Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How Should We Then Live?

For an excellent delineation of worldview and its formulation, I highly recommend Francis A. Schaeffer’s “How Should We Then Live?”

In the coming weeks, I hope to post quotes from the book; sheer nuggets of wisdom from a man who has written more than 20 books and who believed “true truth.” He explains this when he said, in 1974, “The hallmark of our generation, in contrast to the previous generations, is that this generation does not believe that truth exists. All is relativistic” (Form and Freedom in the Church, paper presented at the 1974 Lausanne, Switzerland International Congress on World Evangelization). His truth is the “absolutes concerning the Word of God” (ibid). In addition, he passionately promoted that we “practice the truth we say we maintain” (ibid). This is the balance one finds in “How Should We Then Live?” 

Schaeffer goes not to the issues, but to the core behind the issues. He stays not on the surface, but tunnels down to the root. In this 258 page volume, culture in all its facets is delved into from the ground up. Read and understand how we got to where we are, and how re-aligning our heart, mind, body and soul with the Triune God of Scripture is the only thing that ever has or ever will change our direction for better.

In “How Should We Then Live?” Schaeffer delves into the birth, growth and impact of humanistic thinking:

“The humanist thinkers, beginning from themselves autonomously, either come to the conclusion that there are no values and meaning or suddenly try to produce values and meaning out of rhetoric” (p. 150).

“But this finally brings them to the place where the word God merely becomes the word God, and no certain content can be put into it” (p. 176).

This often leads to “just a feeling of religious experience” (p. 177).

It is at this point that I wrote a huge “yes!” in the margin of the book, because what Schaeffer is describing is myself before I was saved at age 38 by and through the Truth of Jesus and His work. I was a sappy sentimental humanist, quoting philosophers or so-called theologians of whom I knew nothing about because their words sounded lofty, pretty or intellectual. By co-opting a quote or two from “great men and women” I, too, could become “great” (or at least appear so to others). Well, the joke was on me, and the emperor has no clothes. I was, in reality, what the Bible describes as a fool, following the “wisdom” (folly) of man and not God. 

Schaeffer rightly sums it up this way: “One is left with the connotation of religious words without content, and the emotions which certain religious words still bring forth—and that is all. The next step is that these highly motivating religious words out of our religious past, but separated from their original content and context in the Bible, are then used for manipulation. The words became a banner for men to grab and run with in any arbitrary direction—either shifting sexual morality from its historic Christian position based on the Bible’s and Christ’s teaching, or in legal and political manipulation” (p. 178).

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10

“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’” John 14:6

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day

The following poem first appeared on this blog on November 10, 2008, for Veterans Day. I am re-posting it here today in memory of all those who have served our country in the Armed Forces. May they be the focus of our gratitude this weekend, along with our prayers to God for those who still serve.

No Words for Korean War

Poets could write of primroses and beach glass
But what meaning would that have for you,
a man who served 51 years ago
in the Korean Theater,
a stage of death so senseless
that nobody in the States wanted
to hear about it
or even to remember.

You were 18
fresh from a land of maple trees
and humble brick bungalows
A place where the fourth of July was marked
by flags
hanging from the front stoop
and boys pushed mowers
over postage stamp lawns.
Your life rolled out in front of you
like so many Iowa farm fields;
a life barely grown
and too young for war's threshing floor.
You found,
and lost yourself,
in Korea;
Porkshop Hill, Bloody Ridge,
crossing the river at Inch'on--
faces of boys you'd just met
blown away in front of you.
You scribbled letters home
not knowing what to say.

As fog skimmed another tranquil Wisconsin lake on a June morning
As thick white snowflakes fell softly
in neighborhoods bedecked with Christmas lights
In Korea
days of humid rain
gave way to snow.
You "dug-in" through the permafrost
to make a bed for your hour of sleep.
Back in the States
they didn’t know
and never thought to ask.

While poets waxed quixotic--
and still do--
of starry skies and pouring tea
What is that to boys and men
for whom the stars have died
and pretense is no more.

Written by Barb Harwood, following personal interviews with Korean and World War II Vets.

"Jesus wept." John 11:35