Category Archives: Commentary

[Feb.10, 2017] 9:15 AM This week I just happened to read David Frum’s How to Build an Autocracy. (Autocracy’s a good Greek word, by the way.) It’s a pretty creepy disquisition (don’t ever expect dystopian essays to be happy reading), but I’ve been in enough foreign countries to understand how democracy can be — and has been — threatened by a modern bureaucratic state. It doesn’t take all that much to destroy a vigorous democracy — a little gaslighting here, a few lies there, stirring up a bit of chaos and confusion now and then, etc. Which reminds me … the wonderful French Christian philosopher Jacque Ellul had quite a bit to say about the technocratic state that goes awry, and I have documented this in my little book called Christian Archy in case you’re interested.

We think we’re too smart to fall for the lies of the Party (think 1984), but history shows just how gullible people are. Even Paul could accuse his beloved Galatians of being abject fools (“You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses?” — so Eugene Peterson). In 1984, Orwell wrote “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake.”

We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites.

Goodness gracious. All this can be very unsettling. If The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate fantasy story, so 1984 is the last word in the dystopian story genre. Or is it? Time will tell. As much as I enjoy reading Frum and others, however, the ultimate priority for a Christian soldier is to seek the kingdom of God and not become entangled (too much) in the affairs of this world. I’m trying, folks, I’m trying! It’s much more important to please our enlisting officer, King Jesus (2 Tim. 2:4). And I suspect His plan of action is a bit simpler than that of your typical Washington PAC. It involves imitating Him by witnessing to His alternative kingdom through loving service to other people. The kingdom He came to establish is “not of this world.” And if He could include an ultra-right-winger (a tax collector) and an ultra-left-winger (a zealot) among His followers, we cannot and must not divide ourselves as Christians on the basis of political party or nationalistic agendas.

God is inviting us into the spiritual battle seven days a week. It’s such warfare. What words do I write? What acts of goodness should I perform in His name today? What must I forgive, release, lay down, surrender, offer to Him? There is something supernatural to this battle we’re in. I keep telling myself, “Dave, don’t miss the forest for the trees, even if the trees and the tiny little saps come in rapid succession each and every day.”

Done.

Alarm is set.

(From Dave Black Online. Used by permission.)

What About Divorce?

8:43 AM Let's see: Is divorce ever permissible for a believer? And what about remarriage after divorce? You would think that such questions would hardly need to be asked in the Bible Belt, but the fact is that divorce is not uncommon in many of our churches. The world remains a place of struggle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood. In a sin-marred world, things go awry. All the more reason to cry out to the Lord for guidance. I once co-edited what I believe is one of the most important and helpful books ever to have been written on the difficult subject of Christian marriage and divorce. The book is entitled Except for Fornication: The Teaching of the Lord Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage. Often a book comes across as either too heavy to be practical or too light as to be helpful. Parunak skillfully avoids both extremes. Self-examination is crucial, and we must look at our lives honestly. Grace never ignores sin, but works God's power in taking broken sinful human beings and bringing them to wholeness.

 

(From Dave Black Online, used by permission.)

Editor Dave Black on Ultimate Allegiance

11:42 AM This morning I’ve been sitting beside a warm fire in my library pouring over the final page proofs of the latest book in our Areopagus series, Bob Cornwall’s Ultimate Allegiance: The Subversive Nature of the Lord’s Prayer.

I have long felt that our usual method of reading the Disciples’ Prayer needed a corrective; and this book is it. The authors of our little series represent a larger tension in the academic world: Luther versus Erasmus, revolution versus reform, a brave new approach versus the patching up of an old garment. Cornwall’s book will delight and surprise you, I think. When I first read it I thought back to a Denkmal in Worms, Germany, and its famous plaque: “Hier stehe Ich, Ich kann nicht anders.” I hope many small group Bible studies will find the book interesting and profitable.

(From Dave Black Online.  Used by permission.)