for the congregation: “Now let no man contend, or rebuke another; for your people are like those who contend with the priest” (Hosea 4:4) There is an application for the Pastor/elders/deacons: “Hear this, O priests! Take heed, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For yours is the judgment, because you have been a snare to Mizpah and a net spread on Tabor.” (Hosea 5:1)

Bonhoeffer writes in his book ‘Life Together’:

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.

Hyper-criticism begins when the Christian no longer listens to God’s Word or places himself under the authority of God’s word. Hyper-criticism ends when Christians are no longer willing to listen to one another. Bonhoeffer again:

“Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God to.”

Criticism is not a bad thing. King David delights in the glory of criticism. He may have been remembering the criticism he received from Nathan the Prophet: “Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it.” (Psalm 141:5). But notice: he wants the righteous to strike him, not the wicked. The blow of the wicked is from an enemy. The blow of the righteous is from a friend.

Criticism is inherently an action that must be tied into love for God’s Word. It can and should be an act of love that is tied into the truth: “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ-” (Eph. 4:15).  Sincerity in love can involve criticism as well: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9)

The fine line between destructive and constructive criticism is sometimes blurred by sin. Sanctification means that we are pursuing the building up of our neighbour. Christian love means that we pursue the building up of the body of Christ, and the Apostle Paul gets very practical at all times. He ends off Ephesians 4 by bringing clarity to communication: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:31-32).

Criticism is a fun one. As a seminarian, I find a lot of people want to make sure that I am able to take criticism. I usually just tell them that I am pretty bad at it. I find that I get the hardest hitting criticism in the study as I prepare a Sunday sermon. John Knox once wrote: ““I have never once feared the devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit.” Thankfully, the criticism of the Word always points us to the grace of God and His transformative power.

I find that all too often we are focused on the wrong sources, and I believe this is a source of some serious problems in the church at large. We talk at the wrong times and listen at the wrong times. We criticize and respond to criticism based on our feelings rather than the Word.

Hebrews 4 encourages self-criticism: “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.” (Heb. 4:11) But then it focuses on courageous service to Jesus Christ: “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16) Because of Jesus, any Christian can lean into criticism.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” Psalm 119:9

Fighting Marxism in Canada 101

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It is easy for the Church to shift with the winds of the culture, like the chameleon that can change its colors to blend in. Conflict is tough. Peace is alluring.

We live in a peace-loving society. We say ‘sorry’ quickly, and submit our neck to the yoke of the government, for we think it makes our burden easier and our yoke lighter. All the shootings in Toronto – they are not the norm. They are the result of a polarized society. And the Christians. Those Christians. They keep defending absolutes. They keep calling people to repentance. They keep causing trouble in society. Love means acceptance. We’ll accept the imam calling for the extermination of Jews on a street-corner in Toronto. But those crazy wackos who stand up at a gay pride parade and talk about forgiveness. We can’t accept them.

Christians disrupt the peace of society, by talking about their God, and that man Jesus Christ. We like Christians who keep their Book and their God in their pristine little church buildings out in the country side, where we don’t have to worry about them. If they take the podium to talk about forgiveness, we will issue a nation wide warrant for their arrest. If they speak up against the slaughter of babies and cross over the line, it is prison bars for them.

The State becomes the abritator of peace, and yes, it is quite arbitrary. They spit on their finger, hold it up in the air, and see where the wind is blowing. That is democracy. Is the LGBTQ community on a rampage? Let’s give them more “rights.” As long as they can keep the churches docile, they are happy. With wealth, nice tax returns, charitable tax status, they taunt the church with the lure of money. As long as the church can be an incorporation rather than an institution separate from the government, they are happy. As long as the church courts are weakened to the point of impotence, society can have peace.

The 5th commandment says ‘honour your father and mother’. By good and necessary consequence and good Scriptural principle, we deduce that this means honouring governments including national courts. Of course, this also means honouring church courts. Wait, what are church courts? In I Corinthians the Apostle Paul outlines the necessity of church courts, encouraging Christians to settle their disputes in the church courts. In other parts of the New Testament we are called to pray for our national leaders though, and that includes the one that we really dislike, and hate us (I Peter 2:3-17).

Jeremiah says in chapter 6:14 “they have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” I see places where the national courts are beginning to explicitly dishonour the authority of church courts and parental authority. There are bills headed through parliament and decisions being made that break the 5th commandment when it comes to the honouring of parental authority. Yes. Human courts can break the 5th commandment too. If you don’t believe me, there are a couple good podcasts from men who are leading in the defense of Christian principles. One of the best ones is the ARPA Lighthouse News podcast.

How shall we then live? “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.” (I Pet. 2:14-15)

  • We are bondservants of God, not the State.
  • We are free as bondservants of God, but we are not free to commit evil.
  • We fight back by doing good. It is not good to dishonour our parents or our church courts.
  • By honouring our parents and our church courts, we will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men who seek to give the State all authority in heaven and earth.

What are we willing to lose to honour the highest government of all, the crown rights of King Jesus? Not remaining docile, does not mean becoming wicked men. But it does mean standing by ecclesiastical church courts when our governments start roping them in through tax returns and incorporations. It does mean standing by our parents and the parents in our country, when the government starts imposing on their authority. It means taking personal responsibility.

Jesus is Lord!

Are You Ready to Sign Your Parental Duties over to the State?

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I was spanked as I was growing up. I was given time out. And my parents would “restrain” me when I was about to do something really stupid. My parents did this because they loved me, they did not want to see me harmed, or see me harm myself. That is love. Bill S-206 is hatred.

Currently I’m 25, so the rulers and authorities in Canada would not be able to truck my parents off to prison, and deport me to a CAS concentration home where I would be abused by the Canadian Child-care system. The state gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the state. At least, so they would like you to confess.

In 2015, liberal senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, launched a bill that received its second reading on June 5, 2018. It is now before the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. It has gone far. This Bill seeks to remove section 43 from the Criminal Code of Canada. This section reads: “Every school teacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.” This clause permits the use of force, with the provision that it does not exceed what is reasonable. Well, somebody who is very unreasonable wants to redefined this.

Citizengo writes:

Without section 43, any use of force would be automatically construed as assault. This would include the following:

  • picking up and moving a child to another room
  • stopping a child from doing something he wants to do
  • removing toys or objects from a child’s grasp
  • enforcing a time-out
  • stopping a child from leaving his room or leaving his house
  • restraining a child against his will
  • enforcing behaviour with a spank

If this law would pass would it be implemented? Probably not in every case. But are you willing to stand up for the Christian families and even unbelieving families who unfairly get caught in the crossfires? Are you ready to check your children into the CAS or yourself into the prison? Maybe the Canadian Department of Justice states it in a little less extreme language: “Without section 43, parents, caregivers, and teachers could face criminal charges and have to go to court to defend their actions whenever they used force to respond to a child’s behaviour.”

This isn’t about rights any more. This is about God given duties. Christian parents have a call to raise their children in the fear of the Lord. My parents did. Obviously Céline Hervieux-Payette should have a conversation with them about the glory and honour of godly discipline for a child. I would recommend them as authorities on the subject. In fact, that is what parents are: authorities. And I will honour them before any wicked law that is passed in the courts of power.

Why? Because they also honour a higher law than themselves. Scriptural principle, the law of God, the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is a matter of the Lordship of the State vs. the Lordship of Jesus.

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Is a Preacher Allowed to Apply the 8th Commandment to Modern Governments?

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Down in San Fransisco, I met a man, who identified as gay, who asked me whether I was a democrat or a republican in conviction. I told him that I was a bit of both and that I was Canadian, but I couldn’t explain further, because he started singing the praises of Prime Minister Trudeau, and then his subway took off. Anyways, he probably wouldn’t have liked to know that if I had the chance I would have told him about Jesus.

I have hardly voted in my lifetime. This doesn’t mean I don’t honour my governments, it’s just that I am too busy to vote. I have dedicated my life to the preaching of the gospel, and the teaching of the Word of God in this culture. I often include political leaders in evening prayers in worship. I have a number of informed as well as more very uninformed political thoughts. But I also believe that since Jesus is Lord, His authority speaks to politicians as well as everyone else. And when He speaks, He speaks through His Word.

We have a lot of growing clarity on very particular issues due to the abundance of discussion in the modern day church. Sexuality is hotly debated in our age. The issue of murder in the act of abortion is hotly debated in our age. Certain godly preachers feel comfortable bringing the Word of God to bear on these hot-button issues. They feel a duty from Scripture to call Christians to greater faithfulness, and unbelievers to faith in Jesus Christ where they will find the newness of the Christian life.

But when we turn to economics, somehow a comment on socialism or crony capitalism is claimed to be involvement in partisan politics, bringing lack of clarity and being highly tangential to the topic of the 8th commandment. But God does speak to economics, as well as the involvement of the government in economics. Yes, we are called to pray for our governments and honour them. We are called to render to Caesar what is his. But this does not mean that God’s Word does not speak to Caesar when he is robbing the poor.

I appreciated a comment from a friend that the government should rarely be mentioned in a sermon. It’s true. It can become a hobby-horse that distracts from the preaching of the gospel. And ultimately, life consists of a lot more than government. Government exists to put themselves out of business. But should a sermon on the 8th commandment involve no respectful criticism of government involvement in the financial affairs of our country? Many pastors definitely feel comfortable in encouraging their congregations to honour government authority in sermons on the 5th commandment. Yes, it must be clear, productive, and edifying to the hearers, as all things must be… And every preacher can grow in care with the Scriptures as well as clarity when presenting them. But they must still preach the 8th commandment and apply it to the 21st century.

For example, the Proverbs of Solomon present the way of life and the way of folly, including in financial matters. Lets say an MP or an MPP is sitting in the pew (which is becoming more common thing in CanRC and FRC churches between MP Arnold Vierssen, as well as MPP Sam Ooosterhoff and MPP Will Bouma). As Christian men who come to Church from Sunday to Sunday, they will also sit under the preaching and teaching of the Word. And they too, like the preacher himself, will need to apply this path of life rather than the path of folly to their lives. And so the Word of God must have something to say to financial matters as well.

Ministers must avoid partisan politics. They must be cautious in their application of the Word. They must listen to thoughtful responses to their applications. But they also must speak the truth of God’s Word to those in their congregation. They must fearlessly preach the truth of God’s Word about abortion and same-sex marriage… and stealing. It is their duty before both God therefore before men. If men of all sorts (whether politicians or bankers or blue-collar workers) do not know their unrighteousness, how are they supposed to come to know the righteousness of God as revealed in Jesus Christ? And so, Pastors should not fear men, but God alone.

 

Responding to the Politics of Victimhood

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Over the last year, I have followed the story of Lindsay Shepherd, the TA who was challenged by Wilfred Laurier University for showing a clip of Jordan Peterson to her class. The ensuing battle was a perfect example of the politics of victimhood. Prominent leaders in the university challenged her on the fact that people would be upset by Peterson’s traditional views of gender. Of course, most of the class was fine with the discussion, she herself is left-wing, and simply wanted to have a discussion about ideas. But of course, sometimes ideas are too harsh to victims. You can read more about this story here.

3 years back, I read an article by Derek Rishmawy, a Christian scholar in the States. This article was entitled: “How Do We Stop Weaponizing our Victims?” It was an article that was truly prophetic to our times and deeply insightful into human nature. He quotes Renee Girard: “Indeed, we practice a hunt for scapegoats to a second degree, a hunt for hunters of scapegoats. Our society’s obligatory compassion authorizes new forms of cruelty.” We take a victim in our society, and use that victim to victimize someone else. In the case of Wilfrid Laurier University, they have used the offense that certain individuals in our society take towards the truth, to make more victims: ie Lindsay Shepherd.

Just recently Jordan Peterson argued that Christians need to start defending their rights, or they will lose everything. This was said in the wake of the Supreme Court Ruling against Trinity Western University. The Supreme Court ruled that this Christian university was not allowed to run a law school because of their code of conduct, which “discriminated” against persons of certain “sexual orientation”. Jordan Peterson states: “Better stand up for yourself, because your religious rights are very low on the rights totem pole at the moment… And that’s going to get worse, a lot worse, before it gets better. So if you think your religious freedom is worth having, you better be ready to defend it, and you better be ready to do that in an articulated way, because you’re not a priority — put it that way.” You can read it here.

So how do Christians fight without playing the victim? In many ways, this culture of victimhood has crept inside the church as well, and it is hard to speak without someone rolling over and playing dead. It’s hard. But are we victims of the difficulties?

Immediately preceding the Battle of Trafalgar during the Napoleonic Wars in the year 1805, the Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson sent out a signal to his troops: “England expects that every man will do his duty.”

Jordan Peterson is right – we must stand up for the truth. We must stand up for the truth even when those around us tell us we hate them. We must stand up for the truth because we love people.

Of course, we can look at the example of the Christians and the Apostles in the New Testament times. If anybody were victims of a tyrannical society, they were. And they did not overcome this by the sword (which would have been the human means), or by suing (which would be the human means of the 21st century), but by simply living as Christians. This did not mean that they hid out. Every time the Apostle Paul got stoned, he jumped up off the ground and kept on moving. When they were charged to stopped speaking the Word, they grew in boldness. In the beginning of Acts 17, Jason gets hauled in to the authorities for treason, he pays his dues according to the laws of the land and sends the Apostle Paul on his way.

The Apostle Paul rejoices in his chains, when he is locked up in prison, and the gospel advances as a result of it (Phil. 1:12-26). He even goes so far as to say that he takes pleasure in what he could be complaining about as victimhood: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Cor. 12:10)

This does not mean that we should not empathize with, pray for, and minister the gospel as well as worldly things to those who have been “victimized.” Christianity is oriented towards the refugee, the abused, those hurt by gang conflict and the sin of men and women. But we point to Christ, the Lamb of God, who was nailed to a cross for our sin although he was without sin. And then after three days, He beat Satan by rising from the dead. Both the mercy and justice of God met sinners there, knocking men like the Apostle Paul onto the ground, and then raising him up to be a servant of God rather than a persecutor of his people. It also met Stephen there as the Apostle Paul (before he was converted) stood watching over the clothes of those stoning him.

The key thing here is that when we are enraptured by the gospel as the church, we will not get caught up in the politics of victimhood, even when our society tries to ensnare the church in their mentality. We will pray for those stoning us as Stephen did in Acts 7. As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 2:1, commanding all men to repent and believe in Christ: “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

I believe that the gospel creates a “safe place” for our culture to have a rational discussion. But of course, that same gospel, can very easily wound the pride of men. I know that it has hurt my pride on many occasions. And when pride is wounded…

Yes, if you have done someone wrong, you must repent. And it is likely that you must repent of seeing your victimhood as a “justification” for some form of an abuse of power. Yes, the Christian will weep about the evil done in the world, and the Christian is called to weep with those who have been a target of that. But we can never justify the further propagation of these atrocities. We must instead turn to the One who took God’s wrath in our place.

Derek Rishmawy concludes his article: “Everything changes in light of the Victim who is the Judge.”