Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mr. Chambers and Mr. Chesterton on the Joy of the Lord

The following is from Mr. Chambers' book He Will Glorify Me:

"We have the notion of joy that arises from good spirits or good health, but the miracle of joy of God has nothing to do with our lives or circumstances or the condition we're in. Jesus does not come to us and say, 'Cheer up.' He plants within us the miracle of the joy of God's own nature. The stronghold of the Christian faith is the joy of God, not my joy in God. It is a great thing for one to have faith in the joy of God, to know that nothing alters the fact of God's joy. God reigns and rules and rejoices, and His joy is our strength. The miracle of the Christian life is that God can give a person joy in the midst of external misery, a joy which gives him or her power to work until the misery is removed. Joy is different from happiness, because happiness depends on what happens. There are elements in our circumstances we cannot help; joy is independent of them all."

The following is from Mr. Chesterton's book Orthodoxy:

"The mass of men have been forced to be gay about the little things, but sad about the big ones. Nevertheless (I offer my last dogma defiantly) it is not native to man to be so. Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial...Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man's ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this: that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small. The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is a small and pitiful stillness like the prompt stillness in a sick-room. We are perhaps permitted tragedy as a sort of merciful comedy: because the frantic energy of divine things would knock us down like a drunken farce. We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels...There was something that [Christ] hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth."

The following is from Mr. Chambers' book The Place of Help:

"The external character of the life of our Lord was that of radiant sociability; so much so that the popular scandal-mongering about Him was that He was 'a glutton and winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' [John 15:11] The fundamental reason for our Lord's sociability was other than they knew; but His whole life was characterized with a radiant fullness, it was not an exhausted type of life. 'Unless you are converted and become as little children...' If a little child is not full of the spontaneity of life, there is something wrong. The bounding life and restlessness is a sign of health, not of naughtiness. Jesus said, 'I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.' Be filled with the life Jesus came to give. People who are radiantly healthy, physically and spiritually, cannot be crushed. They are like the cedars of Lebanon, which have such superabounding vitality in their sap that they intoxicate to death any parasites that try to live on them."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Statement on the Direction of a Certain Liberal Arts College

Author's Note: The proceeding was written on paper over a month ago, after a passionate, enlightening discussion with some friends of mine. Since then, certain things have set in motion within this certain liberal arts college that may mean good changes in the future. Therefore, some of what is said here may be a little dated by now. Nevertheless, what was written is still true and, seeing as how the changes are still up in the air, still relevant to the discussion. I name no names here, but merely speak my heart. Take from it what you will. It may be that other colleges are experiencing a similar crisis.

The Thesis: The current administration of this certain liberal arts college is destroying my school by hijacking it with its urban ministry agenda. This college is a center for higher learner, i.e., a school. It is not a headquarters for ministry and missionary work, i.e., a church. This college is to equip young Christians with the knowledge and thinking skills necessary to engage the multiple facets of thought in the world with the gospel. In short, this college was to make us think critically, grow spiritually, and change our world.

The Change: Under the current administration's agenda driven school, the college's purpose has changed, and that to its detriment:
  • "Think Critically," unless it interferes with school ministry, then it's okay to flunk a class for the sake of ministry. Besides being a flagrant violation of Ecclesiastes 9:10, Romans 12:11, Ephesians 6:6, and Colossians 3:22, 23 (all work done unto God), if you think it's okay to just flunk a class at the drop of a hat, then don't go to college. When you come to a college, your primary concern in the college is to learn. If you want to minister, then go to a church, or a ministerial organization or charity; but don't come around here and play school.
  • "Grow Spiritually," as long as your spiritual growth is seen solely through the lens of racism and racial reconciliation. This is a sure fire way to completely stunt the growth of a Christian. There is more to our spiritual growth than racial reconciliation. If you want to make that a part of our growth,that's wonderful (for racism is an evil). Do not, however, channel all our spiritual growth through this one dimension, and do not cram it down our throats in every class: what in the world does racial reconciliation have to do with learning Greek?
  • "Change your world," i.e., change the inner city. Lord knows our city needs spiritual renewal (or overhaul), but this minimalistic tunnel vision that focuses solely on the inner city is nothing more than blinders in the long run. We here talk of "reaching our world," but it is ultimately just talk. The current agenda driven school is focused squarely and solely on the inner city. Ask yourself: what use is urban studies to someone whose calling is not in cities at all? What use is a sole focus on racial reconciliation when your calling is not focused on racism? These things, though wonderful and good to the right people (i.e., people called to do those things), are absolutely useless to the other people, yet it is crammed down their throats in every class.
The New Segregation: Another thing that this administration's agenda driven school has produced is a new segregation between those who "get on board" with the hijacking agenda, and those who do not agree with its direction, tactics, or methods; between those who "catch the vision," and those who hold to the old vision, i.e., that this certain college is a liberal arts center of higher learner meant to equip Christians to engage the world on any level. Those who "catch the vision" and "get on board" are considered to be (by the administration) exemplary Christians and a true example of Christ-likeness. Those who disagree are dubbed "racist," "cloistered," "snobs," "Pharisees," "bad Christians," and (ironically) "divisive." The last one is ironic because it is those who "catch the vision" who treat this disagreement as "divisive," and therefore it is they who divide the student body into those who get with it and those who do not. The one's who disagree with the agenda see this disagreement as their Christian responsibility as salt and light (see Matthew 5:13-16; our "works" are to cleanse corruption and reveal the truth) to point out, address, and try to correct what is wrong or in error. As it stands, the college is firmly in the grasp of the administrative agenda; you either get with it or get run over an marginalized by it. If change does not occur, then the old college, the college of academic excellence and well-rounded faith, will fade into the twilight.

A Prediction: I make a prediction. If nothing changes, then within ten years, this certain college will be no more. There may be a building with some sort of activity going on, but it won't be the old college. It won't even be a "college." It will be the "Urban Ministry Center of the City," or "The City Seminary of Urban Ministries," but it will not be the college anymore. Whatever the name, it will be a church posing as a school, or a school posing as a church. Either way, this certain college, the Christian liberal arts school that stressed multifaceted critical thinking, well-rounded and grounded faith, and a true vision for the world, will be no more. It will have been replaced by an academically dormant, spiritually stunted, cloistered shell of an institution.

For the Record: Those who created, started, and support this agenda are moral, wonderful people with excellent character and hearts for God (generally speaking). However, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and they are (inadvertently or otherwise) laying more bricks on the road to this certain college's destruction. Like a Shakespearean tragedy, with good intentions they inadvertently destroy all that they desire. The same is happening at this school. Pray that it stops soon.