• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • September 2008
    M T W T F S S
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Politics And The American Pulpit

In this article, Gary DeMar addresses the influence of the church on early American government. The article is titled, “The Pulpit And Politics.”

“To the pulpit, the Puritan Pulpit, we owe the moral force which won our Independence,” so said John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution. Ministers of the gospel confronted the issues of their day by appealing to the people in terms of the Bible. The annual “Election Sermon” still “bears witness that our fathers ever began their civil year and its responsibilities with an appeal to Heaven, and recognized Christian morality as the only basis of good laws.” In addition, the clergy were often consulted by the civil authorities in the colonies, “and not infrequently the suggestions from the pulpit, on election days and other special occasions, were enacted into laws. The statute-book, the reflex of the age, shows this influence. The State was developed out of the Church.” The American pulpit “gave birth to America,” Alexis de Tocqueville observed long ago:

On the eve of the revolution, in his last-ditch attempt to stave off impending catastrophe, Edmund Burke reminded the House of Commons of the inseparable alliance between liberty and religion among Englishmen in America. Mercy Otis Warren noted in their 1805 history of the American Revolution: “It must be acknowledged, that the religious and moral character of Americans yet stands on a higher grade of excellence and purity, than that of most other nations.” Of the Americans on the eve of the Revolution Carl Bridenbaugh has exclaimed, “who can deny that for them the very core of existence was their relation to God?”

Read the entire article here. . . .

Have You Ever Added Water To The Well of Scripture?

There is a tendency to play loose and liberal with the meaning of Scripture in the modern church. This is at the least blasphemy and at the most heresy. There are popular preachers who have created a large following by manipulating the Word of God to say what people want to hear. Be careful what you hear for there are still as many wolves among the sheep as there were in the time of the Apostle Paul. In the following comments, A. W. Pink discusses the importance of the preacher and teacher delivering the meaning of God’s Word faithfully:

As it is the work of the translator to convey the real sense of the Hebrew and Greek into English, so the interpreter’s is to apprehend and communicate the precise ideas which the language of the Bible was meant to impart. As the renowned Bengel so well expressed it, “An expositor should be like the maker of a well: who puts no water into it, but makes it his object to let the water flow, without diversion, stoppage, or defilement.” In other words, he must not take the slightest liberty with the sacred text, nor give it a meaning which it will not legitimately bear; neither modifying its force nor superimposing upon it anything of his own, but seeking to give out its true import.

To comply with what has just been said calls for an unbiased approach, an honest heart, and a spirit of fidelity, on the part of the interpreter.

“Nothing should be elicited from the text but what is yielded by the fair and grammatical explanation of its language” (P. Fairbaim).

It is easy to assent to that dictum, but often difficult to put it into practice. A personal shrinking from what condemns the preacher, a sectarian bias of mind, the desire to please his hearers, have caused not a few to evade the plain force of certain passages, and to foist on them significations which are quite foreign to their meaning. Said Luther, “We must not make God’s Word mean what we wish. We must not bend it, but allow it to bend us, and give it the honor of being better than we can make it.” Anything other than that is highly reprehensible. Great care needs ever to be taken that we do not expound our own minds instead of God’s. Nothing can be more blameworthy than for a man to profess to be uttering a “Thus saith the Lord” when he is merely expressing his own thoughts. Yet who is there who has not, unwittingly, done so?

If the druggist is required by law to follow exactly the doctor’s prescription, if military officers must transmit the orders of their commanders verbatim or suffer severe penalties, how much more incumbent is it for one dealing with Divine and eternal things to adhere strictly to his text book! The interpreter’s task is to emulate those described in Nehemiah 8:8, of whom it is said “they read in the book in the law of the Lord God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” The reference is to those who had returned to Palestine from Babylon. While in captivity they had gradually ceased to use Hebrew as their spoken language. Aramaic displacing it. Hence there was a real need to explain the Hebrew words in which the Law was written (cf. Nehemiah 13:23, 24). Yet the recording of this incident intimates that it is of permanent importance, and has a message for us. In the good providence of God there is little need today for the preacher to explain the Hebrew and the Creek, since we already possess a reliable translation of them into our own mother tongue–though occasionally, yet very sparingly, he may do so. But the preacher’s principal business is to “give the sense” of the English Bible and cause his hearers to “understand” its contents. His responsibility is to adhere strictly to that injunction, “let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff of the wheat? saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:28). (Interpretation of The Scriptures)

What Do Atheism, Education, And Superstition Have In Common?

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway has written a very interesting article titled, “Look Who’s Irrational Now.” The following is a summary of that article:

“You can’t be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you’re drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god,” comedian and atheist Bill Maher said earlier this year on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.”

On Oct. 3, Mr. Maher debuts “Religulous,” his documentary that attacks religious belief. He talks to Hasidic scholars, Jews for Jesus, Muslims, polygamists, Satanists, creationists, and even Rael — prophet of the Raelians — before telling viewers: “The plain fact is religion must die for man to live.”

Let’s take a look at how Maher’s “logic” is lived out in his own life. Maher is a fervent advocate of pseudoscience. Mr. Maher told David Letterman — a quintuple bypass survivor — to stop taking the pills that his doctor had prescribed for him. Maher does not believe in Western medicine. He does not believe in vaccinations or Louis Pasteur’s germ theory. He won’t take aspirin because he believes it is lethal and he doesn’t believe the Salk vaccine eradicated polio.

The truth is that atheism, by discouraging religion, does not create intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. It could encourage new levels of mass superstition.

“What Americans Really Believe,” a new study released by Baylor University, demonstrates that Christianity decreases belief in everything from palm reading to astrology. Atheists and liberal, non-traditional Protestants tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience. 31% of irreligious people expressed strong belief in the occult and the paranormal. Only 8% of people who attend church believe in these things.

In his book “The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener,” Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs. Two years ago another study published in Skeptical Inquirer showed that belief in such superstitions as ghosts, psychic healing, haunted houses, clairvoyance and witches increased with the higher level of education attained.

If I may paraphrase Francis Bacon: A little education inclines a man’s mind to atheism. It is the true depth of education that brings a man’s mind around to the knowledge of God.

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