Hymnus Deo

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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Monday, August 27, 2012

J. Gresham Machen, on Statist Education

J. Gresham Machen, in 1926, on the Federal control of education:

"The better it works the worse it suits me; and if these people had their way - if everything could be reduced to a dead level, if everybody could be made like everybody else, if everybody came to agree with everybody else because nobody would be doing any thinking at all for himself, if all could be reduced to this harmony - do you think that the world would be a good place under those circumstances? No, my friends. It would be a drab, miserable world, with creature comforts in it and nothing else, with men reduced to the level of the beasts, with all the higher elements of human life destroyed.

Thus I am in favor of efficiency if it is directed to a good end; but I am not in favor of efficiency if it is directed to something that is bad.

As a matter of fact, Federal departments are not efficient, but probably the most inefficient things on the face of this planet. But if they were the most efficient agencies that history has ever seen, I should, in this field of education, be dead opposed to them. Efficiency in a good cause is good; but I am opposed to Federal efficiency in this sphere because the result of it is a thing that I regard as bad - namely, slavery. And I am not inclined to do what a great many people do today; I am not inclined to write "freedom" in quotation marks as though it were a sort of joke. I believe, on the contrary, that it is something that is very real....

...Let us be perfectly clear about one thing - if liberty is not maintained with regard to education, there is no use trying to maintain it in any other sphere. If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might just as well give them everything else."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Puritans, on "Melancholy"

The Puritans, on dealing with what they termed "melancholy":

"They recognised that some men needed to spend most of their prayer time in praise and thanksgiving and recollections of God's mercies, and that a minimum of time should be spent in confession and expressions of penitence. They recognised too that some Christians should not be over-encouraged to spend much time in solitary prayer and meditations. Rather, they should seek the company of cheerful Christians, for, said they, 'There is no mirth like the mirth of believers.' They should pray in the company of cheerful saints, and they should converse with men of strongest faith that have this heavenly mirth and can speak experimentally of the joy of the Holy Ghost. These things, said the Puritans, would be great help in lifting a man out of melancholy and depression and establishing him on the pathway of normal and peaceful Christian experience. They recognised that while every man must examine himself, yet there are those who need to observe restraint even in this excellent practice. 'Spend more time in doing your duty than in trying your estate' is the Puritan advice to the unduly introspective Christian." -- G. A. Hemming, "The Puritans' Dealings with Troubled Souls"

Saturday, August 18, 2012

On the Importance of Christianity to Politics

The point is that right political experience cannot develop in people unless passions and reason are oriented by a solid basis of collective virtues: by faith and honor and thirst for justice. The point is that without the evangelical instinct and the spiritual potential of a living Christianity, political judgment and political experience are ill-protected against temptations born of selfishness and fear; without courage, compassion for mankind, and the spirit of sacrifice, the advance toward a historical ideal of generosity and fraternity is not conceivable. -- Jacques Maritain

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Priest, the Creator

So why were the offerings, the ritual sacrifices in the Old Testament that God ordained, so elaborate? At least part of the answer is that God intended them to point back to the original act of Creation. The Tabernacle and the Temple were the world in miniature. As the priest was to separate the portions of the animal and put them in their respective places, so God divided land from sea from heavens. The priest acted the part of God, creating and ordering the world. And as the sacrifices atoned for sin, so those people represented by the animals were ritually made a new creation.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thomas Watson on the Lord's Supper as an Effectual Means of Grace

The Lord's Supper works for good. It is an emblem of the marriage-supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9), and an earnest of that communion we shall have with Christ in glory. It is a feast of fat things; it gives us bread from heaven, such as preserves life, and prevents death. It has glorious effects in the hearts of the godly. It quickens their affections, strengthens their graces, mortifies their corruptions, revives their hopes, and increases their joy. -- Thomas Watson, All Things For Good, p. 20

Saturday, August 11, 2012

This World is Your Home

We are establishing the colonies of heaven here, now. When we die, we get the privilege of visiting the heavenly motherland, which is quite different than moving there permanently. After this brief visit, the Lord will bring us all back here for the final and great transformation of the colonists (and the colonies). In short, our time in heaven is the intermediate state. It is not the case that our time here is the intermediate state. There is an old folk song that says, "This world is not my home, I'm just passing through." This captures the mistake almost perfectly. But as the saints gather in heaven - which is the real intermediate state - the growing question is, "When do we get to go back home?" And so this means that heaven is the place that we are just "passing through." ~ Douglas Wilson, "Heaven Misplaced", pg. 24

John Donne on Catholicity

The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another....No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main....any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. ~ John Donne