Care and Feeding of the Born-Again Heart: In Remembrance of Our Spiritual Forebears
Today’s feast of the born-again and running-the-good-race heart at The Training Table is an excerpt form John Calvin’s The Institutes of the Christian Religion, published in 1536. It is indeed Calvin’s seminal work focused on the systematic study of the Protestant faith.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion should be mandatory reading for all those who life has been re-born by God and set on course for loving God and loving neighbor as self; discipled-to-disciple; saved-to-serve; purpose-driven; Christ-centered… On mission as “lit and salted”—to be Christ’s light and salt—“co-redeemers” of a dark and fast-decaying world!
Before God’s Perspective, a Counter-Perspective
Before we get to our spiritual forebear’s Training Table fare, let me tell you what came to mind when I first read and re-read Calvin’s content: Calvin’s excerpt below addresses a vital issue concerning the world’s best—God’s best—“diversity paradigm and program”.
Allow me offer a counter-perspective about what has in our day become most acceptable yet the very opposite, in fact, of the sort of declarative statement God and His people make about God and people SO THAT, in doing so, there is no doubt about Who God is, who and what His creation is, and specifically what the culmination of His creation—humankind, created in God’s image—is.
Let me respectfully remind you, God is omniscient, all-knowing. God knows Who He is and everything else about everything there is, but He has laid down an abundance of declarative statements about reality SO THAT His most beloved creations will not be in the dark about ANYTHING that is vital, life-giving, to living the most fulfilling life possible! Sound theology always precedes great… anything..
We embrace it as Life Itself; and we ignore it as Death itself. God is not about creating lots of gray area that only serves to deceive, obfuscate, bewilder, and complicate! Sin is… But as God has said in such a declarative, truth-full, multitudinous, and loving way,
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today [each day], that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days…” (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20—parenthesis, emphasis added).
A Perspective on the Opposite of Declarative: Suppressing the Truth
Under what is now the conventionally-accepted form of “PC diversity principles and programs”, the thoroughgoing or “rampant” pluralism of the culture [E.g., relativism] dictates that we should SO widely, and SO highly, and SO deeply embrace the breadth and depth of diverse people groups and individual peoples that we dare not claim any one, over-arching, transcendent, perpetual, inviolate, immutable principle or law or convention or canon or True Truth… that pertains to all of humanity: Making Truth claims so has, overtime, escalated to the point of now being unconscionable, tantamount to hatemongering, and being a radically intolerant human being. From God’s perceptive, quite the opposite of what it means to be human—created by God to speak True Truth that glorifies God and blesses His people.
Today, in order to get along, it’s best, more civil, not to polarize anyone’s thinking; not to purposely or inadvertently disrupt anyone’s neatly compartmentalized, privatized ideas; not to introduce notions whereby someone has to defend a belief which he or she has hitherto left undefended; not to disrupt the equilibrium of another person’s ecosystem of emotional ambivalence—which is highly vulnerable to the slightest change of his or her “truth-claim-climate”; not to tread into areas of known or unknown secrets which, if laid bare, would render us naked and ashamed.
[Post-]modern tolerance is intolerant of certain intolerable ideas because “diversity is unifying” as long as we all have the same ideology, right? The perfect picture of our day’s “diversity” is a line-up of multi-ethnic, multi-colored folks—all with the same ideology, right.
The word “university” was coined by combining “unity” and/in “diversity”. But, in the fishbowl of relativism, many universities of higher [or lower] learning are the most opposed to real, actual, true “diversity in ideology” than ever before.
Rampant Pluralism Gives Birth to Relativism
As we well-know today, the philosophically-prescribed reality of “rampant pluralism” has yielded a crop of relativism where a culturally-proscribed idea of True and Absolute Truth is mocked as anachronistic or Neanderthal-ish… at the very best… and at every turn.
Not to put too fine a point on this point before we look at The Point of one of “God’s most important diversity claims”, normal “diversity content” akin to, “we have a tradition of acknowledging and celebrating differences of culture, ethnicity, language and faith within an overall shared sense of identity and purpose”—is designed to claim, “the multiplicity and gradations of differences are vital as long as we make no philosophical or practical claim as to any one difference, worldview, or belief system being True—ergo, logically, other claims being false”. Everything is now true.”
God the Father Knows Best
Humans are Image Bearers of God’s True Truth and Love. And relativistic philosophy—and the gross mistreatment of human beings that flows from it in a multitude of ways—are neither truthful nor loving, but rather designed to promote ego, pride, pretense, and a will to power (Nietzsche) above all else.
God knows full-well that when we are “philosophically-, culturally-forced” to claim all worldviews [and the belief systems, core values, and behaviors that flow from it] are equally Valid and True, we not only insult the exclusive claims of any given worldview [all of which have exclusive claims, but all cannot be equally true], but we set up a false premise upon which we then try to create good and viable interdependencies… while maintaining dishonorable relationships. Reality does not work that way… And addressing Image Bears of God each day as [essentially] invalid, isolated, and anonymous beings is a heart-hardener par excellence!
As long as you and I play this farcical game of masking truth and veiling our True Selves… as the means to enhancing mutual respect and being a productive team player… We’re cool, right?
In Fact We’re Man Without Chests* (CS Lewis)!
[*The heart of Lewis’ argument throughout his volume is the necessity of absolute truth and how the absence of belief in absolute truth in society inevitably leads to The Abolition of Man.]
This outrageous misstep of logic and living a lie in order to be more tolerant and productive [as now-commoditized beings] brings all sorts of damage to any organization or persons involved: “We cannot be real while we work really hard together.” “Your throughput is really more important than your input.” “Welcome! Leave you and your truth claims at the door.” “We believe in transparency as long as we maintain our anonymity.”
Lastly, check out a recent example of what we’re getting at here—as the opposite of what pleases God:
“What it means to be an American”, St. Louis University, November 15, 2013
“Those who attended the Diversity Leadership Cabinet’s (DLC) first dialogue last Tuesday, Nov. 11, were able to give their input and hear other’s thoughts on what being an American means and problems that the U.S. faces concerning diversity.
The meeting wrapped up with a discussion reiterating the idea that there is no correct answer on what it truly means to be an American. The group concluded that answers and opinions vary, so it is best just to accept and celebrate different perspectives, rather than holding animosity towards others.
One of the more active members of the group discussion was Amelia Romo, the vice president of diversity and social justice in SLU’s Student Government Association. She stated that the concept of being American is not something one can quantify.
‘It is one of those gray areas, and these discussions are needed help clear up these gray areas,’ Romo said.” (The University News, St. Louis University, A Jesuit school, officially known as “The Society of Jesus”)
This is stunning… Purportedly, this is as good as it gets when dealing with and discussing as rich and multifaceted a subject such as “What it means to be an American”.
Please Pause to Consider the Pertinence of What You Just Read
This is but one example, but it’s RIFE in most every institution of our day—especially higher [or lower?] education.
1) “The group concluded that answers and opinions vary, so it is best just to accept and celebrate different perspectives, rather than holding animosity towards others.”
2) “It is one of those gray areas, and these discussions are needed help clear up these gray areas.”
Please tell me, what does the relativistic ideology and goal of avoiding truth claims, not hurting feelings, and not coming to any conclusions… have to do with clearing up grey areas?
In reality, does it not make more sense that the point is to create MORE grey area… and LESS black and white? More chaos and less clarity? More misunderstanding and less knowledge? More imbecility and less education? More fear and silence and less security and free interaction?
Please help me understand how not coming to conclusions about anything helps students with inculcating the saliency and usefulness of reason, defending ideals and ideas, and the non-contradictory logic required of… a human being… as distinct from say, a mollusk.
Please help me with the irony and sadness I feel as “The Society of Jesus” now so purposely and deftly kneel before the throne of rampant relativism and the lesser gods of “All Ideas and Truths are Equally True”… except this truth claim… about America… or anything… anymore.
In reality, promoting “diversity” of this kind is fostering the worse kind of treatment for any human being: It’s inculcating the homogeneity of anonymity! NOT true and meritorious diversity, human distinctiveness, self-forgetful harmony, or synergistic multiplicity… in any way, shape, or form.
Honestly, this sort of thing—so pervasive in our day—just breaks my heart… and God’s as well… which matters far, far more than mine! Relativizing True Truth sticks in the heart of Who God is and who we are as well.
Is not one of THE main goals of education [and life] to train people to think more clearly about objective truth, themselves, and the world around them and thereby be capable of making an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense of the nature of reality and their place in it, in the private and public square?
As C.S. Lewis so succinctly and appropriately said, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
Remember: God is NOT the Author of Confusion… Satan the Deceiver, the Author of Confusion, Is!
“[God] When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made man a little lower than the heavenly beings,
and crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:3-5, ESV).
LET’S TURN THE CORNER, SHALL WE?
Now… Now that we’ve gone to one extreme, please contrast this state of affairs… with the declaration of God via man from John Calvin:
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD HAS BEEN NATURALLY IMPLANTED IN THE HUMAN MIND, By John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion
“That there exists in the human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead, the memory of which he constantly renews and occasionally enlarges, that all to a man being aware that there is a God, and that he is their Maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship him nor consecrate their lives to his service.
Certainly, if there is any quarter where it may be supposed that God is unknown, the most likely for such an instance to exist is among the dullest tribes farthest removed from civilisation. But, as a heathen tells us, there is no nation so barbarous, no race so brutish, as not to be imbued with the conviction that there is a God. Even those who, in other respects, seem to differ least from the lower animals, constantly retain some sense of religion; so thoroughly has this common conviction possessed the mind, so firmly is it stamped on the breasts of all men.
Since, then, there never has been, from the very first, any quarter of the globe, any city, any household even, without religion, this amounts to a tacit confession, that a sense of Deity is inscribed on every human heart.” (First Book, Of the Knowledge of God the Creator Argument, Chapter 3)
Unity is Most Available and Laudable When Diversity is Prefaced with Man’s Most Fundamental Commonalities!
I promise you… Far more important, God promises you… If you and I were to walk into a meeting that included a wide array of ethnic backgrounds and color, and the very first thing the meeting leader or moderate was to announce, and get wholesale agreement on was,
“Since, then, there never has been, from the very first, any quarter of the globe, any city, any household even, without religion, this amounts to a tacit confession, that a sense of Deity [Calvin knew The God of the bible] is inscribed on every human heart!”
We would FIRST be UNIFIED under an everlasting principle of our common humanity; and then more ready-than-could-be to monopolize on our DIVERSE CONTRIBUTIONS working toward the very best, God-honoring and people-blessing solutions possible!
This is how God takes advantage of the diversity of His creativity: He FIRST provides the proper context for UNITY, and THEN He lays out how we can take all of the many advantages of our DIVERSITY. And not the other way around—in the context of a truth-suppressing pact about what really and truly unifies us.
The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wisely observed, “What is most personal is most universal.” And logically, “What is most universal is most personal.”
Pleasing God by honoring in every way other people of all colors as Image Bearers of God [some converted, some not] is the first duty of every human BEING… DOING God’s work each day.
Please come grab a hearty bite at The Training able next week when the menu will include, The Preaching of the Gospel: Why is it vital to be a committed member of a Bible-believing, -preaching, and -disciplining church. From The Canons of Dort, written in Dordtrecht, Netherlands, in 1618-19.
‘Till then, long and joyous and persevering may you run, Beloved!