Author Archives: highplainsparson

About highplainsparson

I'm a servant of the word of God, serving the Lord in Colorado. The husband of one and father of four, I count my blessings daily. I wish to build up Christ's flock in love to him and holiness. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly speaks out against the secularization of public schools–affirms Christian America

prayer-at-first-continental-congress

Faced with the growing secularization of public schools in America, the PC(USA) defined the position of American Presbyterianism in the following pronouncement by her General Assembly in the year 1870:

“We should regard the successful attempt to expel all religious instruction and influence from our public schools as an evil of the first magnitude. Nor do we see how this can be done without inflicting a deadly wound upon the intellectual and moral life of the nation…We look upon the state as an ordinance of God, and not a mere creature of the popular will; and, under its high responsibility to the Supreme Ruler of the world, we hold it to be both its right and bound duty to educate its children in those elementary principles of knowledge and virtue which are essential to its own security and well-being. The union of church and state is indeed against our American theory and constitutions of government; but the most intimate union of the state with the saving and conservative forces of Christianity is one of the oldest customs of the country, and has always ranked a vital article of our political faith.”

General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) 1870, quoted in A History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States by Robert E. Thompson, 1895, p. 199.

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Presbyterians Pressured by President Lincoln

Illustration of the Bombardment of Fort SumterWhen the Confederate Army cannonaded Ft. Sumter on April 12, 1861, opening the Civil War, it turned out to be a moment that crystallized the patriotic feelings of many Americans in defense of the Union. Sumter awoke a sleeping giant. It was on of those “rally around the flag” moments that the South had probably not expected it to be, when people across the Union who were previously apathetic or ambivalent about the political disputes between North and South felt a rush of anger over what the South had done, and a desire to preserve the Union. Reading about this turn of events reminds me of the patriotic response many Americans exhibited during the First Gulf War, when Lee Greenwood soared to the top of the charts with his perennial favorite, “God Bless the USA”, and later, the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 when Union flags seemed to fly on every car antenna in a surge of patriotic feeling.

Just one month after Sumter, in May 1861, Rev. Gardiner Spring introduced a resolution at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U. S. A. calling for a day of prayer and fasting, in light of the national trouble and warfare that had already broken out with the siege of Ft. Sumter and the secession of 8 states. He was an influential and respected conservative in the denomination, hand-picked to present the resolution by the pro-Union side. It made one small mention of prayer for the preservation of the Union, without including any denunciations of the Southern States that some had wanted to see in it. What many may not know, is that the Lincoln administration was pressuring the Presbyterian Church to pass a resolution supporting the Union. The Presbyterian Church was at that time one of the three largest church bodies in the Union, and the Lincoln administration, perhaps rightly, thought that the declared support of the Presbyterian Church toward the Union would help secure the loyalty of the Border States: New Jersey, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri toward the federal cause. The vote went 156-66 in favor of the resolution*. A contingent protested the resolution led by Charles Hodge, but to no avail. Moderate-mindedness could not quell the spirit of patriotism or the desire to help preserve the Union.220px-abraham_lincoln_o-77_matte_collodion_print

In response, the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States was promptly formed of the forty-seven presbyteries in the South. A schism of the Northern and Southern Presbyterian Churches took place, which did not reunite for over one hundred twenty years. While it was sad that political concerns split the church, it was also a continuation of the Presbyterian tradition of a mutually helpful relationship between the church and the civil government.

*See: A History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States by Robert Thompson, New York: 1895.

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Presbyterianism in America

The group of ecclesiastical bodies which co(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundationnstitute the Presbyterian family in America hold a place of great importance in the religious life of the nation.  American Presbyterianism has been of weight beyond its numerical strength through the services it has rendered to theological science, the interest it has maintained in Christian doctrine, the high standard of intelligence it has set up for both its ministry and its people, its capacity to develop strength of character, its superior family discipline, and its conservative influence upon the national life.

Robert Ellis Thompson, A History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States, 1.

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Please forgive my indifference…

A voice of reason.

Wife with Purpose

I’m trying, but you’re making it hard.

There were a number of ways I could have written this blog, but I figured I would write it as genuinely and honestly as I could. So here it goes.

I’m having a hard time with you, and I am referring to the Reformed (or Reforming) African-American crowd (you know, some of the people who like to write for RAAN or the women who host Truth’s Table). I’m really having a hard time. And no, I’m not white. I’m actually an African-American woman who is a Baptist in a conservative PCA church in the South. And though I can consider you to be my “brothers and sisters by color”, I really struggle to not roll my eyes when I hear you speak and read your blogs.

And I know that may sound strange. I mean, I might sound like one of those…

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The Cultural Mandate, Not the Benedict Option

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but the secularists’ are. I like this approach, “The best way to keep satanic secularism off the sacred turf of the church and family is to contest the so-called secular turf of modern culture” It reminds me of the war on terrorism. We fought them in Iraq so that we didn’t have to fight them here.

P. Andrew Sandlin

ben-op-cover-black-hill

Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (an excerpt of which appeared in Christianity Today),[1] has launched the latest Facebook-Twitter-blog-web battle among culturally oriented Christians. The Benedict Option (Dreher abbreviates it: Ben Op) is a “strategic withdrawal” according to which many conservative Christians, aggressive culture warriors since the 70s, now retreat into tight-knit communities to bolster their faith during our time of nearly unprecedented cultural hostility. Dreher argues that this culture is presently so influential and pervasive in its anti-Christianity that to refuse to withdraw from it relegates our children and grandchildren to “assimilation.” Our cultural foes are so vast and influential, that we just can’t expect to hold out against them. We’ve lost the culture wars, and we’d better adopt and act on a strategy to spend our earthly sojourn as the cultural losers we’ve become.

It’s not a new proposal…

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Has the PCA Caved to Cultural Marxism?

Has the PCA caved to Cultural Marxism?
I have permission from the author to post this anonymously, so for my FB friends’ edification:
In answer to the question, has the PCA caved to Cultural Marxism as far as the Black Lives Matters Movment?
“No but there are those that confuse breaking down barriers that exist with embracing and/or tolerating some really bad theology.
I’ve noticed something about so-called “paternalistic” or “intolerant” conservatives that I haven’t noticed about those whose Gospel lens is focused only in the “racial reconciliation” direction.
I read about all these conservative types (the bane of progress and reconciliation) who are traveling to foreign countries to help train ministers or encourage the Saints in dangerous lands. Dr. Aquila teaches in Egypt and other parts of Africa as well as in South America. Dr. Pipa recently returned from Turkey. Dr. Beeke goes all over the world at other’s invitation.
Maybe I’m missing it but I don’t see Christians in other far-flung places of the world inviting Michelle Higgins to come talk to them about racial reconciliation. It seems to be a distinctively elite American phenomena that the rest of the persecuted and far-flung Church cares little to nothing about. Viewed globally, I think the effort is a bit provincial.
I know there are well-meaning men and women who care about this issue but I think that many are getting caught up in micro-aggression theories and making the pattern for reconciliation so complicated that you need to constantly study specific theories of culture or constantly worry every time a new culture enters in that you haven’t done something to “micro-aggress” them by failing to recognize that you’re the dominant culture.
When you’re actually in another culture, you don’t even think about the idea that people are being “micro-aggressive” toward you or are trying to force you into their mold. You recognize and appreciate the cultural expressions and are thankful for the manners they show kindness to you even if it’s not the way you would demonstrate kindness. You recognize things that might seem rude to us as not necessarily rude.
In America, with all this race theory and micro-aggressions, we’ve turned cultural norms into pathologies and made basically decent people into monsters because they (unaware of their own culture) are trying to be nice but are told they are being racist or micro-aggressive. Should we take care to get to know people and not assume they are altogether like us? Of course we should but there is far more going on here. There’s sort of the idea that the culture itself is a form of oppression. “White Privilege” pervades and is a form of “sin” that favors some and disfavors others. If we were in Japan then we might be subject to “Japanese privilege” and the fact that we don’t slurp our soup would disadvantage us in society and we would not see that as a cultural difference but as a pervasive sin that all Japanese people do certain things a certain way or think or talk or act a certain way and don’t think anything of the fact that people that can’t navigate the culture will not be able to be in positions of influence.
Within the Church, then, I see a growing move toward an orthodoxy of “white privilege” that we must accept. Ironically, from the very ministers that generally eschew our Confession as a standard exegesis of the Scriptures and a willingness to be squishy on things like paedocommunion or the RPW or the Sabbath in order to have a big tent, the issue of “white privilege” seems to be fast becoming a given. It’s not exegetically derived but simply assumed to be the case and calls for social justice as part of the Gospel have become non-negotiables in many quarters. There’s sort of a gnostic “…you just can’t know…” idea that casts doubt on the ability of a white man to communicate the Word of God to a “person of color” unless he also acknowledges white privilege and is engaged in socio-economic and political change as well.
But, as I said, some of the ideas that stodgy White dudes who aren’t into social justice can’t communicate past their race group are belied by the fact that it’s these same stodgy guys who are being requested by far flung parts of the world while the “enlightened” seem provincial. That’s my observation at least. If I hadn’t lived overseas and actually served with other cultures then I might buy into some of this and doubt my ability to communicate the real message of reconciliation but I just can’t buy into this stuff that they’re peddling and wonder if the PCA will wake up to the fact that they’re reproducing the trajectory of Walter Rauschenbusch. We seem to think that theological liberalism came from bad intentions but, because ours are good, we’ll escape the fate of everyone who came before us.”
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British National Anthem

Today the government of the United Kingdom triggered Brexit, its exit from the European Union. In honor of this development, allow me to post the second verse of the British national anthem:

2. O Lord our God arise, 

Scatter her enemies 

And make them fall; 

Confound their politics, 

Frustrate their popish tricks, 

On Thee our hopes we fix, 

God save us all! 

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Galatians and the Mosaic Covenant

The Mosaic covenant, while being an administration of the covenant of grace, was a “legal administration.”
This means that it came along with a rigorous reapplication of the law of God broken in Eden, and many
statutes and commandments intending to teach the people of God “under age” as minors, so to speak, not to look for salvation in their
own works, as if the commandment had never been broken in Eden, but to look to Him who was to come. The
Judaizers in Paul’s day were misusing the Mosaic law by trying to make it a way of salvation, which it
was never intended to be, since Israel at Sinai had already broken God’s law in Adam, and in many other sins.
Now the Church has reached a mature stage compared with the Church at Sinai. We do not need all the “picture books”
and ceremonies. But looking back, we nonetheless see that the Mosaic covenant was one and the same with the New
Covenant.

John 1:16 nkj And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

These verses do not describe a difference in kind between the covenants of Moses and Christ, but an increase in degree of the same kind of thing. “grace for grace”

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Calvin on the Adoration of the Elements of Holy Communion

pope-francis-kneeling-at-st-mary-majorWho therefore can deny that it is a wicked superstition that men kneel down before bread, to adore Jesus Christ in it?  There is no doubt that the Council of Nicaea wanted to prevent such an detriment, having prohibited Christians from stopping to fix their thoughts humbly toward visible signs.  There would not have been any other reason why it was instituted in the ancient Church that the deacon would cry out to the people in a loud and clear voice before the consecration [of the elements], that everyone should have his heart up above.  And in the same way the Scripture, other than explaining to us distinctly the ascension of our Lord, when it mentions Him, exhorts us to raise our hearts up above (Col. 3:1) to remove from us from any carnal thought.  Therefore, following this rule, it is necessary for us to adore Him spiritually in the glory of heaven, rather than to invent such a dangerous form of adoration, which proceeds from a deep dream and worse than carnal, that we conceive as being from God and from Jesus Christ.

That is why those who invented the adoration of the sacrament, did not only think it up by themselves without Scripture, in which not a single word is found of it, that which would not have been forgotten, if it had been approved by God, but they also forge a new god plainly contrary to the Scriptures, according to their own will, and forsake the living God.  For what idolatry is there in the world, if that is not one, to adore the gifts instead of the Giver?  In this they have doubly erred: for the honor was taken from God, to transfer it to the creature.  And God was also dishonored, in that the gift of His goodness was soiled and profaned, when an execrable idol was made of His holy sacrament.

We, however, in order that we do not fall into the same ditch, let us fix our ears, our eyes, our hearts, our thoughts, and our tongues, entirely in the very holy teaching of God.  For it is in the school of the Holy Spirit, a very good Teacher, in which there is excellent benefit, to which there is no need to add anything else, and it is to voluntarily ignore everything that is not taught in it.

Jean Calvin, Institution Chrétienne, IV.XVII.36

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The Historic Reformed 2 Kingdoms doctrine vs. modern “R2K”

Ames, in his Marrow of Theology, describes two distinct Kingdoms: the Kingdom of God’s grace (the Church) and the kingdom of God’s power (the whole universe.) Both are under His law, without any distinction made between general and special revelation. Modern “R2K” teaching strangely makes a complete separation between God’s law in general and special revelation, says only the former applies outside the church, and often seems to imply that it in fact says something different from what the law in special revelation says. But classical reformed theology said that in order to be correct, because of sin, our understanding of general revelation must be corrected by the Scriptures, to make it accurate. (Dogmatics, Mueller.) This has ramifications for the “secular” kingdom.

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